Archive for February, 2011

My Eye and I

February 1, 2011

It has become a great bore to repeat the story of my eye every time it comes up.  This Post is therefore, to provide the short facts of the tale once and for all.

I lost all sight in my left eye in May of 1999 during an operation to repair a detached retina or a small tear in it; the learned gentleman could not for certain say what the fault was during the examination but said that he would be better able to ascertain what needed to be done in the hospital and under sedation but warned me that I would go blind in the eye if I did not have it attended to immediately, a very “small procedure, you won’t en know tomorrow that we have worked on your eye” he assured me.

The next day I talked to the family; there was a hospital plan that I called and they confirmed that they would cover the full cost.  When I mentioned that to the family they all pressurized me and I succumbed and made an appointment for the next evening at the Eye Institute; pronounce that as Eye Butchery, but I found that out later.

I should also mention that I had first got spectacles for shortsightedness when I was in my mid twenties.  I could read all night without glasses still ten years later but then Lesley, my optometrist to this day told me that she was observing a change and that I would need bifocals at some stage in the future.  Her observation came true; some years later I got them and as time went by I actually later on had to switch to reading glasses because my eyes had by then “changed the full half circle”; in fact I had become shortsighted and could then see the eyes of a mole half a mile away.

Let me just add here that I was not blind in the eye at the time.  I had some discomfort once in a while and it “watered” a bit but it always cleared up after a while.

I went for the “little procedure” and came home with an eye that can only distinguish between a bright sunny day and darkness.  Dusk and down are in the latter and I can’t judge depth at all.  Walking up a flight of stairs is easy enough but I have to feel my way down a flight of stairs; when I see handrails in a shopping centre I have to assume it is for steps going down and grab the rail and hang on step by step.

Three year ago I realized that the remaining eye is not as good as it used to be.  Lesley tested and gave me the bad news that the right eye is developing a cataract but I got a new spectacle [the other eye does with a piece of glass].  The spectacle was good for a month or two; back to Lesley.
She suggested that I should consider seeing a good eye specialist and give me another new spectacle and transferred the piece of glass for the benefit of the useless one.  When that spectacle also lasted barely one month I knew, and Lesley concurred that I wouldn’t need an optometrist for new glasses again.

Then a funny thing happened.  I stopped wearing glasses [about two years ago] and the eye was getting better; slowly but surely he got used to not having a spectacle.  I suppose he had kind of tired of seeing a spectacle in the mirror.

A year ago however, he told me that he was having problems reading small print; for his benefit I stopped reading the Newspaper and started listening to the News on the radio and I reset the computer screen and fonts higher for his benefit too.  But I gradually realized that the eye is changing almost daily and I have to blink every time that I page [surf] the Internet.

I was worried and the family descended on me.  Last year on June 3rd our son took me for an afternoon excursion to the top eye clinic in the country.  I went through six or seven specialists; the way they handled me and the horde of young nurses who all helped to pour ointment to enlarge the pupil in between all the specialists greatly impressed me.  I just kept wondering how many more specialists are going to have a look at this one eyed old blind mole.  In between I waited in one waiting room after the other for a nurse to call me to go with her to the next specialist.

Suddenly at some stage a young specialist came up to me and asked me to follow him.  I recognized him as the very first one I had seen and followed him down the hallways and into a smaller room with just a few people; my young companion waited respectfully and I did the same with him until a guy in a white coat to the left side of the room beckoned us over.  The two of them talked, the young one handed over some papers; then the new older one smiled and asked whether he could just have a look at the eye.  He did LOOK, let me tell you that.  He made me lift my eye upwards while he looked, and made me look down while he looked; he then instructed me to stare towards the left and then to the right while he looked; in between he nodded to the young one who always nodded back in return.  When they did talk I only understood the word laser.

At the end the older one smile and said to me in a gentle voice “If you now go with doctor Name Forgot, he will explain it all to you.”

Doctor Name Forgot and I trotted back to the main waiting room where I had first seen him and where our son and his wife were waiting for us.  He politely asked whether I would like them to be present in the discussion and I obviously said yes please.  I wanted to know what they all meant by laser and wanted my family to hear this too.

So I asked him.

“We all just use the word laser when we refer to the removal of a cataract; we laser him; it’s just the way we speak,” he replied.  Then he went on:

“You have a sizable moving cataract; we are sure we can do it; we will put our best surgeon on for you but may I ask you something first.”

“Yes,” I said.

“Would you mind telling me” [he glanced down at his papers for a fraction of a second] “what you do and how you are getting on with the eye as it is now; according to the notes you will soon be seventy years old and I would like to know how you get on, how you manage and so on.

I knew I was in good hands then and told him that I still tinker with pieces of wood and nails and screws and plant my own vegetables and so on, that I am a Blogger and also writing five books; that I battle with the screwdriver to get it in the groove but that I can still aim well with the hammer and hit six nails one after the other in straight on the heads; as any good hammer man will tell you that he aims with arm, elbow, wrist and head as common sense dictates.

After that he explained it all.  They are sure that they can successfully remove the cataract and restore full sight in the eye but they can’t fix it to judge depth, BUT that the nature of the cataract is such that there is a real risk for a detached retina during or after the laser; it would be necessary for me to come back the next day for a check, then every second day for a few weeks, then every week for six months and so on later every month for at least eighteen months after the laser.

They gave me the 18th January just past and said I must consider.

I called my son just on New Year’s Day and asked him to postpone or cancel the appointment.  Our daughter asked me to reconsider and I explained to her as nicely as possible that I am just too dead scared to lose my second but only remaining eye in a retina operation like the first one.  This time was for keeps as we used to say as kids; there would not be a remaining eye to back me up.

There you have it about my eye and I.  Him being willing I shall live with him.

PS: About the hammer man; shucks, I have seen people with two healthy eyes miss a large nail three times in a row because they don’t use their head and the other body parts; the eye is only a handy auxiliary to life; all my other parts are still in fine condition, except the ears my daughter says.  They are also faulty, she puts an emphasis each on all four words; at my age I won’t offend her by telling her that there are things that I don’t want to hear anyway; like nagging an old guy about his ears, for instance.

I have and live a good life.