This is cataract surgery. Well, almost.
About this time last year, the vision in my right eye began to change. As a matter of fact, it started in the fall, and by January I had changed the lenses in my glasses three times. Finally, I went to an eye clinic and scheduled cataract surgery for both eyes--the first one for March 15th. I was motivated! I wanted to see!
I discussed it with two of my BFFs. Kay casually mentioned that her opthamologist told her it's like getting gray hair. Everyone "our age" gets cataracts. Janell wasn't the least bit cavalier. She was just happy that she doesn't have them, and that I was going first. Besides, she can't stand the thought of someone messing with her eyes.
"But this is laser, I think. That must mean they don't actually touch your eye." (I comforted myself at nighttime with this bit of minsinformation, before I had the courage to research it thoroughly. You can believe it if you like, but stop reading now.)
However, it is true that it's fast, and virtually painless. Not just virtually painless. It truly is painless. In real life! And the actual procedure takes only five to seven minutes. Not much of your time, is it?
So here's how it went:
Jack and I went to the clinic at an extremely early hour, 5:30 a.m. I think, and they took me back to prep me. This involved going into a cubicle with a nurse, Julie, who has the same birthday as me. I took that as a good sign.
Julie proceeded to start an IV so the anasthesiologist could (at the right time) administer a valium-type drug into my arm. "Just makes you a little relaxed," she assured me. "Some people don't remember a thing." That seemed like really good news.
Then Julie placed no fewer than eleven, eleven, drops in my right eye. This took a while. Some of them stung. Some were cold and numbing. Some were gooey and gluey. One ran down my cheek and into my right ear.
Next she smushed a big, soft, adhesive bandage over the whole right side of my face. Weird. I later realized that it probably held my eye open for the surgeon, though I was unaware of this at the time.
Then we had a teeny visit with the anasthesiologist, and when she left I was asked to wait. Just wait in that tiny blue cubicle with the curtain pulled. Alone.
I used self-talk to coach myself through the wait:
They know what they're doing. They have this all figured out, so I don't have to.
I still have time to bolt. The "ride" hasn't started yet. But surprises can be good.
I really do want to see. . .
People do this every day and come out just fine. Hundreds of people. Thousands of people. . .
Here's what I remember next: I was lying uncomfortably flat on my back on a table in a cold, brightly lit room, thinking, "This will feel better when that nice medicine kicks in." There were a few sparkly flashes, sort of planetary and cosmic. And the next thing I knew, another nurse, not Julie, yanked the adhesive bandage off the right side of my face, which was a complete shock!!! and the worst part of the whole thing, I mean it.
The ride was over. They wheeled me down the hall and handed me off to Jack.
And I can see! My distance vision is now 20/20. The big difference is all due to the amount of light the lens lets in. I discovered that our beige bathroom sinks are actually white. Grass is green, not the gray-green I had been seeing. And, geez. . .I thought I was a better housekeeper. I still don't get this, but I need reading glasses only sometimes. In bright light I can read just fine. Even the fine print.
My left eye was scheduled for three weeks later. In the interim, I ran all kinds of experiments, holding one eye shut and then the other, comparing the differences in vision between my eyes. I also researched how cataract surgery is done. (Guess what? They actually DO touch your eye.) I determined that next time, I would try to concentrate and look at the surgeon's tools. Next time, I would remember more. Somehow, I managed it. But it's still such a fast procedure, there's not that much to remember. After all, it's a roller coaster ride.
But also because life can be kind of big and scary, mine and yours, especially the unknown parts. So we get afraid. And being afraid isn't all that helpful.
We have this false notion that if we can control everything, it will somehow turn out better. Really, do you want to remove your own cataract? We can let you control that, if you like. Or try this. . .do you want to be in charge of your next roller coaster ride?
You know where I'm going with this. The antidote is trust. God can take care of me, and those I love, through all of life, even the big, unknown, scary parts. God can be trusted. I already have some experience with this: serious illness, death, divorce, financial hardship, etc. (Etc. Etc.) Seems like I would catch on.
Also, it helps to have a few facts, and to trust what you hear--you know, to have a little accurate information. "This surgery is fast and painless," for example, or, "That's a really rough roller coaster ride. I'd stay off of it if I were you."
One of my prayers today goes something like this, "God, please protect me from the things in my own head that create fear--that sinking feeling of hopelessness in my gut that keeps me from being able to breathe." In a way, when that prayer is being answered, I don't feel such a need to be in control.