I got in a fight with my ophthalmologist.
More of a tiff, really.
I hadn't been to an ophthalmologist in 20 years. The last time I went, I was given a pair of glasses that I lost two days later. I replaced those with another pair that I lost a week later.
That was the end of eye correction for me.
Twenty years later, I returned, both to get my vision checked again as well as other eye-related issues. The doctor spent some time determining my necessary level of correction. Once finished, I asked her how poor my eyesight was.
"I don't like to compare patients," she said.
"No," I said. "I just want to know if my eyesight is frighteningly poor and in need of a major correction, or if it's not so bad. Just tell me if my eyesight is a twelve-car pileup or a fender bender."
She refused. I was annoyed. As a patient (and therefore a customer), I don't think this is an unreasonable question. I feel like I had a right to the answer.
Then she began describing the glasses I would need to purchase. I asked if we could try contacts. "I don't want to wear glasses unless it's absolutely necessary," I explained. They'll be cumbersome to me. I will lose them or break them. I will not like them. "I don't wear sunglasses," I said. "I don't even carry an umbrella in the rain. I don't manage stuff like that well. And I don't want to."
She said that I would not do well with contacts. When they attempted to dilate my eyes, I was not exactly relaxed as they tried to put eyedrops in my eyes. I was slightly afraid.
Maybe more than slightly.
And it's true. I've avoided the ophthalmologist for years because I didn't want glasses and am terrified by the thought of putting something in my eyes. I've watched Elysha do it for years, and I still don't know how she does it. But I was willing to try.
"You won't be able to do contacts," she said. She went onto explain that because I'm nearsighted, contacts might make it impossible for me to read as well.
"It won't be easy," I said. "But don't you think I could just try? Maybe I could get adjusted to them?"
"No," she said. "I don't think you can."
Now I was angry. "I'm a 46 year old man," I said. "I've overcome PTSD, homelessness, and jail. I've been robbed at gunpoint, and my head went through a windshield. There is still glass in my forehead. I've managed to get past all of those things. I think I know myself a little better than you. I think I can probably learn to manage contact lenses. Or at least try."
She continued to tell me why contacts would not be right for me and refused to give me a prescription. "Maybe in six months," she said. "After you've gotten accustomed to the correction."
I left. I was enraged.
So now I have a prescription for glasses that I will not fill. I am stuck between finding a new doctor and waiting another 20 years.
I haven't decided what I'll do yet.
When I told this story to my friend on a golf course, he said, "Oh, you mean someone told you that you couldn't do something, and that made you angry? How surprising."
I still think the ophthalmologist was wrong. I still think I had a right to know the degree of my correction. I still think she was wrong to assess my ability to put contacts into my eyes after just ten minutes and one attempt at eye drops.
But my friend was right. Nothing makes me angrier than someone telling me that I can't do something.
This was the primary source of my anger. And I'm okay with that. My anger over people telling me what I can't do has helped to propel me to where I am today.
It's also good to know that your friends know you even better than you know yourself.