When Elizabeth brought her grandfather to his ophthalmologist for a routine checkup, the doctor found signs of early macular degeneration and recommended her grandfather see a retina specialist. The doctor explained that the macula is the small central part of the retina that controls visual acuity and determines our ability to read, recognize faces, drive, watch television, use a computer, and perform any other visual task that requires us to see fine detail. Deterioration of the macula is a leading cause of vision loss in older people. He gave Elizabeth the name and address of a fine retina specialist and suggested she follow up as soon as possible.
Elizabeth wasn’t new to problems of the eyes. When she was younger, she had a problem, which required immediate surgery. Although it wasn’t an emergency per se, her philosophy had become to take care of things “the sooner, the better.”
Elizabeth was anxious enough to call the next day and take the first available appointment. She was told the examination would take three hours and to schedule the Paratransit Service accordingly. On the appointed day, Elizabeth and her grandfather arrived at the Retina Institute about fifteen minutes early. The street door was heavy and Elizabeth held it open as she helped her grandfather walk inside.
Once inside, Elizabeth was struck by the appearance of the reception area. She took in the shiny chrome accoutrements and the glossy marble floor. There was something about that floor – it really looked familiar. There was nothing really unique about it and yet she felt like she had seen it before. It was reminiscent of the Chateau de Chenonceau checkerboard matte stone floor, only much glossier.
But before she could think about it, they were ushered into an elevator and to a waiting room on the second floor. Once they checked in and were seated, Elizabeth took in her surroundings. Again she was struck by familiarity, but dismissed it as just one of many possible arrangements of the furniture. She watched as her grandfather cheerfully submitted to the inevitable eye drops, visual acuity exam, and a retinal scan with contrast.
By the time they were ready to meet with the doctor, Elizabeth had forgotten about that sense of déjà vu she experienced when they first arrived, so she was taken aback when the doctor greeted her by name. Apparently he was one of the specialists who had examined her prior to her surgery and he never forgot a patient, no matter how brief the encounter. The doctor assured them that her grandfather’s prognosis was excellent and he prescribed a regimen of vitamins and an examination schedule. Elizabeth relaxed, relieved that her grandfather wasn’t being treated by a stranger. “Every cloud really does have a silver lining,” she thought, smiling to herself.