Observations

I cannot stop thinking about how well I can see.  It is getting ridiculous.  I am commenting on every pothole in the road, every street sign on the corner, every leaf on every tree.  I am going on and on about how clear words on paper are and how my phone looks different and how I can see that you haven’t shaved in a few days, Mark.  I am exhausting, and I’m sorry…not sorry.

Mark said that I am reminding him of some of the videos he likes to watch to cheer himself up when he’s down.  Usually, it’s people’s pets doing cute things or soldiers coming home from war to their kids, but a lot of the time it’s videos of colorblind folks who get those special glasses.  They put them on and see colors for the first time, and it’s so cool.  He says I sound like one of those people, amazed by what I can see; and I am.

Still waiting on a good stargazing night, but otherwise I have observed many things.  We went fishing over the weekend, and not only did I actually see a big fish swimming in the water, but I saw about a thousand tiny minnows swimming in a school.  I have never been able to see the minnows before, so this was exciting. 

Another exciting observation: driving at night!  WOW, I do have working headlights!  I always thought those things were on their last leg, dim as they seemed.  And other cars headlights are not as blinding as they were two weeks ago.  I drove the other night and felt eerily confident.  Really, the whole of driving has changed, as I can now see every groove in the pavement, as well as every sign on the side of the road.  I wear sunglasses without having to wear my glasses underneath, which is fabulous.  And I truly don’t mind the reading glasses life because the words are so crystal clear with them.

So, yeah, I’m still going on about my eyes.  I can’t help it.  It’s a brand-new world.  As I said…sorry. 

Not sorry.

Gift of Sight

Ok, I missed yesterday because I was, for the first time in some time, just too damn busy.  I had to get a Covid test and visit my mother and run errands and go to work and was gone from the house for a solid 8 hours, only to come home to having to fold the laundry and cook dinner.  So when I finally sat down, words…they weren’t coming.

Why did I need a Covid test?  Because eye surgery #2 is coming on Monday.  Looking at my blog, I see I updated via phone after my last surgery.  I, of course, have no real recollection of this as I was hopped up on anesthesia.  So I can’t tell you if I will or will not post this coming Monday, as I obviously have little control over what I do the day of surgery. 

The best part of last Monday was wen I told Mark my eyes were really blurry.  He told me to take my glasses off and rest a bit, after all, I just had surgery.  I agreed with his logic and removed my frames, at which point I screamed with delight. Guys…I could see.  It was blurry because I was wearing super-strength lenses.  At my follow-up appointment, they told me that technically I can drive without glasses now.  I’m not prepared yet, though.  I popped out my right lens and am going monocle-style until they do they other eye next week. 

Still, I can see.  I can see better now than I ever remember seeing, and that’s only after the one eye.  I can see colors I didn’t know were there, every crack in the pavement when driving, and my dad tells me that soon, on a clear night, I will see the stars.

I haven’t seen the stars in longer than I remember.  Once, we took the kiddos out to a field in the middle of nowhere and looked at the stars, but I couldn’t see them.  I faked it.  They thought it was beautiful and amazing, but I couldn’t tell.  Soon…I can.

(Fun anecdote, that night wrapped up when a cop pulled up and asked just what we thought we were doing standing in some farmer’s corn field.  I told him that we lived in the city and decided to drive the kids out to the country to see the stars.  “Oh, Well, in that case, enjoy.”  And he left.) Anyway…I can’t wait to see the stars.  I want to go camping.  They would be amazing out there.  (Hey…family and friends who camp…if you’re looking for two more for a trip, hit me up.)

So, this is the first time I’ve sat to type at the computer and I am noticing a few things, for one, I need to lower my brightness.  Another is that the extra-large fonts are no longer necessary.  Third…I need to clean this office.  Like deep-clean.  There’s dust I never noticed, cobwebs in the corners, and someone splattered coffee on the screen.  I couldn’t SEE this before.  That’s the downside of all this.  Anyway…today is errands and work and poetry night and the kiddos, so I must bid adieu.  Happy Weekend, friends!

Sad Books

I have done quite a bit of reading over the last two days, in preparation for something I will tell you about later on.  By later on, I do not mean later on in this blog post-I mean later in the week.  You will just have to follow my Twitter or Facebook @hamneggs716 if you want “breaking news.” 

Anyway. I did a lot of reading.  I am straight-up forcing myself, from here on out.  Unfortunately for me, my eyes are not doing well with my books.  I went to the eye doc, and they, for reasons I cannot fathom, forgot to give me bifocals.  I’m supposed to have bifocals.  Instead, I have glasses that help my driving significantly, but with which I can’t read a damn thing. 

Unless it is on my computer screen. 

I was browsing a lit mag the other day and realized I truly have no problem reading on the computer screen.  It is the perfect distance away.  So why am I not reading everything on my computer?!

It was an inspirational moment.  Also, a convenient one.  Why was I trying to read my books by holding them up to my nose?  Why was I trying to read poetry journals on my phone, squinting at it with my glasses atop my head?  Stupid, stupid girl.  You could have just been here in your office, comfortable and at good distance, and read anything you want.

