Friday, November 16, 2012

In Which I Ruminate on Turning 39 and Getting Bi-Focals

When I was in Middle School, one of my best friends had fake glasses. She looked so studious. I was so envious…yes I know “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)…but I still wanted those glasses.

I don’t exactly know why I didn’t just go to Claire’s and get a pair for myself. You know what I’m talking about? Claire’s? Best accessory store of the 1980’s…hands down. Yes, I know it still exists and from what I’ve seen at our local mall, still appears to be doing quite well. But I haven’t been in one since, oh, the 1980’s…so I can’t really make a well-informed assessment, now can I? You don’t want me to make recommendations on places I haven’t darkened the door of in 20-some years.

Anyway, Erin had glasses and I wanted some. Never before had I wanted glasses. No offense to anyone I know who wore glasses prior to that…and I know there are some of you who did.

It wasn’t until Erin bought them at an ACCESSORY store that I realized that they could be a fashion item as well as a necessary item for functioning in the real world.

Ever since then, I have waited, almost eagerly anticipated, the day when I would get glasses. It’s sick, right? And I don’t mean that in any sort of Hipster way…I mean it’s a little weird, a little off-kilter, and little strange to want to have to wear something additional in order for a part of your body to function properly…so you can do what you need to do in the course of a day.

And yet, I longed for the glasses.

A few years ago, my 11yo was having some vision issues. Ok, it was a little more than that. I’ll lay it out for you. When I took him at age 5 to the pediatrician’s office for his Kindergarten shots, they did a cursory eye check. He stood at one end of the hall and the eye chart was at the other end.

They had me stand behind him and cover his left eye. With his right eye, he was able to read everything, no problem.

Then they had me switch and cover the right eye. He immediately began squirming and balking, pushing me away. Very unlike him. Through the course of several attempts, the doctor determined that he (my son, not the doctor) could not see the big letter “E” on the chart.


The doctor, Dr. Kidd (BEST.NAME.EVER. for a pediatrician) referred us to a local eye doctor. Upon full examination, it was quickly determined that the child’s vision was 20/800 in his left eye. Oh yeah. I.Had.No.Clue.  I didn’t get the award that time, but I was “First Runner UP” for “Mother of the Year”.

Through a couple years of patching my child’s good eye, and then later using eye drops to dilate the good eye, all of which strengthened the muscles in the lazy eye, the doctors were able to get him to about 20/50 in lazy eye. He can now wear either glasses or contacts, and alternates between them. Lately he’s been wearing the contacts almost daily, which should come as no surprise, because just last week I dropped some coin for his new glasses. Reminds me of “Gift of the Magi” and all that. Anyway, it was a tough row getting that eye fixed, but things are good for him now.

And to be fair, I should have suspected that something might be up with at least one of my children’s eyes.  Though I have never worn glasses, my eyes are not the bastion of perfect vision.  Yes, it’s another story interwoven into my larger story. I know you love it when my crazy train comes off the track.

Anyway…when I was 12, we were doing an experiment in science class…something to do with vision. At this point…and I know this will shock you because I remember many random things…I do not recall exactly what it was we were doing. But I knew at the time, and that’s what’s important. So I was relaying it to my parents at dinner that night. I said something to the effect of, “Yeah, and when you looked at your finger, it was supposed to look like it was jumping from side to side. But mine didn’t.”

They kind of said, “What?” and quickly got me into an eye doctor.

The doctor did all the tests and determined that I was 20/400 in my left eye, but 20/20 in my right. But because of my age, they figured there was nothing they could do and to try to fix the lazy eye; with all the reading I was doing, it would give me headaches and probably wouldn’t correct the problem. The struggle would not be worth the probable results.

So for my whole life, my right eye has been carrying the load. I have peripheral vision in my left and have to have a restriction on my license (which only necessitates that I have to have outside mirrors on both sides, which all cars do these days. I’d say that law is slightly archaic…but no one asked me.)

My husband thinks he’s being funny when I talk about my vision and he’s sitting on my left. He will pretend to do things as though  I can’t see him. I may be LEGALLY blind, but I can still see him. He usually gets smacked for it. So as you can tell, it’s a mature, healthy game we like to play together.

So anyway, when my now-11yo was having all his vision strengthening, I figured I should get my eyes checked. By that point, it had been about 22 years…I was probably due. And just so you know, I had them test the then 4yo as well.

 We both checked out just fine. I’ll have to admit, I was slightly disappointed. I thought my time had come to select my latest fashion accessory, for certain that I would need some cute reading glasses. I wasn’t even afraid of a little “granny chain” (sorry grannies out there who are reading this…but I’m pretty sure we all know why it’s called it that) around my neck. I would be a trend-setter among my demographic. I wasn’t afraid.

OK maybe the granny chain was crossing the line, but I was ok with reading glasses. And yet they continued to elude me.

Fast forward to about six months ago.

I could tell I was having some problems…after reading for a while, the page would swim a little bit. I would have to really concentrate to make the words not jump on the page. Driving at night in the rain became a concern (not horribly concerning, but slightly off-putting.)…enough to make me really hesitate to do it.
But I thought, “Hey! I’m not 40 yet! I can wait until then…40 is the age when you’re supposed to start having those problems.” For all my prior excitement, I was kind of fighting it.

Well…as the summer turned into fall, and I was driving more at night (you know, because of Daylight Savings and all that fun stuff), I knew I didn’t have another year to wait.

