One Very Gross Word: Bifocals

For a few months now, I’ve been having some trouble seeing my computer monitor at school and have been struggling to find a good distance to hold my phone away from my face so that I can read it. Even my principal noticed and has made a comment about me “squinting again” at my machine. So I bit the bullet and made an appointment with an eye doctor.

I was in denial. I knew that whatever was happening with my vision was just in my head and that my 20/20 baby blues would be just fine. Maybe. Maaaaaaaybe I miiiiiiight need a pair of glasses for when I was on the computer. Maybe. But probably not even that. The doc was totally just going to tell me that if I did something, like, I dunno, look down, blink twice, then look back up I’d be fine. Perhaps he’d joking tell me that I needed to eat more carrots and we would totally have a laugh as he collected my copay and sent me on my way.

Nope. He gives me my exam… I haven’t had an eye exam since, oh, high school?!… then goes through that whole “is this better? is this better? is this better?” routine. (Which sucks by the way. My eyeballs hurt when that whole situation ended and I’m still not sure I got the answers right.) We finish up, I sit back in my chair and he drops this piece of garbage on me: “You need bifocals.”

Say, what, now?

I’ve never had glasses before. I’ve made it 42 years without them. So how does one go from a non-glasses person to a BIFOCALS person?! “Do you have any questions?”, he asks me. DO I HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?! Um, ya, does “What the hell??” count? Bifocals. Honestly that word is still ringing in my ears.

So he says I do have an option and explains that I could just get glasses for when I’m on my computer or phone, but that would require a world where I would constantly be taking glasses on and off my face. With the nature of my job, that’s really just not an option for me. Plus, he said with my vision, bifocals (seriously, what a gross word) would truly be his recommendation.

“I’M NOT GETTING THE LINE!”. Those were the next words to fly out of my mouth. Good Lord. Looking back, I truly hope I was being nice to the doc. It’s not his fault I had my 82nd birthday while sitting in the exam room. He explains to me that they make lenses in a “blend” now and that “the line” wasn’t a requirement. He said it would take me some getting used to, tho, and that I’d have to really keep them on and not give up on them for a solid 3-4 days. He said some people decide too soon that they can’t deal with bifocals (that word. barf.) and that I should really try to make them work. Fantastic.

Next up, trying on glasses. I’m honestly still in shock at this point. The really nice lady helping me acknowledged that she knows I’ve never worn glasses before, but then proceeded to fire questions at me about whether I want a nose pad or not and some other questions that a non-glasses-for-42-years person wouldn’t fully understand. She kindly explained everything and showed me examples. She was very good at her job, as the first pair of glasses she suggested for me are the ones I went with.

“Is there anything you require or need with these glasses?”, she asked me as we prepared for the fitting. I fired back with “That they go on someone else’s face.” We laughed. Honestly, I’m still in shock. We went over options like “anti-glare”, “plastic or glass” (no, I didn’t squeeze them to see the difference #CallBackJoke), and a third option that I’m not remembering right now. She let me test drive “the line” vs “the blend”. Time wasted. NO LINE. “That’s going to cost more money.” Yep. And I. Don’t. Care. I’ll have a bake sale to pay for the upgrade. I’m NOT doing a line. We finish the fitting and she tells me that it will take 7-10 days for them to come in, to which I reply, “Seriously. Take your time.”

I’m not entirely sure why I’m taking this latest development so harshly. Well, maybe I do. This is the first time, ever, really, that I feel… OLD. (OK, that one time when a 4th grader told me I was wearing the same shirt as her grandma did hurt a bit, too.) But this was the first time a doctor… a medical doctor… in his professional opinion… DIAGNOSED me as old. It was a bit of a gut punch and not at all what I was expecting to hear.

I was able to make it back to my car when my appointment was over without slipping on ice and breaking my hip. And now it’s time to get ready for my 4 o’clock supper at Bob Evans before tucking myself in to bed at the break of 8pm. Happy 82nd birthday to me.


