The Delivery

Delivering the news to a patient.  I have to do it everyday.  After the words leave my mouth, I wait.  Wait for the shock to wear off.  Wait for the denial, the looks of accusation as if to say, “You did this! This is your fault! I’m only 40 years old!  I’m too young for this to happen!”  Finally, a look of acceptance, or perhaps, defeat, creeps slowly across their face.   Then this conversation usually follows…

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.”

“How much time do I have left?”

“In my opinion, we need to act now, this year.  It’s only going to get worse.  You’ll be relieved when you’ve made the decision to do it, to move forward, to accept that this is where you are in your life now.”

Long sigh and a hanging head. Then, “Ok, let’s do it.”

I ring for my assistant and as she enters I share the news with her in a somewhat solemn voice so as to emphasize the seriousness of the situation.  “Mrs. X needs your help.  I’ve just informed her that she needs her first pair of bifocals.  Please help her pick out the perfect frame and lenses to make this  a smooth transition.”

My assistant nods understandingly and gently guides Mrs. X to another room to begin the next step in this life transition.  In past years I’ve rolled my eyes in exasperation of the drama.  This year, I’ve felt slightly more empathetic as I too am beginning the bifocal stage and understand the bigger significance of this simple diagnosis.

The end of visual youth is here.  Occasionally this precedes any other sign of the aging process.  It can come before wrinkles,aches and pains.  It can, as difficult as it is to believe, happen almost overnight.  It can be the first indication of the inevitable and some will fight it with as much fury as an unexpected meeting with the grim reaper.

Although…in most cases, it occurs after the babies are born.  There may be toddlers, young children or even teenagers at home but it is only on rare occasion that a person finds him/herself purchasing bifocals at the same time that they are purchasing diapers.  Which is why, as I type this while wearing my bifocals with a laptop balanced on my round and daily expanding tummy that I laugh at the irony of my situation.

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