It’s expensive to have crappy vision

I have extremely poor vision. I always have. I was that baby who was wearing glasses with the elastic around the back of her head so that I wouldn’t pull them off.

So to frame my perspective (no pun intended), I’ve had glasses since I was a baby, and I’ve had contact lenses since I was thirteen years old.

Eye doctor exams in Canada run between $135 and $210, depending on where you go. To wear contact lenses, you’re required to get an eye doctor exam every year. So, if I were to low-ball an estimate of what I’ve spent on eye-exams from the time I was thirteen to now, my eye exams have cost $2,565

Every major benefit provider in this country will pay $100 for a Canadian to get their eyes checked every second year. So, I will subtract $600, as that would have been paid for by benefits.

Out of my pocket, I’ve paid $1,965 to sit in an exam chair and have a doctor tell me that I have shitty vision.

That, in of itself, doesn’t include the special treatments and tests I’ve required over the years because of my vision being so poor. I can’t even fathom how much that’s gone on to cost. Special requirements aren’t often covered by benefits providers, because apparently I just messed up and should’ve come out of the womb with good eye sight? Let’s low ball my treatments over the years to roughly $5,000.

I have a special prescription for my eyes that makes glasses between $800-$1,200 per pair when I get them. ($800 if I choose the cheapest frames, $1,200 if I try to get something a little more sturdy)

Now keep in mind here, I have no choice. I need to wear some sort of a corrective lens in my eye, or in front of my eye, in order to be able to see. Otherwise I walk into large objects, I would’ve never been able to drive, and would likely fall down stairs. I say that “I’m blind” when people ask. Whilst I’m not legally blind, the world is 50 different shades of fuzzy without some sort of vision correction.

Because I’ve prioritized contact lenses over glasses (they work better for me, my lifestyle, my mood in general), I typically get myself a new pair only once every four years. The reason for this is because I only wear my glasses at night after I’ve taken out my contacts.

If we do the math of when I started paying for my glasses at 13, to now, I’ve owned 5 pair of glasses. Let’s say, I chose the cheapest frames every single time I went (I didn’t but I don’t remember what all of the costs were). $800 x 5 pair of glasses is $4,000 spent on glasses.

To recount, I’ve spent roughly $1,965 on eye exams, $5,000 on special treatments for my eyes and $4,000 on glasses. Right now, we’re sitting at $10,965 spent just to care for my eyes and correct my vision.

Now, I have made the choice, since I was thirteen, to wear contact lenses. This has been a choice that I realize makes things more expensive, but it’s overall suited my life better and has been attainable to me, so I have willingly chosen to do it. I understand that life would be cheaper if I just wore glasses every day of my life. So this isn’t a mandatory expense, but a chosen expense to make my life easier.

The contacts that I wear cost $725 per year. The one thing that I’ve always appreciate about contact lenses is that the fee is always the same. It’s been the same since I was 13 and the price has never gone up, even when my vision has gotten worse.

$725 x 19 years is $13,775.

All major benefits providers in Canada will pay for $100 every two years. Since I wear glasses less frequently then contacts, I’ve always elected to have that $100 go towards my contact lenses. So, if we subtract an estimate of $100×10 years (to be on the fair side), I can take one thousand dollars from the total of my contact lenses. So I have paid $12,775 for contact lenses.

Since I’ve started paying for my own vision care at 13, I’ve spent $23,740.

It is extremely expensive to have shitty vision. And, it’s really a luxury that I’ve been able to afford correcting my vision all of these years. Listen, I’m lucky that for the majority of the past 19 years, I’ve had some form of benefit in some sort of way to help with that fee. But, it’s still fucking expensive with those vision benefits.

With or without benefits, these fees aren’t attainable by a lot of people. I think this is something that a lot of people don’t realize. Vision care is a bit of luxury. Granted I choose to wear contact lenses so my total is more expensive, if I wore glasses every day of my life, I’d likely need to replace them more often, so the total wouldn’t be that far off.

Now, I’ve been very lucky in my life that I’ve been able to afford this luxury.

And sadly, it is still a luxury to be able to see properly in this world.

