In one month, I will celebrate my fortieth birthday. I don’t expect a big party to take place, but should it happen, I expect to be able to see it. Up until yesterday, I haven’t questioned the quality of my eyesight to a large degree. My prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses have not changed much at all over the last ten years. In fact, my vision had actually improved, a neat little trick that can happen to fool you while you’re in your thirties. Now I know why.
My oldest son came to me about a month ago, complaining of trouble seeing the chalkboard at school. I was due for an eye exam, so I scheduled us both for appointments on the same day. He felt a bit apprehensive about the possibility of needing eyewear, but I assured him he would not achieve nerd status.
“But, Mom, you wear glasses,” came his reply. I shot him a look and told him to go find some broccoli to eat.
I went in first to see the doctor, after explaining to my son that my appointments tend to be brief and he wouldn’t have to wait long for his turn. I knew something was up when the assistant led me to a different room than usual and instructed me to remove my contacts. I complied, then asked for a dog to lead me back to the exam room. I felt my way back through the waiting room, past where my son sat, flipping through an issue of Field and Stream. I tried to appear sighted as I walked by him.
The friendly assistant first asked me about any prescription drugs I may be taking. I rattled off my list and politely waited while she searched for a second sheet of paper. Then she hit me with the dreaded eye pressure test. Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a sudden blast of gale-force wind in each eyeball?
I had to perform, and be graded on, several stupid human tricks before my doctor arrived. I believed I had hit the mark on each task until I was asked to read the bottom line of letters projected on the wall across from my chair. Oh boy. Well, I had just put my contact lenses back in, so maybe I needed to acclimate. I took a moment, made a show of rapid blinking, coughing, and I think I even squeezed out a tear for effect. Still nothing. I could not have read those two bottom lines if Charlie Sheen had been standing there offering me a ball of crack and my own live-in male porn star.
Maybe I’m in denial. I hadn’t noticed any recent changes in my eyesight. I hadn’t run over any dogs or mailboxes lately. Maybe the assistant made the projection of the chart too small. Yeah, that was it. I waited for the doctor.
After a minute of adjusting a variety of lenses before my eyes, the doctor made a few notes on my chart and prepared to send me on my way, but not before making a statement that nearly cost him his life.
“We’ll be looking at bifocals soon,” left his mouth. Yeah, and he'll be looking at a coffin soon. I took a swing at him, but perception is his business and he dodged me in time.
My son went in alone when his turn came. I had been banished to the waiting room for bad behavior. When my son returned, the doctor accompanied him. I approached with caution.
“Well, he has your eyes,” the doctor said. I blushed.
“Thank you,” I said. “People are always –“
“No, he’s farsighted. He needs glasses.”
Oh. Didn’t see that one coming.