My reading of ‘Blinding.’

I’m not the kind of person who goes to a doctor for a check-up. This isn’t a brave boast, it’s a confession of stupidity and I need to change my ways. Thing is, I worry that if I go, something will show up.

I know. I know.

Back in January of this year – before the wildfires in Australia and the pandemic and the latest hell from far-right politicians – I had to go to the optician. I’d driven from the south of Brazil to home in the southeast and it had taken about half a lifetime. I wear- or wore – contact lenses and in the air conditioning for endless hours I suffered some kind of drying of the eye and it was all very uncomfortable.

This week I went back for a check-up and did a battery of tests on comically sophisticated equipment. If there’s anything – even the suggestion of a potential problem – they will find it. Anyway, all clear. But I still have to use drops and cannot yet wear lenses. I have to go back in December. I really liked the doctor, Juliana. Very friendly and attentive. No rushing. But for a minute, I confess, I considered I was revenue stream. I could go back every three months for the rest of my life. OK, no. But medicine in Brazil has more to do with business than health. Maybe it’s like that everywhere.

Juliana and I talked about the reasons I should not use lenses yet. First, because of the pandemic. I hadn’t thought about that. She explained that if I had to fix a lens while I was out, it could represent a risk, what with sticking my virus-bathed fingers in my eyes. I was convinced. But then she added that my left eye is still a little dry and I would also be risking a return to the secretion and scratching I suffered back in January in the half a lifetime I spent in the car. I was doubly convinced. We then talked about the pandemic ending soon. I said I doubted the likelihood. Juliana said we have to pray.

I looked behind her, up on the wall near the ceiling. There was a crucifix with Christ nailed to it. I had to admire Juliana’s faith.

It was blinding.

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