Friday, July 30, 2010

This One Or This One?

I went for my annual eye exam today, and by "annual" I mean every three or four years. One of the reasons I had been putting it off for so long is that I needed to find a new eye doctor. Because things didn't work out with the one I originally chose when I moved to North Carolina. I only picked her because of the close proximity of her office to my house. (Any closer and she would have been operating out of my garage.) And, really, what other factors do you consider when picking an ophthalmologist? It's not like you go around scouting out who has the coolest eye charts.

Well, it turns out, that for me, there's one other consideration I now make. Does the doctor speak English? Because it was ultimately my inability to overcome the language barrier that led to the dissolution of my previous eye doctor/sight-challenged person relationship. But, before I start coming off like some kind of ethnocentric bigot, which I'm not, I would like to point out that I was completely open to the idea of a foreign eye doctor. I understand that American eyes probably work the same as Russian ones, but after struggling through that hour long initial eye exam and contact lens fitting with this woman, I was so stressed out I needed a cigarette. AND I DON'T EVEN SMOKE! (And, for the record, never have or will.)

Any eye exam is stressful enough with that whole "this one or this one" test that takes as long as the S.A.T.s and is almost as difficult. Because, most of the time, I can't see any difference whatsoever in option one or option two. But, I've learned, they won't just let you say, "Pass", or even "Can we skip this one and come back to it later?" I usually just pick one at random so we can move on. Though, sometimes, in an effort to give my best optical performance, I'll take it very seriously and debate at length on each choice, saying, "Let me see the first one again." Mmmm. "Okay, back to the second one." Hmmm? "One more time?" Eventually, the eye doctor caves and says, "So, not much difference in those for you?" EXACTLY!

But then try doing this exam and other eyesight evaluating activities with someone who's first, nor second, nor third language is English. I never even knew if we were still choosing between options one and two or had moved on to options three or four. Or possibly even pyat and shest. I never knew what she was asking me to do because I couldn't understand anything she said. During the contact lens fitting, she told me that one brand I was considering was good because I could even wear them if I got kidnapped! I do not exaggerate when I say it took me almost five minutes to figure out she was saying "You could even wear them if you took catnap." And that was the end of that relationship.

Today I saw a new ophthalmologist who was a lot easier to communicate with. For instance, he understood that the accuracy of my prescription would be a bit of a crap shoot because I not only saw no difference between "this one and this one", but I also did not possess the mental faculties or patience to make educated guesses on the subject.

But, at least today, after completing my eye exam, I got to go back out and pick something from the treasure box. New glasses! I forewarned my husband that this purchase would be taking place today, because I've had the same pair of glasses since our troops left for Iraq. I needed new lenses to match my current prescription and new frames to match our current fashion trends.

I perused the racks of frames, with total disregard to brand or price, and chose about ten pair that were cute and I wanted to try on. One of the optometrist's assistants sat down with me as I tried them on. I organized them in sets of two and then modeled the pairs as I berated her with the "this one or this one" question that they're so fond of around there. When we got to pair #8, it was game over. Those were the ones, no question. I pulled them off and unfurled the tiny price tag. $320.oo!!!

I made no attempt to disguise my sticker shock as I passed (basically threw) them to her and said, "Am I seeing that right? Three-hundred and twenty dollars?" There was at least some possibility that I wasn't, since I was sitting in that chair due to my inability to see right. She said, "Yes. They're Gucci and those," she pointed to a thin quarter inch strip of sparkles on the side, "are real Swarovski crystals." Okay? Well, "Do they offer this pair without the bling?" She walked over to the appropriate section then returned and said, "No. Sorry." So I requested she, "Show me something less expensive, like a seeing eye dog, maybe." She did and I really liked them. I won't say love because my heart still belonged to Gucci.

The ones I bought were half the price, so when I came home to share my receipt with my husband, I expected congratulations not a conniption fit. But, when he was questioning my powers of restraint, I climbed up on that high horse with him and said "I almost bought a pair with Swarovski crystals, but decided I would sacrifice so our family could buy groceries this month." He rolled his eyes and I thought to myself that he would really regret overreacting if I do in fact get kidnapped!

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