Thursday, January 28, 2010

A few weeks ago I felt that the time had come for me to get contacts. Yes, I’m a good bit behind the times in my choice of vision correction in that I have had glasses for years. I usually only wear them when I drive so that I can make the squinty mole face whenever I can’t see the television. Some of you know this face. So having lost my glasses yet again, I decided now would be the time to get contacts. I made an appointment and waited, gradually filling with anxiety.

Finally the day arrived. I drove to the optometrist, sans glasses of course. I told you, they’re lost. As I sat in the waiting room I got even more anxious. When I casually think of the eye doctor I don’t have a problem. When I actually think about it in detail I get kinda antsy. I mean, you go to sit in the chair and then they give you the optical pop quiz. “Can you read the second line for me?” What if you can’t? What if that G is actually an O? Then I start to freak out. How could you get something so simple as a letter wrong? You know what a G looks like right? How could you think that was a G? What are you, stupid? Or even worse, you said that O was an L. An L?! Really?!

And then you just know they’re going to want to put stuff in your eyes. That’s what they do, isn’t it? I don’t even use eye drops I hate putting stuff in my eyes so much. It’s about this time that I start to think, maybe contacts aren’t for me.

So I get put in this little exam room, dim of course. They always are. The nurse lady hands me the big flat spoon to put over my eye and starts asking me about the letters. I consider squinting just so that I won’t be wrong. It’s like cheating on a test. But I didn’t. As a direct result I believe I called an E a 7. So now I’m blind and dyslexic. AND they’re going to put stuff in my eyes. Why did I make this appointment? It seemed like such a good idea a week ago.

Then my doctor rolls in after I pretty much fail the eye test, revoking my license to see. My eye doctor is pretty cool. I don’t get to see him for most of the check-up because I’m stuck behind the big machine wearing its little face mask that makes you look like an owl. So in his Barry White voice he says things like “one or two?”; “two or three”; “Is three better? Better still? How about four?” This is a very good place for indecisive people. It requires you to decide on the spot. That also worries me. I’m afraid I’m going to get it wrong. I’m afraid that after I confirm that lens five was the best I’ll yell “No, wait! Seven! Seven was the best.” But I won’t be sure.

So once the lens game and my nervous breakdown were over he asks if we’re dilating my eyes today. No. It’s always a no. That man has been pestering me for ten years to dilate my eyes. I don’t quite know how it works except that there are drops involved and he says it’s so he can look in my eyes. What could be in there, but...eye? I just have this image of him holding my ears and staring into my eyes like one of those old movie boxes, like he’s trying to watch Steamboat Willie in my head or something. So, no. I’m driving, no dilating.

Instead I get the consolation prize of some other kind of stupid drops, only this time it’s a dye that can stain your clothes and makes your eyes numb. Maybe it’s just me, but does that sound safe to you? It will stain fabric and makes mucous membranes numb. Is this bleach? But he is the ‘doctor’ and I’m not so I really feel like I can’t refuse. What a great date he must be. So he pulls back my eyelids and puts this stuff in them. He shines a light in them and makes some notes, telling me that the pressure is good. He’s checking pressure? What am I, a tire? Then he asks if there’s any particular type of contacts I want to try. What do I know about contacts? He should know better than me. So he scribbles on my chart, leads me outside where another guy takes my chart and takes me to a table in the back, overlooked by the diploma of my doctor from eye school and a poster of what look like Andy Warhol renderings of eyes. It’s very cozy.

The guy goes and gets two individual little packets, which I can only assume contain contacts. Turns out I was right. Dude has glasses. He takes them off and, in a manner which is not supposed to be scary, shows me how to put in a contact. This guy’s eyelids stretch so much farther than human skin ever should. I think I saw his skull. Wait, though—he doesn’t even wear contacts. Should he really be certified to show people how to wear them? That’s like an Amish guy telling you he’s your electrician. He tells me to go wash my hands and then I get to try. An overwhelming sickness rushes over me and suddenly I wish I was looking at a chart identifying letters as numbers again.

