9 September 2008
Doctors get very serious when they have to deliver what they perceive may be bad news. Watch any medical show (well, except maybe for House) and see how Serious the doctor gets, while the patient sits there nervously waiting to be told that she needs an elbow amputation or that he has cancer of the appendix or some disease that was just discovered in a part of the rain forest that nobody had ever visited before. Nobody ever bounces into the exam room and says "Hey! Guess what! Your earlobe is going to crumble and you'll never be able to wear earrings again."
I don't remember how many years ago it was that the doctor had to deliver the diagnosis to me.
Actually, I wasn't surprised. In fact, I knew it in advance and had gone in for confirmation of my own diagnosis.
He did the exam and then pulled his chair up close to where I was sitting. His voice got very deep and very low, he reached out to hold my hand, and he said: "Well...I'm sorry, but I have to tell you. It's time for bifocals."
Now, I'm not really sure why he thought he was going to be delivering bad news to me. Maybe other people react negatively when told that they need bifocals. Maybe it seems to be a sign of the "O" word ("old") and the doctor is afraid that his patient doesn't realize that s/he is...you know...getting older.
But I wasn't upset by the news. Heck, I was delighted. I had been having difficulty reading for a long time and I knew that it was time. The only thing that bifocals meant to me was that I could finally start reading again without eye strain. Reading could be fun again.
They told me that adjustment would be a process and that I'd never be able to walk down stairs with the same confidence again, but I pretty much sailed through the adjustment period in about 30 seconds.
I never for one second regretted getting bifocals. The world was clear again. I could read the fine print again. I could read books for enjoyment again. I could read the newspaper again. Life was wonderful.
I had several different pairs of bifocals, each with slightly tweaked prescriptions over the subsequent years. But there came a day when they just weren't doing it for me any more. I could read all right. I could see distance all right, but I didn't seem to be able to read the labels on the supermarket shelves clearly any more. I passed through the market on auto pilot, placing items into my cart by memory, with some sort of vague, blurry picture of the item I was picking up.
The doctor and I talked and he decided I should get mid-range vision glasses in addition to my bifocals. Now I could also see mid distances, but it was one gigantic pain in the patootie. I was working at that time for The Typing Company and my job consisted of sitting at the computer and typing, and then getting up to deal with customers at the front desk. The bifocals were perfect for the computer, the mid-level lenses were perfect for dealing with customers, but sometimes I was changing glasses every five minutes.
I finally decided to ignore the mid-level glasses and I just always lived in a blurry world.
Clearly (get it?) I needed a different solution.
Trifocals were the perfect solution. I opted for the trifocals with the lines dividing each lens because I didn't like the adjustment problems I'd read about with "blended lenses," where one kind of flowed into the other. I liked being able to choose which lens I wanted to look through.
It also gave the the opportunity to make the mid-level lens (the one I use to view the computer screen with) wider than normal.
I absolutely loved the trifocals. The prescription has been tweaked slightly a couple of times, but they still serve me well.
I've reached a point where I can't find my glasses without putting my glasses on. I have to leave them in the same place each night so I can find them in the morning. There was a night when I left them on the coffee table next to the couch and during the night Lizzie decided to chew off the ear pieces. Now I put them inside a vase where she can't get them, but where I can find them by feel.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to live in an age where vision correction is taken for granted, and where you can get glasses, bifocals, or trifocals, as you get older. I've never considered contact lenses because (a) I have astigmatism and when contacts first came out, they didn't correct astigmatism; and (b) I have these squinty eyes and I actually think that glasses look better on me than a bare face.
Or maybe I just like hiding behind glasses.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
MILES TO NOWHERE: 67.5 miles