Dave McElhinny: Don’t let your age make you lose focus

November 10, 2018

It hits all of us sooner or later. That moment when we realize that youth has escaped us.

For some, it’s waking up a couple times each night to use the bathroom. For others, it’s the first time somebody calls us sir or ma’am. For me, it happened as I listened to a doctor nonchalantly spout off about a condition that I never thought would happen to me, disregarding my feelings, callously snatching my adolescence from me.

It’s a difficult subject for me to discuss, but I feel like the readers deserve the truth, so I have decided to entrust this information with you in an attempt to reach others dealing with the same problem.

I was diagnosed with presbyopia due to a lack of elasticity that will not allow the ciliary muscle to regulate the flow of aqueous humour into the Schlemm’s canal and will require a correction between 1.25 and 2.0 diopter, which will demand the use of a multifocal device.

That’s right. I need bifocals!

“Those are for old people!” I shouted at the shocked optometrist nearly two years ago as I ran from the office. I couldn’t accept what she told me. If I gave in to that, what would be next? Wearing sandals with wool socks and full-cut polyester slacks with a lot of room in the seat? Trading in the smell of cologne for Blue Emu liniment to sooth my sore muscles? Suspenders? No way.

Relying on my long, ape-like arms to hold my cell phone, menus and other written material far enough away so I could read them, I attempted to stave off the inevitable.

To admit I needed something as age-induced as bifocals was intolerable, so I fought it for years. Hiding it from friends, hoping nobody would discover my dirty little secret has been stressful. Going out to dinner and simply starring at a blurry menu for a few moments, unable to make out the letters, before saying things like “I’ll have the special,” or waiting for somebody else to order first and then saying “That sounds good, I’ll have that, too.”

For the past two years, I’ve been signing the report cards of my kids without any idea of what their actual grades were.

I even ate half a bag of really stale gummy bears one night before realizing they were school erasers.

In the same way a balding man organizes those few remaining strands into the “comb over” to create the illusion of hair, I was in denial.

And then I hit rock bottom.

I was out with friends when I found myself covertly reading a wine list by setting it up behind a drinking glass at a restaurant, allowing the refracting properties of the water-filled glass to enlarge the print. I caught a glimpse of my squinting face reflected off a steel gravy boat. I was ashamed.

That’s when I admitted I had a problem and sought help.

And I’m so glad I did. I learned that today’s bifocals are sleek, lineless technology that are a far cry from the ones my grandparents wore that made the wearer’s eyes look distorted and deranged. It makes me question why I lived in shame for so long, hiding my affliction.

What I have gleaned from this experience is some wisdom I now want to share with my aging brethren out there who are also clinging to their youth in a variety of ways. Squeezing ourselves into skinny jeans and expensive basketball shoes, wearing a ball cap backwards and dousing our body in Drakkar will not bring back our youth, but instead, will make us the creepy guy at the bar trying to look 21 again.

I implore you, if you were born in a time when they still served leaded gas, stop your childish ways, put on some sensible shoes, turn your ball cap around, power up with a bran muffin and start acting your age.

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