It’s exceedingly rare for anyone to accuse me of being an optimist. In fact, I’d wager a guess that most folks who know me would peg me for a pessimist, but they’re all wrong, because what I ACTUALLY am is a REALIST.
Because, mostly, things suck. Except when they don’t.
Anyway, deep down in the darkest recesses of my cynical soul, it turns out that I occasionally wish things into existence. (No, I’ve never read The Secret. Nor do I care to. Clearly the person (people?) who wrote that wished for a lot of gullible people to buy their book.) But really, who amongst us hasn’t just hopedhopedhoped for something until it happened? I’m not saying it always works, but odds are that OCCASIONALLY it will.
I do try to hope for useful things, like for an Otto or for my child’s creeping crud to either clear up or at least get correctly diagnosed. But sometimes I hope for frivolous things, it’s true.
I’ve been wearing glasses for coming up on thirty years. THIRTY YEARS. (Holy hell, I am old.) And for the first ten years or so of that time, I would periodically hopehopehope that I could tolerate contact lenses, and I would go to the eye doctor, and I would get some lenses, and in very short order I would be fantasizing about clawing out my own eyeballs, and that would be the end of it.
Do I NEED contact lenses? No, of course I don’t. I can and do wear glasses. I’m not exactly working as a runway model, professional athlete, or in some other field where corrective lenses would be a major hindrance. Most days I just sit here at my computer and wearing my glasses is no big deal. But every now and then we get dressed up all fancy or we spend a day doing something where my glasses annoy me, and then I wish I could wear contacts.
Two years ago, when I moved down here, I went to a new optometrist and told him I wanted to try contacts again. He destroyed my hopes and left me convinced that no amount of hopehopehoping would ever make contacts a reality for me. Naturally, I wept and played sad songs on my tiny violin, and then I forgot about it entirely.
And then, my daughter got contacts. And she loves them. LOVES THEM. She can now pop them in in nothing flat, takes ‘em out and cleans and stores them in about a minute, and wears them all the time; and when we got them I mentioned my eternal want-contacts-but-have-dry-eyes quandary to the optician, and she said, “Well, you know, lenses have come a long way. You should try them again!”
But I didn’t, because the voice of that MEAN OPTOMETRIST was still in the back of my brain. And why spend the money and whatever for something that’s not going to work?
Well. With all of the traveling (and hatehatehating wearing glasses on hikes and in the rain and such), somehow I got on this issue again, and I remembered that most likely, the optical center we used for Chickie’s lenses would give me a free trial pair. And if I can’t tolerate them, well, no biggie. No money lost. I’m due for an eye exam, anyway, so that’s fine.
The optometrist who fitted Chickadee was very sweet. There are, of course, two optometrists at this location. And I went in for my appointment this morning and discovered that I’d been booked with the OTHER one.
And the other optometrist? The same guy from two years ago, from a different eye place. The guy with the “you can’t wear lenses, you’re too old” routine and the sheaves of papers to back up his assertion. I would’ve recognized him anywhere, even if he didn’t still have his folder of studies with highlighted sections (which he totally did).
Fortunately, he didn’t remember me. This is because he’s over one hundred years old. So I chose my words carefully.
“I see you want to be fitted for contacts. Have you ever worn contacts before?” He asked, after checking my vision.
“Well, yes,” I admitted. “But I haven’t worn them in years.”
“Did you have success with them, before?” he asked.
“I had semi-permeable ones and my eyes were kind of dry,” I answered. Technically, this was not a lie. I actually DID have semi-permeable ones. In 1982. I conveniently left out the part about the soft lenses I had after that, though.
“Well, if you have dry eyes, you may not be able to tolerate even soft lenses,” he said, turning to his beloved folder of research studies. “In fact, the older you are, the dryer your eyes get…” as he rummaged, I decided to try being perky.
“Yes, well, she’s had SUCH good luck with her lenses,” I chirped, gesturing to Chickadee (who’d come along for moral support). “And the optician told me those Acuvue Oasys lenses are just SUPER for folks with dry eyes!”
He squinted at my daughter. I suddenly remembered that we’d been booked with the other optometrist, last time, because we were told that THIS one would refuse to fit contacts to a child under 14. “How old is she?” he demanded.
I played dumb. “Eleven! And she just LOVES her lenses and has been doing GREAT with them! Isn’t that great?” I smiled beatifically.
He actually GRUMBLED. Then he muttered something about how he would NEVER allow a child of that age to wear lenses, but then turned back to me. “Well, we can TRY a pair of the Oasys lenses,” he said, making it clear that he was doing me a HUGE FAVOR, “but if they don’t work for you, THAT’S IT. I’m not trying another brand on you. This is top of the line, and if you can’t tolerate them, you’re done. No contacts. Understand?”
“Yes sir,” I answered, trying not to smirk.
He went and fetched me a pair of lenses, and then left me to put them in. As it happens, my recent practice on my kid has left me adept in the ways of contact lenses, but I was stunned that he didn’t even bother asking if I knew what to do. I’d just told him I hadn’t worn lenses in twenty years, and all the instruction I received was “The sink’s over there.” Ooooookay.
I put in the lenses and wasn’t terribly overwhelmed with my vision. In fact, it took about three seconds to surmise that the lenses weren’t quite right. I went back to the exam chair and he peered at my eyes and made me read some letters and insisted they were probably fine. I commented a second time that I didn’t feel like they were very clear, and then a lightbulb went off in my head. “Um, are these toric lenses?” I asked.
He (of course) whipped a study out of his folder and began lecturing me about the movement of toric lenses on the eyeballs and how my astigmatism isn’t that bad and I’m probably better off with a non-toric lens.
“Soooo… this isn’t actually my prescription?” I asked.
“It’s very close,” he said, as if I’d just insulted his wife.
“But it’s not close enough. Because I still can’t SEE.”
“You can see pretty well,” he huffed. “Toric lenses have been shown to disturb the field of vision in a way that’s not significantly advantageous.”
“May I TRY the toric lenses, please?”
“Fine, but if you don’t like them, WE’RE DONE.”
Never in my life have I felt so much like I was being a huge pain in the ass to someone when I just wanted them to, you know, DO THEIR JOB.
He got me the toric lenses, and I took out the first pair and put the second pair in. My vision was crystal clear. I did a small happy dance with Chickadee before returning to be examined.
“These are great! Thank you so much!” He continued grumbling, reminded me that if my eyes are too dry there are no other options, and then told me to come back in a week to order them if I still like them. I thanked him again and we went on our way, after buying some cheapie generic reading glasses for use over the contacts.
Later I got into my car and put on my sunglasses, only to remember that, oh yeah, I need non-prescription sunglasses, too. Whoops.
I wore them for six hours today before considering clawing my eyes out, but it WAS my very first day. We’ll see how long I last tomorrow.
I totally wished this into existence! Except the part where I got the same curmudgeon for an eye doctor. And now I have to be successful in wearing them just on principle, because otherwise the grumpy old men with manila folders win.