Welp, I must still be jet-lagged from losing that hour of sleep earlier this month. Or maybe, like a lot of things, writing is a muscle and if you don't use it, you lose it. Either way, the words are not flowing and so, my big comeback to blogging was not the bang I'd hoped for. Pardon me while I whimper through this.
Things happen when one has been absent from the social media scene. One of those things was that I had cataract surgery. Make that plural --- surgeries. Until it happened to me, this was an ailment that fell solidly in the domain of Really Old People. I was in my early 50's when I first suspected that my vision was "off"; it was like looking through the sheerest, finest, barely-there gauze. It was especially noticeable whenever I was inside a big retail store with rows and rows of fluorescent lighting. Over time, it got to the point where I wouldn't drive at night in unfamiliar areas, and if a person was backlit by any kind of light, even a low wattage bulb, I couldn't see their features. This made lip-reading, something that is almost as necessary to me as breathing, impossible. In a social setting it meant positioning myself so that my back was always to the light.
You'd think that as soon as my optometrist officially diagnosed the cataracts that I would rush to get myself into the operating room. After all, surgery would fix two problems: hearing and vision. But I didn't. No one likes the idea of anything coming at their eyes, but that fear is exaggerated in someone, like me, whose eyes fill in for a missing sense. If the surgery is botched, I'm not just nearly deaf, I'm blind too. So, rather than get the problem fixed, I chose to ignore it, keeping the light to my back, squinting my way through my days and saying "What?" a lot.
The tipping point came in August, when I attended a board meeting of my women's philanthropy. The meeting was held at the president's house, in her den with its wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows letting in the late afternoon light. Despite all my careful maneuvering, I got stuck in a bad spot and literally could not see the faces of six or so ladies sitting opposite me. Of course, they would be the ones with the most to say that night, so I missed out on better than half of the conversation, and had to bring myself up to speed by reading the minutes a couple of days later.
I made an appointment for a consultation with an ophthalmologist, my mother's doctor, in fact, and suprise! I'm a candidate for cataract surgery in both eyes. After a lot of discussion, I settle on toric monofocal IOLs (intraocular lenses), the right eye powered for distance vision, the left for intermediate. This means that I will need reading glasses for near vision, but that's okay. I'd much rather be able to see clearly at a distance.
Two days prior to the first surgery on November 8, I instill the first of what will be four solid weeks of antibiotic eye drops in my right eye. The morning of the operation, once I'm settled in my little pre-op cubicle, the nurse floods my eye with more drops designed to numb it. She sets up the IV and the anesthesiologist comes in for a quick chat. Richard is with me and, bless his heart, he yanks a small business card out of his wallet and gives it to the doctor. On it is written the name of a drug, Droperidol, that was given to me more than 30 years ago, when I had abdominal surgery. This drug was part of a cocktail designed to prevent nausea and calm and relax the patient prior to surgery. In my case, it had the opposite effect: I was about to jump out of my skin from major anxiety and paranoia. It was a highly unpleasant sensation because, typically, I am next to comatose 75% of the time. Anyway, my spouse had the anesthesiologist write down the name of the drug on his business card, and then he squirreled the precious bit of information away in his wallet for "just in case". I was touched (and more than a little amused) that he had kept it; Lord knows, he'd had plenty of opportunities over the past three decades to throw it out.
I'm finally rolled into the surgical suite and another nurse sets about washing my right eye, flooding it with what seems to be about two gallons of water and something that looks suspiciously like Betadine. Now I'm worried that the eye scrubbing and the water will have diluted or washed away any numbing effect from the pre-op drops. But before I can question her about it, it's dark and there's a fantastic light show going off in my head. Colorful fireworks, white spirals and zig-zags. I can feel tugging, pressure and pulling, but no pain. I'm completely aware of what's going on in a weirdly detached way. The nurse had told me I would be conscious during the procedure, but I wouldn't give a rap. She was right. I didn't give a rap.
After a post-surgical nap at home, I try out my new eyeball. The difference between what I see with my "bad" eye and the same image with my good one is amazing. It's crystal clear and --- here was a bonus I wasn't expecting --- colors are much more vibrant, especially white. So far, so good.
It's been four months and one day since the second surgery. My distance vision is incredible; I tell people I can see into next week. My night vision has improved remarkably. The cloudiness is gone and the backlighting is a thing of the past. The only fly in the ointment is that my near vision is horrible, worse than I expected it to be, actually, so I keep reading glasses handy in different rooms. I just started experimenting with monovision, where I wear a contact lens powered for close-up vision in my left eye. It sounds weird, but after a couple of days, the brain adjusts and seamlessly shifts from eye to eye, depending on my visual needs at the moment.
A few weeks ago, Richard and I went to a college baseball tournament with some friends. It was awesome to be able to track the baseball far into the outfield and not lose sight of it. It was even awesomer, as the designated driver, to be able to get us safely home in the dark and on unfamiliar roads. It's little things like this that make me wish I hadn't waited so long, but I manned up and did it!
I also manned up and wrote this!
Smiling dog: http://dogsome.net/smiling-dogs-make-you-smile/ds86-16/
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