Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Bette Davis Eyes

It's time for new glasses. Mostly because my extended health benefits will buy me a new pair now that 2 years have gone by since last time. The opthamologist says my eyes are actually a bit better than last time, and no, I don't need bifocals yet, although it's now okay if I need to take my glasses off to read. Not that I needed permission to do that, but my opthamologist is a sweetie pie, so there.

I love wearing glasses because it's fashion on your face and it's changeable, but I also like wearing contact lenses. I have not worn contacts in about 2 years. This is 100% because of vanity.

I have Graves Disease, an autoimmune disease that causes my thyroid glad to over-produce. When I got sick about 3 1/2 years ago, I got hot, lost weight and was very jittery. If you know me you will know that I am exuberant by nature (that's a polite word for manic a lot of the time). So for a while I couldn't tell if I was just more like me, or sick. A blood test and a visit to the endocrinologist clinched it. I'm fortunate. I got well. I'm off medication for 16 months now, and my levels are normal, which is very unusual. Most of the time you have to get your thyroid gland zapped with radioactive iodine to kill most of it, a primitive but effective cure. I bullied my thyroid into behaving, using a combination of yoga, nutrition, sleep, positive attitude and prayer. Or probably it was just random, but that's okay too.

Anyway, during the time I was sick I developed an eye disease that 5-10% of hyperthyroid patiens get, called thyroid eye disease. You can see a picture of it here.

I didn't get that bad, but I did get so that you could see the white all around my irises all the time. Even when I was about to nod off, I looked astonished. I am used to being beautiful. That's not vain, that's positive self image. We are all beautiful. Everyone. This change disrupted my sense of my own beauty. I practised, and taught myself to have "sleepy eyes." (Try softening your face up and letting your eyelids drift, like you are pretending to be sleepy.) By doing this I overcame a lot of the "just got poked in the but with a live electrical wire" look. It was like learning to ride a bike. It became automatic. While it was bad, I also felt like I had sand in my eyes, worst every afternoon for about an hour. I got used to having weepy, horrible eyes that couldn't look at anything for a few minutes everyday at 3pm. My appointment with frailty.

Now the eye disease has pretty much gone away. The opthamologist confirmed it last week. What remains is evidence of the disruption, where my eyeballs bulged out and insulted the surrounding skin. I have extra skin around my eyes and puffy fat deposits, particularly underneath, which makes me look like did not get enough sleep, ever. I know, everyone gets this anyway when they are older, but I'm not ready for it. Wearing glasses is my solution. I got me a pair of "Clark Kents" which effectively hide the bad spots. I quit wearing contacts because whenever I did, people would say, "You look tired. Are you okay?" Which is not what any beautiful person wants to hear.

The doctors have offered to arrange for plastic surgery to fix it. It would be covered by BC Med because technically it's a disfigurement. My husband and close friends with whom I have discussed it say "go for it." But I have decided not to. It's an unnecessary risk just for looks, and I have teenage kids. I know they learn from what we do, not what we say, and I don't want them to see me saying "beauty is who you are and what you do," then go off and act like the people on Extreme Makeover. (doctor, doctor, fix me, I'm not perfect) Mostly I know it wouldn't make me any happier about myself.

I do want to get contact lenses again and enjoy spontaneous swimming, eliminate the sunglasses/glasses juggle in summer and basically get over this vain obsession with baggy under-eyes. I am healthy and loved and yes, beautiful dammit! NO MATTER WHAT.

So that's my plan. I'm going to go bare-faced again this spring. If you think I look tired, please help me out. Say Hiya Mompoet. Nice hat, or something like that. It will help. I will be grateful, even if I'm not wearing a hat.

Question: why should such a thing matter?

mompoet - eyeful of real

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