Monday, January 20, 2014

History of Glasses

I just got LASIK surgery last week. Wait... let me rephrase that in case you didn't catch it. After years and years of wearing glasses and contacts, not being able to see the clock at night, or while swimming, or to put on make-up... I FINALLY GOT LASIK SURGERY!!! I feel like one of my big life goals has been crossed off my list. I feel amazed that I can see the clock in the morning, that I don't have to take out my contacts because they're bugging me anymore, that I don't have to reach for my glasses every morning (even though I still do out of habit). It is amazing. AMAZING!! But before I go any further, here is a history of glasses, my history of glasses:

I've needed glasses for exactly 75% of my life (yes, I figured it out to the month). I got them when I was 9 (feel free to do the math to figure out how old I am), no more than a kid. And exactly how much of those glorious, carefree pre-glasses years I actually remember probably can't be known, but I'd say not a whole lot compared to the rest of my life. What I'm getting at here is that for almost as long as I can remember, I have needed glasses. And it's been a defining trait in who I am for, well, a long long time.

It began in third grade. I sat on the front row of the class, but it wasn't that close to the board because there was a table in front of me. My teacher would write the spelling words for the week on the board and we would copy them down to study them at home. She told anyone in the back of the class that couldn't see the words to come sit at the table while they copied them down. I couldn't see the words. But I was on the front row already and I was extremely shy, so usually I would just squint and do my best at making out the words. Sometimes I went up to the table, but most of the time it was way too embarrassing. It never dawned on me that glasses could fix this problem. I was 9 after all. Well, as it was, I went through at least half of that year copying the spelling words down wrong, studying them at home wrong and then getting them wrong on my test. That's probably why I still have to think twice when spelling certain words. It must have been so gradual that I didn't notice and neither did anyone else.

That summer, my mom religiously dragged all the kids to the eye doctor for our yearly eye exam. But this time, I needed glasses. The first kid in the family. One of the first kids in my class. I guess I was a little surprised that I even needed them. But then, all the missed spelling words and squinting in class made sense. I picked out a pair of gray plastic glasses that my mom claims were the most expensive ones in the shop (which I find very hard to believe judging by how ugly they were, but apparently in style then). A couple of weeks later, we went to pick them up. I still remember the drive home because I was amazed at everything I saw. Trees had individual leaves. Grass had little blades. And spelling words were probably going to have individual letters.

I wore that pair for two years. I can't find my elementary school pictures, but here's a shot of my first pair.
My next pair was pretty similar to the first, it being the 80's and all. I wore those in 6th and 7th grade. And also being the 80's, my bangs were a flower.
Then came time for me to try out contacts. Yeah, I'd done the whole glasses thing, the whole "being a nerd" thing, it was time. So I went and got fitted for my first pair of contacts. After a little bit of practice getting them in (all right, a lot) I got used to wearing them. They were really great, for the most part. They were soft contacts, but this was before disposables, so I only had one pair. And I don't think I even had a pair of glasses that I could wear when I wasn't wearing my contacts. I don't know if I didn't clean them well enough, if I wore them too long, if my eyes were really sensitive, or a combination of everything, but after only a few months of wearing them, I developed a corneal ulcer and it was painful. I ended up at the ophthalmologist who told me that it was good that we caught this when we did (or I could have gone blind--am I making this part up?), and that I could never wear contacts again. Big bummer! After a series of eye ointments and special drops, my eye healed and I begrudgingly resumed my relationship with glasses again, knowing that I could never wear contacts again.

This was actually something that I felt defined me, especially in those teenage years where my self confidence was shaky. I always thought that I was a nerd with glasses, and that boys wouldn't like me because I wore glasses. And that was something that might not ever change. I was always self-conscious about wearing glasses. But I couldn't go without them. I always had them with me. I remember sleeping outside in the summer in the back yard and holding my glasses in my hand all night so that I'd have them in the morning. I hated swimming because I couldn't wear my glasses in the pool. They were just a part of me. I guess you could say that glasses were my "El Guapo". Everyone has something they are self-conscious about, right? It could have been a bad case of acne, being too tall, struggling with weight, having a club foot, etc. Mine was glasses.

