Thursday, July 28, 2011


I have spent the past few days suffering from a bad case of seasickness…and I haven't even been anywhere near water.

My problem began when my optometrist decided the time had come for me to get trifocals. Up until then, I’d worn distance glasses when I wanted to see far, and reading glasses when I wanted to read. I also wore the reading glasses whenever I worked on my computer, and I saw the screen just fine.

“Would you like progressive lenses?” the optical technician asked me when I went to select my new glasses. “They don’t have any visible lines on them.”

The only visible lines I’d ever worried about were panty lines, so I figured glasses without lines also had to be a good thing as far as fashion was concerned.

“You’ll need a good two weeks to get used to them, though,” she continued. “I think the hardest thing to adjust to is the fact you’ll have to move your entire head when you look at something now, not just your eyes. Everything your parents taught you about sitting up straight and having good posture will be put to good use now.”

“You mean when I read a page in a book, I’ll have to turn my head toward every word?” I asked.

She nodded. “And when you walk down the stairs, you’ll have to look directly down at the steps through the top portion of the glasses. Otherwise, the stairs will look like they’re coming up to meet you and you might fall.”

So far, the trifocals were sounding like a lot of work. I mean, not only was I going to get whiplash from moving my head around so much, I was going to have stairs, and probably curbstones, coming up to meet me. I could just picture myself lifting my leg up to my chest whenever I tried to climb a step.

“Sounds as if my depth perception and peripheral vision are going to be messed up,” I said, with a nervous laugh.

“For a while,” she said. “But once you get used to the glasses you’ll love them! I have them and I have no problem with them at all. You’ll not only be able to see near and far with them, you’ll also be able to read labels on the products on the shelves at supermarkets without having to lift them and bring them closer to your eyes.”

That sounded like a pretty good selling point to me. For one thing, I wouldn’t have to risk dropping any more jars of pickles.

“I also recommend the anti-glare feature on the lenses,” she said. “Night driving and the light from your computer screen all cause glare. Eliminate the glare and you’ll be surprised at how much clearer your vision will be.”

“Fine with me,” I said. I wanted my glasses to give me the vision of Superman…or an eagle. I wanted to be able to read a “sale” sign from three blocks away.

The technician said it would take a couple weeks to get the glasses, so in the meantime, the optician would make up a temporary pair for me. She said the temporary glasses would help me get adjusted to the trifocals, so when the permanent glasses came in, I’d be all set to wear them.

I walked out of there wearing the temporary trifocals, and nearly fell off the sidewalk in the parking lot. At first, I felt as if I were looking at everything through a funnel. The sides were blurred and slanted inward, and the center was clear. But if I turned my head just slightly, the center started to swirl in a clockwise direction. It was kind of like staring into a toilet bowl during a flush.

By dinnertime, I was so queasy from wearing my toilet-swirling glasses, just the thought of food made me want to run to the real toilet. And then there was my computer screen. I did everything but stand on my head and I still couldn’t find any section of the glasses that made the screen readable. I went from seeing swirling toilet water to seeing ocean waves.

All the while, my husband sat silently staring at me. Finally, he said, “You look like you have a bad twitch. You keep jerking your head all over the place.”

“Well, the woman told me to move my head, not my eyes,” I said. “But no matter where I move, I still can’t see my computer. I’m beginning to think these glasses are torture devices created by some evil scientist who wanted to nauseate people!”

“Then maybe you should stop wearing them,” he said. “Unless you actually enjoy feeling seasick, that is.”

“She told me to hang in there for a couple weeks and I’d get used to them. So I’m not giving up yet!”

Two hours later, the trifocals were lying on the coffee table and I was wearing my old reading glasses – the ones with glue all over them because a few weeks earlier I’d squeezed a tube of glue while doing craftwork and it shot out all over the lenses and immediately stuck to them like…well, glue. But even having to look through blobs of stuck-on glue was better than trying to see anything through the trifocals, unless I wanted to experience how the passengers on the Titanic felt.

I contacted the technician to tell her I couldn’t see my computer screen with the glasses, but I could see plenty of swirling water and ocean waves.

“Well, the temporary lenses in your glasses are not the quality of the permanent ones, so you really can’t judge anything by them,” she said. “Wait until your actual lenses come in and try those for a while. I’m sure you’ll notice a big difference.”

I can only hope she’s right. In the meantime, if there are a lot of errors in what I’ve just written, it’s because I’m looking at my computer screen either through blobs of glue or a tidal wave.

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