Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Girl Next Door

by Specs4ever

My wife, who was 2 years younger than me, had retired at 55, and we had moved from our home of many years to a more temperate climate.  The house next door to our new home was owned by a younger couple in their early 30’s that, at the time we moved in, had a 4 year old daughter.  We had moved far enough from our own children and grandchildren that I was afraid that we would end up regretting the move.  But my wife felt that our own families were so busy with their lives that we would have more quality time with them when they came to visit, and we knew they would just to get away from the snow and the cold.

Mike, our neighbor, was a carpenter, and at the time he was quite busy, as there were houses being built on any sliver of vacant land anywhere in the state.  His wife Janet was a nurse at the local hospital, and somehow they managed to work it so that one of them was able to be home with Jessica to take her to daycare, and the other would come back home with her at the end of the day. It certainly must have taken a lot of juggling, but they were able to do it.  And, after we had been there for a month or so I managed to talk with Jim a few times, and found that he was a pretty nice person. Marie and I even invited them over for a barbeque, and I know that Marie fell in love with Jess immediately.

As we got to know Mike and Janet better I suppose it was only natural that Marie would offer to look after Jess if they needed someone to fill in every once in a while.  And, that did happen on occasion, however for the most part they had things pretty well covered.  We did have to pick Jessica up at the day care one day when she was sick, and we brought her home and put her to bed in her own bed.  Marie and I took turns watching over her, and were pleased to see that it was just a bout of stomach flue.  She was back to daycare the following day.  But, that really broke the ice, and now Jessica stayed with Marie and me once in a while instead of going shopping with her mom on Saturday mornings.

Our own kids came over Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and we had a really full house.  Fortunately our daughter and our son lived in different areas, so the spring break was during different weeks, but our house was full again for those 2 weeks. And we had 2 granddaughters, Amy and Carrie who were close to Jessica in age.  The week in the spring that Amy was here found Jess over at our house constantly, and then the following week was a repeat when Carrie was here.  After the grandkids were gone Mike said to me that he could have saved his money for the daycare, because Jess wasn’t there at all.

It was a gradual lead up to the inevitable.  Jessica was starting kindergarten the following September, and she was only going to be there half a day.  The logistics of having someone pick Jessica up at the kindergarten and take her to the daycare for 4 hours in the afternoon was driving Mike and Janet crazy.  I didn’t dare suggest it, but I wasn’t unhappy when Marie said that she didn’t think it would be a problem if the school bus dropped Jessica off at our place and she could stay with us for the afternoon.  So, that is what ended up happening. 

This arrangement worked out relatively well for everybody.  Jess was pretty happy being at our house, and she was a quiet girl.  She read a lot, and watched a bit of television. Sometimes she would come out to the garage and watch me work on my old car, or would sweep up after me when I was doing woodworking.  Marie and I had come to the point where we didn’t feel that Jess had to be entertained, and we just left her to her own resources.

The next year Jess went into grade 1, and she didn’t get dropped off until almost 4. Mike had been working longer hours since Marie and I started looking after Jess, so now he and Janet got home around 5:30.  Jess was only at our place for about an hour and a half every day now.  But we did always look after her on school holidays, and it was on one of these days that I first noticed that Jess seemed to be a little nearsighted.  She couldn’t read the menu board at the fast food joint in the mall where Marie and I took her for lunch.

“Do you think I should mention it to Mike and Janet” I asked Marie.

“I think maybe you should Hank.  It probably is nothing, but she should have been able to see the board clearly.” Marie replied.

So, that evening I did mention it to Mike and Janet.  Janet wasn’t fazed at all, because as a nurse she was aware of how many girls Jessica’s age now wore glasses.  She made an appointment with an eye doctor she knew, and was grateful that I offered to pick Jessica up at school and take her for her eye exam.  I was more than happy to do this, because I have a bit of a thing for ladies who wear glasses.