I can’t even begin to imagine what these eye doctor visits and treatments and whatnot would cost in the United States. Probably more?

As much as I wish all kids could be born with perfect vision, that’s just not reality. There are a lot of kids in this world who just have shitty vision, for no other reason than just because. It can be really hard for their parents to afford eye doctor examinations and glasses, especially if their vision continues to change/get worse.

And for adults, you know, I’m exceptionally blessed to be in a situation where this is a feasible expense for me. I can completely understand, though, this tough for a lot of people. People who really don’t have extra money, people who live pay cheque to pay cheque, people who were laid off in the past year due to COVID, it’s hard to fathom spending vast amounts of money on this.

This is why so many people will go without.

Or, they’ll get glasses of some sort, or contacts of some sort, and just stick with that because it corrects their vision ‘enough’, despite their vision worsening.

A lot of people will just get by with what they have because it’s too damn expensive to get a new pair of glasses, or a new order of contact lenses. Can you imagine? Can you imagine having to get your driver’s license renewed and knowing you’d then have to go get your new glasses in order to get your driver’s license renewed, otherwise you can be denied? It’s an expense, on an expense.

This is something that I care very much about because I’ve always had bad vision and it’s gotten considerably worse with each passing year. It’s expensive to be blind. It’s expensive to have shitty vision. No one chooses shitty vision. Vision care needs to be made more accessible to the masses. The truth is, if your vision isn’t corrected properly, it could be made worse because of that. You could also be subject to frequent headaches, dizziness, increased lethargy, all because your eyes are working so damn hard to just see the world in front of you.

With it estimated that as much as 70% of Canadians needing corrective lenses in order to properly see (I can’t even imagine how high that stat would be around the world!), why isn’t more being done to make vision care and corrective lenses more accessible to people.

You need to see to drive. You need to see to read. You need to see to judge distances, or understand depths, or avoid hazards. Corrective vision should be way more accessible than it is, in Canada and around the world.

A YouTube channel where he slices shoes in half

On my lunch break today I found a YouTube channel in which a leatherworker slices shoes in half to teach people what their shoes are actually made of and the quality, or lackthereof, of the shoes people buy.

I don’t know why, but it’s one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever seen.

Slicing Adidas Superstars in half
Slicing real Birkenstocks and fake Birkenstocks in half to showcase the difference in quality
Slicing Timberland boots in half
Slicing Nike Jordans in half
Slicing Carhartt boots in half

Before you tell me that I’m weird, I would like to point out that you should already know that. I’ve had these videos playing, one after another, on my second screen, all afternoon. Why is it so satisfying to watch shoes be cut in half? I really don’t know. But, it makes me happy. It fills my heart with glee.

English is hard. Part two.

My office hired a consultant back in June to help with a few projects as we look to expand to Australia and New Zealand in the latter half of this year and (more so) into 2022. This consultant is from the good old state of Georgia and he REAAAAALLY likes to speak versus type. So, I wind up with a lot more voicemails than I would like.

Georgia, as we’ll refer to him as, says “Whenever” in place of the word “When”, pronounces the word ‘Niche’ as ‘Nitch’ instead of ‘Neesh’. He says ‘Y’a’ll’ when making reference to me and only me, and I’m pretty sure when he writes me emails he doesn’t even spell ‘Y’all’ correctly. I should be ‘Y’all’ not ‘Ya’ll’, right?

Anyways, in honour of my good-friend Georgia, and in honour of the South speaking a completely different language than everyone else in North America, I’ve decided to share some common words people disagree about.

  • When “Picture” becomes “Pitcher”. You know you’ve heard someone say it before.
  • When “Espresso” becomes “Expresso”. There’s actually no ‘X’ in the word, despite what half the world seems to believe. People also do this with “Especially” by pronouncing it “Expecially”.
  • When people say “Supposably” in place of “Supposedly”. Not the same words.
  • When people say “Decompose” instead of “Decompress”. Shockingly, this is one I hear a lot… largely during times when people are speaking of self-care. Can you imagine talking about relaxing and wanting to decompose?
  • When people pronounce “Nuclear” as “Nuk-you-lar”. There definitely isn’t two ‘u’s’ in there.

