I’m writing this without glasses, and I can actually see what I’m writing. That’s an amazing thing for someone who has worn glasses or contact lenses full-time for 40 years. I keep raising my hand to adjust my glasses and discover they’re not there. Just before I turn out the light at night, I go to take off my glasses, and in the morning, I reach for my glasses on the nightstand. They’re not there. And I don’t need them.
I had my second cataract surgery a week ago today. It had been almost a year since the first surgery. That surgery on my multi-troubled left eye increased my distance vision but decreased my close-up vision. I still needed glasses to function. We waited a year for the cataract in the right eye to progress enough to qualify for insurance coverage. By October it was there.
I reported for surgery early on 11-11-11, which seemed like an auspicious date. The process was familiar, as were the scrubs-clad folks in the surgery department at Samaritan Pacific Community Hospital in Newport. Inevitably, I run into people I know from church, music and writing groups, all doing their day jobs. Lots of smiling faces.
They led me to the bed fully dressed, covered me with a warm blanket, put a blue bonnet over my hair, took away my glasses, hooked me up to monitors and an IV, put drops in my eye and asked me many times who I was and which eye they were doing. Dr. Haines came through and wrote his initials in blue ink under my right eyebrow.
With my right eye taped shut and wires running all over me, I signed a consent form and waited for my turn. Dr. H. does cataract surgeries all day on Fridays, one after another. Now that I couldn’t escape, several people warned me that this time I would be more aware of what was happening. I knew that technically they didn’t put us all the way to sleep, but I didn’t remember being aware of anything during my first cataract surgery, and I didn’t want to know what was happening this time either.
They were right. I was considerably more awake but sedated enough not to be afraid. I don’t remember everything, but I do remember being wrapped up like a chimichanga. I remember Dr. Haines coming in. I remember seeing bright lights and what looked like blue and red squares. Then I remember Dr. Haines telling me it was over and I had done well. Thank God I don’t remember them removing the old lens and inserting the new one.
Afterward I was up and eating a cinnamon scone in no time. My friend Pat drove me home, where I started the laundry and took a nap, then woke up and started seeing what I could see.
The bad news is that I still need glasses for distance. I’m less nearsighted but not nearly enough to drive or watch TV. But I can read, play the piano, work at the computer, and tool around the house minus specs. I haven’t been able to do that since my teens. Colors are brighter, and I can see things like little scars on my hands and dirt around the bathtub that I didn’t know were there. It’s fascinating.
I won’t be able to order my new glasses for a few weeks because it takes the eye time to adapt to the new implanted lens. That part is frustrating. Also, I have had to go without makeup for a whole week now. Talk about revelations. But when I wake up in the middle of the night and the numbers on the clock are clear, I think it’s pretty cool.
Annie the dog is confused. To her, my glasses were as much a part of me as my nose or ears. She keeps staring at me with a look that says, “What happened to your face?”