So I made my appointment, fully expecting to come out with some super-cute pink reading glasses…no big deal, right? I even had plants to bead my own granny chain. OK, maybe that’s a little over-zealous, but it was a possibility.

Ha! Once again, I was reminded that God has a sense of humor. The eye doctor and I went through the dance of the eye exam…”Which one is better? This one? Or this one? How about this one or this one? What about the first one and the third one? Which one is clearer?”

So when the exam was complete, he told me that I had several options. I could: get just one pair either for my distance issues or for my up-close work; get two pairs…one for each issue; or get bi-focals which would help with both problems and I could wear them all the time if I wanted to. I’m certain the look on my face belied what I was thinking. And I’m certain he knew the look was coming because IMMEDIATELY upon saying the word “bi-focals”, he followed it up with “You’re not old!”


He went on to explain the benefits and draw-backs of each option. But I already knew I was all-in to the bi-focals. Why? Because I have a hard enough time trying to keep track of my sunglasses. At least once a year, if not twice a year, I make a bulk purchase of them from…it’s where high prices go to die (actually, they have that as their slogan any more, but I kind of miss it). I love that website. It has some really random and odd things…things  you’ll look at and think, “Wow…that’s a very specific target market they were going for…no wonder that didn’t sell too well on the initial go-round.” Or you might think, “Hey, that’s kind of weird but I think I need that.” Check it out. But check it out often…things can move kind of fast on there too. You’d hate to miss out on something you never knew you needed.

But I digress…my point is that I have trouble keeping track of sunglasses. And the thought of having to keep track of TWO pairs of prescription glasses made me a little twitchy. Plus the thought of only correcting one issue seemed not ideal either. I would love to be able to read those street signs before getting right up to them, but I would also like to be able to read a book for long stretch without words jumping on my page. I’m picky that way.

I asked him about contacts…I figured if my 11yo could do it, I should be more than able. Unfortunately he put the kibosh on that right away. He said because of the increased chance of infection with contacts, he would highly discourage that for me because if I would get an infection in my right eye, I wouldn’t really be able to do anything. Yeah, good point. I like to be able to see.

So, in the words of my friend Fancy Nancy, I decided to “Suck it up, Buttercup” and go for the bi-focals. The first pair I pulled off the rack ended up being the pair I ordered, although I did try on several. I had brought the PBA with me to the appointment. They worked on math and etymology while they waited. Party, party.

And as I mentioned above, I needed the 11yo to be there as well...he was was due for some new glasses. So when they brought him into the room to select his frames, he saw me wearing the ones I was ordering: “Are you getting glasses?!? Wow, you look different!”  
"Well, thanks!" He didn't really say anything bad so I decided to  take his comment as a compliment…any way I can get one, right?

He immediately turned on his heel (the one in his size 8 shoe, BTW…that’s just craziness) to inform his brother…who then sauntered into the room. (I had, by then, taken the glasses off. I wasn’t mentally prepared for what the 9yo might say. Lacking filter sometimes, that one.)   “Hey I want to see you in your new glasses!” Translation: “I bet you look weird and I can’t wait to make a scathing remark which will be on the edge of hurtful and yet my cuteness will let me get by with it.”

“Sorry darling, you have to wait until they come in.” He wasn’t buying it but he did go back to the waiting room.

One word of advice, my reading public. Bi-focals: not the cheapest glasses you can get.  I didn’t go for the most expensive frames, just so you know. Those Coach ones were absolutely lovely, but when I glimpsed the price tag, I just left them on the shelf where they were.  And I must confess that I was SO appreciative that my doctor gives a discount for those of us without vision coverage…although I believe there’s a possibility that we’ll be adding it to our policy in the near future.It might be three of us in glasses before too long. My hubby is pushing 42, and I think his arms might be shrinking a little bit. But I told him he has to wait until January because there’s no flexible spending money left in the pot.

We had been wondering just a couple weeks ago how we were going to spend the rest of the money in our flexible spending account (since over-the-counter meds no longer qualify…thanks, Mr. President!). But have no fear.  We figured out where that money was going to go. Mama’s got to look cute. I may need to see but looking cute was still a priority. As I said, I didn’t go for the Coach, but I wasn’t going to nickel-and-dime my choice either. Sorry, darling.

When you average it out, it’s not that much per month…to you know, be able to see and stuff. Kind of money well spent, I figure. I’m considering putting a sign on the car just to let other drivers know how much they should appreciate my glasses. Otherwise I’m afraid they will a) go through life without noticing their cuteness or b) be unaware of how safe I drive with them on. Both of which truly should be recognized.

One last thing to end my rambling diatribe on my 39yo self getting bi-focals. I want to extend a huge “Thank You” to my husband.  I called him as soon as I got home from the doctor, wanting him to be the first one (well, other than the PBA) so hear my latest news. My oh-so-loving, supportive and sympathetic husband, upon hearing that I had to get bi-focals, said: “Ha! Old lady!”

Thank you, my darling…it’s support like this which has kept the magic alive in our marriage for lo these 14 ½ years. Thanks for not disappointing.  I love you, Mr. Always Random & Usually Shallow. (BTW my faithful readers…I haven’t forgotten my next installment of How I Met Mr. Always Random & Usually Shallow…but writing out such a momentous event takes time. You can’t rush these things. Your continued patience is appreciated!) 

I assure you, as you will all SEE, he’s a keeper. (You see…ha! I did it again…what I did there? It’s funny because I was just talking about glasses and then I said “you will see”…ask someone to explain if you need to. And if you need someone to explain it, you probably have missed many other things in my posts which, I assure you, are hilarious.)

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