As we had suspected, Jess was a little nearsighted.  Her first prescription was -1.50D for each eye.  The doctor suggested that Jess should have another appointment in 6 months, because he often found that when a young child got their first pair of glasses the strength had to be increased a little in less than a year. I didn’t need the explanation, but he told me that a young child who got glasses had been using their powers of accommodation to see as much and as well as they could, so after the glasses relaxed their eyes, it was frequently discovered that the prescription they needed was actually higher than they had originally received.  I was well aware of that, as my own daughter had experienced the same thing. The doctor did say that it should be left entirely up to Jess how much she wore her glasses.

I wasn’t sure if I should take Jess to get her a pair of glasses, but I did stop at the one hour place near the mall on the way home.  They had a kid’s special on, and the price was quite reasonable. I waited while Jess and the lady optician looked at all of the children’s frames, and finally they selected one that I thought looked very nice on Jess. It was a wire frame in a bronze color, and it had an oval shape to the lenses.  Jess and I went to the mall for an ice cream while we waited for them to put the lenses in her frames.  Jess was strangely quite while we had the ice cream, and I figured that the idea that she was going to have to wear glasses was bothering her.

“Don’t worry; there will be lots of other kids in your grade who get glasses within the next couple of years.” I said.

“Shelly and Grace already wear glasses.  Grace let me wear hers last week, and I sort of already knew I would need them.  I guess I just hoped that I wouldn’t.” Jess replied.

With the ice cream gone we drove back to the optical place, and we found that her glasses were ready. The optician fitted the frames to her head, and when Jess was satisfied with the fit we went home.  Marie complimented Jess on her choice of glasses and told her she looked extremely nice wearing them.  Mike came home before Janet, and he walked over to get Jess. He was surprised to see that she was already wearing glasses, and I explained that I found a one hour place that had a pretty good kid’s sale on. Mike paid me back the money I had spent, and I explained that the doctor had told me that it was quite likely that Jess would need a small increase in her prescription in about 6 months, so we had another appointment already set up.  I told Mike that the doctor had suggested that we leave it up to Jess to determine how much she should wear her glasses. 

Over the next few weeks I noticed that Jess had gradually turned into a full time glasses wearer.  The first few days were a little difficult. I had to go over to their house, and find Jess’s glasses one morning after the school called Janet to tell her that Jess had forgotten her glasses and she had asked the teacher if she could call her mom to bring them to school.  Then a couple of times Jess had forgotten and had left the case containing her glasses at school, so she had to get very close to the television that evening.  Once Jess had gotten used to the clarity of vision that her glasses gave her, she missed having them available, and I think the second time she forgot them at school Janet had told her to just put them on in the morning and wear them.  So that is exactly what she did.  Now after school at our house Jess would sit at the table doing her homework with her glasses on, and even though I noticed that she was getting pretty close to her schoolwork, I didn’t say a thing.

Before I knew it, it was time for Jess to have her 6 month eye appointment.  Again I offered to drive her, so I picked Jess up at the school and took her to the doctor’s office. It was no great surprise when Jess was found to need a stronger prescription already. The doctor had prepared us for it before.  Her new glasses were going to have to be -2.75D for each eye, still with no astigmatism fortunately. 

We went back to the same one hour optical store.  I priced having new lenses put into Jess’s frames, but we could buy a frame and lens special cheaper, so we did that. Jess either wanted a different appearance this time, or else she wanted everyone to know she had gotten new glasses, as she chose a burgundy colored plastic frame with a rectangular lens shape and wide temples.  Her old glasses had not stood out on her face, however her new ones shouted “look at me, I am wearing glasses”.   They did look good on her though.

This time Janet was the first one home.  She was definitely taken aback by the bold look of Jess’s new glasses. She asked Jess to take them off so she could see them and Jess did, but after a couple of minutes Jess started to whine that she couldn’t see and she wanted them back.  Janet was a little surprised that Jess’s eyes were bad enough to invoke this reaction, and she asked me what Jess’s new prescription was. So I told her, and she nodded her head as if to express that once she knew the prescription she realized that Jess didn’t have very good eyesight without her glasses now.  I explained that the doctor had suggested that Jess could likely go a couple of years before she had another eye exam, unless she broke her glasses, or unless she seemed to be having difficulty seeing things again.

