There are two words I consciously try not to use: “miracle,” and any variation of “blessed.” I do this because, I believe that a true miracle is a rarity. Blessed is a holy word best used, I think, to honor the dead or in a religious context.
That said this past week I have felt incredibly blessed, and that what happened to my right eye a true miracle—though a miracle enabled by science and performed by a surgeon.
For awhile, more time than I realize, I have been hampered by my eyesight. Never good in the best times–I’ve been wearing glasses since I was seven and contacts since age fourteen, it was getting steadily worse until it felt as if gauze was covering my eyes.
Of course, I knew about laser surgery. Many people I know have had it and almost all have had it redone or need to. That was one reason I wouldn’t get Lasix.
A few years after moving from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to coastal South Carolina my eyes felt too dry to wear contact lenses. I had been told that wearing contact lenses as much as I did would keep my eyes from getting worse, and the contact lenses doctor had been right. In 40+ years I think I had two prescription changes.
When I stopped wearing lenses it was as if the levees broke. I would go to eye doctors in my new town and confound them. Sometimes my eyes would go up and down 200 points in a visit. I can’t blame those optometrists for not coming up with a solution.
But the one who told me I couldn’t scan properly and wow I must have had trouble comprehending what I read. There was much wrong with that assumption but I just said that I have a Masters degree from Fordham (for the first time I wish I hadn’t been scared to go to Columbia), and had always been known for my ability to read quickly and absorb the information. The optometrist didn’t believe me and wanted me to go to her friend who would “reteach me how to read through vision.”
I wasn’t adverse to vision training as I have an invisible neurological disorder called nonverbal learning disorder (NLD). Most of my problems come from being a spatial relations zilch and the resulting organizational problems. But something was wrong with my eyes that had nothing to do with scanning. A few months later this optometrist would be fired as she had no frigging idea what she was doing, and I hadn’t even complained!
I began to realize that my vision was rapidly descending into a horror zone and that I probably had cataracts. I’m a very independent person and found myself making excuses not to do things alone, things that involved walking across some streets here that are very heavily trafficked but have few or no stop signs, white lines or traffic lights.
It became increasingly difficult for me to focus on writing until I eventually gave up. I love to write. It’s been part of my identity forever, and I achieved a certain amount of success both in my short time as a journalist, and as an early blogger.
It was impossible for me to care about my blog. I wanted to care so badly. This made me both sad and scared. How could I not want to do something I loved? How could I lose all ambition so quickly and so totally? Was I becoming demented?
I found myself making excuses not to do things alone. I found myself making excuses not to do things with others. As I don’t have a partner and live alone socialization is more important to me than to many people.
Some things I found myself avoiding: Things that involved having to give directions. Vacations with friends where I would have to meet them, maybe twice a day, in places that I didn’t know.
The rare times I would go on vacations with friends I would run into them, they would say hello and it would seem as if I was ignoring them. There were a few people that I had becoming friendly with who must have thought I was the weirdest person in the world.
I’ve always loved to travel, and kept putting off plans to go to Europe. I do have another health problem that’s in its second round, or third really, of testing but I digress.
A part of me thought that it wasn’t my vision but that my NLD was getting much worse and leading toward dementia. It was too embarrassing to discuss this with anyone I know. I began looking for a therapist I could relate to and who could relate to me.
I asked my friends for referrals to ophthalmologists. If I were an ophthalmologist I would run to The Grand Strand where I live, and open a private practice with an eye urgent care. That doctor would make a mint as it takes forever and a day to get an appointment even with a referral.
I decided to ask my primary care physician for a referral. His office even made the appointment. It was to an optometrist, but the appointment took six weeks. I have never had such a thorough exam nor have I ever seen a huge photo of my eyes before.
I was right. My cataracts were more than ripe, my vision had dramatically deteriorated, and yes, I knew I had major astigmatisms. Other than that my eyes are perfect. I knew what that meant because in all the years I wore lenses–and I wore hard ones, sometimes for two days straight, I never had one problem.
The optometrist gave me a referral to a wonderful ophthalmology surgeon, and I had the right eye done last week. I loved that operation. I forget the name of the drugs they gave me, and I’m not sure if I hallucinated the Pantone colors of 2016—they are my favorite colors as every living room and master bedroom I have had in the past 20 years can attest to.
I chose Toric intraocular surgery as it’s the best (only, really) surgery for astigmatisms.
As soon as the operation was over I could see. Every day is a new adventure. When I went for the day after checkup my vision, in my right eye, was 20/30. I have no idea if it will get even better or a bit worse or….but I think I was born with worse vision.
I can see things that I have never seen before. For the first time I understand why people love my house. It’s pretty; filled with unusual colors and “things,” it’s warm and inviting. I can also see every speck of dust on the floor so I’ve turned into a constant sweeper/swifter.
Today’s the one-week checkup and next Thursday I will have the left eye done.
.I feel my ambition coming back. Once more I’m excited by writing. Unfortunately I have to severely limit my computer time now and will probably have to even more when both eyes are healing as the healing process is an adventure in itself.
I know that vision loss can mimic dementia in some ways, and now that my extreme vision loss and cataracts are being treated I no longer feel that my NLD’s becoming worse or that I’m becoming demented. I want to travel. I’m excited by life again. Next week can’t come soon enough.
Already my surgery’s been both a blessing and a miracle. Miracles do happen. I know that now.
Update: I just saw the optometrist and my vision is 20/20. He expects it to further improve once the swelling goes down even more and I get the other eye done. Apparently I’ve been doing a great job of putting in eyedrops. I thought I was failing at that!
He told me that my cataracts aren’t age related as they were (are) concentrated in the center of my eye but probably due to an inhaler I rarely use.
He also showed me photos of other people’s eyes and I could see why mine are called “perfect.” I can not wait for eyelid surgery that probably is a “medical necessity” meaning that insurance will pay!