How do you, personally, pronounce school? How do, personally, you pronounce schedule? Do you choose the “k” or the “ch” sound for one or both? Why or why not?

How do you pronounce Acai? I definitely pronounced it “Ack-eye” until about a year ago.

Do you pronounce it “tiss-ue” or “tish-ue”?

Random things are running through my head this morning.

Financial Trauma

Recently, one of my favourite YouTube commentator channels, Tiffany Ferg, did a video about the role that wealth and class play in one’s ability to succeed with social media as a career choice. Video here, for reference:

One of the things that Tiffany spoke of in this video is the way that money, or lack thereof, can play a significant role in who we are, and who we become.

So, let’s talk about financial trauma.

The concept of financial trauma is the idea that those from low-class economic status have larger portions of their personality shaped around money than those raised in the middle class or upper class. Essentially, growing up poor or barely scraping by, play a considerable role in who you become.

From a personal perspective, this is absolutely true.

From a societal standpoint, I do believe this to largely be true. It’s one of the reasons, I think, why lottery winners are infinitely more likely to file for bankruptcy than regular folk. The sudden windfall of money is something that they really don’t know how to deal with, especially if lands in the laps of someone who’s spent their whole life scraping by, or just making it pay cheque to pay cheque.

But, let’s backtrack here.

I grew up in what is regularly defined as one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. I was one of five biological children and seven total children living in the house. As a family, we were very much house poor. This means that we were living in a house, we had a roof over our heads and were ultimately very privileged in that sense, but the sacrifices made to ensure that roof stayed over our heads meant a lot of sacrifices in other areas of life.

My siblings and I would regularly go out on bicycles after dark to collect cans and bottles from dumpsters, to earn what very little money we could so that my father would have a way to and from work each day. There were actually days in which he hitchhiked to work. (Due to my father’s profession and the location of our house relative to where he worked, it was very difficult for him to find a coworker who was headed there at the same time as him)

Those memories, they stay with you. They define you, dare I say.

Even so, I know that while I may have grown up low-class in an upper-middle and upper class world, I still acknowledge how blessed I was to be in the situation that I was. Sharing a bedroom with three other people was annoying at times, but I did have a room. I had a house. I had a place to come home to. It’s something that I know a lot of people in the city which I grew up, and the world, did not and still do not have. For the sake of this share, I just wanted to acknowledge the privilege that I did/do have.

One thing I distinctly remember from my childhood is that, for the years in which we did have a vehicle (largely my teenaged years), the gas tank was always riding ‘Empty’. My parents had scraped together enough to get the vehicle, but between the vehicle and the house payments, things felt tighter than ever before.

I think this is very much one of the reasons why I didn’t purchase my own vehicle until I was 31 years old. I think this is one of the reasons why you will never, ever, ever see the gas-tank in my car get below the half-way mark. I can’t do it. The anxiety and stress that I get from seeing the gas-tank read closer to ‘E’ than it does to ‘F'(Full) is something that I cannot tolerate. If I cannot afford to fill up my car with gas, to keep it above the half-way mark on the tank, then I won’t drive my car until I can.

This, to me, is the idea of financial trauma. That the socioeconomic status in which you’re raised is something that stays with you, for what I can only assume is your whole life.

I know I’m not alone in this.

I know someone who grew up in a world-renowned mountain town, one famous for skiing/snowboarding, winter lifestyle and affluence. Their parents brought them to this country as refugees and they landed in this mountain town by some sort of cosmic coincidence.

Their upbringing was hard. This mountain town, known for accepting wealthy tourists from all over the world year-round, was one where cost of living was high, while the possible wages able to be earned by a refugee couple and their children was.

They’ve told me stories about working as a bag-boy and shelf-stocker in the grocery store every day of the week from as early in life as they were able to work, with the money they made in week not even being able to afford them the groceries they would want to buy from that very store. And of following their mom and dd to work as janitors at night to help them get work done faster so they can get more done, and thus make a little more money for the family.

