Things have changed.
If I close the old eye and just use the new one, I can see in the distance further and clearer than ever. EVER! Not only that but when I look at a piece of white paper, I see white paper. If I close the ‘new eye’ and use the old one, I can see close up but that means from about three feet in. Anything over five feet begins to blur. But the real difference is in the paper. If I look at that same piece of white paper with the old eye, it is yellow! Like pirate’s parchment! Ohmygawd, I have been seeing the world for who-knows-how-long as kind of beigey-yellow-tinted. Think Hong Kong pollution!
Cataract surgery is working for me! And it has only been one eye and one day.
Yes, there is some difficulty using one eye that sees distance clearly and with it’s own colour spectrum trying to work in concert with an old junky eye that can only see up close and colours everything yellow. It can be a bit disconcerting at times. But the old brain is doing it’s best to make sense of it all and, thankfully, it is processing the two streams of information and merging them adequately enough. I’m coping. But happiness (and Sally) makes coping so much easier.
Sometimes the health care system disappoints and worries me. NOT this time.
Cataract surgery, they say, is “a piece of cake”. And I think it is on the second eye. Especially if the first eye worked out OK. But that first eye requires a lot of trust. Gonads and eyeballs. High trust zones for me. Authorized personnel only!
The O.R nurse told me reassuringly, “Don’t worry, Mr. Cox, we do this all the time and it is routine.”
“For you, perhaps. Not for me. In fact, I can assure you that I will never do this more than twice unless you also do gonads?”
“Never mind. I just want you to concentrate on the job at hand. No sense in getting ahead of ourselves.”
She looked at me like I was weird. Somehow, I felt better.
I hadn’t been all that keen on this. I mean, I am brave and macho and all. I think we all know that, right!? But, geez?! The old eyeball! I could imagine this guy as he approached my eye with a scalpel and then there would be an “OOPs!” And then the nurse would faint and then someone would start yelling Code Eye, Code Eye! (like we needed a codeword for a scalpel stuck in an eye).
But it didn’t come to that. Thank God.
I was nervous in the waiting room, too. Me and four old women were waiting to get violated. They seemed to handle the concept way better than me. They were all having fun chatting about quilts and grandchildren and I was just sitting there like a good boy but frequenting the washroom noticeably more than anyone else. “You OK, dear?” asked one of them.
“Not really. They are going to slice my eyeball. I should think that anyone would be a bit concerned about that but not you guys! You guys are having a fine old time. Your bravery is off-putting, ya know? I am the guy, here. I should be brave. But I am not. But you guys are. Brave or crazy. I haven’t decided yet.”
“Oh, dear”, she laughed. “It will be fine. We have had our first eyes done already, you see. We know what it’s like. No big deal. Really, hon, you’ll be fine. Can I get you some cranberry juice?” Of course I tend to associate cranberry juice with the gonad region and that sent a shiver up my spine. “No thanks, I’m good”.
But we got to talking, me and the old crones. They asked where I came from (seems the hospital serves a pretty large region) and when I told them about living off the grid, they were all ‘ooohing’ and ‘aaah-ing’ to make me feel good. And it was working. Something about being the centre of attention soothes me. But thank God, I kept the descriptions brief, the story humble and my role in it self-deprecating. Modesty is not really my thing but, this time, I was very, very understated. A little joke here, a compliment to Sally every now and then.
They would have adopted me if they weren’t already octogenarians.
And I was relaxing. They were fun.
I have also learned over 65 years that it is fem-speak-polite to then ask after them. “And have you ever lived anywhere else beside Comox?” I asked politely.
The first one (the oldest) had immigrated to the Caribou from Germany sixty years ago and, with her husband, began homesteading eight sections of land somewhere around Fort St. John. She had eight children! The winters were sixty below. Then the next confessed to ranching with a few hundred head of cattle just after the war just outside of Edmonton. Their winters were also sixty below. And so it went.
After that perspective-changing exchange I was positively looking forward to the operating theatre. It had to be a piece of cake compared to working 8 sections in Ft. St. John or ranching just outside of Edmonton!!