Jess had gotten her first glasses after Carrie had left just after spring break.  I know that Carrie and Amy and Jess had been e mailing each other, and I know that Mike and Janet and I had talked about having Jess come with us for a month over the summer while Marie and I went north to visit the kids, but things hadn’t worked out, so we had stayed in the heat and mugginess for the summer. It certainly was a good thing that we had a pool.  A couple of days after Jess had gotten her newest glasses I got an e mail from my daughter Katie with a picture attachment of Amy showing us that Amy was now wearing glasses. This was less of a surprise to me than it had been to have Jess need glasses, because Katie had worn glasses or contacts for years, and had a prescription that was somewhere around -8.50D. I didn’t want to appear too interested so I didn’t know the real numbers; just that her contact lenses were around -8.00D, and since I knew her glasses had a little bit of astigmatism I figured that her total prescription was about -8.75D or so.  What did surprise me was that this was also Amy’s second pair of glasses, and that she had gotten her first pair before they had been here on spring break, but no one had said anything.  I surmised that Amy had been a little embarrassed about being the only one having to wear glasses so she had not told anyone.

After Jess had gotten her new glasses I didn’t see any change in her habits. She still sat at the kitchen table doing her homework with her face pretty close to her books. And when she was reading I also noticed that her reading distance was also much less than I would have thought was good for her.  I had read a lot of stuff on the internet, and from what I had read, it was suggested that a child who wore glasses for myopia, and who read a lot, with their reading material close to their eyes was more inclined to end up with a much stronger prescription in the long run.  It wouldn’t have bothered me one little bit if Jessica ended up wearing very strong glasses, as I am very attracted to ladies who wear strong glasses.                                      

I spent a lot more time than was healthy for me thinking about how I could make sure that Jessica never got contact lenses.   I knew that if her glasses got very strong it was highly likely that she would want contacts.  The only solution that I could come up with was that somehow or another I needed to give her a little bit of prism in her glasses.  Three degrees of base out prism would probably do the trick. Instead of providing a handwritten slip, her doctor no longer wrote out the prescription, but instead had everything on the computer, and after you paid for the exam, the receptionist would print out the prescription and have the doctor sign it.  My program on my printer would let me scan the prescription slip into it, and then I could make changes if I wanted to, and since I had kept the slip from when we got Jessica’s first glasses in a pristine condition, I went ahead and scanned it into my computer.  There was a place for the sphere; for the cylinder and the axis, as well as a column for prism and base, and also one for add and pd. Jess’s original prescription only had -1.50 written in the very first column.  So I erased this, and cleared off the doctor’s signature, and I saved a completely clean prescription slip to a hidden file on my computer.  Would I ever use it?  Would I ever get the chance to use it?   These questions haunted me every day.

I knew that the younger a child was when they got their first glasses for myopia the better the chances were that they would have a strong prescription in the long run.  I didn’t wish a really strong prescription on Jess, or for that matter my granddaughter Amy.  But I do love looking at people who wear strong glasses.  When the glasses are under -5D, it seems that the wearer can still take them off, and do a pretty good squint to still enable them to see most stuff – not clearly, but well enough that they can function.  As the prescription creeps up closer to -10D the point is reached where they no longer bother to scrunch up their eyes into a squint, but they can still see well enough to clean their own glasses.  It is around this point when the wearer will no longer even attempt to try to focus, and with their glasses off they have a blank, unfocused look to their eyes. Also, after -10D a point is reached when they really can’t see well enough to clean their own glasses without just polishing the lenses the best they can and then putting them on to see if they got the lenses clean. And the part I like is when they have to take their glasses off 2 or 3 times to get that elusive smear that they can’t see is there until their lenses are back in front of their eyes.  My daughter Katie had a girlfriend in high school that had this problem, as she had very high myopia and very thick lenses and I loved to watch her doing the cleaning process.

