From the moment I walked through the door, my visit to the optometrist’s office was different from any other person’s that day or any other, I can guarantee. What could have happened at a simple eye examination to warrant a super-shower at the end of the day?
Right away, at the counter, I was handed two forms to fill out that were attached to a clipboard. It’s bad enough touching something that a dozen other people had touched that day, but most people sit down and put the clipboard on their lap. I wouldn’t put it on my own lap, so why would I want other people’s lap germs? I gingerly attempted to take the clipboard while not touching the underside (which meant holding it for the most part by the large clip) and not looking too awkward in front of the receptionist. My pinky finger was forced under the board to balance it out of sheer necessity but against my will. I sat with the board teetering on the arm of the chair as I filled out the forms and periodically brought out my mini-sprayer to spritz my pinky with alcohol.
That was just the beginning. As I sat there waiting, out walked the assistant that would momentarily be performing some tests before I saw the doctor. She walked up to the counter, and the file she was holding slipped from her hands to the floor and hit her shoes in the process. I hoped that someone else would come out and call me into the back, but no, she was out there for me.
Now I had the task of trying not to touch anything that the assistant touched, but it was a losing battle. I sat at the table in front of the testing machines, and she handed me a pen and more forms to sign. I tried to hold the pen only with the sides of my fingers so that the surfaces that came into contact with everything else would not be contaminated, but it hit the pad of my thumb. Then my thumb hit my forefinger. It didn’t matter anyway; she next handed me a clicking device for the first test, and then the entire palm of my right hand was dirty. Then she wiped down the surfaces of the machines so that they would be clean when I leaned my face on them. Clean? She used her contaminated hands to wipe them. How did anything get clean that way? Then I had to press my forehead and chin against them.
The situation was getting bad, but I thought I could handle it. I could wipe off my forehead and chin after the appointment. My main concern was cleaning my right hand. I thought perhaps after the initial tests were done, I would be able to spritz my hand while waiting for the doctor. But then the assistant asked me to take out my contact lenses. I fumbled around for a minute acting as if I was looking for something in my purse with my one clean hand. Should I say that I needed to wash my hands at the sink? But that would not work. Simple soap and water were not enough here; I needed rubbing alcohol (and lots of it) to get truly sanitized. I had to do something. I decided that only the palm area of my right hand was dirty and that I could use my knuckles to hold my eyelids open while removing the lenses with my left hand. That problem was solved, but the ordeal was far from over.
Next I was led into another room for the retinal photographs that I had opted to have. How I would regret that decision! The assistant told me to sit in front of the machine and that she would guide me where to put my chin. The next thing I knew, she had one hand under my chin, and she put the other hand on the back of my head in order to push my cheek against the equipment she had just “cleaned.” Then we went through the same thing for the other eye. And that was it – my whole head, including my hair, was contaminated. The only remedy for that was a super-shower.
That’s it? Not quite. I had to see the doctor and my right hand was still dirty. I had hoped that there would be a long wait so that I could spray my hand with alcohol, but then I realized that would be a bad idea, as he would walk into the room and be overwhelmed by the odor. I did spray the hand once with alcohol, and then he walked right in, so I wouldn’t have had time for extensive spraying anyway. I sat down, and part way through the exam, he asked me to put my contacts back in. There was no way out of this one; I had to use my right-hand fingers to put the contacts back in. I knew before the appointment that I had to wash my hands before inserting the lenses, so I had placed a sliver of goat milk soap in my purse. Once again, to buy time, I fumbled around in my purse, and thankfully, he decided to step out for a moment. I had to work fast. I had only sprayed my hand with alcohol one time, so I would have to soap up and rinse as many times as possible before he came back in. I washed feverishly, and I may have gotten up to ten when he opened the door. I explained that I was trying to get the lotion off my hands because I didn’t want smudgy lenses. He agreed that that was prudent, and we started talking about dry hands.
A few more minor incidents, and I was finally out. I wish the nightmare had ended there, but my dirty hair and clothing contaminated the seat of my car. The germs were eventually spread to the chair I sit in at home. I couldn’t touch my face or hair the rest of the day or even change clothes. All I could do was wait for my super-shower.