Saturday, March 5, 2016

GPC: Acronyms, Labels, & Shame #SOL2016

I have GPC.

No, this does not stand for the dreaded Grade Placement Committee formed to determine whether our 5th graders are promoted to middle school after consecutively failing the STAAR test.

It also doesn't stand for Government Purchase Card, plastic credit used by institutions like the U.S. Postal Service and the United States Army to procure goods and services.

Some might think it represents a General Purpose Computer used by millions of Americans across the country, but they too would be wrong.

GPC stands for Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis, an eye infection my ophthalmologist claims is caused by wearing my contact lenses too long. This grotesque-sounding word is accompanied by equally disturbing images like the one posted below, and I am convinced my eye doctor is using scare tactics to freak me out.

You see, I am cheap. I usually purchase a year supply of contact lenses, and I attempt to make them last at least two years. I wear each pair until they become cloudy, itchy, or dry. When my supply begins to dwindle, I dread having to get an exam and a new prescription because I know the eye doctor is going to lecture me about my poor habits.

This time, he labeled me with a disorder and refused to write a new contact lens prescription until my GPC clears up. He's requiring follow up visits where he flips my eyelids inside out and ranks the severity of my infection. It feels like a grade, and to be quite honest, it irritates the fire out of me.

I'm trying to be compliant, but after three weeks in an old pair of glasses, I'm starting to get annoyed. I can't wear sunglasses, and putting on make up is a pain. I should be grateful for these first world problems, and I am sure my expert physician is just looking out for my best interest. I am glad scientist have found a way to correct nearsightedness, and I don't mean to unappreciative, but I sure would like my contact lenses back.

I return to the optomotrists office next Friday, right before we embark on our spring break cruise to the Mexican Riviera. I'm crossing my fingers, because I'm not sure how I can swim without contacts consdidering my vision is so poor I can only read my Iphone when it's four inches from my face.

This whole experience has forced me to consider how acronyms and fancy titles usher in wave of shame. I wonder if my students feel this way when we label them with things like OCD, ADHD, or 504? Are we making up new abbreviations because we can't cope with the discomfort we feel when our bodies and our brains don't meet some arbitrary standard? As usual, I'm sure I'm just over analyzing a simple eye infection, but I think Brene Brown should write a book about the correlation between labels and shame.


  1. Oh I am praying that you are able to wear your contacts again very soon! I am sorry for your label, but I know that the label doesn't define you. It is what it is. ...just a word. You, my dear, precious friend are so much more than a simple word!

  2. Your acronym introduction hooked me and your photograph sure was eye catching. You did a great job of leading into the terrible condition your dealing with and describing your feelings about it and your eye dr. Hope it clears up before your trip!

  3. Sorry for your frustrating situation here. Surely hoping that you are able to wear contacts on your vacation!