Katie, Amy and Kevin came for Thanksgiving, but Matt wasn’t with them.  Ben and Sheila came along with Carrie and Jacob, so even without Matt we still had a very full house.  But Amy and Carrie spent most of their time with Jess, and slept over at their house all three nights.  This was the first time I had seen Amy wearing glasses in anything but pictures, and I was a little surprised at how strong the lenses looked.  I asked Katie and she told me that Amy had needed -2.50D for her first prescription and for her second prescription it had jumped up to -4.50D. Amy was about 4 months older than Jess, and Carrie was about 4 months younger, but all three girls were in the same grade at school because of the way their birthdays fell.  So they had a lot in common, and they really enjoyed each others company.  Was I surprised when Carrie came up to my son Ben, and showed him Jessica’s first glasses and told him that she could really see a lot better with them?  I can’t really say I was, but I could see a pair of glasses in Carrie’s immediate future.  Maybe she would be wearing them when they came back for Christmas.

My immediate suggestion was that Ben should save his money and let Carrie wear Jessica’s old glasses.  I explained to Ben that it seemed that within about 6 months of wearing glasses Carrie would likely need another prescription change anyway, so he could save his money if Carrie felt that she could see much better with Jess’s original glasses.  I didn’t expect that this would go over very well, but it surprised me when Katie seconded my opinion.  Ben and Sheila were still pretty skeptical about allowing Carrie to wear Jess’s glasses, but in the end Katie suggested that we let Carrie decide. If she felt that she could see better, then she would wear Jess’s glasses, and after they got back home they could make an appointment for Carrie to have her eyes examined. In the meantime there would be no harm done.  Ben still didn’t like the idea, so I measured out 20 feet, and printed off a snellen chart from the internet.  Then we had Carrie stand at the 20 foot mark and try to read the lines.  She could see the 20/70 line without glasses. Then with Jess’s glasses on we had her try again, and this time she got to the 20/30 line, but could not see the 20/20.  Katie ran from the room and came back a minute or so later with a pair of glasses. Apparently she had brought Amy’s first glasses with her in case Amy needed them, and although they were a bit stronger than Jess’s, Carrie could read the 20/20 line easily with them on. Then, just for the heck of it we checked to see how well Amy and Jessica could see.  Amy easily read the 20/20 line, but when it was Jessica’s turn she could not see any further than the 20/70 line with her newest glasses.  So we had Amy let Jess wear her glasses to try to see how far she could see, and with Amy’s -4.50D glasses on Jess could again read the 20/20 line.  When we rolled up my Snellen chart, Carrie was still wearing Amy’s old glasses, and she didn’t want to give them up.  So, Ben and Sheila reluctantly allowed her to wear them for the rest of the visit.  Now there were three girls with their eyes hidden behind minus lenses, and Jess was going to have to go for another exam right away.

Jess came away from her exam with a -4.00D prescription. I felt that the doctor had probably cut back on her prescription a little, so I was in no hurry to order her new glasses. Anyway I still wanted to attempt to add at least 3 degrees of base out prism. So I went home and set up the Snellen chart again.  I had Jess run home to get her old -1.50D glasses. I took out the lenses, and taped them in front of her -2.75D glasses. Then I had her try to read the Snellen chart.  With -4.25D of correction she could read the 20/30 line, but the 20/20 line escaped her.  So, when Mike and Janet got home I showed them what Jess and I had done, and I explained my thinking to them.  With Amy’s -4.50D glasses Jess could easily read the 20/20 line.  But with her old glasses both put together, which added up to -4.25D, Jess could only read the 20/30 line. Her doctor had under corrected her to the point where she would probably need new glasses again in a very short time, as I felt that her prescribed glasses would barely allow her to see the 20/40 line.

“What should we do?” Mike asked.

“Maybe it is a dumb suggestion.  But I was going to suggest that maybe we should order Jess her new glasses online anyway.  We know that she can see well with a -4.50D prescription, and that is only slightly stronger than the doctor prescribed, so by ordering online we can order her this prescription.” I replied.

“Let me just check with a couple of my friends.” Janet said as she got out her cell phone.

Mike and I listened to Janet’s side of the conversation, and after she hung up she said, “Both my friends think that we would be better off giving Jess the stronger prescription.  There has been some controversy on this recently, and being under corrected seems to be worse for the child than having the proper prescription.  I think we will likely use a different doctor next time, because I don’t want her to be under corrected.”

