Mr. Right-Click has been on my case about getting LASIK to remedy my legally batshit blindness for several years now.
Up until very recently, I had been ignoring him.
This is mostly because the thought of “lasers” cutting a microscopic “flap” on my eyeballs — at least initially — doesn’t strike me so much as alike an “advancement of technology” so much as it sounds like something hatched by the mind of Dr. Mengele in the effort to determine who gets sent directly to the showers and who is saved for the labor camps.
I got my first pair of glasses in tenth grade. They were red-rimmed and not totally different from the signature pair worn by Sally Jessy Raphael.
I didn’t need them.
But there were times when I couldn’t see the chalkboard completely clearly in class, and that was the standard my parents had set for when I would need vision correction. “Can you see the board in class?” they would ask.
I told you YES.
Until sometime in Sophomore year, when I still could mostly see it but the answer was no longer an indignant YES! and therefore, the time had come for me to visit Dr. Hatcher and his dark room full of letters projected onto the wall, with the mechanized robotic lenses that switched out and a disengaged voice that asked — A or B? (B) B or C? (B) B or D? (D) D or C? (C) Really? Yes. Look again. C? Yes, C. OK. I would answer the questions but worry that I had gotten them wrong, worry that there was no way for anybody to double check them, think that it was strange that there was no way for somebody to double check this.
I rarely wore the glasses, or the gas permeable contact lenses I couldn’t put in by myself. I learned to drive a car on a stick shift Volvo with a learner’s permit and a pair of Sally Jessy Raphael glasses. Once I got my license, I never wore those glasses again, except in order to see the numbers on my bathroom scale each morning went I went to college a few years later. But by that time, the Sally Jessys had broken in half, and I would hold one lens up to my eye like a monocle, the correction was enough to allow me to read the tiny dial, and the rest of the time I made do without any correction. As college progressed my vision worsened to the point of making people think I did not like them enough to say hello to them on campus, but really it was because I couldn’t see them, my vision having moved beyond “cannot really see the board” and into “cannot really see anything more than ten feet in further away from me” in just a few short years. On a vacation home, I got lenses I could put in and leave in until they fell out.
I had lenses that I put in and left in. I put them in, with much difficulty, or had somebody else do it, and left them in for as long as I could swing it. I would wake up in the morning and grab eyedrops to keep the lenses from sticking to my eyeballs. If I went swimming, I would pray that nothing would dislodge the lens, not because I was worried about losing it, but because then I might have to find somebody to put another lens in, and that would be uncomfortable. When I graduated from college, it occurred to me that perhaps it was time for me to learn how to put in my own lenses, but I still didn’t take them out or clean them, and this didn’t seem to bother me.
In graduate school, I started to worry about losing my vision. My eyes started to bother me. I scratched my cornea a few times in my sleep. I started taking my lenses out at night. I started making sure I had enough light to read with, I started wearing my glasses after about 12 hours because I had to. I started thinking about what would happen if someday I couldn’t see anymore, not because I was really and truly worried about it, but because I just thought wow, so much is tied up in this for me, what would I do? How would I change? Could I cope?
It’s kind of hard not to run away with the metaphors when you talk about vision and correction and hypothetical blindness. I’m getting LASIK on Thursday, because even though I’m afraid of the lasers and the flap (the flap?!) and all that, I hate the hassle, and I’ve always hated the hassle. Before you get LASIK, they make you wear your glasses for a week, no contacts at all, because the extended wear tends to reshape your cornea, and this affects how good of a correction the surgeon can give you.
So this week, I’ve been wearing my glasses everywhere. Before this week, I’d wear my glasses at night, before going to bed only, and in the mornings only. Admittedly, the periods had been getting longer in recent years as my eyes have become less and less tolerant of time with contacts on. But now I have to wear the glasses to the store, to drop Mini off at school (“Mommy?! Why you wear dose, dose GLASSES?!”), and to the gym (by the way, there is a reason you don’t often see people wearing glasses at the gym, and it’s not vanity).
When this week is over, I’m going to stomp on these fucking ugly glasses. Reshape your cornea my ass. They make you wear these glasses so that even if your correction isn’t that great you’re just so damn happy to be out of the stupid glasses you’re jumping for joy. Admittedly, I hate the way I look in glasses, but I also just hate the experience of wearing them. I hate the feeling of them on my face, I hate the lack of peripheral vision, and they make my eyes water. To top it all off, the prescription isn’t 100% up to date and they are kind of scratched up. At one point I actually went out and bough a cooler pair of glasses, but I quickly broke them, as if the Universe could not allow me to have an attractive alternative means of vision correction. And what’s the point of replacing them, if next week I get to get rid of all this crap, ostensibly forever?
But let’s face facts: what I really hate about these glasses is that they don’t let me do what I’ve been doing all my life with my vision issues: deny them. The truth is, without these glasses, I can’t fucking see anything. I’ve met people who are worse off than I am. I once knew a girl who, without her glasses, could no longer discern colors. I’m not that bad. I can still see you. I can still make out your features. But don’t expect me to be able to read anything beyond a few inches from my face. Don’t expect me to know if you’re smiling or frowning.
Without help, your face is just a blur of color against a backdrop of grey.
I’m hoping that, after Thursday, that will change forever. And that I won’t be left with empty “flaps” (?!) or total blackness. And I won’t need any of this shit anymore. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed.
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