But…to my left…

Oh, they are sad.  They are looking at me, all the tomes I have collected over the years, and they are crying, because their spines may never be cracked again.  My books are my #1 possessions…ok, besides my teddy bear, Honey Joe…#2.  I can’t get rid of them, but I also can’t read them right now.  It makes me sad.  In turn…they are sad.  I can feel it.  Books are alive, y’know.

So, I did some reading.  I finished that lit mag.  Then I read three short stories, all on my computer.  With comfortable eyeballs.

Listen, this may not be a big deal to some but it’s a big deal to me.  Just another step in the healing process.  Today I said to Kev that I hadn’t been to the retina doc in a long time, which was weird, because I used to go once a month or so for my eyeball shot.  I am so happy that’s no longer part of my routine.  I am so happy to see, even if they didn’t give me bifocals.  I’ll read, a lot in the coming days, actually, and I will do it on my computer.  But while I do, I will sit beside the books I love so much and wish for next year when my insurance gives me another eye doc appointment and I can get bifocals.

Clear Blue Skies

When I was in seventh grade, I went on a winter camping trip with my Girl Scout troop.  We stayed in a lodge that was less than ideal, and when I returned home, I noticed several bumps had formed on my hands.  They itched terribly, and started to blister after a few days.  I started to hide my hands, unsure of what was happening and both ashamed and scared.  But then, my parents started getting itchy bumps, too.  So, I confessed that I was experiencing it as well, and we went to a dermatologist who told us we had contracted scabies.  Furious, I went home and tore my clothes out of my dresser so I could wash everything.  I had to coat my entire body in this terrible smelling pink stuff and wait for it to kill the bugs.  I felt dirty and ashamed, but most of all, I wanted my hands back.  I realized for the first time in my life that I was taking my body for granted.

I tell you this little story, because I think we all have things we take for granted about our bodies, and as we age these things become blazingly apparent.  For me, though, my hands weren’t the worst occasion of this.  It was my eyes.

We use our eyes all day every day and don’t think much of it.  Now, I have worn glasses since I was about eight.  I tried contacts for two weeks in high school and decided they weren’t for me.  But I have always been damn near blind without my glasses, so I definitely took those for granted…how lucky am I to be able to afford a pair in the first place.  And if they break?  Just get another.  Thank you, God, for insurance and decent copays.

But then, about six years ago, something happened.  I started seeing floaters in my eyes…little spots or lines of red that obscured my vision.  I went to a retina specialist who told me I have retinopathy, a common ailment of the diabetic.  He did laser surgery in my left eye and sent me on my way to see.  Then, about three weeks later, something happened…a small purple thing appeared, and as days went on, it moved closer to the center of my eye.  Then one day, I was watching Friends on TV, and I closed my right eye and focused on Phoebes’ face.  It was like looking at her in a funhouse mirror, all skewed and out of proportion.  I called my doc immediately…after an exam, it was determined that I had scar tissue in my eye which had attached to my retina and was tugging it out.

So, I had my first eye surgery.  I spent a week lying face down, because they put a gas bubble in my eye to hold everything in place.  It was months before I could see out of my left eye.  I remember driving down the street one night with dad and closing my right eye to see how the left was doing…and I saw headlights.  Nothing else, but there was light in the dark, and that excited me. 

In the end, I do not have full vision in my left eye…there is no peripheral.  But it is certainly better than no sight at all.

Now, the right eye also had some floaters, but due to the mishap with the left I was reluctant to get surgery.  So instead my doc gave me a shot in my right eyeball every two months for about four years.  The floaters remained, but the shot kept them under control.  Then, one day, my parents and Mark and I went to Canalside for the day.  I was furious the whole time.  It was very bright, and my eyes were sensitive to the light.  Everything was blurry and blocked by floaters.  I decided then that something needed to be done, but it took a lot of courage and time before I brought it up to my doc.  “Are you sure you want the surgery?  I know the last one was hard.  We can always keep up the shots,” he said.  No.  I was done with needles in my eyeball.

So, he set it up.  The plan was to vacuum out the blood and then laser it so it didn’t progress.  I would fortunately be knocked out during this.  Everything went well, though there was a slight tug on the retina so he put a bubble in just in case.  I ended up spending a week on my side, this time.  But the bubble was gone in about a month.

I was at the park with the kids when I realized it.  I looked up at the sky…it was blue.  It was clear.  And I could see all of it. 

I went home and opened a book.  I read two chapters before my eyes got tired, at least three times more than I could read before. 

I drove at night-not my favorite thing to do so I try to avoid it, but I know I can if I need to. 

For the first couple decades of my life, I took my sight for granted, even though it was already terrible.  Then, for nearly seven years I struggled with not being able to see clearly.  Never mind the fact that I couldn’t even get a new glasses prescription, so I am still wearing my script from seven years ago. 

Well, until today.  I have an appointment at Americas Best for an eye exam and new glasses.  I am irrationally excited, because I will be able to see even clearer then.  Maybe I can make it to three chapters at a time in my book.  Maybe I can see the stars in the sky after, or the birds flying overhead on sunny days, or the fish in the water that Mark keeps trying to point out to me.

