Thursday, April 19, 2012

Aging and Glasses, Everyones Fate

Aging and Glasses, We Are All Doomed.
March 30, 2012

My Most Valuable Position

 Those of us who are clearly members of the National Old Farts Club will be able to relate to this.  For 3 days I have not been able to read small type on my sharp laptop screen. I've worn glasses since 9 y/o, due to farsightedness as I had better that 20/15 at distance---I could easily track a baseball from center field and catch it if my slow legs would get me there.  But at school, I had to sit at the BACK of the room to see the blackboard.  And when we went from 3" letters on flash cards to books, I had to hold the book 2" from my nose to make out the letters. Off to the eye doctor I went.  I'll never forget walking out of the optician's office the first time.  I was walking very slowly with my head down. "Slow" was not in my usual repertoire as I had ADD and ran everywhere.  My mother was alarmed at my strange behavior (my mother, the most patient person in the world :a close second to Gandhi) was rarely alarmed at any child's behavior since ,as a first grade teacher ,she observed them intently as 6-7 year olds express themselves in body language since their language skills were limited (and in the '50s the "children are to be seen and not heard"mantrum was still in vogue in the South so they didn't get much practice at home.)  I replied to Mother's urgent need for information about my strange behavior with:  "Mom, I can see the ground!  There's lots of neat stuff down feet sure look funny and look at all these cool rocks (we were in a gravel parking lot).  So with my new best friends on my face I could see >20/15 at any distance.  I didn't even mind the "four eyes" taunts.  I'd just challenge them to a quick contest:  "Oh, you’re a smarty pants.  What does that sign in front of the church say?"  More often than not I could read it and they couldn't.  After they squinted and stared and mumbled a few "Uh's", I would run off shouting my counter taunt: "My four eyes are better than your two".  I also quickly learned that my glasses helped keep a lot of stuff out of my eyes, like dirt and fists.  I never lost a pair.  Broke a few frames rough housing, but my parents never complained; they just got them fixed as fast as possible.  Since I played rough a lot, eventually I got a second pair.

Then, around 40 the far vision faded which it normally does as our bodies dehydrate.  They stamped can't DRIVE WITHOUT CORRECTIVE LENSES on my DL.  But bifocals worked great and I adapted to them in less than a day.  Then around 55 they stopped being totally satisfactory, I couldn't tolerate not being able to see perfectly (I had by then been practicing medicine for 20 years and I knew the jargon and more importantly knew who all the best specialists were. So I strode into my opthalmolgist friend’s office and announced "Bill, I need some trifocals". He began to recite the usual speech about how they were difficult for many people to adjust to, to which I replied:  Bill, I adjusted to bifocals in less than a day".  He thought I was joking, and returned to his warnings speech; and, I quickly interrupted him again (we were good friends): "Bill, I'm not joking I've been using lenses all my life with my glasses, cameras---you've seen my pictures---microscopes, any kind of glass you look through and I've always been good at it."  He got the message: "Well lets check your eyes and see how much they've changed since your last exam."  Exam. He said:"You'll do better with them (trifocals).  At this ,I usually have to spend 15 minutes on a sales pitch, mostly because people hear "You need trifocals" as a pronouncement that they have one foot in the grave.  But, with you, I can clearly skip that speech ".  The trifocals worked fine until my health declined a couple of years ago.  At first it was just eye strain, triggering migraines.  Then I had a drug reaction to Phentenyl when I had a staff infection in my L knee, I get double vision  periodically if I'm tired and driving.  Now THAT is scary.   Staying in my lane takes every bit of my concentration.  Cutting back a little bit on one of my meds seems to have fixed that, but if it happens again, I'm pulling off the road and calling my wife or son to come get me.  To hell with the car if we have to leave it in an undesirable place overnight.  It is insured.  And now, I have to use a magnifying glass most of the time to read my computer screen.  Getting older is just GREAT FUN!