So I scrub up and return to the table. Before me sits a magnifying mirror which I go to great lengths to avoid in normal circumstances. So I pull my eye far too open and start trying to put this tiny piece of plastic on my eye. Meanwhile, Dude is leaning across the table directing me like an air traffic controller, “Closer to your nose! Straight in! Go!” It was at this point that I realized I am a blinker. A flutterer if you will. That fact makes it pretty hard to put in a contact, especially when your eyelids have chosen the latter of the ‘fight or flight’ instinct. It took several tries but finally I got them both in. That was when I looked up and realized the Andy Warhol pictures were actually a poster of degenerative eye diseases. My, what bright colors! One didn’t even have an iris! Seeing clearly is overrated.

So I was victorious and was ready to leave. Then he started to talking again, “OK, to take them out...” Oh, God. I hadn’t even considered taking them out. It was hard enough to get them in! So I watched him pull apart his eye again (ew). Then he told me to take one out. Seriously? Right now? I just got them in! You saw the issues I had with that! Why do you hate me?

I heaved a great sigh and raised my hands to my already watering eyes. The basic directions are pull down and pinch. Sounds healthy for an eye, right? It was about the time that I was ready for ‘pinch’ that I realized what very long thumb nails I have. This is not random, I promise. How am I going to pinch when my actual thumb is an inch away? I’m going to stab myself in the eye. That’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to try and take out a contact and end up stabbing myself in the eye. Luckily, and this is rarely considered lucky to me, I had broken the thumb nail on my other hand so I decided to try it left handed. Somehow or another I managed to do it. Dude said “Great! Now go ahead and put it back in.” Dammit! What more do you people want from me?! Make up your mind!

So as I fumbled with my eye again, he filled out a form. He asked me to sign it, as it confirmed that I was able to put in and remove my contacts. So what happens if you weren’t able to remove them? Do they take them back? And if so, how? Do you have to stay there until you figure it out? Is it a hostage situation? Fortunately, I didn’t have to find out. Dude gave me a case and some solution and sent me into another exam room. He said the doctor would join me shortly.

Barry White doctor came in and turned on an eye chart. I just took this test! Come on!! Let me out! So I rambled off some G’s and E’s and I was out of there. There wasn’t as much anxiety about this test. It was more like a test I had studied for this time.

The guy had told me only to wear them for four to six hours the first day. So I knew to take them out around 3. The anxiety began to mount again. I was beginning to think maybe contacts aren’t for me. I’m going to need Xanax to wear contacts. It’s terrible. Inevitably, 3:00 rolled around and I started trying to remove the contacts. Once I’d pulled them down my vision was blurry and I couldn’t see it to grab it. I also couldn’t feel it with my fingers. What a terrible joke on the myopic of this world. After twenty minutes of trying both eyes with both hands I had used every expletive I knew and even made up a few more.

At this point I called the Chicken, a longtime contact wearer. She didn’t answer. I called Mom, who happened to have the Chicken with her. I asked if she had any tips and/or tricks on getting contacts out. She said pull down and pinch. Oh, what help! Dude with the stretchy eye said that! It doesn’t help! I can’t feel anything! Get these things out of my head! I’m not playing! Then I commenced a long-winded freak-out, mentioning never getting them out and them crusting over onto my eyes and going blind, and then having to get a seeing eye dog which I will never know if it’s cute or not, and how I don’t want a dog that can do things that I can’t, namely see. I believe I also waxed on about how I was afraid of puncturing my eye with a fingernail and having eye juice seep out. I don’t think she was listening to me anymore because it would have been hard to over all the laughing. This is serious! I have foreign objects on my pupils that I can’t get off!

I hung up the phone with much chagrin and went back to the bathroom. (Note: I properly said goodbye, not like in the movies where they just hang up the phone without warning.) So I just started pinching at my eye and got so mad that I got them out. I stuck them in the case and that is where they remain two days later.

Maybe I’ll try again another day.