Introducing: My New Face (in 7-10 business days)






And Now I’m a Tough Mudder

One very big item on my bucket list was to run a Tough Mudder. I’d been hearing about the event for a few years and always came up with reasons not to sign up. “I puke too much.” “I’m recovering from my second GI surgery.” You know, things like that. But it was time for a comeback and I needed a goal, so signing up for Tough Mudder Pittsburgh was it.

I had to train. You can’t NOT train for a 12 mile, 22 obstacle mud race. I was invited in to a group that trains on homemade obstacles in the back of a landscaping supply company. We call ourselves the “Bulkers”. (The business name is “Bulk-N-Bushel”, so, there ya go.) Joining in for our weekly sessions were anywhere from 3 – 11 people. Rain. Shine. Cold. Hot. Cold. Freezing cold. Weather didn’t matter. We met religiously each Sunday. (#punny)

Bulker obstacles include: tire flip, monkey bars (including “Wheels of Bott”), rings, “Pink Floyd” (the wall we climb up and over), “The Engagement” (a set of pegs you move along via a set of rings), log ladder, salmon ladder, chain & bucket drag, log flip, sang bag pull, “Carry Your Wood”, atlas stones, “PegAssist” (a series of holes along a vertical board that you pull yourself up on with pegs), “Dumpster Dive” (cost of admission each week is a bag of ice that we fill a dumpster with and jump into), and “Cliff Hanger” (hang from a piece of wood 2 inches wide and try to make your way to the other side). And to keep up that cardio, we throw in a 1-2 mile run in the middle.

It’s grueling. It’s muddy. (On the good days!) It’s physically exhausting. And I sometimes end up barfing at some point. (When that happens, I call it “Setting a PR”, where the PR stands for “Puke and Rally”. Gotta keep things light.) Now I don’t throw up from being out of shape. I swear! It’s from “GI Journey” hang over stuff. Sometimes when my body gets worn down and tired, if affects my gut and, well, thar she blows. I can get worn down from something as crazy as a Bulk work out, to something as simple as a crazy-busy day at work. My body definitely reacts to things a bit differently since my recovery. But, ok, that’s enough about that.

So I trained up for my very first Tough Mudder. My team was phenomenal. Eleven of the craziest, kindest, most supportive people I have ever met. Through some injuries, including both of my IT bands that seemed to hate running the hills of PA, we all stuck together… and for all 12 miles.

I hyperventilated in the cold water of “Block Ness Monster”, had a small panic attack climbing up the claustrophobic tube of “Augustus Gloop”, had both calf muscles seize up after sliding into “Arctic Enema” (I had to get out briefly to calm them down, but did jump back in to finish the obstacle), fought my fear of heights on the “Ladder to Hell”, and suffered through the last 3 miles of the course with ITBS and knee pain that had me buckled at the finish line. (I had to be carried down a hill or two from the pain.) Sounds like fun, huh?! Well. IT WAS.

And I also smiled the entire way. Looking at the official pictures that the Tough Mudder photographers took, there was a common theme. If i was in a shot, I was grinning from ear to ear. I’ve never had so much fun in my life as those 12 painful miles. It was a blast! From the very first obstacle, “The Mud Mile”, I was hooked. Strike that. From the very first step into the campground where it was being held, I was hooked. But “The Mud Mile” had me at hello. Crawling up and over piles of mud. Plunging into cold, muddy water, and then climbing up the next pile, all the while putting your hand out to help the Mudder who was behind you. I mean, it doesn’t get any better! The camaraderie of this group of strangers is amazing. I remember looking up to one of my teammates about half way through and mouthing to him, “This is awesome!” I was hooked.

My first Tough Mudder hurt. (A lot.) And it was the most physically and mentally challenging thing I’ve ever done. But it was also by far the coolest thing I’ve ever accomplished. And yep, I’ll see y’all again in Pittsburgh for Tough Mudder 2018.