Wednesday, November 09, 2011

I’d roll my eyes, but it might hurt

I finally got around to getting an eye exam. It’s only been four years, and I’ve only been kvetching about my glasses “not working” for two of them, so, this is practically a new speed record for me.


ANYWAY, so, I made the appointment and then I dutifully trucked myself into the tidy little office where they proceeded to take all of my paperwork and blah blah blah, and then they asked me to read lines and barely kept from snickering when they handed me the card and said, “Just read this as you normally would…” and I held it out almost at arm’s length and then tilted it until it was almost horizontal while lifting my chin up and no matter how I tried not to, still squinted trying to make the little dots hold still and be WORDS, dammit.

For everybody except me, the fact that I was going to be getting bifocals was a foregone conclusion. I know they have no lines. I know nobody else is going to necessarily know I’ve “graduated” to bifocals. I know that eye health and comfort comes first. And I also know that just because you have bifocals does not mean you are contractually obligated to put on silly looking hats or start wearing nothing but muumuus.

{kicks at dirt, mutters} I just didn’t want to hafta NEED them yet…

But, I do. I so totally do. I’ve been doing the ‘schoolmarm’ thing for years, where I’ll yank my glasses waaaaaaay down my nose and then peer up at you over them. This is because I can’t read without them, BUT, I can’t see your face with them.

This is why mankind invented bifocals.

ANYWAY. Having already received this unsettling news, I spent a rather sulky fifteen minutes as my eyes dilated (joy) picking out new frames (fortunately with a great deal of assistance from a more fashionable staff member…I don’t think I’ll look like too huge a dork in the new ones).

And then we started the final phase of the eye exam.

And then the nice doctor went, “Huh.”

And then we went through the “look up, gooooood, now down? Goooooood. Now, all the way to the left…gooooooooooood…” game again.

And then he said, casually, “Tragically, you are going to be blind within a month, BLIND, BLIND I TELL YOU, OH, THE GRIEF AND SORROW OF IT ALL, YOU ARE DOOMED, DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMED, POOR CREATURE!!!! OK, so, I’m seeing something that might be a slight anomaly between your left and right eye. I’d like to use a stronger dilating drop and see if I can get a better look at it.”

To which I said, eloquently, “Oh, uh, rokay…?”

And then he seared the top five layers of…um…whatever eyeballs are actually made of…off my eyes. And rendered them incapable of filtering any light. Plus put me in this bizarre place where my long distance vision was actually better than usual but my ability to fine-focus (reading, television, KNITTING!!!!!!!) was so badly impaired it was just…not OK.

But at least then he was able to categorically state that it wasn’t this thing, it was this other thing, which is not exactly common or particularly good but it’s also not anything bad per se except that it can be an indicator of something-something-something and that I should use lubricating drops and come back in six months so we could see if it got any bigger or smaller or perhaps built a little house for itself and started homesteading – because the cattle could be a real @*^&@ on your retinas, you know?

(Optometry in general leaves me feeling like a magician’s rabbit…one minute I’m all snug in my warm, dark little hole and the next I’m being held up in front of a shouting throng by some overdressed con artist thinking, “Wait, WTF?! That was a hat?! When did that become a hat?! And what does abracadabra even mean?!?!”) (“Is it better one, or two? Gooood. One, or two? Gooooooood. One, or two, or about the same?” how did he KNOW they were going to be about the same?!?! - sometimes, I half want to lie and say ‘oh, no, two was much better!’ just to mess with him…) (…except that then, I’d end up with Cyclops Vision or something, so, I don’t. But I think about it, every single time…)

Afterwards, as I was complaining mentioning that a) this really hurt and b) like, the diffused lighting felt an awful lot like lightning bolts zapping straight into my brain and c) my ability to read the receipts and stuff they kept shoving at me was what might be termed minimal, he tosses off ever-so-casually that Oh. Ya. Blue eyes tend to be like that, actually. They take the drops harder and more thoroughly, and they also tend to experience more of the unpleasant side effects such as light sensitivity and ‘flashing’…and that sometimes they take longer to shake it off as well. Should be no more than six hours but could actually take a DAY OR TWO, he tosses over his shoulder as he runs for his life…

Only the thought of how much the bright orange jumpsuit would have hurt my eyes right about then kept me from murdering him.

I had planned to be out of the (home) office for about two hours for this. I ended up having to take the rest of the entire day off. I had some delusions at first. I got home and unlocked my work laptop and…a bunch of…ink smears, floated up at me. In a pathetic and useless gesture, I put on my old glasses. Great. Now, it’s even worse.

I read through one simple email. I picked out the words one by one. I began to develop a pounding headache. The light from the screen was torture. The words were twisted, blurry, dancing-dancing-dancing. Dammit.

So I opened up an email and typed in the generic distribution group I use for general ‘administrivia’ messages – when I’m going to be out of the office or have brought cookies to work or whatever. And I typed in a message about my eyes and that I was going to go sulk rest them in a nice, dark room and give them a little while to un-dilate themselves.

And then I proceeded to compulsively try again to read things. Again. And again. And again. And when I wasn’t trying to read? I was pacing. Or, trying to go outside to look at the garden. Which I could not do because the light, the light, it burnssssssssss…!!

Yeah. As it turns out, I’m not very good at waiting patiently for something.

I know. It was a shock to me, too.

Because I’m a slow learner, I then took out my knitting – which is this Bernat Fair Isle Yoke Sweater…which I only just cast on and the pattern for which reads like, “First, do knit-one-purl-one rib forever…then do straight stockinette for forever plus five years…and then it will get mildly interesting!”

