This morning, my alarm went off. As, per my usual fashion, I turned over, groping madly in the dark for my cell phone. My intent was to set my phone’s alarm to snooze. That I accomplished, while also sending my glasses to places unknown.
This is a more common occurrence than I should be willing to admit. What makes this even harder is that I literally need assistance when it happens. I can get on the floor and blindly pat around the stand, under the stand and as far as I can reach under the bed in search of my run away spectacles, which is always done in the dark. Or I can be patient and ask my husband for assistance.
Yes, my vision is that bad.
When I was seven or eight, my dad, a single parent at the time, took me to the eye doctor. I don’t know what prompted him to take me there. Maybe the teacher noticed my squinting to see the board, or my dad noticed that a book, always close at hand, was too close to my face while I read. Whatever the reason, I had an eye exam, and my first ever visit to a doctor. My father’s church avoided medicine like it was a deadly disease; ignoring the fact that medical treatment could actually help avoid catching or dying from said deadly diseases. The doctrine was, that trusting in medicine meant a lack of trust in God, a ridiculous, very dangerous theological stance, as my family had already experienced with tragic results.
I guess eye exams and glasses were not considered sinful.
I will never forget picking out my first pair of glasses. They were blue, my favorite color, with oval framing for the lenses that were going to help me see better. They were perfect. They were not what I got. My father, who has the fashion sense of a…ok he doesn’t possess that sense. This is the man who was known in the office as the winner of the ugly tie contest, even on years they didn’t hold such a contest. He was frugal, and decided on a cheaper set of frames for me. They were plain grey with a cat eye shape, a shape still in style in the early 1970’s. He was also a bit gullible; as the eye doctor had talked my dad into upgrading an 8 year olds eyeglass prescription to include…bifocals. That’s right; I had glasses in the style of the average woman in her 50’s.
I loathed those horrible looking glasses, feeling my already weird status amongst my fellow students,had been upgraded to super freak thanks, to the dowdy clothes I had to wear to school, being rather shy, and my strange religion . As soon as I was able, I began to “lose” these glasses at every opportunity. Sadly I was terrible at doing this. Either that or the woman Dad had hired to care for us, aka. Attila the Nanny was even more diabolical than I have always assumed. I believe that shey must have had multiple eyes under her tightly permed hair, plus a homing beacon in her bra.
Thank the parenting gods, my dad met my step-mom and Attila the Nanny left us, either to retirement, or to proceed to haunt the futures of other children. A couple of years later, my vision worsened and I was able to pick out my own glasses, wire frames. I loved them! I loved them, because I didn’t look like an AARP reject, but like a normal 6th grader. I felt them a vast improvement despite that every other day, one of my very thick lenses would pop right out of the frame, usually during P.E.
Even so, I still felt somewhat like a freak, because even though my glasses did not scream, WIERDO, I felt it whispered at every turn. That is because my lenses had the ability to set dry leaves on fire, if the sun was bright and a lens angled just right. My self-esteem was in the toilet in my youth. It ddidn’ttake much to keep it there. So, deciding to boost it a bit, I saved my babysitting and fast food cashier money until I could afford…CONTACTS!
I don’t remember if soft lenses were available in the late 70’s, I just know that even if they were, I was not a candidate, and would not be until just a few years ago. So for many years I wore hard lenses. They worked nicely, and I’ve always seen better with contacts than with any glasses I’ve owned. Hard lenses do have their drawbacks though. One is the risk of wearing hard contacts 15 seconds too long, especially if you are prone to dry eyes. The result is 24 hours of red, tear gushing agony as the irritated eye vents its frustration by poking a needle on the sufferer’s optic nerve. The other, at least for me, was my eyes’ ability to eject contact lenses without provocation. The usual settings were someplace dark and dirty, covered in grass, or thick carpet, or in one memorable case, the step of the moving escalator I happened to be standing on.
Yet glasses are still a necessity for me. If my allergies are flaring up, the contacts stay in their little container for the day. I try to give my eyes a contact break at least once a week, and never wear them over night. I am back to bifocals…apparently my first eye doctor was just a few decades early on that prescription. When I was told I would need them, I quipped. “So doc, what you are saying is that I’m going blind from near and far?”
He was not amused.
Thankfully bifocals are the no-line kind now and technology has advanced so that the lenses do not resemble the bottom of a shot glass. I do have to wear readers for contact days. They are cheap, and I own a couple of pairs that are rather cute, especially the pink ones that my husband always ends up borrowing when we go out.