So, the consensus was that we should order a new pair of glasses for Jess online, using the -4.50D prescription. Mike and Janet stayed with me while Jess picked out a frame she liked, and after they left I put the numbers in for the prescription.  Instead of -4.50D I entered -5.00D and put in 3 degrees of prism base out for both eyes. The frames were cheap, under $20.00 complete with lenses, so I ordered the same frame with a -6.00D prescription, and another one with a -7.00D prescription, both with the same prism.  I didn’t know if I would ever be able to use them, but I could always hope.

It took a little over 2 weeks for the glasses to arrive. Mike paid me in cash for the one pair, as I had used my credit card for the purchase.  My only little problem was that I had a lot of difficulty determining which pair was the -5D pair, as the -5D pair and the -6D pair had almost exactly the same edge thickness. But then I determined that the -5D pair had a little steeper front curve.  Jess put the glasses on, and we pulled out the Snellen chart again. She easily read the 20/20 line, which impressed both Mike and Janet.

“We weren’t sure if you were right or not, but for only $20.00 we figured that we would take a chance.  Thanks for helping Jess out Hank.” Mike said.

The kids came back for Christmas. This time Matt came along with Katie, although I could sense an undercurrent there that I didn’t like the feel of. I wondered if their marriage was in trouble.  And while I was wondering that, I also wondered if I was in trouble.  If Amy and Jess traded glasses, Amy might find that Jess’s new glasses were better than her own glasses, and they were supposed to be the same prescription.  I was a little surprised to see that Katie was still wearing Amy’s original glasses, and when I asked Ben about it he told me that he and Sheila had decided that they would wait until the spring to see if Carrie needed new glasses in a different prescription.  

Fortunately I wasn’t found out. Christmas was over and everyone went back home.  Things were back to normal, with Jess coming to the house every afternoon after school, and doing her homework at the kitchen table, her new glasses buried as deeply in her books as her old ones had been.  It was almost time for March break when Jess told me that she couldn’t see the board at school again.

“I guess it is time for new glasses again then Jess.” I said.

“I don’t want to tell mom Hank. She will freak out at how bad my eyes are getting.” Jess replied.

“What should we do?” I asked.

“Can you just take me to the doctor, and we can order the exact same glasses and not tell mom?” Jess enquired.

“I suppose I could do that.  But I have another idea. I thought that this might happen, so I ordered another pair of glasses with a little bit stronger lenses in them and in exactly the same frame. Do you want to try them?” I asked.

“Oh that would be wonderful Hank.” Jess replied

Now I was in a quandary.  Should I get the -6D ones, or should I bring out the -7D ones. Jess could likely see well enough with the -7D ones, but if they were too strong I would be contributing to the increases in her prescription. She was only 9 years old, and -7D was a very strong prescription for that age.  I had decided on the -6D glasses for sure, but then I figured that I should bring both pairs out, set up the Snellen chart again, and see which pair Jess wanted. That would salve my conscience. So, that is what I did. Jess was surprised to see two pairs of glasses, but I let her read the chart with both pairs, and then I let her pick whichever pair she felt she saw the best with. She chose the -7D ones.  After we were finished I suggested to her that maybe the reason her eyes were getting so bad might be because she was looking too close at everything she was reading, and she promised that she would try to read things a little further away from her eyes.

I pretty well knew that Jess could have worn the -6D glasses for a while, and that way I could have gotten some use out of them.  But for 20 bucks they had served their purpose during the few minutes Jess had worn them trying to read the eye chart.  She would never wear them now, so I could likely have thrown them away. But as it turned out I am glad I didn’t.

Amy and Carrie were going to come to visit over March break.  Their parents and their brothers were staying home.  But a tearful phone call changed that.

“Dad, Matt and I have split.  Can the kids and I move in with you and mom for a while?” Katie asked one night in early March.

“Is it over honey?” I asked

“Yes, it is. He cheated on me last fall, and then he promised that he wouldn’t do it ever again.  But I caught him with the same girl again last week.  I can’t afford to keep the house, because we are upside down on it anyway, so I just want to move out.” Katie replied.

“Your mom and I will make room for you here. Come on down, but jobs here are hard to find.” I replied.

“Thanks dad.  I know I might have trouble finding work, but I will do anything.  And I am a qualified nurse, so I can always go back to nursing if there are no administrative jobs.” Katie replied.

