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Driving Under the Influence

June 16, 2003 - 10:42 p.m.

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Last Five Entries:
The Party's Over
July 11, 2004
The Next Day
My Nervous Breakdown
True Confessions: My Life as a Female Impersonator
March 15, 2004
Bite Me
February 29, 2004



When one of the pads on my glasses fell off, I took it as a sign that I should get an eye exam. My eyes get worse all the time, quickly, so an eyeglasses prescription has never lasted long for me anyway. When I take off my glasses, the world is nothing but a blur of colors without shape. Before the introduction of high-index plastic lenses, I could get glasses with glass only because of my severe prescription. They weren't Coke-bottles; they were telescope lenses. I think the weight has gradually shifted the position of my nose down about an inch on my face.

I wore contact lenses for a while, but again because of the severity of my prescription, I couldn't use soft lenses. Hard lenses are like having knife blades on your eyeballs. I couldn't stand them, and went back to glasses. I'm all for getting that Lasik eye surgery, but I have to wait until my eyes stop changing, and they haven't stopped changing.

On the same day I had my appointment to see an eye doctor, I also had an appointment to go to the hospital to finish my pulmonary function test. I first went the day I saw my doctor. My doctor had prescribed an inhaler for me, and set me up to go for the pulmonary function test in the afternoon. My cough was so bad, I immediately filled the prescription and inhaled it like it was cocaine and I was in withdrawal. Unfortunately, my doctor didn't tell me that I should wait until after the pulmonary function test to take the inhaler, so the test could get a reading on my lungs in a natural state. So I took the post-inhaler part of the test, and was scheduled to come back another day for the pre-inhaler part.

When I had set up the eye examination, the receptionist advised me to bring sunglasses to the appointment, because my eyes would be dialated. I thought that was silly, because I couldn't wear sunglasses and my prescription glasses at the same time. And my eyes are so bad, that with just sunglasses, I would see only various shades of formless dark blurs rather than light blurs. Besides, my prescription glasses have the transition lenses that get darker in the sunlight.

The morning of the examination, I prepared myself. Since I'd be doing a bit of driving, I selected a few CDs. I hope it's not a sign that I'm losing my heterosexuality, but my CDs had a show tunes theme- the Hair Soundtrack and Sarah Brightman's The Andrew Lloyd Weber Collection. I brought a book too (Gregory Bateman's Steps to an Ecology of the Mind- good stuff), anticipating a lot of time in waiting rooms. And I grabbed the sunglasses, just because.

I hate eye examinations. Any eye doctor could have a secondary career as a military interrogator. After dialating my eyes, the eye doctor shined a bright light right into them for a long time. The brightness was painful. I was sweating and shaking in the examination chair. I almost admitted to a part in the 1982 bombing of the marine barracks in Beirut (despite the fact that I was eleven years old at that time) to get him to stop.

The greatest scam is the glasses store next to the eye doctor's office. After the examination, I wandered in, my vision blurred despite wearing my glasses due to the dialation, disoriented after the torture from the eye doctor. The most futile endeavor is trying on glasses frames- even if my eyes were dialated, I can't see myself in the mirror without my prescription glasses. So, I got the frames that the salesperson recommended, because I couldn't see anything. I bought the lens types she recommended, because I was disoriented and just wanted the world to look orderly again. I couldn't even see the credit card sales ticket to sign my name to it- she had to guide my hand to the dotted line for me to sign (if only I were exaggerating for comedic effect). I ended up spending $385 on glasses. Geez.

So, I left the store, ready to go to the hospital. As soon as I stepped outside, the bright light seared my dialated eyes so severely that I stumbled and almost fell. My transition lenses weren't working to keep enough of the light out. Fortunately, my car was the only one parked in front of the store, so I could follow the vague blue blob. Also fortunate for me was that there were no cars pulling into the parking lot, because I couldn't see well enough to avoid being hit by one. I got in my car, and the light was still hurting my eyes. There was no way I could drive to the hospital in this condition.

I got my sunglasses out of the glove compartment. Wearing my prescription glasses and sunglasses at the same time didn't seem like such a silly idea any more. I tried both combinations- sunglasses on top, prescription glasses on top- and settled with prescription glasses on top. The sunglasses cut the light down enough to the point at which my eyes didn't hurt. So I tried to drive off.

Even though the light wasn't too bad, things were still blurry. I still felt a little disoriented. The Hair CD had come up to the song Hashish- a plodding psychadelic tune.


So this is what it's like to be driving under the influence of narcotics. I had my own little simulation.

As soon as I got out on the road I could tell that driving in my altered state was very dangerous, but once I was on the road I felt like I had committed. At least I was driving toward the hospital- if I veered of the road and crashed, the ambulance wouldn't have far to travel.

I made it to the hospital without dying, or killing anyone. I was an hour early. I didn't feel like I could successfully navigate the parking lot to get to the hospital, so I decided to wait in my car hoping for some of the dialation to wear off. Of course I was prepared, I had a book with me. I opened it up, and the whole thing was a blur.

I couldn't read, but the problem was that if I didn't read, I'd have nothing to do for an hour. So I squinted really hard, and was able to pick up a word here and there. After about five minutes, I had gotten through an entire paragraph, and I had a headache. So I closed my eyes, rested for five minutes, then tried another paragraph. Then I rested and read another paragraph. And I did this for about an hour.

Fortunately, within that hour, the sky had gotten cloudy so the brightness wasn't so bad. I was able to make it to the building without falling or being hit by a car. A lot of the dialation must have worn off while I was in the hospital, because when I left, I almost had my sight back.

Incidentally, here's more of why I hate doctors. The inhaler that was prescribed to me a couple of weeks ago has taken away a lot of my cough. I interpret that as working effectively. However, the numbers that the computer generated after my full pulmonary fuction test was completed indicated that the inhaler is completely ineffective for me.

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