Friday, December 09, 2016


About six weeks from now, at age 55, I'm having cataract surgery—a procedure more common among people in their seventies and eighties. 

It's further fallout from my bike accident almost three years ago. Turns out that successful retina-reattachment surgery—which I had to repair the detachment that occurred a couple of months after my spill in the bike lane—results in a cataract, because the gas injected into the eye to reattach the retina compromises the lens; it seems that going two whole years before developing a cataract is very, very good. 

Both of my eye doctors kind of "buried the lede," as they say in journalism: All of my careful adherence to the recovery regimen after the retina surgery (sleeping only on my left side—not my right, not my back or stomach—for the first week or two and, during the day, holding my head down to my chest for 50 minutes out of every hour for a week and a half, then 30 minutes every hour for several more days), which I was told repeatedly was to "avoid a cataract," was, come to find out, to avoid an immediate cataract. Until a few months ago, no one informed me it was inevitable that I'd develop a cataract within a year or two.


From the bewildering menu of surgical options and expenses, I've chosen to have my  severely nearsighted vision in both eyes changed to only slightly nearsighted in my right (the one with the cataract) and slightly farsighted in my left. I'll basically use one eye for reading and the other for distance. The result should be that I won't need glasses for most tasks. (The reason to have both lenses replaced is that if I had only my right done, the discrepancy between the vision in my two eyes would be, my ophthalmologist—also my brother-in-law—says, "unbearable.")

When I told my surgeon that the idea made my head spin, he said, "Well, you're basically seeing out of one eye now." Touché. The blurring in my right eye has gotten so bad that do indeed I favor my left by far.

"Your brain will adjust," both doctors reassure me. Even my sister (not the one married to my ophthalmologist) texted me: "I was going to get contacts like that, one near, one far. They say your brain just fills in the blanks, as long as the two eyes aren't wildly different."

In this same text exchange, she and I talked about our mother, who has entered hospice now for the third time in the last year and a half—Mom regains strength, stabilizes, and is "released" from hospice after a few months, even as she can't speak, walk, or feed herself. 

"I feel kind of sad and afraid that when she's gone we'll all be disconnected because so much of our getting together is Mom this, Mom that," my sister, who lives in another city, said. 

"We will have to build a new relationship with each other," I said. "That's what my therapist is always telling me. We can do it!"

She replied: "What your therapist says just made me cry because it sounds so hard."

"I think it will be like my new split vision," I found myself typing. "Our brains will adjust."

I'm not sure I convinced her. It was late, she'd just flown back home after a visit for our mother's 97th birthday (like funerals, sometimes birthdays are more for the celebrants than for the honoree), along with all the attendant caregiving, errand-running, and emotional surge-protecting. She was exhausted. 

But I actually do think we four, we survivors, will learn to see each other anew, perhaps more sharply, and forgivingly—after all, I might end up needing glasses for some things, such as long periods of heavy reading or driving at night. 

Confidence isn't always my strong suit, but in this case I really believe we'll make the compensations our brains and eyes and hearts require and keep going through the darkness, through the light.

Labels: ,


Anonymous The Total Femme said...

My dear queer brother, what a beautiful post! Healing and loving thoughts to you as you approach surgery. Your clear and lovely vision will remain constant, I know! And your family will rally; they are lucky to have you and each other! xo ttf

5:02 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home