A couple of days later a very tired daughter and 2 sullen grandchildren showed up at the house.  We have a 4 bedroom home, so Amy and Katie would each have the small rooms, and Kevin could have the larger room as we still needed to have the computer desk somewhere.  It was easy to see why the kids were upset. Amy’s glasses were taped together, as she and Kevin had been going at one another in the back seat, and in the struggle her glasses had snapped at the bridge.  Amy wasn’t happy about the black tape, and was even more upset with the thought of starting at a new school looking like that.

“I’m sorry about this dad. It was a long hard trip, mostly because the kids don’t understand why their dad will not be in my life ever again.” Katie said.

“A good nights sleep, and a new pair of glasses for Amy will go a long way in fixing things up.” I replied.

‘That is going to be a problem dad.  Matt stripped the bank account, and was going to cancel the credit cards before I left, but I told him if he didn’t let me get to Florida he would regret it, so he left the one credit card active.  I just filled up, so I will have some gas for a few days, but I bet it is canceled by now.  I have no money left to buy Amy new glasses, and I don’t want to ask you for any more help.” Katie told me.

“I understand. But I have a spare pair of Jess’s glasses here. They are weaker than her new ones, but I think they are a little stronger than Amy’s broken ones. Let me get them, and I will set up the eye chart and see if Amy can wear them.” I replied.

Amy could read right down to the 20/20 line with the -6.00D glasses. She proclaimed that they were wonderful, and I got myself some pretty big hugs and kisses.  I was thrilled, for a couple of reasons. One was that the -6.00D glasses were now being used, and secondly because the 3 degrees of base out prism that I had ordered in these lenses would, in time, make it highly unlikely that Amy would be able to wear contact lenses either.

Janet and Katie got together, and Janet smoothed the way for Katie to be hired at the same hospital where Janet worked.   I was a little worried that their conversations might turn towards their kids’ poor eyesight, but nothing was said, not even when Janet remarked that is was strange to see that both Jess and Amy had picked the same black plastic frame for their glasses.  Katie, Amy and Jess knew how they both ended up with the same frame, but hopefully Janet would never find out.

Carrie did come for March break, and I was surprised to see that she was still wearing Amy’s old glasses. Apparently Ben and Sheila hadn’t managed to find time to take Carrie in for an eye examination yet.

It wasn’t my idea.  I would never have suggested it, but Jess had told Amy that I had ordered 3 pairs of glasses that had exactly the same frames, but with slightly different prescriptions.  A day after Carrie arrived the 3 girls came to me.

“Poppa, Carrie can’t see very well with my old glasses anymore.  Do you think she could wear the other pair that you got for Jess?” Amy asked.

“We could check it out.  I will get the eye chart and that other pair of glasses out.” I replied.

The best Carrie could do with the -2.50D glasses that she was wearing was the 20/200 line.  I gave her the -5.00D ones, and she breezed through the eye chart, easily reading the complete 20/20 line.  Marie sort of knew that I had ordered the exact same frames with 3 different strengths of lenses for Jess, so I didn’t have any need to explain to her what we were doing. When she saw how much better Carrie could see with the -5.00D glasses there was nothing said to prevent Carrie from wearing them for the next couple of weeks.  And for the next couple of weeks I thought of these 3 girls as 5, 6 and 7. That was only in my mind that is, as I never expressed that out loud to anyone, especially not Mike or Janet.  Janet had not seen Carrie yet, and when she did she expressed amazement that all 3 of the girls wore exactly the same frame.

