Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Perfect Vision

Last July I got Lasik eye surgery. I had been wearing glasses since I was either 14 or 16 depending on whether you want the long or short story. I decided to subject my eyes to lasers for two reasons, neither of which was a desire to look pretty. The first reason I did it was because it fixed my vision. All my friends with asthma out there would get a little laser surgery if it would fix their lungs. My friends with bad backs, shoulders, wrists etc often get corrective surgery, so I saw nothing wrong with getting it to fix my eyes.

The second reason was because glasses are not correct for every historical period I portray, and I have trouble wearing contacts. I have a friend who has written a long post about how glasses are not necessary, but I disagree rather strongly. I suffer from anxiety, not like stage fright but like diagnosable, life-impeding anxiety, and not being able to see the world around me can bring on panic attacks. So just being blind was not really an option. I’ve worn contacts at history events for almost ten years, but they are harsh on my eyes, I never felt comfortable wearing them more than a weekend.

The day I forgot to take my contacts out before falling asleep I woke up to a world I had never seen. I blinked my eyes and saw the face of my husband next to me. I saw the ribs of the tent overhead (I only wore contacts at history events) and saw the shadows of the leaves on the tree overhead. I saw that the blanket had slid half off Alysa’s sleeping bag, but she was peacefully asleep inside the sleeping bag, with just half her face sticking out. All I had to do was blink and I could see the world. That morning laying in our bed in camp, actually looking at the world around me was when I decided to look into Lasik.

The only qualm I had about fixing my eyes was it would make me more perfect in a way that most historical people were not. Nowadays we get things like bad backs and bad teeth fixed, but historically many people did not have that option. In the Guild of Das Geld Fahnlein we have some folks who have bad backs, but they take pain killers and do not walk around with canes. But wouldn’t it be more historical if they did hobble around? Am I doing our historical portrayal a dis-service by refusing to bring on my own panic attacks? This year my dentist took out several old silver fillings and replaced them with tooth-colored ones, because the old fillings were damaged and all new fillings are tooth-colored. So now my teeth look more perfect. But the silver fillings did not fit in with the 16th Century either! I am not going to refuse dental work just because I spend a lot of time portraying someone from the past.

But part of me wonders if I should have.

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