In an effort to get into shape for my thirtieth high school reunion, I took up running. One day I saw my younger brother and decided to toot my own horn.
“Guess what? I’m running again,”
“Running? Into what?”
I made a face at him, but couldn’t help grinning.
It’s no secret how my poor vision affects my coordination, but he never lets me get away with feeling sorry for myself.
Although he deserves a bucket of water in his direction, his teasing reminds me that God intends for us to live life with joy and laughter. My brother’s comments keep me grounded.
Look at it this way (no pun intended): poor vision + stubborn nature to carry on despite = an accident waiting to happen.
Once, in my late twenties, I had a date with an Irish-American guy. He had smiling blue eyes, a gorgeous smile and dimples, too. He also had a bona-fide Irish name to go along with his Irish humor. Sean Connelly. I was smitten.
My vanity overcame me as I prepared myself for my big date. This called for a cool new outfit. My glasses with their chipped, bent frames that hung lopsided on my face would have to go immediately.
But how long would it take to make new glasses? I thought about the situation for a moment, and then came up with a plan. How about getting contact lenses? I congratulated myself on such inspiration and grabbed for the phone book to get started on my new order…
Sean would pick me up at seven o’clock the night of our date. At three o’clock that afternoon, Mom and I zipped into the eye doctor’s office to pick up the contact lenses. With little time to waste, I cut across the grass in a mighty rush. Luck was not with me that day.
Sprawled on the ground, my eye reeled from the blow. I put a tentative hand to my left eye, and winced. My fingers came away with blood on them. My head throbbed. What happened? Slowly I pieced it together. I looked around me. Then it hit me! (not literally, this time!). I never saw the pole with the eye doctor’s name hanging down on a sign from it.
“Not stitches again!” I groaned a short while later. “Please Doc, spray it with liquid adhesive. I have a hot date tonight … and a band-aid will not match my new outfit!”
I couldn’t help recounting the droll tale to Sean that night—an eye getting injured at the eye doctor’s in an effort to improve one’s eye wear.
Can you see how God tickles our funnybone?
Unfortunately, Sean did not seem impressed by either my heroics or my story and it was clear he preferred someone a little more athletic!
Now jump ahead to 2009. I’d made an appointment with an ophthalmologist in town to check my vision. A week later, my doctor called me.
“Well, I got good news and bad news. Which do you want to hear first?” The words hung in the air between the ophthalmologist and me and I paused—long enough for the phone to crackle.
“Tell me the bad news first so the good news sounds better,” I joked.
“The bad news is that … I am not getting any younger.” He coughed as if he knew the joke wouldn’t fare well at Comedy Central.
This doc needs to perfect his comic timing or refine his jokes.
“Now the good news is that while your vision is not going to win any awards, you have the best vision of any RP patient in your age group that I’ve ever seen. Your nerve is still in good shape. It’s not yellowed, or cracked. Best I’ve seen. And you’ve already lived—what? More than half your life. How many years you got left? Chances are, you may even retain some vision ‘til the end.”
I could feel the tips of my mouth turning upward as the eye doctor blundered on, trying to cushion the blow in his odd-humored way. Who could deny his good intentions?
“So what is my field of vision exactly, Dr?
“Come into the office, and we’ll talk numbers. Keep in mind, numbers are just that. They don’t mean much,” he muttered.
The day of my appointment arrived. I slipped off my gloves and blew on my fingers to warm them, then removed my hat and scarf and took a seat.
“The doctor will see you now.”
In his office, he sat down with me and explained my situation.
“We’re gonna talk degrees here. You already know that your left eye is bad. It’s got about five degrees, and the right eye, which is better, has about eight degrees.” I nodded.
“So, is there anything I can do to prolong my vision?”
“There was a case study with Vitamin A Palmitate 10,000 IU per day. That’s good stuff. Some of the people kept their vision for five years longer. Some side effects, but minor…”
While some people might think this consultation should be of a serious nature, the words of my Charlie Chaplin-esque ophthalmologist failed to shock me.
After all, numbers don’t mean much. What really mattered was that I had the best non-yellowed nerve ending in the west!
Our talk finished. He walked out of my line of vision for a second. Doesn’t take much for that to happen, by the way. I heard him say to someone, “C’mere. I want you to meet someone.”
He reappeared. “This is my daughter. She speaks Spanish, too. She lived in Europe for awhile. Amy is a patient with RP. That is a progressive disease, so what it means for her is that she is losing her sight.” He paused and his voice took on an explanatory note, which his daughter would have none of, “I know what that is, Daddy,”
“Fair enough,” he replied, and chose the short version, “Amy has like 20/200 vision—think of a horse with blinders—but a 20/20 attitude.”
My ears perked up at the compliment he slipped in as he went on to explain the obstacles that I faced. I daresay my head puffed up three times its size that day!
Buoyed by his words, I shrugged into my coat and stuffed my now swollen head into my hat (it was feeling pretty tight with my ego vying for space with my brain!). I floated on air out of his office. And down his steps. I wonder if my feet ever touched the ground.
But they must have. I walked straight into a snow mound, which I somersaulted through, and landed in a wet crumpled heap at the foot of the road. With a little jump, I brushed off my clothes and swiveled toward the office entrance to check if anyone had seen my blunder. I could always blame my red face on the cold snow, couldn’t I?
Me with my 20/200 vision … too little vision, and too much vanity!
As I said, God chooses his own way to humble us with humor. His comic timing needs no preamble. It’s impeccable.
Somehow I feel that my ophthalmologist would get a kick out of watching me walk smack into a snow mound, tumble over, pick myself up, and laugh it off.
I aim to keep my 20/20 attitude even when my 20/200 vision gets changed by the numbers. After all, numbers don’t mean anything. I have my doctor’s word on this.