This Can Be Funny
By Keira Seyd

“Tell me about it.” Tell you what? “Has it gotten worse?” It’s really difficult to tell. “Do you notice new symptoms?” Yes, well, I think so. “Can you describe it to me?”

“Can you describe it to me?” What a funny little question, what a set-up.

I know she won’t like my answer. No one ever does. They want me to describe what I can’t see, and in that, describe what I can see. It’s hilarious to wrap my mind around it, especially when I do try to answer, all they respond with is “Interesting.” They aren’t legally allowed to give me much more than that. It’s a niche experience, having someone look into your eyes and have them only respond with a monotone “Interesting.” I have to stop myself from saying I’m sure it is buddy. They never get the punchline, I wish they would.

Mmmm I want a cig.

“Miss?”  The doctor interjects my funny little spiel and stares at me with eyes trained to convey patience. Have I fallen silent? “Can you describe it to me?”  Well, I say hesitantly. “That’s okay.” I mean, there are more floaters-- “Mmmhmm,” she nods sympathetically, scribbling notes on the back of her folder -- and the snow is hard for me, in terms of the reflection, I can’t see in the snow. I think it’s getting more difficult to recognize people and things from far away? Can’t really tell. And then the night is the same as it has always been. “And by that you mean…” I still can’t see at night. “Interesting.” Bingo.

“Are you ~dazzled~ when you walk into a bright room?” This one is my favorite question. Razzle-dazzled, I respond with jazz hands and a grin, waiting for her to burst out into laughter.

“Excuse me?” With a sigh of boredom, I give her what she wants.
Yes, I feel dazzled.
“Okay, excellent.”
Excellent, I think to myself, stifling a laugh.

Whenever I come here, the technicians always compliment me. There’s this one technician I like to flirt with sometimes. He’s 24 and I can already see him as a successful doctor living in Westwood or Brentwood or one of the other “woods” with a family and like, six Goldendoodles -- hypoallergenic, of course. He does my dark adaptation tests and calls me a trooper, tells me if there was such a thing as acing a dark adaptation test, I would be doing it. I know he’s lying because I suck at dark adaptation tests per my genetic inability to adapt to the dark, but I appreciate it nonetheless.

They tell me “It’s such a relief to work with a patient who can sit still and not complain.” At first, I didn’t understand what they meant by this. After a couple of times going in, I soon realized that they just meant it was nice to work with a young patient and not some seventy-five-year-old who has a small bladder or is in every right angry at life. They’ve lived too long and just as they’re starting to relax and enjoy the golden years, they can’t even watch their favorite TV show. I don’t love when they tell me how great I am, what a dutiful patient I am compared to the others. It’s a reminder that this might happen to me fifty years too early.

After six hours, I collect my mom from the conference room and fight the urge to rub my eyes. They’re numbed from the test where they tape my lids open and hook me up to what I can only describe as plastic robot contact lenses. If I rub them too hard, I could pop my eyeball in and barely even feel it.

On my way out, I spot a frail old woman in post-dilation glasses smoking a cigarette in the parking lot, refusing to sit in her wheelchair and waving her attendant off of her. I laugh, really laugh, for the first time today. My mother smiles at me, not in on the joke, but happy to bear witness.

“What is it?” She asks me with a hint of a smile. 

Nothing, I reassure her. It’s just -- Like staring into a warped mirror-- it’s nothing, just tired and delirious.

I’ve written numerous pieces about my eyes -- it’s one of the only concrete forms of processing I can engage in freely. As I grow with this diagnosis, I have found the humor in my condition. My sister and I joke about our experiences with our doctors, the way that people react when we tell them, what we will be like when we are older, etc. I want to joke about it. I want to be able to laugh at my diagnosis because finding humor in pain is a necessary aspect of coping, growing, and simply existing. My disease is not this dark looming depressing feature in my life. When I joke about it, it is not a haphazard attempt to cover my grief with forced laughter. I especially don’t want sympathy in those moments because when I am unable to share the humor in my condition, it’s a reminder that it is a disease and that its valence is more often than not viewed as tragic. It is and it isn’t because it just is what it is. There are moments where it is loaded and upsetting, of course, but within those are funny and joyous moments too. It is okay to laugh with me, in fact, it makes me feel better.