A comment Lucy Kubash made to last week's post really got to me. In fact, I mused on it most of last week. She mentioned that a disease robbed her mother and sister of their sight. I was so sorry to hear that. But she triggered my worse fear. Being blind.
Somehow, loss of sight frightens me more than anything. Being totally in the dark. Does anyone remember the movie Wait Until Dark where a blind Audrey Hepburn is terrorized? I take a nightlight with me on vacation . . . so I can find the hotel bathroom at night. (That's my story and I'm sticking with it.)
Three years ago, I dutifully went to a specialist. He was very reassuring. I had to watch a video where the doctor explained the procedure. That wasn't too bad—at least, there were no pictures. At the end of the video was the disclosure of risk listing eighteen things that can go wrong. Eighteen, including blindness and death. And to make sure I understood all the risks, a voice-over read them. Old Murphy was jumping up and down waving his "if anything can go wrong, it will" banner. Blindness and death?
Last fall, I knew my close-up vision was deteriorating. I had to ask my dear hubby to read things on the TV. I'm sure he got tired of me asking "what did that say?" but he was very patient. One of the things I've always loved about him is he never says "I told you so." He probably thinks it, though. Then, there was reading small print on over-the-counter medicine bottles. (Where did I leave that magnifying glass?) What put me over the edge was when the clues on Jeopardy were blurry. No Jeopardy? I don't think so.
Hey, it wasn't that bad. Distance was never a problem. Everything was sharp and clear unless it required reading. And, the other eye was doing the heavy lifting. Besides, her dad did all the driving when we were with the grandkids. Still, I asked the optometrist what would happen if I still didn't do anything. I'd go blind.
My dad had an expression—damned if you do, damned if you don't.
It was time to go back to the specialist. I had to watch that video again. More fear. I told the doctor how squeamish I am about my eyes. Without a hint of sarcasm, he said he'd heard that before. (Gee, you mean I'm not the only scaredy-cat?) So, we set the appointment for the operation on each eye, two weeks apart. Yeah, both eyes. The one doing most of the work had a cataract, too. I figured if I didn't do them close together, I might wimp out and then where would I be?
You can't imagine what happened when I got to the surgery center the morning of the first surgery. My operation was cancelled. I'd finally gotten my nerves as quieted as they were going to get (without Xanax), steeled myself for this and it was cancelled? I didn't know whether to be angry or relieved. The explanation made sense. They didn't have a second lens and the doctor wouldn't operate without a backup. That didn't inspire a lot of confidence in the surgery center. Did nobody count the supplies?
I had a week's reprieve. I steeled myself again (why, oh, why didn't I ask for that Xanax prescription) and . . . it was a piece of cake. I was on my way home less than an hour after the surgery was scheduled. I think it took me longer to get my shoes on than the actual operation. Then, holy cow, I could read street signs before being on top of them. Without glasses. After the checkup the following day, I was told I was legal to drive. Without glasses. I could read the guide on the TV. Without glasses. (I picked up a pair of "readers" from the drugstore for close-up reading until my eyes settled down enough to get prescription lenses.) I could do everyday things, including reading the computer, without glasses. A week later, after the second eye was done, it was even better. No glasses.
Now, those of you who didn't need glasses until your forties (or later) probably can't understand my amazement. I have worn glasses since I was three years old. I never lost glasses because they were always on my face. I put them on first thing in the morning and took them off the last thing at night. I always wore glasses. Contacts? In my twenties, I tried them. Only hard contacts for far-sightedness then. Uncomfortable and too much bother. And now I don't need glasses anymore!
To be totally honest, I do need them to read. Another disclaimer: I was given the option to have a special lens that would also correct my astigmatism (lopsided eyeball—not a technical term but how I understand it). At my family's encouragement, I agreed, even though the pricey difference wasn't covered by insurance. The special lenses made such a difference.
Now that it's all over, I realize my fear was for naught. I let it blind me (pun intended) to doing what I should have done a lot sooner. I can't believe how long I allowed that fear to rule my life.
One thing I promised myself afterward. I wouldn't be one of those people who make light of what has become such a common-place surgery. Sure, it was a breeze—for me. Everything went well, beyond my expectations, actually. But, I still remember the fear, the anxiety that something would go wrong. I vowed to be sympathetic and listen to another's worries.
But, I would be thinking "hey, it's a piece of cake."