Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Test Anxiety

I have always had a bit of test anxiety. Just the thought of having to circle the right answer among a sea of multiple choice possibilities is enough to make my stomach twist and my palms sweat. I would like to think my ACT scores would have been higher if only I could have overcome this malady. (Well, I can DREAM, can't I?!)

Even eye exams can be a source of test anxiety. I have horrible eyesight: It's -6 in the right eye and -7.5 in the left - whatever that means. In real life, it means that my glasses are the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing that hit the bedside table at night.

The regular eye exam is bad enough. "Do you see two sets of dots? Is this one better? Or this one?" "Is this better ... or is this better?" I ponder. I squint. I hope I guess right. And my doctor says, "Good." "Good." "Good." Does he REALLY mean it or is he just humoring me?

So when my eye doctor said I had to take a peripheral vision test at my appointment, I was less than thrilled. Thankfully, it included no math equations (always my worst case of test anxiety). But I was being graded, you know. I have glaucoma, and this test is supposed to reveal whether I'm getting even more blind than I already am. YIKES!

For this test, you are escorted into a room the size of a closet (and I'm not talking the size of a nice walk-in closet in new homes. I'm talking my old-farmhouse-sized closet). Taking up half the space in this closet is another of those contraptions in which you are required to put your chin in a holder and squish your forehead against a bar. (The technicians always make a show of wiping off these surfaces with disinfectant. I'm not a germaphobe, but if I were, that in itself might freak me out a bit.)

I was handed an eye patch and a clicker (I've always thought it would be great to be a Jeopardy! contestant and now I have a buzzer just like them. Oh ... who am I kidding? Jeopardy outside the comfort of my living room would be the ultimate text anxiety platform.)

So ... back to my story. The technician (maybe she would prefer eye care professional) tells me to look at this glowing red light in the center of this huge field of white. Then I'm supposed to click the button every time I see a flash of light. The machine whirs. I click. The machine whirs some more. I click some more. I remind myself to breathe. Really. I have to remind myself to breathe while I'm supposed to be watching for tiny pinpricks of light. The machine continues to make noise ... and I don't see ANY little pinpricks. Is that just to test me? Did I miss any? Am I going to be blind? My shoulders and neck get tighter and tighter. Is this test ever going to end? Just when I think I'm going to pass out from lack of oxygen, she says it's over.

Except for that other eye ... ugh!! I give myself a pep talk. I WILL relax this time. I WILL breathe. And that works out for me ... until the actual test starts again.

The good news: My peripheral vision appears to be holding up fine, the doctor tells me. I just need to keep using the eye drops (which, by the way, give you the same long lashes that Brooke Shields is advertising for Latisse. I guarantee you, however, that I would not be paying this kind of money for longer lashes!)

I have another six months before I have this kind of test anxiety again. Is this better ... or this?

1 comment:

  1. I have had to do that test for years - even before the glaucoma. I absolutely hate it and even hate it more since I don't wear my contacts anymore.