Do they make seeing eye Pomeranians?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I was scheduled to attend a birthday party this past Sunday. Not just any birthday party either, and sadly not one with an open bar or even a cash bar. A three year old’s Strawberry Shortcake themed birthday party. That’s some of the best kind. There’s only so long that you can plan a theme birthday party and it not e considered stupid. My niece Hannah, daughter of The Chicken, was turning three.

The weather and surrounding details were not what one might consider to be ideal. The two weeks leading up to said fete were full of stomach virus hell. For all concerned. It started with me, though I swear I did not give it to the Chicken’s family. It passed through my family, thankfully sparing baby Mo, and then started on the Chicken’s family, sparing no one. Hannah even still has a touch of it today. On top of all that, it was like a gale outside. Postponing the party had been mentioned, it was so bad. Strawberry Shortcake won out in the end, though.

Now as anyone with children knows, orchestrating a trip out of the house can take some doing even on good days. The party was at 1400 hours and at 1300 hours, Connor was still taking a nap. I don’t like to wake him up if I absolutely don’t have to. It was looking like I was going to have to. A familiar buzzing led me to my phone and a text from the Chicken, frantic and with feathers flying no doubt. The text read as follows: can u get balloons? (I had to scroll through many several messages to find that just so it was verbatim.) The back story to that was she had been planning to go get balloons before the party. Not a very involved back story. I agreed.

Luckily, Connor woke up before I had to shake him awake. We got all the babies dressed and, holding them over our heads like soldiers with rifles in ‘Nam, stuffed them in the car. The roads were standing in water, it had rained so much, and was still raining. We got to Kmart and I jumped out to retrieve balloons, wrapping paper, and red and pink candy. I got the paper and candy, stashed them near a register, and dashed to the floral shop, hoping someone was in there.

I told the girl behind the counter I needed balloons for a party. She asked how many and I told her I needed 6 red and 6 pink. It was about that time that I began wondering how I was going to get all these helium filled floating bits of happy into my car. So that was the real reason the Chicken didn’t get the balloons. She didn’t have room in her car! And she has a Tahoe! Oh, dear. The trunk, maybe? Maybe each of the boys could hold one? No, surely, one of them would bite a balloon and it would pop and then we’d have two diapers to change.

In the time it took for this woman to press one valve 12 times I felt like I could have gone and cleaned out the trunk. In reality, it was five minutes. These balloons looked huge floating there on the ceiling, curly ribbons trailing from them. So finally I paid for everything and started outside. It was raining harder, if you can believe it. I couldn’t communicate with Dave what I wanted to do with these balloons so my only option was to run for it. Of course he pulled up so that I had to run around the car to get in. So I splashed around the car and dove to get in, all the while pulling red and pink balloons with me. I pushed and tugged them all in and shut the door.

I heard Connor behind me yelling “B’loons! My b’loons!” So there I was, lost in a cloud of Strawberry Shortcake. I managed to stuff one balloon under the dash. That was the only one that was maneuvered. They were all on top of me, obscuring Dave’s vision and making the drive to Lindale just a little bit more thrilling. Is there a car coming? Who knows?! Go anyway!!

Somehow I inched around and found my phone and texted the Chicken that the balloons had been gotten and we were on our way. Then just to verify the issues I was having with said balloons I sent a picture as well. In it, you can see the balloons invading my personal space and I think one of them even had a gun. One of them owes me a drink.

Finally we arrived and PeePaw came to escort us to the door with the umbrella. I spilled out of the car behind the balloons which were still all tied together with their little yellow ribbon. The bouquet o’ balloons seemed to be the guest of honor and only two popped, which was not my fault at all and I wasn’t even near them when it happened. I did my job.

So Hannah had her birthday party and, other than Connor, was the only one who noticed that there were balloons there at all. Highlights from the party include Hannah running around in a pink bathing suit and rain boots, Hannah and Uncle Mike playing with a Strawberry Shortcake play set, and Dave presenting me with a teddy bear that I have complained about being lost since Boxing Day, totally unrelated but a highlight nonetheless.

Always plan ahead, because you never know when you may have to ride 15 miles with your left leg behind your neck and your right knee in your left eye socket just to transport helium filled rubber.