I’ve had a love/hate relationship with glasses my entire life. When I was three years old my parents noticed my left eye was turning in. They also noticed I couldn’t see a kitty that was across the road from my house. In those days treatment for a lazy eye was in the experimental phase. I was fortunate in that my parents found a top eye surgeon who was researching this affliction at Sick Children’s Hospital. I remember going for yearly visits at the hospital and he was a, soft spoken, kind man, whose medical flashlight was in the shape of a red dog. The light came out of its smiling mouth. I loved that flashlight.
So, the prognosis was definitely a “lazy eye” and the treatment, although making sense, could have been found in the dungeons of The Tower of London alongside the “merry widow”.
It was the practice of forcing the patient to wear an unsightly patch over one eye… and in my case… for seven long, cootie filled, years. When I was three I had little tiny blue cats- eye glasses which my mother proceeded to tape up. The thought was, by covering up the stronger eye, it would force the weaker one to straighten itself out and become functional. My mother’s choice of using white surgical tape on one half of my glasses was questionable.
It was my clinical freak stamp that shaped my early years ensuring that I would most definitely be treated like a leper. I remember hearing the kids in kindergarten whispering … “she’s a cripple”. I was actually hyper active, at that age, and constantly running through the school yard occasionally running into a pole or a wall. After a while the kids in my neighborhood just got used to me wearing a patch and ignored it…. Then we moved.
When I was six we moved from the city to the suburbs and into a big new house. My patch and I had to make new friends and it wasn’t going to be easy. Our house was on a new street and there were other houses still being built. I remember a lot of giant mounds of dirt to play on and only one other completed house across the road from us. It was the summer and my little sister and I played around our house by ourselves. On this particular day I had grabbed a couple of towels and tied them around our necks so we could be Batman and Robyn. I was Batman and decided to climb up the drain pipe on the side of our garage door. Robyn kept a lookout on the driveway. As I scaled up the pipe; a spider monkey with one eye, I lost my grip and fell like an over ripe apple off a tree and splatted on the driveway. Robyn ran into the house yelling for my mother. My mother came peeling out of the house to find me lying face down. My glasses had broken, my nose was bleeding and my eyebrow was cut. She scooped up her super hero and ran into the house. I remember screaming when I saw all the blood as she tried to get things under control in our bathroom. My mom realized she had to get me to the hospital so handing me my towel bat cape and, grabbing my sister, we piled into the front seat of her car. I don’t remember much of the hospital visit other than it hurt like hell and I left with four stitches in my eyebrow and a sucker.
I was to start school a week later. My first week in my new school I had my replacement cats- eye glasses, my surgical patch, and one evil slanted black stitched Frankenstein eyebrow.
The other children were literally cowering in the corners of the room when I entered. I terrified them.
I eventually won over a couple of girls because I played the pity card. I let them be Annie Sullivan to my Helen Keller. They loved feeling like they were helping out someone who was less fortunate and way less attractive than themselves.
I also managed to make friends with the little girl across the road who, on our first meeting blurted out, “What’s wrong with you”, and then never mentioned it again.
Other than hearing things like “Wow that kid got hit with a snowball in the eye” in the winter I someone managed to survive my pirate years.
My last trip to my eye specialist, Dr. Crawford, was when I turned fifteen. He only specialized in children with eye problems and I had out grown him. I remember sitting across from him as he told me I didn’t need to wear glasses anymore or at least until I got old. My eye had straightened out and the patch was long gone. Up until that point in life, my sister had always called me “four eyes”. I honestly didn’t know who I would be without my glasses. I cried with gratitude and also for the loss of the Dr. I had known since I was three. I have never forgotten him because he finally gave me equal footing when I entered High School and that is huge.
I put my glasses in a drawer at home and did not look back. I didn’t anticipate the naked feeling I would have without them and eventually realized that they had actually become a security blanket for me, so that was weird, but it did not make me want to ever wear them again.
Cut to 30 years later and my long-time boyfriend sat across from me in a dimly lit restaurant. “Pass the salt… googly eye.”
That’s right, my left eye had started to wear out and was turning in again especially in bad lighting or after a couple of glasses of Pinot. I had gotten old. Dr. Crawford warned me it would happen one day but it seemed like only yesterday. Luckily for me, glasses have become extremely chic and fashionable and there is no longer a stigma attached to wearing them. You can spend as much money as you want on your perfect frames. Designer frames are like art on your face and you can also find some really great cheap readers. No longer are glasses just for correcting your eyes. They have become accessories. I finally have my security blanket back! I’ve actually got two…one pair for reading and one pair for driving. I never dreamed that young people would buy fake glasses just for fashion. Hilarious.
Times change and perceptions have changed towards people with glasses… wearing an eye patch?… not so much. If I had to do it all over again I would have demanded to wear a black patch and changed my name to something Piratey… like Blonde Beard… on second thought… that is waaaaay too accurate these days.