The Time I Went to an Eye Doctor in Iceland

I promise, I will get to cool trip recaps soon, but this experience has to be remembered!

One of the days that Laura and I were in Iceland, I was getting in the car and felt something get in my eye. It hurt really bad, but then it went away completely and I never saw anything when I looked in the mirror.

Two days later (the day before we left), I was doing my make up (literally one of the only days I put on makeup there) and noticed that I had something embedded in the white part of my eye. It hadn’t really bothered me too bad, but I did feel like something was in there.

Of course, over the course of the evening, the pain got much worse. My eye was swollen and painful and it had gone from nothing to really bad in just a few hours. I decided to call the eye doctor in the US to see what they recommended and they basically said if anything was embedded in my eye, they would get it looked at before getting on the plane where the pressure changes. We went back and forth for awhile like, “Should we really waste our last night for this?” Of course, Google told me I was losing my eye and how it was an emergency.

In the end, we decided just to go to an urgent care. I bought traveler’s insurance before I left (which ended up being useless) so I felt like it was no big deal.

The urgent care seemed pretty decent. Everything moved fast. An elderly guy took us back to the room, which still had a dirty paper covering the table when he asked me to climb up.

Let me preface this by saying that I hate eyes! I cannot stand eye injuries at work. It makes me so squeamish. I hate people touching my eyes! I can’t even put eyedrops in my eyes (I do wear contacts sometimes, but that’s totally different). I get super nervous anytime anybody tries to do anything with me eye.

So he had my climb onto the table and he numbed up my eye and I was already pulling away and blinking. Then he took tweezers to get it out and I was super nervous. I kept asking him for just a second so I could recollect myself but he would just keep digging in my eye. I finally got to a point where I figured if I covered my other eye and looked away, I couldn’t see his tweezers and it helped. He said he got the big chunk out but that there was still some left. Then he came at me with this sharp tool and I got super nervous. Laura was kind of making jokes to try to lighten to the mood for me and I was nervous laughing.

The doctor got kind of offended and reminded me that he’s a doctor and he knows what he’s doing and if I didn’t like it, I could leave. I was like, “I know! I’m just really nervous. Eye injuries really freak me out. But I’ll let you do it.” I was already crying, so Laura was like, “Can we just have a minute to go to the bathroom so she can calm down?” and I was like, “No! That’s okay!” because clearly, this guy didn’t have patience for that and also, that wouldn’t have helped me.

So as I’m finally about to lay down, the doctor is like, “You’re in here laughing and screaming and kicking your feet! I’m a doctor and I know what I’m doing! If you don’t like it, get out!!!” I was so shocked that he totally just yelled at me, like, legitimately yelled at me, that I just left without saying anything other than maybe “I’m not staying here to deal with this.”

I cried for like, the next hour. It was totally dramatic, but I was so upset because I was so anxious about going there because of how nervous eyes make me and then to get yelled at?! It’s not like I’m a child! I was so furious.

In the end, I chalked it up to cultural differences. My guess is that Icelandic women are probably more stoic than American women and because care there is assigned, there is no competition for doctors. They don’t get paid the same and they don’t need to earn their business. So they can be complete dicks and it doesn’t matter. In the US, we’re all about patient ratings and making the patient happy. I’m sure he thought we were making real jokes about the situation and so he was offended, but still, I was totally put off by the experience.

I don’t know that I’d ever want to seek out medical care in another country after that!

By the way, when I got home, I had to drive from Atlanta to Charleston and could barely see. My eye was so swollen and goopy and painful. The next day, I went to an eye doctor here and had to wait for an hour and a half with Jackson, but the experience was much better! They were totally understanding and calm and it took 30 seconds for them to get the rest of the object out of my eye.

IMG_7081_Fotor
When I finally got home from flying into Atlanta and driving 5 hours to Charleston. Cute photo!

7 thoughts on “The Time I Went to an Eye Doctor in Iceland

    1. It was so awful! Clearly, since that’s the first post I’ve written about Iceland! And people in Iceland were SO incredibly nice! That was our first bad experience and it was terrible. But then again, I had strep throat in Croatia, and that whole experience wasn’t that great either. I think we’re just spoiled in the US.

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    1. Well I’m glad that’s not normal in the UK! I wonder if he would have treated another Icelandic person that way, or if it was just because we were tourists. I’m a nurse and I’ve worked with some REALLY dick doctors before, and even though would never treat patients like that!

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  1. OMG I would have cried too! My Optician is so patient with me because I take forever to sort myself out just to get eye drops in! Doctors here are assigned too but I have never been treated like that, don’t get me wrong there are some who are terrible at their jobs and some are just horrible people but I can’t say I’ve ever experienced being yelled at!

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    1. It’s such a strange concept to me to have assigned doctors! I like the freedom to switch! Then again, we pay a ton of money in bills (we hit our $5,500 family out of pocket max last year with the delivery, and we’ll come close this year!) but I love the ability to choose who I want to see! I really think it had to be a cultural difference. I’m sure to him, we were just disrespectful tourists, but I was just so nervous! I was the same way with the eye drops! I can’t put them in! So it took him so many tries to just get the eye drops him. I just can’t imagine being that rude to somebody though.

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      1. I have private health care as a benefit from the company I work for but I have never used it so I cant say if they treat you better or not, I know it can be quicker to get surgeries private. I have had the same doctor my whole life(he must be retiring soon!!) thankfully I haven’t actually had to visit a doctor for anything really, I think I’ve been once in the last 10 years and that was just for allergies! So I’m probably not the best person to comment on our healthcare system ha!! My Dad has MS though he is pretty well looked after and I guess he wouldn’t be able to afford his healthcare if he lived in the US..

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