After Katie had been working for a year, she rented her own place and they moved out. But they were still close enough to us that Kevin, who was now 13, and Amy would come to our house after school. And Jess also still came, so Amy and Jess would do their homework together.  Jess seemed to have made an effort for a while to bring her head back from what she was reading, however for the past few months she had fallen back into her old habits. And Amy seemed to do the same thing.  So, I wasn’t going to be at all surprised if 6 and 7 became 7 and 8.  Ben and Sheila had finally taken Carrie for an eye exam, but they had been ashamed to tell the doctor that Carrie had never had an exam before. So when Carrie ended up being told that the glasses she was wearing were not quite strong enough for her the 3 degrees of base out prism had remained. Since she had worn those -5D glasses for almost a full year, when her eyes were examined the doctor had prescribed a prescription of -6.25D.  When Carrie showed up here for March break her glasses were going to be slightly stronger than her cousin Amy’s – unless I could manage to get Amy, and maybe Jess both in for eye exams. I had been setting the stage. Jess and Amy had been trading glasses and I knew that Amy had told Jess that she could see better with the glasses that Jess presently had on.  So, I knew that I had to at least get Jess in for an exam, but Katie had also been making noises about getting a proper pair of glasses for Amy.  I did mention to Janet that Jess was doing a lot of squinting to see things, and I guess that Jess had confirmed that she was having trouble seeing things. Janet asked me if I could take Jess to see the new eye doctor that she had gotten a recommendation to from some of her nurse friends, and I agreed, providing he could also see Amy the same day.

Janet allowed me to set up the appointment for both girls, and I picked them up after school.  I let Amy take the first appointment, and then Jess went in.  When the doctor came out with Jess he came over to talk to me. I knew that he would probably find it a little strange that both girls had exactly 3 degrees of prism in their glasses. And he had found it unusual.  He asked Jess, and she had told him that her old doctor had prescribed the glasses she was wearing, as I had coached her to say.  But he hadn’t had a chance to talk to Amy, as he had just figured she needed the prism.  However he did ask me, and I told him that the glasses my granddaughter had been wearing were her friend Jessica’s old glasses. I told him that Amy’s brother had broken her glasses, and that Amy’s mom was unable to buy her a new pair, so we had tried her friend’s glasses, and she felt that she had good vision with them, so she wore them for the past year, but now her mom could afford new glasses.

“Well, that explains it then. I had wondered how both girls had exactly the same amount of prism.  You probably don’t realize it, but her eyes have gotten to the point where she actually needs the prism, and now your granddaughter will always need prism correction in her glasses,” He said.

I couldn’t let him see just how happy I felt about that so I just said that I guessed that that was too bad, but what was done was done.  I picked up the prescription slips from the receptionist after I paid for the exams, and I looked at them. Jess now required -8.50D, and Amy had jumped up to a -8.00D prescription.   They both required the same 3 degrees of base out prism, so my plan had worked.

Janet was very upset when she saw what a strong prescription Jessica now required. She didn’t find any consolation in the fact that Amy needed almost as high a prescription.  Katie didn’t like the fact that Amy would be wearing glasses that were only a little weaker than her own prescription, but she had worn glasses herself for so long that it didn’t bother her that Amy needed strong glasses, as long as Amy could see well with them.  We all went online together, and the girls both picked the same blue and black frame for their new glasses.  Janet felt that since Jess’s eyes were so bad she should have a spare pair of glasses in case hers got broken, so Jess got 2 pairs, and Amy only got one. It was Katie who suggested that Amy could probably wear Jess’s spare pair if she was the one to break her glasses, and strangely enough the idea that Amy’s eyes were pretty much as bad as Jess’s settled Janet down.  But when we had to pay an extra charge for a strong prescription she got a little upset again.

“How bad are her eyes going to get?  She hasn’t been able to see a thing without her glasses for a couple of years now.” Janet ranted.

“She needs what she needs honey.  If she has to get even stronger glasses again next year we will get them for her.” Mike said.

Finally we got the 3 pairs of glasses ordered, and everyone went home.  It took a little less than 2 weeks before the postman brought the parcel to our door, and I waited eagerly for Jess and Amy to get home from school.  They arrived, and we opened the package together.   It was easy to pick out Jess’s second pair, because they were a different frame. But the only way we could determine which pair was Jess’s and which pair was Amy’s was to have the girls try them on.  Finally they decided that Jess could see a little bit better with one pair than she could with the other. But Amy seemed to see equally as well with either pair.  Then I wished I had ordered the same prescription in all 3 pairs, but there had been too many people around for me to have done that.

Both girls looked amazing in their new glasses.  Jess had a little longer face than Amy, but their coloring was similar, and they both had long dark blond hair that they wore in a ponytail.  I loved to catch the reflections from the flat fronts of their new lenses.

