My old glasses. This is the most recent pair before the current pair and thus not the pair I’m currently wearing. Makes perfect sense.
As the two usual readers of this blog know, I began my blogging “career” over on my Facebook page utilizing the “Notes” feature (now it would be called an app). I would write a longer-form story (longer than a status update) in Notes detailing the events of any number of particular days of our road trip in the summer of 2008. Our son was six weeks-old when we began and twice that age when we returned. I continued using my Notes as a writing tool for the next two years on and off before receiving the suggestion to switch over to WordPress. At first I double-posted — once on each service; but then I just gave up on Notes and stuck with WP.
Today I had cause to go back in search of all those notes. The first thing I noticed was that I couldn’t find them. It took me a while, what with all of Facebook’s updates and makeovers in the past two years. But I ultimately found them under my “About Me” tab. And then I discovered some things about myself and my writing. I learned that I had written way more using this format then I had thought. True, I didn’t blog every day over there as I do here. But I did write a heck of a lot. Also, because I was on Facebook and I controlled who read my stuff I was a bit freer with my content. No, nothing salacious, but I certainly did not mind dropping certain colloquialisms. And I also realized that when I was freer and not worried about prettying everything up with a picture and posting directly onto a social site I got a lot more in the line of comments. I’m proud of what I wrote over there. So from time to time, I’d like to share some of my stories from back then.
Oh, by the way, there’s a reason I had to look all of this up. My contacts ran out. I’m tired off wearing my most recent pair of glasses. They tend to slide right off my face. I found an old(er) pair. The prescription didn’t seem too bad. I remembered these frames being the pair I bought in December 2007. What I could not remember was whether I had purchased another pair in between. At least according to this story and several Facebook pictures from the same time, I had.
Doctor, My Eyes!
Originally published on Facebook, February 21, 2010
Friday afternoon, Karla, the kids, and I drove over to Sam’s Club. You know Sam’s. It’s that delightfully large companion to the delightfully larger Walmart. This Sams location was 5.2 miles long. We went there because Karla had scheduled eye exams for the both of us. I don’t know what her particular situation was but as for me I had been on the same last pair of contact lenses for about two weeks longer than I should have been before I finally ditched them last Sunday and switched over to my glasses. This means that by Monday morning Ben was discovering the joy of ripping Daddy’s glasses off his face and throwing them on the ground. My prescription is now more than one year old and so I needed a new exam. It’s OK, though, because since my eyes first started failing when I was ten the prescription has needed strengthening roughly every eighteen months. Our plan was for me to go in, get taken care of, and then let Karla go in while I stayed with the kids in the car. I was totally unprepared for what lay ahead of me…
If you’ve ever had the experience of going to an optometrist that’s “associated” with another store that sells the product (the glasses, lenses, etc.) such as Lenscrafters, Costco, or the aforementioned Walmart and Sam’s; you may have noticed that the Doctor of Optometry is technically a separate entity. If you’re dealing with a Lenscrafters or other smaller store it might be hard to tell how distinct the separation is because there’s usually a common entry. In other words, it looks like the optometrist is the guy examining your eyes and selling you the prescription. At the larger stores, however, it’s usually easier to spot the difference because of the scaled-back, no frills approach to sales. In other words, the optometrist’s nook and selling space might be right in the same physical alcove at the front end of the store but since selling spectacles isn’t the store’s top priority (more of an add-on) the signs indicating that the doctor is not employed by the store are a bit more prominent. I know that the logic in that last sentence contains a non sequitur but I lost my train of thought and couldn’t figure out how to bridge the gap to the next point I wanted to make. That point is that there was no way you could mistake this office for anything but an independent doctor of optometry. First, there was a simple and small red vinyl awning protruding over a single glass door on the front of what is otherwise a very plain, bare facade. The letters “O. D.” were emblazoned in white on this sanguine tarp. Not much time would pass before I understood why this particular doctor had been placed in what amounted to a little pen of an office cut off from the rest of the store with only an outside entrance.
