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?