(Note: I need to stay off social media and computer screens for awhile because of a hemorrhage in a posterior vitreous detachment in my right eye. There was some bleeding and now hairy ants are crawling around in my eye, and it’s rather irritating. The condition is exacerbated by myopia and chronic ocular migraine headaches. But, looking on the bright side (without pain), my left eye is fine. My talented and competent ophthalmologist Dr. Tweeten is taking care of me, as he has for 30 years. )
Forty years ago when five-months pregnant with my daughter, I needed surgery on both eyes to fix retinal detachments. I refused anesthesia because I was pregnant. I deserve an award for that because I watched as the doctors at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City propped open each eye, lifted, and lasered each one. I remained in the hospital overnight with my eyes bandaged. My sweet mother came to stay with me after the operation. I wish she would come back because it’s happening again. For some much-needed humor, here’s a blog post I wrote several years ago about my eye problems.
“I think we need to do a test for macular degeneration,” my eye doctor mumbled as he nonchalantly studied the results of my exam. “Holy Crap!” I responded, a bit more animated. “Am I going blind?”
Immediately, I feared the worst. How could I exist without seeing my grinning Studley bring me coffee every morning, or watch my extraordinary grandchildren blossom into exquisite youngsters, or visually feast upon the multiple splendors of outdoor Idaho? How would I know if my purse and shoes were coordinated? And, horrors, what if I accidentally opened a cheap Chardonnay instead of a rich Cabernet? The pending consequences were more than I could bear.
My thoughts were erupting like microwave popcorn as the perky assistant led me to a strange machine. She probably had 20-20 vision and secretly pitied my older, frightened eyes. I sat where instructed and placed my chin in the designated slot. “Just stare at the colored lines and don’t blink for six seconds,” she said. I have a three-second attention span so it took four tries to get it right. Then we zapped the other eye. She left me alone with this mind-numbing remark, “It’ll be just a minute, Dear.”
Dear? I was about to fall into a black abyss and somehow this young stranger managed to make it worse. A tear wiggled out of my favorite eye (it’s the left one.) I began the Holy Barter, which is my term for promising the Spiritual Universe to do ANYTHING for another chance. My list went like this: I won’t be on the computer for hours without a break. I’ll get more sleep. I won’t attempt to write 7,000 words in a weekend. I promise to wear my glasses, even in public! Just, please, don’t take my vision.
I was ten years old when I put on my friend’s glasses and realized that trees had leaves! Until then, trees were just big green things. Then I noticed that the teacher was writing actual words on the blackboard. No wonder I had been having trouble in school. After I finally got prescription glasses, we attended a movie and I cried like a baby because I could actually see that Bambi was all alone in the forest!
Since then my eye problems have included ulcers, floaters, and painful night vision. When I was 25 and pregnant with my first child, my vision became blurry. I thought I couldn’t see the scales because of my huge belly, but my ophthalmologist confirmed that I had holes in my retinas. Immediate surgery was required but I refused anesthesia because of the pregnancy. Nothing prompts projective vomiting more than seeing your own eyeball manipulated and welded. After the bandages were removed, I was relieved that my vision was good enough to find the sales rack at Nordstrom’s.
All these thoughts were whirling through my feeble mind as I waited for the eye doctor to say the words that would either send me into chaotic darkness of make me fall on my knees and celebrate the everlasting lightness of being and seeing. I held my breath as the doctor entered the room, read the charts, and uttered these profound words:
“Your eyes are weaker and there is some deterioration of the lining but you don’t have macular degeneration. You just have old eyeballs.”
I stifled the urge to both hit and kiss him. It’s just old eyeballs! Alleluia! I could see well enough to order new glasses, pay the migraine-inducing bill, and drive without assistance. On my way home, I noticed an abandoned car rusting in a field. Don’t become that car. Women over a certain age should keep a regular maintenance schedule that includes eye and dental exams, pap smears, and mammograms. Top off that polished chassis with a bold Cabernet and you can enjoy your golden years without too much tarnish. And, I can see clearly that getting dull is not an option.