I woke up this morning a little bit groggy after yet another night of not being able to get very comfortable in the Donjoy Ultrasling III I have to wear to keep my newly re-replaced right shoulder immobilized, and staggered purposefully toward my desk. (Because of my inability to raise my right arm, I don’t put my contacts in standing at the bathroom mirror as a normal person would, but leaning over my desk, looking down at a mirror placed thereupon.) I popped my contacts in, began savoring the laudatory messages that await me on Facebook every morning, and realized something was terribly wrong. I closed my left eye and looked out the window at the Hollywood Hills with just my right. Seeing them too clearly — my left contact lens is calibrated for distance vision, my right for reading — I realized that I had, for approximately the millionth time, put the two lens in the wrong eyes. Two hours later, I am still trying to pop out the left one (that is, the right lens, mistakenly inserted in my left eye).
Popping out a rigid contact lens (the sort I have to wear) involves pulling the corner of the eye outward. My eyelid is very, very sore from being stretched.
Why, someone wonders, don’t you spare yourself all this fuss and frustration, tell your vanity to take a year or two off, and wear glasses? Because glasses don’t work. It is my pleasure and privilege to have keratoconus, a progressive eye disease in which the normally round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape. It distorts the hell out of my vision and snickers contemptuously at glasses.
I’m no stranger to being unable to get my contacts out of my eyes, and will, while my eyelid licks its wounds and tries to find a way to forgive me, tell you about my worst such experience. In 2011, after a pleasant evening of watching television with the missus, I went up the bathroom and spent maybe 15 minutes trying to pop out my right lens — in this case, an expensive custom-made (for keratoconus) one. By and by, it dawned on me that there was no lens in my eye. I then spent an extremely enjoyable 90 minutes on my hands and knees gingerly retracing my route from the living room upstairs to the bathroom, and eventually accepting that the little fucker wasn’t findable.
More eyelid-stretching in the here-‘n’-now. No luck. My eyelid is considering contacting Amnesty International.
One of the great joys of rigid contact lenses is that tiny microscopic bits of things are forever getting under them. And once under them, they cease very quickly to feel microscopic. Indeed, they feel like fucking boulders.
OK. I can’t bring myself to torture my eyelid any further, and am now trying just to nudge the contact off the pupil, so that I can then try, with the utmost gentleness, to extricate it from my eye. A million times since I began wearing contact lens, one has decided to dislodge itself — and sometimes, painfully and very, very awkwardly, to climb up onto the very top of the eyeball, pretty nearly compelling me to call the Fire Dept. to retrieve it. Of course now, when I wish desperately to dislodge it, it isn’t budging.
I don’t think of myself as a contact lens wearer so much as a contact lens sufferer.