I opened the door and immediately felt as though I had walked in on someone’s private space. It was kind of like when you walk in on someone’s private space. Wait a minute… that’s a horrible analogy. OK, take two. It was kind of like when you enter a co-worker’s cubicle to ask if he had seen the Giants game the day before and it’s obvious that he’s been making out with the woman who delivers the Poland Spring bottles. I know, I thought she was a lesbian too, right? What the hell? OK, I walked into this place and a very peculiar man who looked like Burl Ives was standing behind a counter at the far end of what appeared to be a waiting area. I say it appeared to be a waiting area because it also appeared to be someone’s basement rec room. The general “lived-in” look just spoke to me of something not being quite right. I should have walked away. Too late. Burl looked right into my eyes (which ironically he does for a living) and said “You’re wife coming too?” Turns out he knew that the two of us were coming in together. Guess we were his only customers at that hour of the day. I explained the arrangement Karla and I had and he nervously said “OK, uh, let’s go into… this room.” He said it with such pause that I figured he was deciding in his mind which exam room would be best to use. Then I realized he only had two exam rooms. “Do you need any of my information?” I asked. “Just your phone number.” was the answer I got back. Was he going to call me afterwards? See how I liked my new contacts? Did I mention how disappointed he looked that Karla wasn’t there with me? We walked into Exam Room 1 and he instructed me to take off my glasses and my pants. LOL. Sorry, couldn’t resist throwing that in there. Just the glasses. It took him about ten minutes (no exaggeration) to focus in on my prescription. I could have just told him. Yeah, I’m that good. “Let’s go into the other room.” I followed him into a very dark room. If you can believe it, this is where it gets really bizarre.
As I sat in the chair for what is always my favorite part of the exam (more on that in a bit) my initial sense of this place was not only strengthened but also the story was beginning to completely unfold. There was an open portable DVD player on a folding chair at eye-level with and opposite from the exam chair with a stack of titles next to it. A book on how to manage life with diabetes was on a table next to the exam chair. There were the remnants of the past four meals on the counter. Dry cleaning was hanging from the metal arm of the machine that sticks off the wall where they flip the lenses back and forth on you to nail down your prescription. This guy was living here! Holy cow… It’s true. Everything fit. Burl Ives was a lonely old man, probably rejected by his family years ago for some reason and he simultaneously earns his keep and shelters himself by falling back on his schooling as an optometrist. The Sam’s Club knew his kind and so they boxed him in while also warning the general public to be ware with the red awning. The OD on that awning might just as well have stood for the problem that lead him down the horrible path to his current existence. He overdosed on something at a party in the 60’s. I’m convinced of it. Wow. Where was I?…
Oh yeah, the flippy thing… Ever have an eye exam? They do the following to you: blow a puff of air into each eye, instruct you to read from a chart at some distance (even though the characters on that chart don’t change), and then bring a giant contraption down in front of your face, flipping little glass lenses over and over again asking each time “Better? Worse? Which one works for you? One or Two? Better or Worse?” I don’t know what this is supposed to accomplish. Somehow I restrain myself from telling the doctor each time this happens to me “Listen, pal, leave the room. I’ll flip around, find what I like, and invite you back in when I’m done. We both know why I’m here and it’s not for your services as a ‘doctor’ so much as it is the fact that you’ve got that nifty little prescription pad. Now do as I say and no one gets hurt.”
But none of that would have mattered to Dr. Ives. You see, he flipped and flipped. I know my current prescription. This is why I was shocked to hear him say that the script in my left eye has intensified while that in my right has apparently gotten better. “Not true.” I thought to myself; but I figured I’d let him have his say. He handed me the corresponding lenses to try out and read the old chart. Big surprise I couldn’t see jack from the right eye. Went through the flippy thing again. He gives me another, stronger contact for my right eye. Again, can’t see the chart. Finally, he looks into my eye with a scope and tells me “Oh, I see. You’ve got some kind of ulceration on your cornea.” With this diagnosis he then told me that, since he couldn’t get a good “read” of my eyes (creepy language coming from Burl) he was withholding my prescription until I had time to see an ophthalmologist. I wanted to say “You mean a REAL eye doctor?” but I didn’t. I left the office, walked to the car, and told Karla what had happened. She then went in and got to see firsthand what I had experienced. We both realized after the fact that this guy is essentially holding a prescription I paid $85 for hostage until I see the other doctor. It got really weird when Burl actually called my cell phone at around 8PM that evening. He left a voicemail instructing me to make sure I see that other doctor before the tear worsens and I wind up in the ER in extreme pain. The guy’s a nutjob. I’m not in any pain, wasn’t when I saw him, and likely will not be any time soon. Then again, my next blog might be posted from Fair Oaks Hospital.
I just want to see clearly again!