Contacts so maddening it’s tough to see straight

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Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019 6:00 am

Living with impaired vision is like living with a crazy uncle.

You never know what to expect, you just know it won’t be pretty, hardly funny and seldom positive.

Whatever happens is going to hurt, you know that from experience.

Most times, anyway.

I’ve been floored, knocked to the deck by overhanging branches and street signs. Storefront overhead signs have clipped me on occasion.

People abruptly pointing right or left with a swing of their arms have decked me.

Conversely, I’ve tripped on clear and cluttered sidewalks, steps and stairs; missed marked and unmarked steps, sidewalks and stairs; and nearly been run over when I wasn’t watching for oncoming traffic.

My eyes, forever pointing downward, were glued to the street, in this particular instance.

Try telling that to law enforcement.

“Sure fella, you just didn’t see or hear that 10-wheeler bearing down on you, that’s what we’re supposed to believe?”

Concentrating on where you’re walking can do that, I tried explaining.

“Tell it to the judge.”

It’s just lucky I can roll with the punches, so to speak. When you miss the bottom step on a stairway and tumble head over heels, you have to be agile for one, graceful for two and smilingly apologetic for three.

Like Danny Kaye when he wraps up a dance, you spring to your feet, smile broadly and throw your arms out wide.

“You’re no Danny Kaye,” I’ve been told.

 Kids invariably convulse in laughter. Their parents look the other way, embarrassed for me.  Older ladies knowing better will slip you a buck, whispering, “Sonny, you have to watch those stairs. They’ll get you every time.”

Management usually rushes over; seconds count, they know, from experience. “Sir, are you alright? Can we call the medics? The EMTs? Your family?”

Here’s my attorney’s card. We’ll be in touch.

Seriously, my vision went haywire soon after cataract surgery a few years back. It’s been downhill since.

Unsuccessful detached retina surgery last year complicated matters further. With vision in my good eye in question, thanks to a scarred cornea, the eye doc suggested a contact lens.

At my age? I asked.

Isn’t there a ceiling on wearing contacts? I mean, when is a guy too old to wear contacts?

“Oh, you’ll do fine.” Ask your wife to help you, he added.

Ayup, I said.

I suspect the eye doc, having known me and my penchant for doing the impossible, impractical and improbable, anticipated me trying to put in my contact while lying flat on the floor and having my wife, the Baker/DA (Domestic Advisor), drop in the contact.

We tried that, of course, but it didn’t work.

You see, I have this bad back, too. And the lighting over the tables in our humble abode provides insufficient light.

Nevertheless, I tried placing the contact lens as prescribed, following all the directions. I was all thumbs. I almost put it in the wrong eye. Honest to god tears were visible, for crying out loud.

This is impossible, I cried out loud. I can’t do it. I give up. I quit.

“Give me the damn lens,” the Baker/DA demanded.

Eyeing the bunkbed in the temporary housing we’ve occupied, the bride said she had an idea.

 “This is what we’re going to do,” she informed me. “I’m going to sit at the end of the top bunk and hold your feet. You’ll be hanging over the end of the bed, with your hands and head and left eye just above the chest of drawers, where there’s the best light in this house. Your contact and the necessary solution are all right there.”

Ayup, I said. You sure this will work?

“Reach down, balance the lens on your finger and bring it up to your left eye and pop it in.”

How am I going to get down? I asked.

“We’ll figure that out after you get the contact in your eye.”

So there I am, hanging from the top bunk, bent over at my waist, reaching for the contact when the Baker/DA loses her grip on my ankles.

Uh-oh. “Look out,” she yells.

Down I go, banging off the chest and crashing to the floor. The contact, I feared, was lost. I thought I saw it catapult into the bathroom, but I wasn’t sure. It could have sailed down the bedroom floor vent.

“WHERE’S THE CONTACT?” screams my wife.

Dunno, I mumbled. I think I broke my back.

On our hands and knees, we found the lens nestled in the heel of my right slipper, not far from its counterpart, the left slipper, which was dangerously close to both the wet bathroom floor and bedroom floor vent.

I swear, it’s enough to make a grown man cry.

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