Oh, there is a funny story about my 8th grade self going to a follow up appointment with the ophthalmologist. I guess both my parents had something else going on that day, so they told me to take the city bus from my middle school to his down town office. I was a responsible kid so I was pretty sure I could handle this. I got on the bus fine, but then I fell asleep. When I woke up and saw the street sign, I panicked because I thought I had passed it. I was supposed to go to 400 S. and for some reason in my sleepy state I thought I was going to 4000 S. I got off at 2000 S. and walked 20 blocks in the wrong direction trying to find the office... alone, in a strange area of town, as a 13 year old girl, before cell phones! I finally found an office that let me use their phone to call my dad. So... not quite as responsible as ya thought, apparently.

This was by far my favorite school picture (I sure loved 8th grade). It makes me wonder why I didn't just take off my glasses in all the other pictures. But, I was never without my glasses... ever. It was part of me and it never even crossed my mind to take them off.
My next pair of glasses was one you couldn't miss. Not only was it bright white, but it filled up my whole face. I actually really liked this pair. I mean if I had to wear glasses it might as well be these beauties. But they were short lived. Part way through the 9th grade I was taking a nap on the couch and put my white glasses on the coffee table. Somehow they fell off and I think one of my brothers stepped on them, and that was it. You can't fix plastic glasses. Wow, those things are big.
So I needed yet another new pair of glasses. Evidently our insurance only covered one new pair a year, and I'd already gotten mine for the year. So I had to get the least expensive pair in the store:  the rose colored glasses. I really didn't like these (although comparing the white with the rose now, it makes them kind of look good). But back then they were just... the wrong style, and color and shape. I had to wear these for a year until I could get my next year's pair. This was my sophomore year of high school and I had a lot of those feelings of nerdiness that I blamed on my glasses. Oooh, I remember this shirt--shoulder pads.
By the time I got my next pair, wire glasses were in. They still filled up your face though. They were a blue pair, but pretty subtle blue. What I am remembering about this pair is that I got hit in the face with a volleyball or a basketball at various times and it bent my glasses way out of shape. I would always just bend them back as best I could, but as you can tell from this horrible 11th grade picture, they never did sit straight on my face. Somehow, I ended up going to several dances in high school, despite having uneven glasses and I'm wearing these in all the pictures. Cringe. I'm so glad I don't have to live through high school again.
There was also a time in high school when I even had my own pair of prescription sun glasses. Yikes.
I got a new pair my senior year that was a lot like the blue pair but brown and I wore those for a couple of years. However, if you thought my 11th grade school picture was bad, you haven't seen my 12th grade picture. And you won't. I can't even put it on here. I woke up with some red sty in my eye and still showed up for pictures... Anyway, here's graduation, 1994 in powder blue and, you guessed it, glasses.
I went away to college and wore a pair like this for the first three years. Pretty uneventful. I was used to wearing glasses and got good at telling the tragic story about my eye ulcer and not being able to wear contacts ever again.

I went on my mission wearing a wire pair like this and wore them the whole time with little incident. There was this one time though... I'm still not sure I fully understand the garbage situation in Argentina. In one area they filled grocery bags with garbage and threw them in ditches or in the canal. In another area they had people collecting garbage but not from cans. People still used grocery bags but put them in these wire baskets perched on posts. So like a mail box but for garbage. Anyway, I was walking along a street looking at something on the other side of the street, so my head was turned. When I turned back, I instantly rammed into one of these garbage baskets with my glasses--hard. I suppose it was my glasses that saved me from injuring my eye, but it was such a hard hit that I completely scratched one of the lenses. I wore them scratched for the rest of my mission (probably a good 8 months). But I wasn't fazed by it, you should have seen some of the clothes I wore. This is one of my mission pictures.
When I got back, it was almost 1999 and styles had changed (thank goodness for that). I knew I needed a new pair of glasses because #1) I'd had them for a long time, #2) they had a big scratch on them and #3) they were out of style. I went to an eye doctor who happened to be Chinese. He took me back for the exam and asked if I was planning to get new frames. Then he proceeded to tell me how out of style my glasses were, "You glasses are not modone, they are shaped like basketball, you need glasses shaped like football." Yes, I know. That is why I am here. But then he took me out into the shop where everyone could hear and told my mom the whole basketball vs. football shaped glasses, and how not modone (modern) they were. My mom kept asking what "modone" meant, so he kept repeating it pointing to my not modone glasses and I was seriously so embarrassed. Sheesh. I ended up with a nice wire rim oval shaped frame. I wore those for a few years. Oh, and those were cool because you could bend and twist them any way you wanted and they always bounced back to their original shape. Could've used those 8 years earlier.
A close up of my "modone" glasses.
Then, of course, there was this pair. I don't know how we got these (D.I. maybe, or TJ Maxx?), but I'm sure I was wearing my real pair underneath making the look that much better.
 
