Vanity Unfair

eyeglasses“Not to be vain” I said to my daughter, “but have I always had circles under my eyes?”

“We all have circles under our eyes,” she said. I wasn’t sure whether she meant “all” as in everyone in our family or as in all of humankind. No matter.

Since my cataract surgery three months ago I have been getting used to what I refer to as my new eyes — actually, just new lens implants. Also to my face without glasses. The eye doctor urged me to try not to use my reading glasses but I still need them for newsprint and the smart phone. The daughter gave me a cord for hanging them around my neck, and I gave her grief for thinking I needed such an “old lady” accessory. “But this one is leather,” she said. “It’s not one with pearls or little beads.”

In truth, it’s quite handy, plus there’s no reason to bother with jewelry when you’ve got a pair of glasses hanging from your neck. They go with everything.

I find it especially useful in the supermarket where, without glasses, I can get my hand on our preferred brand of coffee. But then I need the glasses to be sure it’s whole beans, not ground, and regular tasting, not — heaven forbid — one of those awful flavored ones. So as I make my way up and down the market’s aisles, the glasses go up and down as well. When they go down I think, “I’ll bet people think I’m too vain to wear my glasses.” That’s what I used to think about other people. So far I’ve resisted the urge to periodically announce to anyone within earshot that this activity is born of necessity, not vanity.

However, when I mentioned to a friend my newly discovered under-eye circles, she sent this observation: “The circle under the eye camouflage has been one of my main reasons for wearing glasses for years. Forget the vision; let’s get to the important things!”

“Maybe,” I wrote back, “that’s why people wear those tinted glasses. Also sunglasses inside.”

Never too old for vanity.

Cataract & Ruin (Ouch)

eye4Another step on the road to decrepitude. When I told my former college roommate that I was having cataract surgery, she said “God, we really are old, aren’t we?”

Yes, we are. But aren’t we lucky to be old at this time? Back in the day, this kind of procedure required a hospital stay, eye patches, protective goggles, and a list of strict restrictions like those against lifting and bending. The restrictions are still there, but offered more in the way of suggestions to resume normal activities but avoid anything strenuous. Don’t bend over the day of surgery (impossible since I was mostly sleeping off the anesthesia) or drive for 24 hours (same situation). But I did drive myself to the doctor’s office the next day and everywhere else until a week later when the entire procedure was repeated on the second eye.

Cataract surgery involves removal of the eye’s lens which has become cloudy over time and replacing it with an artificial lens. It is usually a same-day procedure performed in a physician’s office or medical facility. Recovery is most often swift and easy.

(But why do you suppose discussion of medical procedures releases the worst punning instincts in me? A while back there was the post about Paul Bunion and now this heading, which only makes sense if you keep the “t” silent.)

My eyes are getting used to their new lenses and even with new over-the-counter “readers” from the drug store, I was thrilled to be able to read an entire New Yorker article the other night. The next big break-through will be eye makeup (one more week!). The blazing California sun is a challenge but the UV protection sunglasses from the doctor help and who cares if they make me roy orbisonlook like Roy Orbison.

Another reason why we’re lucky is Medicare. Not only was the surgery covered but I was informed that as a Medicare patient who’d undergone cataract surgery, I am entitled to one free prescription “reader” glasses. So something a little more grownup is on the way, though the sparkly pink ones from Walgreen’s are fun.

And don’t think of trying to make me feel guilty about Medicare. I believe we should have Medicare for all in this country. Our distinction as the only so-called advanced country in the world whose people do not have medical care as a right is shameful. Obamacare is a start but it should be universal. And Medicare should be able to bargain with the drug companies as the Veterans Administration does.

A man from Sweden was visiting us a few years ago. “Guess what,” he said. “I got hearing aids.” “Good for you,” I replied. “Ed and I getting close to needing them.” “Guess how long I had to wait for them,” he said. “How long?” “A year.” “And when you got them,” I asked, “how much did they cost?” “Oh,” he said, “nothing.”

Humpf! A year’s wait seems like a piece of cake to me. Not unlike cataract surgery.

Photo: Roy Orbison