Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Swedish Word for Astigmatism

I am essentially blind without my contacts in or glasses on. And by essentially, I mean if you put me in a foreign room without my glasses on it would be like watching a drunk three year old in a china shop. Hilarious, but kind of sad. I blame my parents for this. My eyesight I mean, not the fact that I think watching a drunk three year old in a china shop would be funny.

Because of my constantly fading eye sight, I try to get my eyes checked every year. Since moving to Sweden though, I have failed horribly. Not because my eyesight has suddenly stabilized, but because I have been horribly nervous about doing this in Swedish. I always question my fluency when it comes to official things. I can get by, maybe even trick someone into thinking I am Swedish in an everyday conversation, but doctors are different.

Suddenly I need to explain that I have horrible astigmatisms. In both eyes. In Swedish. Astigmatism is not a word I commonly use in Swedish. Turns out though that the word for astigmatism in Swedish is… astigmatism. Of course.

This only compounded the fact that that eye doctors are probably the most judgmental people in the medical profession. Can you read the last line? Hmmmm. How about this? Hmmmm. Is this better? Or Worse? Hmmmm. Do you wear your contacts more than your glasses? Hmmmm. The judgmental hmmmm stresses me out. Did I give the right answer? Was that a D or an O? Is it better? Yes. Wait. No. Wait. Maybe?

It’s an emotional roller coaster really. It doesn’t help when the eye doctor decides to taunt me. I took my contacts out to test my glasses. She asked me to take my glasses off for further tests. She told me to put them on the table. I did. She finished her tests. I politely looked her direction at the flesh-colored blob that I assumed was her face. She began speaking. I aimed my eyes at where I assumed her eyes would have been situated in the aforementioned flesh-colored blob. Then she picked up a chart and began pointing to it expecting me to follow. Taunting me really. It was at this point I had to stop her. I need my glasses. I can’t see what you are pointing at. An embarrassed chuckle and an oh yeah, you can’t see. No. No I can’t. Thank you.

And it only gets worse when the news is handed down. Your eyesight has deteriorated. Again. Awesome. Now I get to go back and pick up a trial pair of contacts a few days from now. They don’t have my strength in stock. In fact, I don’t think they’ve had my strength in stock since I was about 16.

Welcome to Sweden. And fading to black.

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31 comments:

  1. Hahaha! A hairy, but almost blind, Swede. Funny.

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  2. ^ well thats an image....



    Good luck with your blindness dude. Don't go "accidentally" bumping into blonde-pinkish blurbs and blaming it on your new contacts :P

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  3. Is it anything that can be fixed with laser surgery? I mean if it gets too bad you should be able to make use of our healtcare system and get part of it payed. I think.

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  4. Funny story, :-)

    Well I went through the same process but did not have the same traumatic experience. I paid 1000 kr for my glasses only to discover later I could buy the same thing at a gas station for 10 kr, :-(

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  5. did you ask about laser? maybe you should look into it?

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  6. @Elit - why must we make fun?

    @Lost - are you suggestig I not play the pity card?

    @anonymous - only if my eyesight stabilizes. and it never does.

    @per - I wish my glasses could be found at a gas station for 10 SEK...

    @mamma - more expensive than in the US, plus I can't do anything until my eye sight stops getting worse.

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  7. Great story funny too, but I sympathise fully as I am in the same boat (plus I cannot say the difference between i and e in Swedish so I switch back to English for that part of the test!)

    They taunt me with laser surgery each time - well now, have I considered it? A quick consultation of my notes and then - Ohhhh, yes, your eyesight has changed again, so no, you can't have it - big grin. Sadists...

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  8. Great post, very funny. I too have the worst eyesight imaginable, -750 or something like that. I'm now looking into Orthokeratology. These are special contacts that you wear at night and they correct your vision while you sleep. I don't think your eyesight has to be stabilized to use them, but I'm not sure about that. Mine is a little more stabilized but they still change every 2 or 3 years. good luck with your eyesight :)

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  9. Glasses and contacts sure come at a high price. Many workplaces have a seldom mentioned benefit that pays for basic glasses (I pick up a new pair every other year or so), and you can also use this to reduce the cost of more trendy ones should you wish to be, well, trendy. I personally like the optiker at St. Eriksplan, there's an elderly fellow there that is very much the way I'd like my optiker, experienced, friendly and talkative and has the idea that his work is craftsmanship as much as anything else.

    CB

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  10. I don't wanna put a damper on your learning Swedish-experience but I thought that the more commonly used word for astigmatism in Swedish was brytningsfel. But I guess, you can probably say astigmatism, as well.

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  11. @Robban, no we who suffer from it all say astigmatism, not that we have a brytningsfel.

