Saturday, December 31, 2016

My 30+ Year Journey with Glasses

Me at about 14
I remember vividly a time in Kindergarten when I just couldn't see the blackboard. I would be in the front row, squinting so hard and wondering why the teacher was writing in such tiny font. At some point I must have told my mother and, after an eye exam, I had my very first pair of (glass) glasses. The feeling I experienced when I put them on is one I will never forget. The way everything suddenly became crisp, clear and in vivid color...I couldn't believe I had been missing out! That euphoria lasted exactly 3 days until I did a high jump at recess and my glasses slid right off my face and shattered into a million pieces. This was the very first sign that my life with poor vision was not going to be easy. At all.

At a friend's birthday party...yep, that's me on the left.
Over the years we tried different things- I was an avid reader and my prescription was often so strong that I preferred to read without my glasses holding the book right up to my face. This spurred a fun game for my classmates who would walk by and slam the book into my face yelling "Slambook!". Ouch. My mother though bifocals (then, later, tri-focals) would help. This led to a weird tic of me constantly tilting my head to find which section of my glasses would help in each scenario. I had the 'librarian chain' to hold my glasses in place, the bi-focals, then, for something different, we started with all kinds of wacky colors because my mother thought it would add a little pizzazz to the situation. It did not.

My freshman year of college I spent Spring Break at a friend's home in the Bronx and that trip changed my life forever. She took me to an eye place in the nearby mall and I got my very first pair of contact lenses. I.was.amazed. Not only did I not have to wear glasses all the time, but I was surprised to find that beneath the coke bottles, I had a fairly decent looking face! I bought my first pair of sunglasses, went crazy with the makeup and proceeded to make up for lost time. It was amazing...for a while.

Dominican Republic, 2011
If you've ever worn contact lenses, you know that sticking your finger into your eyes every day is only charming for a while. The other issue that had reared its head was that my love of travel was in direct conflict with my need for contact lenses. Each time I would have to plan ahead for how I would do the trip- should I wear glasses during the flight? Where would I stow my glasses if I needed to sleep? What if they slid on the floor and I couldn't find them? What if it was sunny when we landed and I needed sunglasses? And with the FAA regulations on liquids it became even more complicated to just throw contacts in by handbag. I know these are that my mother lovingly refers to as 1st world, electricity-having, problems, but to me they put a real damper on a hobby that should have been nonstop fun.

In the past 2 years or so, I have had an increasing number of people that I personally know, undergo Lasik. I went back and forth with the idea and finally, this fall, went for a consultation. I knew that the window for any corrective action was closing and, to be honest, I have a crippling fear of impending blindness. I wanted to take the step that might help me avoid getting to that point. I have so many fears surrounding my terrible vision- I keep a spare set of glasses in my car because I am terrified of having a contact rip in my eye when I need to drive. I check the screws on my glasses daily because I worry that I will lose an arm. I have an old set of glasses I keep for relaxing my hair at home because the chemicals ruin the arms. I have a backup pair of glasses I keep in my drawer in the bottom left corner in case I need them to help me find my current glasses. I mean, it's a whole event.

My Lasik consultation was a colossal fail. The doctor told me that I was not a candidate due to blah, blah, blah and also blah. I was crushed. I had finally summoned all my courage to go for the consult and to be told that I was out was a huge blow. But from my dark sad hole, I became aware of him talking about 'another option'....I wiped my tears and listened to him tell me about the Visian Intraocular Lens Implant. This was a way to have my vision corrected (possibly to even higher than 20/20!) with implants that would go behind my corneas. I was...intrigued...Could this really work? I was excited until I saw the cost- all payable up front, not covered by insurance. Yeah, no way.

Winter 2015. My 'cute' frames
But, as Dean and I talked more and more about it, suddenly it didn't seem so impossible. We calculated how much I had been spending annually on eye care, glasses, contacts, solution and realized that this surgery would pay for itself in just a few years. The thought of opening my eyes in the morning and just...seeing....gosh, that still makes me weak in the knees just thinking about it. After a lot of discussion and research we decided it was worth pursuing. The facility I am going to has done thousands of this procedure with amazing outcomes. The cost includes all pre and post-op care, as well as future Lasik if I need it to adjust my vision. (With your vision corrected to a reasonable strength, you can have Lasik if needed in the future for a slight tweak). My surgery is early February and I have a few pre-procedure visits I need to have before then. I plan to share every step of this journey in case it is something you are considering for yourself.