Monday, August 2, 2010
Peter Hutchinson has a lot to answer for. I purposefully spectacularly flunked my first sight test all because of him.
My poor Ma, oh, the guilt she carried. Talk about neglect, for shame, how could she have missed her middle child walking around in that half-blind state for so long?
A devious and certainly mis-guided child, I had no qualms at all in faking the necessary headaches to achieve my goal. There’s nothing like a two week concentrated bout of thumping migraine to scare the bejesus out of your parent.
Not that Old Dr. Heaps was that impressed. His answer to every childhood ailment lay at the door of bacterial ear-infection. Well, either that or tonsillitis. But being as how my tonsils had already been whipped out, the latter was easily eliminated. No matter what my Ma dragged me in to his surgery to see him about, I came out with my ears freshly syringed and singing, clutching a bottle of Penicillin.
Diarrhea? Could be ear-related.
A hacking cough? A definite sign those ears need checking.
Nasty rash? Best to syringe the ears out, and just to be on the safe side, follow through on a dose of antibiotics.
So hardly surprisingly, when I am wheeled before him presenting with headaches, we’re told there’s quite an epidemic of that around right now, and that I should definitely have my waxes checked out. Thus reassured that a quick syringe, together with a full course of antibiotics, would surely shift my problem, Ma gratefully relaxed and sat back for the medicine to kick in.
When it didn’t, I finally achieved my sought-after appointment with the optician. I shamelessly lied my way through the charts, with not a care in the world. My heart had set itself to obtaining those much longed for pink, plastic, National Health Service glasses.
They worked, too. My headaches instantly vanished.
After experiencing the odd headache, Peter Hutchinson had started wearing a set of blue, plastic, National Health Service glasses. Now I had the same (except for the pink). Everyone liked Peter, especially me, and he looked sooo dead, dead cool in those groovy spec’s.
So that’s the story of how I came to fuck up my eyesight, or at least I think it is. I can’t be altogether sure, of course, maybe I was destined to have crappy vision, who knows? I do know the shine of wearing those pink, plastic NHS bottle-tops soon wore off. For one thing, I saw bugger-all with them on, and secondly, most importantly, I couldn’t seem to pull off that dead, dead, cool pose in the same way Peter did.
I had yet to realise there are certain kids who are just born cool, it doesn’t even matter what they wear, or how they look, whatever they choose to do or say, it invariably comes out right. They are simply easy with who they are, don’t feel the need to go against, or with, the crowd. Confident without being cocky, people liked Peter because, with or without his specs, he had this way of making those around him feel comfortable and at ease in his presence.
A couple of years later I moved away to a different school, but although I soon lost all thoughts of Peter Hutchinson, his lasting legacy of my self-inflicted lousy vision continued on.
Too vain to wear (the now correct prescription) glasses, I largely managed to squint my way through most of my teenage years, only resorting to donning my specs in the privacy of home. When I joined the workplace, this had to change. Selling insurance involves a lot of small print, tons of form-filling, and a good deal of required reading. No longer able to bluff or fumble my way through, I had to bite the bullet.
Contact lens were still pretty new fangled at this point, and extremely expensive to boot. Not that I cared, I would have happily mortgaged my soul if it meant losing the glasses. See, they didn't have those condensed, thinner lens options back then, I wore the original freaky version, the kind that magnify your eyeballs x 100, transforming them into two wet goldfish gliding behind the murky depth. Ugh, how I hated that!
Hard lens were the only option at the time. Oh Lord, they hurt. I spent most of my days looking as though I'd cried myself to sleep every night. On a good day, my eyes were only bloodshot, on a bad one I became the devil-child, all the whites turned red.
It scared the shit out of folk.
Until I caught myself in the mirror, I happily ran through the day looking like this crazed zombie, unless someone plucked up the courage to tell me.
Jeez, it's nothing short of a pure miracle I'm not blind.
Later came the softer and almost bearable to wear contacts. I say almost, I had to put drops in every five mins to resist ripping my eyeballs out by the nails. They itched and irritated, often chipped, and frequently tore my retina. This cloudy build up of calcium would often appear, giving me the fetching appearance of sporting cataracts in both eyes.
As technology improved I moved on to daily disposables, but by then I’d developed “dry-eye”, forcing me to limit their use to a piddling couple of hours a day.
I now find the ones designed to sleep in, for continuous use of up to three months, are the only ones I can tolerate, and even so, they tend to irritate and hurt if I dare to wear them beyond more than an hour or two.
Which is why I’ve been checking out corrective surgery. The ad’s look brilliant, don’t they?
Ha, dream on!
It’s a simple enough procedure for most near-sighted mortals I’m told, but it turns out someone like me requires a far more radical remedy.
Because of the nature of my long-sightedness, and to the degree I am afflicted, it appears I would first require a surgery similar to that used in cataract removal, to have an artificial lens permanently inserted behind (or under, or above, I kind of lost focus mid-way through this part of the consultation, tuning out the icky-ucky nuts and bolts of what I am NOT, no way, ever allowing to happen to) my eyes. This involves a two day hospital stay, and a couple of weeks for recovery – THEN, and only then, would I be considered suitable for any laser correction.
Oh, and this type of "correction" also costs thousands upon thousands of more pounds, far, far more than the bog-standard fees which the all-too-good-to-be-true adverts so love to boast, of course.
Pah, I say! Peter Hutchinson, I lay curses upon your coolness.