My post from yesterday talked about my scariest symptom – the one that has me truly concerned more than I’ve ever been over any health issue in my entire life. So today I thought I’d lighten it up slightly – talk about something that’s not as severe as that…and if I step back and look at it even makes me laugh at how I complain about it when I have far worse things going on. But never-the-less, it’s an issue and I’m going to vent about it!
I started wearing contacts in 8th grade. I convinced my parents to get them for me because I was a cheerleader and I couldn’t see the score (or anything else, really) while I was cheering. It wasn’t like it is now – with the throw-away kind. They were expensive and if they were lost or torn you didn’t just open up a new package from the box. You had one pair and that was it. I distinctly remember being made to empty out the trap under the sink into a metal pan and sift through the gunk to rescue a contact that I’d let go down the sink drain in junior high or early high school. Just the thought of that makes me gag even now!
I remember when I first got them, I walked around saying “You people actually SEE this stuff…without glasses or contacts?” I truly had no idea that this was the way people were supposed to see!
My first pair of glasses were in second grade (remarkable the exact same age both of my children began wearing them). They were pretty sweet…rose-tinted lenses that were huge (and not in the trendy-over-sized-sunglasses way, in the it-was-the-80’s-way) with my initials in the corner with stickers! I’m not sure exactly when I quit wearing glasses, but they disappeared from school pictures somewhere around 4th grade, so I’m thinking they didn’t last very long. And years later I think I know why. Because I HATE THEM! So my eyes gradually got worse between the revolt from glasses and the arrival of contacts.
Now I can see enough that if in an emergency I had to be able to function, I could do so. I’m not as bad as my 10 year-old is (he is nearing legal blindness without his corrective lenses), but I can’t see details for anything about a foot and a half away from my face without corrective lenses. So constant corrective lenses are necessary for pretty much everything in my life except for laying in bed reading with the kindle about 8 inches from my face.
In April 2013 I was told by the ophthalmologist that I could not wear contacts. I, of course, starting asking if I could “just wear them” for various things, like dancing or photography. He said absolutely not – that I was doing damage to my eyes by wearing them because of the chronic dry eyes due to my Sjogren’s. I asked if I could have Lasik and he said – and I’m literally quoting him, word for word here, “Oh, hell no!” He said that MAYBE, after my eyes had begun to recover, that MAYBE I could begin to work up a tolerance for wearing them for brief periods of time, but that I need to be prepared to never wear them again.
My point to this story is that doctor’s need to be more aware of when something may seem inconsequential to them but yet have major impact on their patient’s lives. It may seem very easy for him to say “just don’t wear contacts – just wear glasses.” But for the patient it may be much more important than that.
I know some people choose glasses over contacts – my brother, in fact, chooses glasses because the thought of poking gives him the heebie-jeebies. But then again, his vision isn’t nearly as bad as mine (as evidenced when he and my kids began a “glasses swap” when we went to visit him this past summer – he and my daughter are about the same, mine are significantly worse and my son’s are off the charts worse), so he can do things without them (like swimming) and get by relatively easily. Some people are completely OK with wearing them everyday and that’s great for them.
But for me it’s a loss of the choice. I don’t get to choose glasses because I want to, I’m told I have to have them because I have no other choice. I can’t have surgery. I can’t use overnight corneal reshaping like my son has begun. I can’t wear contacts for various activities. I have no choice. This stupid disease has taken away so much and now it’s taking this away, too.
Yes, I know there are worse things in my life, and much worse things in others’ lives, than taking away my choice of corrective lenses. But it’s symbolic. It’s symbolic of how it’s affecting every little aspect of my life. And there’s nothing I can do about it.
So here’s all the reasons that I hate wearing glasses, most of which I never even considered before I had to wear them every day. After all, it’s been since 3rd or 4th grade since I’ve worn them daily.
- I can’t see with them off to put make-up on, but I have to have them off to put the make-up on.
- They cover up that make-up that I just put on, so you know what…let’s just forget the make-up all together.
- They fog up when I go from an air conditioned house or car to the Kansas summer humidity.
- They fog up when I open the oven door.
- They fog up when I pour something hot into the strainer. Have you ever been in the middle of pouring hot, boiling liquid and suddenly not been able to see. Food has ended up missing the strainer and landing in the sink because of this. Boiling water has been spilled on me because of this. Not fun.
- They fog up when I open the dishwasher.
- I get zits under the nose piece and that really hurts.
- I can’t lay on my side on the couch and watch TV.
- I can’t see when I swim – in fact I never went under the water this entire summer because I can’t stand to not be able to see – so I spent the summer in the pool keeping my head above water.
- I have to have a second set of glasses as prescription sunglasses. Not only does this cost more money, but then I do dumb things like get out of the car and go into a store only to realize I still have my sunglasses on and have to turn back around and go back to the car and get my regular glasses. I can’t do the transitions lenses because I can’t have the tinting for photography (see below). I don’t like the clip-on things…and frankly, I’d lose them…or break them…I know myself too well for that.
- It’s hard to be a photographer with them – I don’t like having my glasses between me and my camera. If I wear sunglasses outside (at my kids’ sporting events or just anywhere outside) and want to take picture then I have to flip back and forth between my sunglasses and regular glasses, or I have to flip my sunglasses up on top of my head to check exposure – but then I can’t see!
- They slip when they get sweaty.
- I can’t dance with them on. It was a few months before the dance show I was a part of last spring when this all came about. I couldn’t see in dance class (let alone have any reliable balance) with them off, but if I had them on they went flying off constantly.
- Likewise, I can’t exercise in general with them on without them constantly slipping, shifting and causing my vision to do funny things as they do so.
- I get sore spots behind my ears.
- I have to take them off to rub my face or eyes.
- It’s irritating to pull up a ponytail or get your hair cut or colored and have to have them off the whole time.
- I have to turn my head to be able to see – I can’t just shift my eyes up, down, left or right…I actually have to turn my head.
- I have to push them up all the time.
- I’m sure there’s more…I curse them in my head on a regular basis…that’s just all I can think of right now.