Around the time that I graduated from BYU, my mom approached me and told me she wanted to get LASIK surgery for me (I think because she thought I'd have a better chance of getting married if I didn't have glasses--or maybe I thought that). I had never really thought about it before because I'd told myself that glasses were my unfortunate fate that I must face for a lifetime. I went in for an evaluation and at that time they told me that it might work okay, but because my pupils were too big, I would probably see constant halos. Or something like that. It was enough to scare me off.

Miraculously, I started dating lots of different guys... even though I was wearing glasses. This was a point in my life that I gained more confidence in myself and realized that glasses didn't matter as much as I once thought (although I still didn't like them). After a couple years of this I finally met Jared and got engaged... all while wearing glasses. I know, Jared fell in love with me with my glasses. Weird. But, I'd always had it in the back of my mind that I never wanted to get married in glasses. If I had to wear contacts for one day, then so be it. I went back to the same ophthalmologist (who was like 80 at this point) to find out if I would be able to wear disposable contacts, since technology was better now. He cleared me and I began wearing disposable contacts. No glasses on my wedding day! A broken nose 2 weeks before, yes, but no glasses.
I moved to Florida and created a whole new identity for myself. Nobody knew about my life before and I could be whoever I wanted. I think everyone should get a start over every decade or so. Part of this new identity was no glasses. It was great! Contacts worked great for about 7 years and I wore them pretty much daily. But after a while, my eyes started rejecting contacts. I tried different pairs but everything seemed to bother my eyes. I started wearing glasses more and more. And at this point, I didn't feel like such a nerd wearing glasses anymore. I didn't feel like glasses defined me as much anymore because the contacts option was still there. I probably had three different styles of glasses while I was in Florida. I decided to go bold with my last pair, since I was a new person anyway. They were a modern dark pair.
When I moved to Utah, I hoped to get a new eye doctor who would give me a brand of contacts that wouldn't bother my eyes, but the same issues with contacts continued. I still wore them, just not as long and not on days I was going out. I wanted to do LASIK so badly at this point. I even called to get an evaluation two years ago but found out I was pregnant with Hallie soon after. And since you can't do LASIK while pregnant or nursing, it had to wait.

A year ago when I was building Marissa's bed, I was using my glasses as eye protection while cutting. One of the saws left lots of sawdust on my glasses and I wiped them off with my shirt thinking it would just wipe off like dust did. Instead, it scratched up my lenses really bad. No fixing that. But since I knew I wanted LASIK, I saw no point in getting a new pair of glasses, even if it was 11 months away. This was probably worse looking that the scratch I had on my mission, but you get used to it and nobody ever mentioned it. They probably just thought they looked dirty all the time.
Finally, I stopped nursing exactly 2 months before my evaluation for LASIK (that was a requirement). At that appointment I found out that contacts were causing an infection in my eyes and could cause another eye ulcer if I'd kept wearing them. Before this appointment I was really scared of going blind if I had the surgery. After I found this out, I realized that this was the only way I could solve my contacts and glasses problems, and then I wasn't scared of going blind anymore. It became more of a medical necessity at that point. That, and the doctor told me that no one had ever gone blind in the 10 years he had worked there. After 10 days of drops and no more contacts, the infection was cleared up and I was now a good candidate for LASIK. This picture was taken a long time ago, but since I hardly ever take pictures of myself, this is the best I could find of me with no glasses.
One of the weirest parts of having the surgery was when they told me to hand over my glasses because I wouldn't need them anymore. I was so reluctant, like I couldn't believe that I would never need them again. I always had my glasses. They were part of me and they took them away. The surgery was really fast, like 10 seconds in each eye. I was afraid that I would move my eye accidentally and mess everything up. Later I realized I should have been worried about sneezing or an earthquake starting at that moment. But nothing like that happened and it worked great. Big bonus:  I didn't go blind! It still amazes me that I can see. I am finally free from something that was so defining and sometimes demoralizing, even though it shouldn't have been. It really is a life changing event for me, which is how this entry became such a life history.

Thank you technology! Thank you Jared and my parents for helping to pay for it. I love my new eyes!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What was your prescription before you had the surgery?