This person, a lot of the financial decisions that they make today are the outcome of what they went through growing up. They go out of their way to ensure that living pay cheque to pay cheque will never again be their reality. They also go out of their way to ensure they don’t/won’t work in any industry remotely related to the jobs they worked growing up. The way in which they grew up has played a big role in defining the decisions they make today.

To an extent, I think this idea of financial trauma will be present in anyone who has lived, or is presently living in a situation in which money is not something that allows them to be comfortable. And, when you really stop to think about it, it’s something that really doesn’t affect those who come from a higher-level socioeconomic class. Because they’ve never had to worry about money, they’ll likely continue to not worry about money, or the choices they make with their money. Not unless they suddenly fall into bankruptcy.

So what shapes them, then? What shapes the upper half? If they’re not plagued by the choice of which bill to decide to pay this month, how do they discern how to make difficult decisions in life? I’m not too sure, really. I can speculate. But, since I’ve never experienced being in that place in which I don’t have to worry about money, it wouldn’t really be fair for me to do as such.

Also, I just want to point out that this is not my shaming of people who come from, or presently reside in, upper-half socioeconomic classes. Money is a wonderful thing. And, if you’re able to reach a point in life in which you’re comfortable, which you have a cushion in your bank account, I think that’s a very good thing.

I wouldn’t say that I have a cushion, where I’m presently at in life. But, I did manage to pay off my debts earlier this year, so I reckon I’m probably in better financial standing that many people my age. That feeling of having no debts, that feeling is unlike anything I’ve ever achieved before.

Funnily enough, my parents, in their late 60’s, have officially paid off all of their debts this year as well. While I’ve noticed a certain ‘lightness’ to them that I’ve never experienced before in my life, I also notice that there are certain things they’re unwilling to do. There are certain decisions being made out of the preservation of their present status in life, to ensure they never go back to their state of financial trauma.

I’d also like to note that financial trauma affects everyone differently. For some people, I think financial trauma manifests itself in hyper-consumerism. People desire to have things to showcase their status. For other people, financial trauma can manifest itself in an unwillingness to buy anything.

As much as money can’t buy happiness, it doesn’t play a very large contributing factor in who we grow up to be. Whether we went through financial trauma in the past, or we’re presently going through it now, money affects every decision in our lives, to some extent.

I’m not really sure how to close this, so I’ll just leave with an ideological thought that’s been on my mind for years. Internships should be abolished. The concept that young people should be forced to work for free and that University, College or High School credit, or ‘experience’ should be enough of a reason to force them through financial hardships should end. Free labor/labour should not exist in the western world. It shouldn’t exist in the world at all, actually. But that’s a discussion for another day – something I need to do a lot more research on and learn a lot more about. The concept of forcing a young person to work for free, ‘to pay their dues’ whilst they’re still required to pay their bills, their rent and they still need to eat is wholly unfair. At the very least, interns should be paid minimum wage in the industry for which they work.

At what point in time do we stop wishing for younger generations to ‘pay their dues’ (a grossly misguided belief) and start saying ‘perhaps the favour I can do for future generations is to ensure they don’t have to go through that which I did’.

Fin.

Saturdaze – Rambling about nothing.

There’s a stipulation in my lease agreement that says the tenant (I) and all visiting parties are only to use entrances and exits to this house for entering and exiting the house. Now, I love a good excuse for defenestration as much as the next gal, but puhhhhlease… give me some credit. Anyone going out of or coming into my house through any other means than use of the door would be silly.

My landlord is an intelligent, Tesla driving, progressive, open-minded individual. Knowing what I know about him, this stipulation in my lease leads me to believe he might have had some specific issues related to people not using the door in the past. Which is weird. Though, people overall seem to be weird creatures and the stupidity people are capable of really doesn’t surprise me these days. So, I’m fine to sign the lease agreement stating that I, nor anyone else, will exit the house through anywhere other than the doors.

In other news, I had the inspection of my car done about 400 miles ago but the individuals who did the inspection never reset the notification so every time I turn my car on and off all I hear is beeping with the car screaming “INSPECTION DUE”. I have to go back to the dealership to get this notification reset. It won’t just allow me to reset it myself. So that’s annoying.

First world problems, I know.