I finally settled on this project, after a great deal of indecision, precisely because of its simplicity – because I felt it was something I could continue working on, no matter how tired I was, how dark it was on the train or bus, how stressed out or distracted I was, etc. etc. etc.

So I said to myself, with great confidence, “It’s OK, Self. You can still work on this. Heck, you worked on it all the way home yesterday while staring out the window most of the time! You don’t need to be able to see-see to work on it!!”

And then I learned something. I frequently think I’m “not looking” at my knitting – and it’s true. I can knit in a movie theater. I can watch TV and knit. And I do stare out the train window a lot while knitting simple things.


I also glance, in passing at it a lot. And without these swift glances, I become lost. And once you become lost on a k1p1 rib?

You end up with seed stitch.

Possibly quite a lot of it.


And the whole time, my eyes were burning. And itching. And even indirect sunlight was the bane of my existence.

It was not the best of days.


I’m getting bifocals.

{pause to contemplate the emotional trauma}

You know…I never should have gotten out of bed today.

I just shouldn’t have.


Steph B said...

Oh noooooooooooooo! So what's up with the eyeballs, anyway? Hopefully whatever it is will creep quietly away, embarrassed by all this unexpected publicity, and never bother you again. Fingers crossed that today is better!

Jane said...

One of my nightmares is that some day I will not be able to see to do my needlework... so when they mentioned bi-focals, I said, "what took so long?" I even wear extra clip-on bifocals when I am doing extra close work. But you are right, going to the eye doctor is never fun. It always slays me when they expect you to pick out new frames when you can't even see your own face!

PBear said...

Hugs and sympathy. If it makes you feel any better, I have TWO pairs of bifocals, one for walking around and one for the computer, AND a pair of really really close up glasses for enameling - and now I might need trifocals rather than the walking around bifocals, because it seems I can no longer see things like people's faces and the speedometer with the distance glasses. And mine all have lines because I can't wear the ones that don't.
My last eye dilation got me sent to the opthamologist to check for glaucoma - he's pretty sure it's not that, it's just the fact that I am SO blind my eyes are structured funny, but we'll check again next month.
So hopefully today you can see, and knit, and whatever is going on is easily fixable. The bifocals aren't bad, really. :-)

RobinH said...

Ah. This is why I do all my *other* medical appts first thing in the am, but I always ask for the last appt of the day for eye appts. Damned drops. And then I go home and grump exactly like you're doing for the rest of the evening.

Betty Catherine said...

I had my first pair of bifocals when I was 40. Four. Zero. I was quite certain I was too young for them, but I loved them. It is rather wonderful to be able to see AND read.

katherinelynn_04 said...

Uhhhhhhh...they do have drops that negate the dilation. No-one wants to say anything about them but if you request it they shouldn't say no. And if it makes you feel better, I can see from about 3"-6" from my face and everything else is blurs of color. And I am 25! (no bifocals, just piss-poor vision.)

Anonymous said...

I got bifocals long before 40 and it has been a complete blessing.

I do, however, just plan to go straight home and nap for 3-4 hours after eye appointments

Hester from Atlatna said...

Bifocals will be worth it! Believe me - I've been there for a while. And the lineless bifocials have a much large area to see through than they used to. Makes computer work so much easier.

Cheer up - one time I had tri-focals.

Hope it all works out well for you.

Lisa in western MA said...

Mine are trifocals, and they have made a difference; it's great being able to focus! I have six different prescriptions -- three for each eye. And yes, I have light-colored eyes as well ... and even with reversing drops the dilation lasts at least 6 hours. This is always the last appointment of the day for me, and I wear sunglasses (even indoors) until approximately 10 pm. This, too, shall pass!

calcairns said...

Oh yes, the wonderful world of bifocals. I have worm glasses most of my life, being nearly legally blind without them. (In another time, I would be that poor sad woman led around by a small child)
I figured since I was so near-sighted, I wouldn't need any other glasses (BIFOCALS?). HAH!
Now, sadly I not only need bifocals, but when I need to do anything really close up (read cast on tiny stitches), I have to take my glasses off, hold the yarn and needles about an inch away, turn on my Ott light and blink a few times. (Kill me now)
By the way, I think that your sweater looks stunning.

Kerri Warmus said...

Um. May I say that only YOU would think that was an easy pattern. humph!

Kaviare said...

I always underestimate the time it takes at medical appointments, and overestimate my ability to go back to work. Viz: a month ago I had a molar extracted, went back to work, lasted a half an hour before the adrenaline wore off and the shock kicked in. That was not a good day.

I'm 28 and I've had multifocals for about 5 years. Hooray! Well, not, but also I like being able to see. I have one eye that's near sighted and one that's long and apparently about a year ago they met in the middle and passed each other, or something.

Anyway, I also developed photophobia which is sensitivity to light which basically meant I had sparkly migraine aura lights all the time, and got a migraine every couple of days. That was FUN. And now I have green glasses. But I feel you with the light pain, because yeesh.

PipneyJane said...

Deepest sympathy. I got verifocals in April. I'm now short-sighted for distance and long sighted for close up. WTF??

Took some getting used-to and they needed adjusting twice, but they have made a big difference.

- Pam

JustGail said...

Welcome to the world of bi-focals. When I was a young whipper-snapper, I used to wonder why old people stood on one side of the grocery store aisle and looked at the shelves on the other side. I are now one of those old people and found out that's the only way to get the bifocals in the right spot.

Does your eye doctor not have the eyeball photo setup? It's way better than dilation. So much so that I almost-gladly pay the extra $ out-of-pocket to do that.