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Monday, November 2, 2009

Ella Has Contacts!

(Or, How I Spent Two and Half Hours at the Eye Doctor's Office and Nearly Killed My Daughter)

Ella had an appointment with the eye doctor this morning. As is her custom at such appointments, she asked, "When will I be old enough to get contacts?" This time, Dr. Bowling thought about it and said, "Well, you might be ready now." He explained that contacts would actually correct her vision better than her glasses, and if she was motivated, we could give it a try.

So off we went to the contacts room. They didn't have her exact prescription, but they had some that were close enough for her to try while the right ones come in. Now, I thought they would just have me take care of putting in and taking out the contacts, but no, Dr. Bowling wanted Ella to learn how to do that herself.

So Christine, the contacts technician, put the contacts in the first time (which caused some short-lived drama, but Ella soon recovered). Then Christine tried to get Ella to take the contacts out herself. Uh, no. Not happening. Ella just couldn't figure it out. I really think she just doesn't have the coordination for it yet.

Then Ella got frustrated. And when Ella gets frustrated, well, it's not pretty. It was a major-league meltdown, the type she usually reserves for the dentist's office. Crying, screaming, yelling. All the good stuff. Lots of fun.

Luckily Brandee's sister is also an optometrist in the practice we go to. She stepped in and was able to calm Ella down a little, but more importantly, get Dr. Bowling talked into to allowing me to put in and remove the contacts. Then we just had to get Ella convinced of that. We did...eventually. By the time Christine decided we knew what we doing enough to set us loose, we'd spent two and a half hours in the office.

On the one hand, I understand Ella's frustration. Learning to put in and remove contacts is tricky. It's a strange feeling to put something on your eye. And I really think that expecting a seven year old to learn how to do it herself before she even gets used to wearing contacts in unreasonable. (And if that's the expectation the doctor has, he shouldn't fit kids with contacts until they're older.)

On the other hand, Ella's behavior was way over the top. She became so emotional there was no way she could learn to do anything. We're talking drama of epic proportions--blaming everyone in the world for her difficulties, insisting that blankie be draped around her neck while she tried to remove the contacts, and closing her eyes and refusing to open them. If she would have just calmed down and let me talk to her and the doctor, we probably could have been done an hour earlier. (And saved me a heck of a lot of embarrassment.)

But we made it through. She's seems okay with me inserting and removing the lenses, and she did okay wearing them to school this afternoon. She's only supposed to wear them for a few hours at a time for the first few days and then slowly build up to wearing them all day. Hopefully she and I will both survive the experience.

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