My eye surgeon rolled back in his chair, folded his arms and paused. He’d performed my laser vision correction surgery several years before and I was back to ask about a problem that I’d been experiencing recently, where the words seem to jump around on the page as I read. He got this serious look and suddenly I was worried.
After a moment, he let out a tired sigh and said, “I’m afraid to inform you that you have what we commonly refer to as O.L.D.”
I froze. What did it mean? It must be an acronym for some horrific diagnosis. “What does that stand for?” I searched his face for reassurance.
He leaned in and said, “You’re old.”
I was flabbergasted! And offended. And OK, a little relieved.
“You have common presbyopia—farsightedness.” he explained, which apparently literally means “old eyes.” He said that it was all part of the normal aging process.
“Go to a drugstore and pick up some readers. Start with the lowest magnification. It’ll make a big difference,” he said.
“That’s it?!” I demanded.
“That’s it,” he confirmed.
I stared at him in disbelief as it started to sink in. I need reading glasses? Reading glasses are for old people, I thought stubbornly.
“But I’m only 49…,” my voice trailed off.
“Presbyopia normally starts setting in at around 40.”
“But I’m a young 49…”
“Get the glasses,” and with that he was off, I assumed, to humiliate his next patient.
As I sat in my car, denial set in and I moved through the stages of grief with the speed and agility of a cheetah.
Who was he calling old?!?
I shed a tear and drove straight to my neighborhood pharmacy.
I prayed that I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew. Sneaking up and down the aisles searching for the glasses made me feel like I was doing something indecent. I was ashamed of myself for not being mature enough to handle my new, very mature situation.
Suddenly, it appeared, right next to where a small crowd of elderly people had gathered around the blood pressure machine and I thought: I’m one of them now. These are my people.