    Hairy - it's so sad, and yet you have me laughing out loud! If you need new glasses, order them online if you can - way cheaper. I'll tell you more when I see you (no pun intended).

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  12. I feel your pain. no one will do lasik on me either. have tried in 2 countries. one's eyesight does eventually stop getting worse, when you're older 40's or so. doing those exams is bad enough in the U.S. but truly scary in another country. hang in there!

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  13. http://media.ne.se/neimage/1513392.jpg

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  14. @terander - Really? SO I suppose I'm wrong then, because I got it and I call it brytningsfel.

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  15. I checked it out, turns out you're right, terander. Astigmatism is one kind of brytningsfel, but a brytningsfel can also be närsynthet, översynthet, etc. I.e. brytningsfel is a samlingsnamn for a group of different eye sight-conditions.

    Sorry for all the Swedish, but I'm feeling lazy right now, and didn't bother to look up the English words.

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  16. @Robban - haha, that's awesome! can I refer to you when people don't believe me when I tell them I'm essentially always right?! ;)

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  17. Terander - Hmphh... I guess...

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  18. Then, can I refer to you as "this asshole on a blog" when I tell this story to someone?

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  19. Oh Hairy Swede. How I relate to you. And how relieved am i to find out that astimatism is still astimatism in Swedish. I too have really horrible astigmatism. Now.. . how to you say biotoric gas permeable lenses in Swedish? And how to do you say that your retina is prone to detachment from severe myopia and that they've had to laser the retina TWICE because it was lifting. or tell them that your eyes have been a -10 to -11 degrees for the past 10 year and keeps waivering. Which in turn disqualifies me to get lasik cuz my perscription too high. Now. . .how to do get that all across to a swedish optometrist?

    I always did say. . .if i was born in the days of yore, i surely would have died by now. Eaten by a bear, fallen off a cliff, stepped on a rusty nail and gotten an infection, all cuz I'm so terribly blind. I can even imagine personal hygiene would have been a challenge being that blind. But thanks to modern marvel I can still pretend to be just like all the normal people. ;) Huzzah for that.

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  20. hi, I send you an email asking some things about employment in sweden... did you receive it? Alina

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  21. Oh, sorry to hear that man. I actually visited an optometrist about 2 weeks ago myself to get my contacts. went through exactly the same examination process as you did except she was he ! Anyway they're working pretty good and they're my first contacts i keep my finger crossed they stay cool! and my belly filled with salad consisted of graded carrot they don't go worse!
    Wish you the best

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  22. I just found your blog. It is great - funny and well written!

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  23. PS Just want to add that I hope that the deterioration of your sight slows down - at least.

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  24. @English Mamma – I think they do it just to rub it in.

    @Juni - oh wow, Ive never heard of that. Sounds like a retainer for your eyeball.

    @anonymous – Im definitely going to have to take a look at that then.

    @Robban – no offense, but Im going to trust the eye doctor on this one.

    @teander – Im definitely going to snag my prescription and shop around a bit.

    @anonymous – that doesn’t sound too promising. Only 15 years left. I’ll be in total darkness by then.

    @anonymous – that’s about how I feel.

    @Robban – Good work on the research. Glad I wasn’t completely out and cycling. See what I did there?

    @terander – you should always reference this blog as a source of factual and important information. Even the comments.

    @Robban – can’t we all just get along?

    @esotericbehavior – you win. Or lose. Because those are words I definitely don’t use in every day conversation.

    But I will say, I am pumped that Im not the only person who thinks of that sort of thing. I am convinced that evolution would have taken care of me long ago because of my eyesight.

    @anonymous – Im kind of slow with email responses, but I think I got yours answered.

    @Tod – good luck with the first contacts then!

    @lady dandelion – thanks, both for the blog and for your wishes about my eyesight of course.

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  25. I was totally kidding with that last comment, maybe my humor doesn't always shine through on the internet.
    It's hard to convey tone and I'm not really a big fan of the smilie.

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  26. I was trying to be a smartass with my comment as well. It seems like your worked better though.

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  27. My "optiker" told me he justs asks the questions to make me feel involved while truth is he already knows what I'm supposed to answer.

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  28. Another word for astigmatism is "brytningsfel".

    Good luck!


    /Suz

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  29. @Emma - so all these years I could have just sat there quietly and asked them to tell me the right answers?

    @Sizan - thanks, I got the call friday night that my trial lenses are in. we'll see how it goes.

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  30. So, the laser surgery is more expensive in Sweden than in the states ?? So is there some medical procedure that is less expensive in the US than Sweden!? wow!

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  31. I think you can always find something that is less expensive.

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