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Wiser’s Wramblings-Insurance Contacts, Or Not

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By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels

Prologue: I normally start and finish writing the draft of this column on Wednesdays, leaving final proofing, smoothing, and publishing until Thursday morning. As I write about activities that happened “the day of writing” I tend to say that things happened “today”, but as published, and typically read, it was “yesterday”. I try to avoid or catch and correct any of those “day” references, but I’m pretty sure some slip through uncorrected. I beg your indulgence if my references to “a day” get messed up. I try to stay “calendar neutral” but it isn’t always possible.

I’m going to pick up on wrambling through the Health Insurance world again and it is triggered by a recent, apparent, senior moment episode or so they tell me. Before I get on that path let me pick back up on my issues with Health Care Insurance, Medicare, and that whole ball of wax.

Whilst contemplating and evaluating the options regarding my upcoming Cataract eye surgery in late 2020, I learned that, following the surgery I could be glasses free for either “near sighted” vision or “far sighted” vision and that it was covered under Medicare and my Health Care Insurance. The procedure includes surgical insertion of permanent contact lenses. When I asked why they couldn’t correct both vision aspects with the contacts I was told that they could, but due to Medicare, and the Insurance restrictions they could not correct both. A single vision ability was a necessity but the correction of both was a “cosmetic” desire and not a necessity, assuming I could wear glasses to correct the opposite vision characteristic, if desired.

Correction of both visions was a possibility only if I wished to pay an additional $1800 PER EYE, for that option. I considered that a little exorbitant. My vision choice judgement was made based on my experience having worn glasses off and on since my early teens and I welcomed the opportunity to go “naked eye”. My rationalization was further enhanced by my knowledge that, although I required glasses for everything, including reading, I did not always need them. Especially early in the morning, and often longer than that if just puttering around the house, I would not need, nor wear, my glasses. As a matter of fact, if I needed very close inspection of something, like fine print, I would remove them to be able to see things more clearly.

Talk about being myopic (near sighted)! Little did I know, and they did not inform me, despite my voicing my rationalization to the surgeon, the surgery and resultant contacts literally destroyed my heretofore previous ability to see close things pretty well without glasses. Now, without glasses I can still see the nose in front of my face, but just barely. Right about now I can sense the thoughts and feel the smirks of those who know me and are aware of my physical looks and characteristics.

I had a conversation very recently (yesterday) with my optometrist about the Insurance company’s refusal to foot the bill for the dual correction. He was the one who enlightened me about the reason for the additional charge in the first place but did say that while the dual correction did make the lenses more costly, it was nowhere near the $1800 per lens charged to the customer (victim). The lens retailers have their hand in your pocket as well.

As I age, lately, I have found my memory, especially short-term memory, suffering somewhat. I think we all confess at times, to some absent mindedness but mine has been progressing. By absent minded I mean things like wandering around the house looking for your glasses only to discover that you are carrying them in your hand. The common “little things” amount to thinking one word to be spoken and saying a different one. My wife, who by the way does not admit to her similar guilt, is very astute at catching nearly every one of those little verbal slip ups. We, or at least most of us, do confess to going into another room to fetch something and forgetting what we went after. Daily distractions easily short circuit our thinking. More and more I find myself trying to remember where I put or left something. Normally this applies to over night or over time. Lately it can happen in the span of just a few minutes. If I disassemble something, like taking the screws or bolts out of it to take it apart, I re-assemble the fasteners to one side or the other to be where I can find them again when needed. Just this morning as I was preparing to edit and rewrite sections of this, I could not find my glasses. Last night I put them where I would know where they were. I did! I put them in their case. and placed it prominently on the back of the sofa at the end of our bed. I wasn’t looking for the case.

I made a quick trip to Olean yesterday to pick up a trial pair of contacts, the reason for which, a story yet to be told, but which will follow this sidestep. My plan was to take my pop bottles to “On The Side” in Olean for recyclable refunding. These were counted, containerized earlier, and put in the car. Next planned stop, Walmart, for what I forgot the day before. On the way home I planned to stop at the Reservation to get gas on “5¢ off day”. Previously, on the way to Olean I had passed by a local vegetable stand and a car, both of which I wanted to check out.

As I headed home, I stopped to look at the used car; Stopped at Rite Aid to pick up a contact lens case; Went through Wendy’s for a large cup of Chili and fries. I couldn’t find the house with the vegetable stand so skipped that and arrived home only having wasted a little over 2 hours. Have you noticed that I didn’t mention dropping the bottles off at the redemption center, or stopping for gas? Nope, me neither.

