4 in 5

That’s four visits to the eye doctor in five weeks. I only skipped a week because I was sick, and I’ll be back there next week, making it five in six. Wow. I really had my fingers crossed that this would be the week, but my patience is being tried, and another contact is on order for my left eye.

The day hadn’t started well. I’d stayed up too late, and when my alarm went off at 7:00 AM I decided that was absurd and overly ambitious and reset it for 7:30. But I accidently set it for PM, and woke up with a jolt at 8:11 (the room was way too bright for 7:30 in February) with thirty-four minutes to eat, make coffee, shower, dress, let dog in yard (sorry, Luck), feed dog, scrape windshield (spill coffee) and get to work with just enough seconds to prepare for a 9:00 massage. I made it, but in my haste I put the right contact in the left eye and the left in the right. I stayed like this for five hours until I could get home and switch them.

The thing was, I wasn’t sure I’d actually switched them, and during a week that is already threatening to break me I thought: is this the day I start going blind?

It was dramatic and it was pointless, but I went there anyway. There was no stopping me en route to that dark place, the place I thought years ago would be my destiny, but that now I’m pretty sure is an unrealistic worry. These are the kinds of days where I believe in the certainty of very little, and pretty sure is as confident as I can get that corrective lenses will advance as my vision decreases and I will not have to worry about being blind.

This sounds dire, but I assure you it’s not. It’s more about trust in the future, and trust in general, which in general I lack. The goal: trust that if you take care of each moment the future will take care of itself.

And if you don’t like the present moment? Change it. Shake it up. Be a little dramatic. Do what you need to make it something you like and something you can be proud of, and in the process stay in the process.

I arrived at Dr. Sheppard’s office five minutes late, but it turned out they were running late, so I got to enjoy a PEOPLE magazine and a cup of tea. It was not uplifting to read about the breakups of Heidi and Seal or Demi and Ashton. I knew all about the Sidney, MT teacher who was never seen again after she went out for a morning run, but the (inter)national coverage made the story even more alarming and unsettling.

It could happen to any of us, but what “it” is remains unclear. Sherry Arnold is missing, but her body has yet to be discovered. Two suspects have been charged with aggravated kidnapping and have been held in North Dakota, but there hasn’t been any information given about what led authorities to the suspects. Bail is set at $2.5 million for each man, and they’re being extradited back to Montana for their arraignments. The residents of Sidney, MT, population 5,000, are now locking their doors for the first time. Ever.

I was in a bad place when the doctor called my name. I went into the exam room, washed my hands, and waited for her to present me with my new left contact. She said, “This could be the one!” so optimistically as she set it down in front of me.

Don’t cry. Don’t cry yet. Be a big girl.

Seriously? Thirty-seven years old? Really? Oh, yeah. But the difference here, for me, is that it feels good to be honest about these hurts and challenges. It is somehow refreshing to acknowledge that I don’t want to be “this way” forever, but this is where I am right now and the only place to start from is where you are.

So we begin.

I put the contact in? I blink. I look around the room at various things but try to focus on nothing in particular. It is more clear, but it isn’t right. There’s something wobbly about the vision. It feels sort of like my pupils have been dilated, or like my eyes are watering and I’m looking through that distortion.

“So….how is it?” She’s so excited and you have to love her.

“Better…” I say, punctuating with a question mark, “but not perfect. I can’t describe it, but something’s not quite right.”

The doctor is hopeful, and as I put my face in the machine and she starts with the “1 or 2? 2 or 1?” and I want to stop her and say no-no-no but she’s been so kind and I don’t want to be rude so I say “I don’t know,” “I’m not sure,” and “It’s hard to say” before my eyes fill up and I sit back in the chair. Not like a big girl.

“You’re frustrated. I understand. Why don’t we let these settle onto your eyes for a few minutes.” She explains that contacts to correct astigmatism—toric lenses—are different and there are two powers to each lens. They are made to not shift around on the eye, but that have to fit just right. “Just let it settle on your eye for a few minutes.”

I go back to the lobby and anesthetize with celebrity gossip. When I’m reading everything seems fine with the eyes, maybe they are settling, but when I turn my gaze outward it is apparent that this contact is not right.

I erupt in tears when I walk back into the exam room. “I’m so sick of this,” I tell Dr. Sheppard. I quickly clarify to let her know I’m not sick of her and I really appreciate her patience, but a lifetime of this has gotten old. I just want to see. We do a little more of the “1 or 2? 2 or 1?” business and I actually let out a giggle when we’re onto something good. Next week we’ll meet again.

Dr. Sheppard and I always talk about books, and we’ve recommended some to each other every week. She wants to reconnect with me that way, take my mind off the blurriness, so she tells me that she’s enjoying A Widow for One Year by John Irving, one of my favorites that I recommended a couple of weeks back, and she can’t wait to finish it while she’s at a friend’s mountain lodge this weekend. I’m happy to hear that, but am having a hard time pulling myself together. Dr. Sheppard has another patient waiting and I feel guilty for taking so much of her time. I do not pay for each visit. I paid at my first visit for the exam and contact lens “fitting,” but five visits for a contact lens fitting? This woman is a saint.

She hands me a box of Kleenex and tells me to hold on. She scurries off and runs up and down some stairs and she returns with a stack of books. “I went into my lending library and grabbed a few books. Now, I know these may be too ‘cutesy’ for you, but they’re terrific stories.”

They are too cutesy for my taste, but they look terrific. The wise doctor reads my face and can possibly even see into my heart. “Maybe you could use a little cutesy right now?”

Heck yeah I can. Thanks, doc.


Eyes up...

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