I sort of hoped that neither girl would need an increase in their prescriptions the following year.  I had watched them closely all year, and it seemed that they were doing fairly well with their existing prescriptions.  For a while they had both worn the identical frames, but recently Jess had been wearing her other frame.  It took me a while to find out the real reason behind the change in frames.  Apparently Jess had gotten tired of Amy borrowing her glasses so that she could see things that she couldn’t see with her own glasses, so eventually Jess had gotten tired of it, and had given Amy her identical glasses, and had switched to wearing her other glasses. The girls were now using the exact same prescription.  I felt that after 3 months of this Amy would now need that prescription, and Jess could probably take another diopter or so added to her prescription.  I mentioned to Mike that it had been a year since Amy and Jess had last had an eye exam, and Mike gave me the go ahead to take Jess along.

Jess did need a pretty good increase. She went up to -9.50D. But what was surprising was that Amy needed exactly the same prescription.  When the doctor came out with Amy he told me that this was the most unusual thing he had ever seen. Two girls that were not twins, but were just close friends having exactly the same prescription was almost unheard of.  I pretty well knew why, but I kept my mouth shut.  I was pretty sure that it had a lot to do with the fact that they both brought their reading material up to almost the same distance from their eyes while wearing exactly the same prescription in their glasses.  I had tried to get Jess to get her face out of her studies, but that suggestion had only worked for a month or two. I hadn’t even bothered making that suggestion to Amy.

When I told Mike he suggested that we keep Janet in the dark, at least until the girls got their new glasses.  I didn’t think that was a good idea, but he was the boss.  So I went online and the girls and I picked out their new frames.  They were quite happy with the idea that they could change their appearance again, and since their prescriptions were the same they ordered 3 different frame styles so that they could keep switching their glasses. This time I couldn’t resist it.  I added -0.50D to their -9.50D prescription, so that the glasses would come in as -10D.  I also kept the same index we had been using, and I figured that with the regular plastic lenses a couple of pairs of these glasses would be pretty thick. I was right about that. The girls had chosen 2 frames that were larger eye sizes that I thought they should, but since they were the ones who had to wear the glasses I made one comment and then shut my mouth.  When the glasses came in they took a look at the thicker lenses, and seemed to accept that if this is what they needed, it was all right.  I was in heaven.  Edge thicknesses of well over half an inch, flat fronts and large lenses on young girls fitted my dream exactly.  Of course Janet freaked again when she saw the girls wearing their new glasses, and she was insistent that Jess would have to get contact lenses next time her eyes changed.  I didn’t say anything to burst her bubble.

The next time Carrie came to visit I am pretty sure I saw her wearing either Amy’s old -8D glasses or Jess’s old -8.50D ones when the three of them were together.  I couldn’t tell the difference, so I asked Amy after Carrie had left.  Amy said that Carrie had taken both pairs of Jess’s old glasses back with her, and that she had been able to see a little better through them than she could through Amy’s old pair.

“I’m going to have to start calling you the three blind mice.” I said.

“We already call ourselves that Poppa. Even Carrie can’t se a thing without glasses” Amy replied.

The three blind mice all continued to have regular prescription increases.  Amy and Jess both went to the local community college and by the time they were 21 their prescription was up into the high teens, but it had seemed to have stabilized. The last pairs of glasses I ordered for them had -18.50D lenses, and they had gone for over 2 years with no increase. Carrie had gone on to university, and was articling to be a lawyer.  The lenses in her glasses looked to be real glass bricks, as her prescription was in the low 20’s and was still climbing.  They had all thought of wearing contact lenses, but with the prism that they needed, contact lenses were not an option.  Carrie was the only one who seemed to have problems with the fact that she needed strong glasses, and she had even tried wearing contact lenses with a lower power than she needed under a pair of glasses that had a low minus along with her prism correction. Carrie had told the other 2 that she was looking into lens implants, but her prescription had to be stable for at least 2 years, and that hadn’t happened.  I asked Jess and Amy what they thought about implants, and they both suggested that they were all right with wearing glasses.

Hopefully I will pass on before any of my 3 blind mice do decide to have lens implants.

November 2010 published in April 2013

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