3.10.2006

Contact Me

I’ve worn glasses for an awfully long time. Ever since that day in third grade, when I discovered that the fuzzy green mush of grass was actually made up of tiny, individual blades, I have been utterly dependent upon this extension of my face. The wuggies call them “eyes,” and they’re pretty much right. That time when they got up before I did, and hid my glasses... shudder.

When I was small, I dreamed of the day when I would wear glasses, and be just like all the grownups in my life. It was a glorious rite of passage, almost as exciting as finally getting my teeth decked out in beautifully sparkly braces—with colored rubber bands!—just like all the big kids.

Glasses were even more wonderful than I ever dreamed—I was able to see! Quite an unexpected benefit, really. But although I never got tired of my newfound sense of sight, the initial novelty didn’t last too long.

Jessie and Laurie Barber had contacts.

Some things never change. Neither of them are Barbers any more, having shed that maiden name for Snell and Yoshimoto respectively. I hate to think what they’d do to me if I called them Jessie and Laurie. But Jessica and Laurel still wear contacts, and I still wear glasses, and I’m still faintly jealous that they can wear contacts and I can’t.

Growing up in Supai, contacts were pretty much out of the question. The canyon is filled with gritty sand, wonderful for makers of mud pies and sand angels, terrible for contact lens wearers. The wind ricochets of the walls every which way, so the sand seldom stays put. And when the helicopter comes... Well, it was simply out of the question.

Having moved out to smoggy Southern California, I got contacts right before my wedding. It was an unmitigated disaster. Almost unmitigated, anyway. I did get to be beautiful and frame-less for my wedding, so I guess it was worth it. But that was pretty much the only time I wore them.

I loved having them in. They were very comfortable, and my peripheral vision was amazing. There was only one problem.

I could not get them out.

It was an absolute fiasco. In the end my cousin Will managed to get them out for me, but oh it was such a disaster. I tried the contacts again when we got home to La Mirada, but this time I had to go to the optometrist to have them taken out. And that was the end of that.

Three and a half years have gone by, and I’ve given birth to three children. Taking out contacts can’t be that much more difficult than childbirth. For some time I’ve been thinking about giving them another shot. But it took the checkout guy at Trader Joe’s to get me to actually set up an appointment.

It’s amazing the things people feel okay about saying to parents. Everybody loves to look for family resemblance, and that’s great. It really is pretty exciting. If baby is a chip off the old block, that’s definitely worthy of exclamation, and if not, that’s even more remarkable. I never get tired of thinking about it, and it is gladdening to know that so many strangers share this interest of mine. But somehow in the excitement of it all, it doesn’t always occur to people that there would be anything wrong with saying “Oh what beautiful children. I wonder where that came from? They don’t look a thing like you!”

Usually it’s fairly easy to brush off, but the check-out guy at Trader Joe’s was very insistent. Tembo and Meeps have such amazing eyes, so big and so blue. Which one of us did they get that from? When Andy pointed toward me, he peered intently at my face. No. Well, they were a little bluish, but barely. And so tiny. Andy and I both have such tiny eyes. No. It was quite definitive. He saw right through us. We couldn’t possibly be their biological parents, because I don’t have big, beautiful, blue eyes.

That did it. And so yesterday I met Andy at work, gave him the keys to my van full of car seats and babies, and drove his car over to the optometrist down the street.

They did quite a comprehensive exam, with all sorts of tests I’d never even heard of before. And the usual stuff, like the gloucoma test, was all wonderfully non-invasive. Maybe it was just the advance in technology since my last checkup, but I was really impressed. And Dr. Galvan was wonderful. So knowledgeable and so approachable. I learned a lot in my brief visit with him. (Did you know that the eyeball is really brain tissue? Yet another reason, I suppose, that the eyes are the windows of the soul...) I’d picked Dr. Galvan simply on the basis of location, but it turns out that he is the chairman of the premier school of optometry in the nation. Andy works on the right street, I guess.

He recommended gas permeable extended wear soft lenses for me. The kind that you can sleep in and shower in and never remove for a whole week. Oh the bliss! He said he really doesn’t do much laser surgery anymore, because these are so wonderful, there’s hardly any point. To wake up and be able to see, the very moment I open my eyes... Sign me up!

And then they showed me the bill.

See, it hadn’t occurred to me to ask beforehand. I knew how much the insurance would cover, and I knew approximately how much contacts cost, and I knew that the difference was something we could squeeze into our budget.

But this is one of the top optometrists in the nation. And he charges accordingly. No, getting regular disposables wouldn't mitigate the cost much. It was the exam that was expensive. And he'd already done the exam.

Andy works on the wrong street, I guess.

7 comments:

Lauren said...

Oops, so what did you do, put them on lay away? :)

miranda said...

Elena-
Can I just say that I love your website?! It's hilarious. You should do this for a living. You must give credit to Brain without his (Brian's favorite) recommendation I would never have found it. Thanks for the entertainment. If you have nothing better to do (which I'm sure never happens) you shouls check out my blog, it's on The Nick Family site under Miranda. :) -Miranda (Ashley's friend)

St Jude said...

I agree with Miranda. Great blog, I'll be back for more.

slowlane said...

This is why you won the Hogwash money, isn't it? You weren't going to use it somewhere else, were you?

Elena said...

Lauren, I'm afraid slowlane has hit the nail on the head. It's going on the Visa until my hogwash check arrives. (And really, I was mentally planning on spending $200 of it on bedding for the boys, but I just found some beautiful quilts tucked away in a box...)

And thanks for the encouragement, Miranda and St. Jude!

Off to take a look at your sites... =)

Elena said...

Speaking of hogwash, did you ever get a check, thou-who-livest-in-the-slow-lane?

slowlane said...

Not yet. However, it is still within the range of when they first said they would send it, so I haven't given up hope yet. Besides, I need some more time before it arrives to figure out exactly which of the 6,083 ways I am going to spend it.