** Being Freshly Pressed on 1/3/12 was amazing! The number of views, comments and new subscribers has been overwhelming, in a good way. While I bask in the glow of this 24 hour spotlight, try to respond to all of my comments and recover from the shock, I thought you might enjoy this oldie, but goody. Long time readers will probably remember this story, but I thought many of my new subscribers would enjoy it.**
More than fifteen years ago when I uttered the words “I do”, my husband and I promised each other to be there for better or worse. For my husband, when it comes to the eye doctor, it is always worse. To be fair, our eye doctor is a lovely, knowledgeable, skilled physician and her office is a pleasant environment in which to spend some time while you are temporarily visually impaired. Oregano, however, shuns all things eye related. A lifelong wearer of glasses, you would think that a visit to the eye doctor would be a routine, yearly, non-threatening endeavor. Not so for this man, for whom the mere thought of a regular office visit causes clammy palms.
Last year, after a two year hiatus from the eye doctor, he agreed to go for a routine eye exam. He had made the appointment with little trepidation, but when it came time for the exam with its many drops and extreme eye close-ups, anxiety got the better of him and he broke out in a cold sweat. As he staggered, bleary eyed to the seat in the waiting room to wait for his eyes to dilate he began to teeter. The nurses brought him water and kept a close watch on him. He sat there trying to compose himself knowing he was only half way through his ordeal. After surviving the exam, he arrived home weary, sweaty and fully dilated. While recounting his reaction we both laughed thinking about what they must have marked in his chart.
Less than a year after that experience, the memory still fresh in his mind, Oregano found himself with an eye related problem. He began to feel as though he had a hair in his eye, but because of his eye squeamishness, he refused to let me look at it and didn’t investigate too thoroughly himself. Weeks passed with him rubbing his eye claiming that the hair was still there, but refusing to flush his eye with any drops.
In the ensuing weeks since the hair took up residence in his eye, I began to notice a problem with my own eyes: I needed to move books further and further away to be comfortable when reading. At first I thought these were random isolated incidents occurring with books with small text. However, after several weeks of regularly craning my neck backwards while outstretching my arms, I was forced to abandon my denial. Despite not yet being 40, I was probably going to need bifocals. Unafraid of the eye doctor, I scheduled an exam for myself.
While waiting for the date of my eye appointment, Oregano’s eye rubbing grew more frequent and he complained of sensitivity to light. Pleading with him to see the eye doctor was fruitless so I assured him that going blind was not a way to guarantee getting a dog for a pet. Reluctantly, he agreed and made an appointment. I promised to go with him for moral support and physical restraint if necessary. I also suggested that he enlist the assistance of the pharmaceutical industry and take a Xanax. On the dreaded day, I drove us both to the doctor’s office not quite sure which one of us would be better suited for driving home; me with my eyes dilated to the size of nickels or him in a post panic attack state, but we were in this together – for better or worse.
Oregano really held it together for the initial phase of the exam. It wasn’t until the doctor saw the miniscule piece of metal, not hair, in his eye that she uttered the word “remove” which struck fear in his heart. Before he knew what happened she had dropped a drop in his eye and departed saying she’d be right back.
In the few moments she was gone he looked forlornly in my direction and said, “Remove? Remove what? Why does she need to remove it?”
“Relax,” I said trying to keep him calm. “She’s going to remove the metal, not your eye.”
“It feels better already since she put the drops in. Can’t I just have more of those drops?”
I tried to reassure him, “The reason it feels better is because those were numbing drops. Once the PIECE OF METAL is removed from your eye, it will feel better.”
Always the analytical thinker, Oregano posed this idea, “If it’s metal, can’t she use a magnet to draw it out of my eye?”
When the doctor returned to the room he shared his clever suggestion. She got quite a laugh as she withdrew a long, pointy, metal object out of a sterile pouch. In Oregano’s defense, I would not have wanted to see this sharp stick coming directly at my eye either, but leaving a piece of metal on his cornea was not an option. I held my breath as she worked hoping Oregano wouldn’t move his head and skewer his eyeball during the procedure. The doctor worked quickly and removed the tiny piece of metal no bigger than a grain of sand. She was describing the eye drop regimen he would need to follow for the next week when Oregano grew pale and the sweating began. A few deep breaths, a cold compress and some reassuring words seemed to calm him down enough to move out of the “torture chair”, as he referred to it, to the “spectator’s chair.”
Then it was my turn. I said, “Let me show you how it’s done.”
As I calmly sat through my eye exam without incident or any adverse physical effects, Oregano sipped cool water and took deep breaths in the corner of the room. It wasn’t until the doctor stated that I did, indeed, need bifocals that my heart skipped a beat. I knew it was coming. There is only so long you can blame the font size or the length of your arms, before you must accept reality, even if the reality fairy is a few years too early.
After treating my weary, yet brave, husband to his co-pay and heading out into the gray, rainy evening with my sunglasses on, we arrived at Lenscrafters to share in this big life moment: purchasing my first pair of bifocals, or rather, the more politically correct term, “progressives.” Feeling better after his ordeal, Oregano enjoyed commenting on the fact that he is older and doesn’t yet need bifocals. As I sat close to the mirror staring at potential new eyewear through dilated eyes while coming to terms with reaching this inauspicious milestone, my husband sat patiently by my side. There, for better or worse, he told me that the glasses I had chosen looked beautiful with my gray hairs.