OK, time for the senior moment story. Two points for lead in; 1st, when working with my contacts whether “putting them in” or “taking them out”, I follow the exact same routine. 2nd, by way of explanation, I am attempting to wear contacts to be able to read without the need for carrying and slipping glasses on and off. These are mostly needed when working around the house or garage where I need to be reading labels or instructions or, hopefully, even if reading the paper or a book. If I don’t plan anything other than just reading the morning paper, I won’t bother with the contacts. Tuesday mid-afternoon, after watching a crew from an area pool supply store attempt to replace my pool liner, I decided to remove and clean my contacts, which at this time are not convenient for prolonged reading.

Now this is my story and I’m sticking to it. Sadly, in my version of the story, what happened is unexplainable.

For those who are squeamish about touching your own eyeball, close your eyes until this next part is over 😉. My recollection is, that, I took the left lens out, cleaned it with eye solution and put it in the white (left) side of the case. Then (in my story), I attempted to take the right lens out and initially it was on my finger but when I went to put it in my other hand preparing to clean it prior to putting it in the case, it wasn’t there. Ok, Maybe I dropped it. I made a quick check on my shirt, the sink counter and floor but couldn’t find it so I thought must be I didn’t get it out of my eye. Try again. Early on in this rejuvenated experience with lens wearing I had some difficulty getting the lenses in and out, but following instructions given in a phone call to Al, the Allegany Eye Associates optometrist, I was able to master it, or so I thought.

Several times I tried to retrieve the lens from the right eye failing each time. Ok, I told myself again, maybe you did drop it. I got out the magnifying glass again and made a more careful search of the countertop, my clothing, and the floor. I still couldn’t find anything. Knowing my recent occasional memory lapses and thinking perhaps I had done the right eye first, I checked my left eye, several times. You cannot see the lens when it is in your eye. The only ways you can check are to try and move it around or to take it out, which is done by gently “pinching the face of the eyeball” with tour index finger and thumb. Maybe the lens had tucked up under my lid. I couldn’t see or find it there, in either eye, so I decided it was time for professional help. Off to the Wellsville office of Allegany Eye Associates I went. The technician couldn’t see anything and tried a couple of reading vision tests to see if she could tell if one was in either side. Time to call in the real “Pro” Mr. Sibble. He scoped it, shone bright lights all over the place and then pretty sure it wasn’t there put some drops in my eyes to check to see if my “fumble fingers” had caused any damage. He found some minor irritations but nothing serious, so he sent me on my way with some eye lubricant samples.

Time to return to the floor for some more extreme scrutiny. 10 minutes of inch-by-inch inspection of the floor, wall, carpet on the floor etc. didn’t reveal anything. Desperate now I thought, “What the hell, might as well check to see what’s in the left side of the case.” I took the cap off the case, put my finger in and a lens attached to it and I lifted it clear. Looking down into the lens cup again, there was a lens still in it as well as one on my finger. Two lenses, one “atop” the other, had been on the same side. Impossible I thought shaking my head in wonderment. I distinctly recall putting the first lens in the left side and putting the cap back on. Then, I moved to the right eye. The caps are readily identifiable as they color code one lid to keep them separate. Only then, attempting to get the right I lens out, I ran into the problem. I swear I did not put one lens in and then put the other on top of it in the same side, as I distinctly remember following my routine…or NOT. As my wife said to me, “As unlikely as it seems, there is no other logical explanation.”

After relating the entire story to Al, the Optometrist, yesterday he laughed, but confirmed that he agreed with my wife’s conclusion as to what happened as that was his first thought. I had to have, absent mindedly, even if for only seconds, placed both lenses in the same side, before opening the other side to prepare and store the second lens.  

After I discovered the “piggy backed” lenses I separated them and put them in separate sides but hadn’t kept track of which one came out of the container first so didn’t know which was which. I had taken them to Olean with me, not knowing if they were each in their proper eye designation side, hoping the Optometrist could tell them apart. He couldn’t as the prescription is so mild and similar for each eye. All I can do, and hope, is that by placing one in each eye I can tell if they are correct or not. Since the contacts are reading only magnifications with only a slight difference in prescription due to an astigmatism in one eye, that may, or may not pan out. It may not be necessary however, as I now have another trial version pair of lenses. This whole “contacts for reading only experiment” has been “iffy” from the start as I have significant “Dry Eye” issues and without that under control it may not be possible to ever have lenses that work satisfactorily. The reason for my visit yesterday was to get lenses of a different material, supposedly made specifically for people suffering dry eye. Eye guess eye will see, eye hope. Guess I will have to add this to my phone “Contacts list”

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