From Four-Eyes to Eight

I've never been called four eyes. Maybe because I started wearing glasses only in high school. And even then, I barely wore them, constantly forgetting them, losing pair after pair in college. It would have been preparation for my current incarnation as an eight eyed being. Hindu goddesses are often depicted as having multiple arms and sometimes heads. I've always wanted to be a goddess. I may not have the multiple heads, but I do have the multiple eyes. Eight of them.

It goes something like this. One day you're a normal person and the next day you wake-up and have Parkinson's Disease. Nothing changed immediately. It wasn't a Spider-Man like transformation. But gradually changes occured. Working in front of a computer for 12-16 hours a day takes a toll. I'm including romance novel reading in that total. Research you know, for my upcoming book. Scout's honour!

Was it technology that started the ruination of my vision? Every hour, an eye rest is recommended. Every couple of hours, a stretch or a quick walk is suggested. I did none of these things. My eyes were fixated on that screen, worse than when I waited all week for Saturday morning cartoons. The goddess Lakshmi herself could have stood in front me, multiple arms waving, and I'd have been transfixed by whatever was on the screen.

Maybe it's the Parkinson's? The lack of blinking, leading to lack of mositure, leading to dry, gritty evaporated eyes that makes me feel like I've bathed my face in sand. Throw in a little blepharospasm and apraxia and you've got a lovely cocktail of dysfunction happening. Aging is also a factor. I woke up one day and I had short grey wings sprouting out from the sides of my head. Grey hair happens overnight. Don't believe anyone that tells you differently.

In the end, it's likely some rainbow sherbert swirl of all three - technology, aging and Parkinson's, although I'm heavily favouring the latter.  With my three pairs of prescription glasses, all for different purppses, I at least say I own a pair of Jimmy Choo's and Dolce and Gabanna's. My computer pair is a soft black with turqoise piping, my long distance pair is a dark blue with silver sparkles on the sides and my progressive pair is a dark grey with a cat-eye geometrical shapes that turn me into an edgy looking futuristic computer hacker.

Everything comes in threes, right? My eye drops definitely do. There are the prescrption drops that hopefully keep my eyes moist long-term, the daily drops that I use almost hourly as I have limited blinking ability (who knew that was an ability? Love your blink, I say) and finally the gel drops I use at night or when I'm really dry. It's a super power really, managing all these variables. You may not think there is a lot to navigate, that this is not that big of a deal. Perhaps you're right. But the perfect deviled eggs are in the details (try horseradish, it's got a nice kick).

Currently my issue is how to clean them. My fingers are not as dextrous anymore and those smudges are harder to wipe off. Rubbing them along the outer edge of my, well, you know, works rather well I've found. It's not so bad really. I can see. I can see better than I have in over a year. I can see so well that I've called my insurance company three times to try and sort out why I'm being charged almost triple my co-pay for the eye doctor visit. Vision ain't cheap. All combined it was a grand 2 G's. WPC, I'm going to have to fundraise to get to you now.

Just like a Nora Roberts romance series I have a series of three in my life. Three pairs of glasses, three types of eye drops, three types of eye doctor visits. Oh, I didn't tell you about that? Let's just say I have a better ability to spell ophthalmologist. Although I can't figure out if you pronounce the L or not. Two L's and two H's. I say we get rid of one each. The eye doctors will thank us. They might have been faking the pronunciation all this time! We are doing them a favour really.

Recently I was at a birthday party for a kid. One girl, aged 5, looked up at me with her bright brown eyres, soft dark hair curling around her face, cheeks a soft pink that only kids have, and chirped with all the confidence that a 5 year old has and tells me boldly, "I like your glasses!" It was the D&G's. I melted. Any awkwardness, sadness or frustration I had regarding my complex vision routine faded away. My glasses allowed me to see her freshness and sparkly intelligence with a clarity I haven't had in some time. I'm not going to say something trite like, that's what matters. But the moment was sweet. Next time, I'll put on the Jimmy's and wait for her reaction to those.‍

Sree Sripathy is a Co-Founder of the Women’s Parkinson’s Project. She was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease in 2015. She works full-time in tech and is an Ambassador for the Davis Phinney Foundation.
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