THE SONIC BOOMER
When I was 11, some optometrists came around to my grade school and tested everyone’s eyes for free. Of course, this was back in the day when the schools also provided art supplies, musical instruments and recess.
I was a good student who passed all my tests, so I expected to ace the eye test, too.
It turned out that I was an optical mess — nearsighted in one eye, farsighted in the other and astigmatism running rampant through both eyes, meaning they were football-shaped instead of round. Of course, the school eye testers weren’t that thorough. All they did was send a note home to my mother saying that I had successfully identified the big letter as an E and somehow guessed the next five letters correctly, but saw the other 41 images as nothing more than black smudges. They suggested further testing.
So one bright, sunny Saturday, when the other kids were outside playing, I was in a dimly-lit optometrist’s office, squinting and struggling to make sense out of black smudges. His diagnosis was that I was nearsighted. I guess this was back in the day when doctors didn’t know what the heck they were doing. However, he did sell my mother some pink sparkly glasses for me (I wanted tortoiseshell), and I went home miserable.
As a child, I hated change, and going from not wearing glasses to wearing glasses every day was a big change. I hated the things and kept taking them off to see how things really looked. (They looked blurry, but with a lot less glare.)
Still, I was repeatedly told that the glasses cost “good money” (as opposed to the other kind of money), so I wore them. They squashed down my nose and bothered my ears, but I wore them.
After a week or two, they started giving me headaches. I was hoping this would be the end of them, but no. My dad held them over a steam kettle, warmed up the plastic and bent them to make them more comfortable. It didn’t help because (as I am sure you have already guessed) they were the wrong prescription. But this was back in the day when people trusted doctors. And if my dad had gone to all that trouble…
So I wore them off and on, putting up with headaches and, at age 16, flunking my driver’s license eye test.
Finally, at age 22, I got married and moved to Florida, where I had to find new doctors on my own. Thank goodness!
I got a new optometrist, who diagnosed my problems correctly, and suddenly wearing glasses wasn’t so bad anymore. (Plus, they were tortoiseshell.)
I also got a new orthodontist who fixed the back tooth that the old orthodontist had caused to stick out sideways. And I got a new general practitioner, one who figured out why my foot was hurting and took the last piece of glass out of it from where I’d stepped on a broken bottle six years before!
My point is, change is good… and also that Florida doctors rock!