Right now I am hiding in my bedroom, largely because it is the coolest room of the house. The lights are off and I’m watching a show called Scandal, which if you’ve never seen, I highly recommend. I didn’t get much done today. It was a lazy Saturday. I didn’t even clean my house. I’ve just been enjoying myself.

I love summer.

I love warm weather.

I love that the sun shines for so long each day.

I know that the heat can be bothersome to many, and pose serious health risks to people without shelter or adequate water who could likely suffer from heat stroke. I am not a huge advocate for single use plastic bottles but on days like these, I recommend them. For you. For friends. For strangers. There’s a few different charities here in the city who are accepting bottled-water packs as donations so they can hand them out to the homeless around the city. I reckon there’s arrangements like that in place all over, so if you’re curious about what you can do to help in times like these, consider looking into that? It’s something so small, but it could quite literally make a world of difference to donate a twelve pack of water to a shelter or community group in weather stretches like these.

And, of course, stay hydrated yourself. Drink twice as much water as you would normally drink. Your body needs it. I’m saying that even though I know it sounds like I’m lecturing.

Stay cool. (Literally)

1,000,000

That’s a lot of zeros.

Yesterday this blogged reached an interesting milestone… something I never dreamed of or comprehended.

#MillennialLifeCrisis, this little corner of the internet where I blabber on about my life, reached one million hits. One million.

I’m dumbfounded.

I started this blog in January of 2019. That means that in 2.5 years, this blog has been clicked on one million times.

That’s a lot.

I’m overwhelmed just envisioning that number.

(For context, as to not confuse here – one million hits is not one million people. One million hits is how many times this blog has been accessed)

Okay, byeeeeeee

Health is wealth

I’ve previously used this blog to explain that I was being plagued by some sort of mystery illness that I couldn’t quite figure out. It’s been affecting me for YEARS.

Prior to COVID, I spent nearly five years going to specialists of all different types. I seemed to be in the doctor’s office, or the emergency room, once a month, and no one would/could pinpoint what was wrong with me. I multiple allergy spectrum tests done, I was tested for 15 different auto-immune conditions, even had a biopsy done. I saw an ear, nose and throat specialist who shoved a camera in through my nose and throat (not the same camera) down to my stomach. I had cat scans, ultrasounds, and cervical examinations. I was screened for cancer at one point.

I avoided foods that I was told I was allergic to, but beyond that, I still felt like shit. I felt like shit and all of my tests were coming back normal. No one could figure it out.

Through that time I was on antibiotic after antibiotic, steroid after steroid, and so much medication that I can’t even begin to tell you.

I saw a doctor who told me that I have Crohn’s Disease shortly before COVID became quite bad in Canada. Though I did not have the symptoms of it, he’d decided that was the case and he offered me advice of what to eat and what not to eat and told me to ‘just deal with it’.

I’m pretty sure he thought I had munchausen.

I saw another doctor about two weeks later who told me it was just IBS and if I stopped eating fast food, I’d be fine.

I’m pretty sure he just wanted me out of his office so he could go home for the day.

I always knew that whatever was happening was related to food. Despite avoiding the foods that I was told I was allergic to (from the allergy testing), I was still having severe reactions to food, every day… some days multiple times per day. I knew it was food, though. I knew it was food because if I didn’t eat, I wouldn’t have symptoms. I was fine. Hungry, but fine.

I kept a food journal for years.

Every time I look at what caused me to have these massive, at times violent, reactions, I could never connect it. It was always random foods. There were days I just felt as though I couldn’t eat anything because everything was making me sick.

If I ate something that my body didn’t agree with, I would bloat to the point where I looked 6 months pregnant. My throat, sinsuses and ears would swell to the extent that it became difficult to breathe (why I wound up at the doctor or hospital so much). For someone who never had acne as a teenager, by the time I reached my late 20’s, I was covered in acne. My body was in a constant, consistent state of inflammation and I didn’t know what to do about it. I just felt gross/bad/sick all of the time. I was always tired and I didn’t know why. I was deficient in so many vitamins and I didn’t know why. Someone could touch me and my body would bruise. I could touch myself and my body would bruise. No one could figure out why.

