I had an appointment with the optometrist today. After a test or two the technician asked me to take my contacts out then told me to sit in the third chair. I’ve mentioned this in past appointments but I don’t understand why, at the optometrist’s office, in a dimly lit room the color of the carpet and the color of the chair are almost identical. For one who is very (very!) nearsighted this poses a problem. Once I turned around and saw the basic shape of the technician I asked him, “The third chair?” I saw him point in a direction and went that way. I slowly reached the chair and touched the seat just to make sure it was there. I had to do that again when he asked me to move across the room to another chair. After that I was told I could go back to the exam room. Room 6. I couldn’t see any numbers, so I just waited for him to come show me. He had me sit back in the exam chair and wait for the doctor to come…
Yes, I have bad vision and the technicians never seem to pick up on that. Now that I’ve seen this doctor a few times, he knows, that when he first walks into the room I can’t really see him. In fact, the first time I had an appointment with this doctor, I was in close proximity with him for 10-15 minutes before I knew what his face looked like.
When I was a kid our family optometrist always commented that I’m blind as a bat. Once I got through puberty he started suggesting that I have corrective eye surgery. I kept putting it off then a few years ago I thought, why not? So, I went as far as to make an appointment. However, when I learned that I would have to wear my glasses for two weeks straight, I called back and cancelled. There was a time in high school when I lost one of my contact lenses. Instead of wearing my glasses to school, I spent the whole day with one contact in – squinting and fighting a headache all day – because I hate my glasses that much. I’ve always wanted to wear glasses and look trendy and cute, but it’s just not possible with the strength of my lenses. Even with the “lightweight” option my eyes still distort behind the thick frames.
…so there I was sitting in the chair with nothing to look at while I waited for the doctor. I thought about getting my phone out, but I literally have to hold it right in front of my nose to read my phone without my contacts in and I really didn’t want to be caught in that position when the doctor walked in. I chose, instead, to close my eyes. I couldn’t see anyway, so there was no point in keeping them open. With my eyes closed I started to focus on my breath. Normally I only do this during yoga or early in the morning or when I’m exercising – other than that I often don’t pay attention to the one thing that keeps me alive. I sat there in the exam chair breathing slowly because that was the only thing I could do in that moment.
Eventually I was able to put my contacts back in and the world was back in focus – I wish it were really that easy. I wish I had some “contacts” or even “glasses” to put my life back in focus again. I wish the headache from all the “squinting” would ease. My life feels out of focus, blurry, dark. I see general shapes and movement, I see light and dark – but it’s all fuzzy. I feel like I’m walking around with my arms out in front of me trying to feel for whatever might be there – just footsteps away or miles away. I feel like someone has taken my contacts away and refuses to give them back. I feel like my life would be clearer if only I had the right corrective tool.
Yesterday morning Denali and I went on a short walk before I headed to work/church. I felt hopeful purely because I saw a glimpse of the sun. It didn’t take much – I didn’t see her fully, but I could see her shining through a few clouds. By the time I was driving back home she was gone, along with my hope. The sun helps make everything feel a little clearer, in a little more focus. Without her, I am back in the darkness, the blurry, fuzzy place of uncertainty.
Be easy with yourself. Be excessively gentle… I try to remember this when the day feels darker and blurrier. It’s one thing to remember it and another to feel it.
I don’t see well at all without help, but with help I have over 20/20 vision. I would have a very different life without my contacts and glasses. Very different. But, I don’t have to worry about it right now because I get the help I need each and every day. The same is true for the rest of my life – I have help all around me. Sometimes the help just shows up. Other times I ask for it. No matter how it arrives, I accept it.
I’m sure things will come back into focus. The blurry edges will start to sharpen. The colors will be more vibrant. It will happen. In the meantime, I think I’ll close my eyes more and focus on my breath. Maybe I’ll grab someone’s hand to help me through the darker places. Perhaps I’ll just sit and wait for life to come into focus because I know it will at some point. And, I do know the sun will shine again.