I have a lot of family that is aging, and as they do, I wonder what obstacles they are facing with their bodies, and how much they have taken simple things for granted.  I have learned though my battle with my eyes to never assume it’s all going to keep working, because it’s not.  Our bodies are like cars…sometimes they break down.  It’s why we have doctors.  Yes, sometimes we have to graciously accept the changes we face. But other times we can do something about it…and if that’s an option for you, take it.  So many people have no choice…I feel like we owe it to them to do the best we can, and keep hope alive.

Aftermath

I’m typing on my phone because my desktop doesn’t lay sideways.  I tried it with the laptop but that was unsuccessful.  So here I am, pecking out words with my thumbs so very much slower than I would if I could use all ten fingers. 
I am sideways because of my eye surgery. In the end, doc found a tiny hole and thought the safest measure was to put a gas bubble in my eye to heal it.  It is. I know it is.  It still sucks.
The day after surgery was agony.  My eye pressure was 42.  For comparison my good eye was 14. I puked all over doctor’s office and went home with the worst headache I’ve ever had.  I have a strict pill and eye drop regimen meant to bring the pressure down.  So, for the third day there was relief, and boredom mostly, as I laid on the couch and watched Golden Girls all day.  I was finally getting relief from the meds, but the next morning I realized that anytime I got up to go to the bathroom I was terribly dizzy.  Not to mention the spikes in my blood sugar from all the eye drops.  The following day I started throwing up again.  I remain certain that this was not gastroparesis associated, even though that’s what they put on my discharge sheet from the ER, where I spent my afternoon and evening sweating, shaking, shivering, and vomiting.  I missed my appointment with my doc and ended up having to stay sideways a bit longer.  The weekend was hard because the kids were here, but I did my best.  Then today I woke up feeling dizzy and sick. Now I am desperately waiting for 4:30pm tomorrow when I can see him and he can tell me what I can do to start feeling like myself again.  Can I finally leave my right side?  Can I sit up for more than fifteen minutes at a time?  Can I stop the eye drops that raise my blood sugar?  Can I count on seeing clearly again, and when??  When, when, when?  That, my friends, is the question of the hour.  I comfort myself with silver linings, and all the things I will be able to do once my eye has cleared.  But now it will take longer than it was supposed to, and I’m generally an impatient person.  It’s very hard to look forward to the future when the now sucks so much.  Still, I dream of the books I will read and the new glasses I will get and the clear blue sky, and I persist.

Eyes Wide Open

person eye
Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

As I write, it is not Monday, because I won’t be able to write on Monday.  I will instead head off to my second eye surgery.

I have mentioned before how the worst part of having diabetes is the side effects.  They’re what get you in the end.  I suffer from two major side effects, gastroparesis and retinopathy.  So of course, now that my tummy has finally settled down for a while, my eye has decided to revolt.

Typically, I get shots of Avastin every few months in my eye, which is usually terrifying to anyone I mention it to.  Honestly it isn’t that bad.  You don’t have many nerve receptors in your eyeball, so it’s more of an uncomfortable prick than anything else.  The real annoyance is the speculum that holds your eye open, and the stuff they use to sterilize it.  Sometimes when I get the shots, I can even see the little bubbles of medicine as it’s injected, which is kind of cool.

I don’t know the technical name for my surgery on Monday but essentially, they are going to use a tiny vacuum to remove the blood that has taken up residence and then use a laser to blast away all the bad cells that create the blood.  I should be able to see better afterwards, no longer having to deal with the floaters I have become accustomed to.  I’m a little nervous.  I had laser in my other eye several years ago and ended up with scar tissue that got stuck on my retina and detached it.  That was a complicated surgery with a terrible recovery time, as I had to lie face down for a week afterwards.  This should have an easy recovery, and I am significantly more excited about this surgery than the last.  Assuming, of course, I don’t cuss out my doctor.

It would seem that when I am given twilight anesthesia, I have a reaction.  No one will tell me what I did but the nurse said I “got a little crazy,” and my doctor said I “wasn’t very happy” with him.  Both were said to me in tones implying that knowing what I said and did would embarrass me.  Which means I am going to be full-on PASSED OUT for this surgery.

Makes me wonder what my behavior for all those endoscopies has been.  But I digress…

I am most excited to wake up and see without the slight haze of blood I now look through.  Sometimes it’s like looking at life through an Instagram filter.  Sometimes it’s like looking through a lava lamp.  It’s not fun; it inconveniences me terribly.  Somedays I can’t drive, especially at night.  Sometimes it’s hard to read, which has really been annoying because I have like fifteen books waiting to be consumed.

In conclusion, I am looking forward to the surgery with only a minor amount of anxiety, scared that I will end up with scar tissue again.  However, this time I will know what it is and get it handled before it rips anything out.  Mostly I am excited to read those fifteen books, to drive at night, and to see a truly blue sky with both eyes open.  That’s worth any amount of anxiety, in my opinion.


Edit:  None of this happened today.  I ended up back in the hospital with a stomach thing instead.  Such is the way my cards fall. The future will be bright though, as I am sure to reschedule soon.  Really looking forward to those summer skies.