Well…

Earlier this year I learned that I’m allergic to pork.

Earlier this year I also learned the extent to which pork is in just about fucking everything.

For context, gelatin is most often (not always, but most often) made from pork. Gelatin is used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics; as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings (such as Jell-O); in candies, marshmallows, cakes, ice cream, and yogurts; on photographic film; and in vitamins as a coating and as capsules, and it is sometimes used to assist in “clearing” wines. 

Furthermore, most bread that is purchased from the store and even bakeries, are made using a dough conditioner called L-cysteine which are certain proteins gathered from the hair and follicles of pigs.

A lot of cheeses are “thickened” in the process of being made with pork enzymes.

A lot of shelf-stable peanut butters contain gelatin that is pork derived.

Vitamins and pain-killers (Motrin, Tylenol, etc) that are made in the gel-cap formulas are all made with pork derivatives for the gelatin caps. When my body was inflamed, I was taking Motrin gel-caps to help with the pain, not realizing the gel-cap itself was contributing to my pain.

A lot of baked goods – cookies, croissants, brownies, etc… use something called sodium stearoyl lactylate. Sodium stearoyl lactylate is a cheap ingredient used to increase the shelf life of food products because it keeps mold away. PRESERVATIVES CONTAIN PORK.

This is just a few of the things I’ve discovered beyond the obvious – don’t eat bacon, ham or sausage.

Freaking protein bars have pork protein in them.

So, what did I do? Once I came to the realization this could be an allergy, I cut it from my diet completely. I became even more of a hawk for reading labels then I ever was before. I’ve learned the 40+ different things that a company can put on a label that’s code for pork derivatives, and if something was/is fishy, I call or email the company. I switched to eating Halal meat products. I haven’t had anything with pork in a long time.

I stopped taking gel-caps pills and vitamins. You know, Motrin actually works for me now when I need it.

I am stupidly, disturbingly happy to admit that I feel the healthiest I have in ten years. My body has moved away from the state of feeling constantly inflamed and I feel like a normal person. My throat, sinuses and ears have stopped swelling, my skin has completely cleared up. I feel awake and alive. I can digest food without wanting to throw up. I can breathe properly. I sleep properly at night. I just feel like a whole new person.

I have to schedule some blood-work at some point this summer. Now that I know what it is/was that was causing me so many issues, I want it officially confirmed for my medical records. With the amount of pork that’s used in medication (pork and eggs are used as base ingredients for some medicines, which is why people with egg allergies can’t have certain medications), if I ever get sick or injured in the future, I don’t want to be prescribed medication that’s just going to make more sick.

I feel so normal (from a physical health perspective). This feeling has been a long time coming.

I can’t even begin to explain how good that feels.

Summer Solstice 2021

Today is the longest day of the year.

For anyone who doesn’t know what the the summer solstice is, the summer solstice, also known as estival solstice or midsummer, occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. Now, if you live closer to the equator, it might not make that much of a difference in your day. But, if you live closer to the North Pole, the summer solstice makes for almost complete 24 hour daylight.

I’m far enough away from the North Pole that it’s only around 20 hours of daylight here. Maybe 21 if we’re stretching it.

After today all of our days will get shorter.

After today, all of our days will feel darker until Winter Solstice in December.

So, if I can encourage you to do one thing today, it’s enjoy the sunlight, the daylight and the summertime.

Also, if you’re interested in seeing what summer looks like when one lives close to the North Pole, there’s an Instagram user @sejsejlija who lives in the worlds Northernmost town. She’s been showing a lot lately what it’s like to be out and about this time of year when the sun shines on her town 24 hours a day.

It’s the longest day of the year people. Enjoy it! Soak up that Vitamin D! (wearing SPF of course)

Weird Dreams Part 2

Last night I dreamt that I was being chased down by a hit-squad and there was a bounty on my head for $250,000.

What did I do wrong? That wasn’t something I was made aware of in the dream. I was too busy running for my life.

The saga of my dreams the past few weeks has been absolutely wild. I’m not sure what my subconscious is trying to tell me. I wish I knew.