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I woke up in the morning and got straight to work. Which is when I noticed some cloudiness and blurriness in my left eye.
I started freaking out. All I could think was that it was glaucoma or macular degeneration. I read and answer emails for a living, so I pictured my ability to earn a paycheck going up in smoke — blurry smoke. (Even as I reminded myself that my right eye was still perfectly fine.)
I’ve already had enough trouble with the left eye, what with the cataract and the resulting surgery (which left me with a huge black eye and slightly traumatic memories of something poking toward my optic nerve). So I was pessimistic that it was something simple.
I also worried because, even if I could see an optometrist, there was a chance I’d be referred to an ophthalmologist, which would require prior authorization from my insurance. That could take up to two weeks. All the while, the condition could be getting worse.
C’mon c’mon c’mon
I anxiously waited for my optometrist’s office to open, calling several times after 9 a.m. and getting no answer. Which is when I went online and discovered that that branch is closed on Tuesdays. Gah!
So I chose the next closest office, which was all the way in Scottsdale — about 17 miles away — and called there. Only to have that be closed… Until 10 a.m. anyway.
I called at 10 a.m. on the dot, and they got me an appointment for 11:40 a.m. I emailed my supervisor to see if she could cover for me, since I was going to be gone for a couple of hours. She could, thankfully.
Now to take my mind off it
I called my mom to distract me from freaking out during the hour I had before I left for the optometrist’s office.
As we chatted, I wandered around the house. At one point, I wandered into the “master” bathroom (in quotes because it’s small enough that it looks like a converted closet). As I looked over the bathroom, I noticed that the left side of my contact lens case was still open and empty.
I looked in the mirror and confirmed: I’d only taken out my right contact the night before. So the left lens was slightly cloudy from extended wear. The blurriness came from wearing both the lens and my glasses.
I took out my contact, and sure enough my vision went back to normal. I’ve never been so relieved to pull such a boneheaded move.
I got off the phone with Mom and left a message with the eye center, sheepishly cancelling the appointment. And updated my friend who I’d been texting with.
A good reminder
While this turned out to be nothing, it was a reminder once again of how lucky I am to be able to contemplate an unexpected expense (in this case a $60-100 optometrist bill) without having to worry about where the money was coming from.
Even if I couldn’t have covered the charge out of my paycheck, I knew I had an emergency fund. So if, god forbid, I’d ended up in the emergency room (with its $400 copay), I’d have been able to pay the bill too.
There’s been plenty of debate about how much of an emergency fund is enough. But in the end, we should all strive to have something put away in case of a car repair or doctor’s bill or any of the myriad other expenses that can crop up in life.
Just get started
Small beginnings are okay. Get started with $500 if you can — even if it takes you a while to save that up — and then try to move to $1,000. Then maybe shoot for three months’ expenses if you think that’s feasible.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. You have to find money in what might already be a tight budget. But there are ways for just about anyone to trim bills or at least bring in more money.
Even if it’s only a $25 Swagbucks payout at a time, what matters is that you’re trying. That you’re working toward having some padding in case of emergency.
Anyone else had a “D’oh!” moment recently? When’s the last time you had to dip into your emergency fund?