Tag Archives: cataracts

My Life in HD

Standard

The view toward Alcatraz as I can see it today. In fact this photo isn't as detailed as my present vision.

I never thought that a simple trip to Safeway could be so enjoyable! I could see every detail of every automobile, every sign, every person, stood out in vivid detail. This was my life in HD. All because of a simple lens inserted into my eye, and the removal of those pesky cataracts which had given me a blurry existence for several years. Those cataracts very likely cost me my job, and this time around I had no intention of allowing them to cost me another job. As I type this on a very white screen, I see ‘floaters’, little scraps of eye-stuff floating around inside my eye. They were there before the surgery, and there doesn’t seem to be more of them, so I am not very worried. Also my retina got checked out yesterday and it looked fine. Still, floaters make me nervous. The white screen makes them very visible. But back to the good news!!! I can see at a distance with almost perfect clarity. I can return to my walks throughout San Francisco, enjoying the scenery and the buildings, like I used to do! In fact, I can see better than at any other time in my life. My vision without glasses, as far as distant vision is concerned, is better than when I had glasses and hadn’t yet developed cataracts. I call it HD, high definition, vision, because it reminds me of the way HD television is overwhelming at first, providing the brain with too much detail.

I am primarily a visual person. I enjoy music and the sounds of nature and even the urban cacophony doesn’t bother me. But the look of things, the architecture, the beautiful women, the lovely landscape, the ocean. I relish everything I see. It was a profound disappointment not to be able to see clearly. It made me inward, more serious, and a bit depressed. Now, I am having to deal with some delicate adjustments associated with the healing process, but I am also thrilled with my new found cornucopia of visual delights. I want to check out everything! Go back out to Alcatraz, take a stroll through Pacific Heights and ogle the mansions, and just take in everyday things in a new way.

I am reminded of how delicate we are as physical beings. A simple blow to the head could cause my retina to detach, leading to almost instant blindness. My heart is dependent upon the stints in my primary artery to the heart. I depend on medications to regulate my blood pressure and cholesterol. We are fragile beings. I do try to be careful, but at the same time, you have to live your life. I can’t just hunker down and live my life in fear of mishap. Life is risk, as I coldly advised myself before this surgery. You have to deal with it, whatever cards are dealt. Someday I will face other health crises, and someday my physical journey will reach it’s end. I will cope as best I can. I am adjusting to my new situation, the inconveniences and worries that accompany the healing process, and the thrill of having my sight restored. With each thing that happens, adjustments occur, even after death. With each adjustment there is fear, uncertainty, a deep dark chasm of the unknown. We each enter this place by ourselves. We can do so courageously or kicking and screaming the whole way. Either choice is a learning process.

 

Compare this post to this past one: MY LIFE IN 2-D

looking towards alcatraz, as I see it.

I had a good morning. I paid off my rent, thanks to the help of friends, one of which I ran into as I stood in line at Wells Fargo.  She looked cute in her stylish hat. It is nice to have friends.

But enough sunshine and daisies, I had wanted to bitch on this post so here goes. I love San Francisco. I came here partly because of it’s unique beauty, and now I can’t really see it! My vision is shot to hell. I don’t care if prospective employers see this, they would figure it out soon enough. I can still do a job. I’ve learned how to compensate. I am still a wise investment. I’ve got a brain and I know how…..Ok Ok!! I’ll stop trying to sell myself. But, anyhow, as I walked down Polk St. to the bay, checking for help wanted signs, and other places where I might work, I was unable to enjoy the city I love. No more 3-D. My life is now in 2-D. Not literally of course, but that is how it feels. Out of focus, with a bit of double vision. I gaze out on the bay at fuzzy dots. Are those boats? It is more than enough to make a cheerful guy like me pretty grumpy.

My life is flat and dull. I don’t have all those sharp edges anymore. It isn’t just because of the cataracts. My brain is dull as well. I have come to accept a lot of things that used to drive me up the wall, or leave me in a deep depression. I thought I would never get used to losing my sight in my left eye. But I did. I accepted that fifty percent of life would be shrouded in darkness. I simply lived my life to the right. There is no left as far as I am concerned. (and I think the same is true of Barack Obama). Unfortunately, when I first began living my life on the right, I was still driving. I almost side swiped another car on the interstate. I was unbelievably close! The other guy’s eyes were so wide! Scared the shit out of me! That guy was living his life on the right and left. So I gave up driving. Once in a while I accidentally ran into somebody. I mean, I literally ran into them. They look at me like I am a total jerk, and it usually doesn’t do any good to explain. I was in the wrong. Even though my left is in darkness, it is still there, and I have to take it into consideration.

The uncertainty and fear I feel could be considered a part of that dark left side of my life. Rather than let it lie in darkness I need to bring it over to the right, so it doesn’t just fester, grow mold and poison me. Awful things can happen in the dark.

So even though I live in a 2-D world, it could be worse. How about 0-D? So I carry on. At some point I will likely get an operation to remove my cataracts, even though I risk total blindness. Seeing well was an important part of my life. I want it to be again. Otherwise all those beautiful sights in San Francisco are going to waste!!

Operation Successful (slow recovery mode)

Standard

9:23 pm Thursday April 19 I don't need glasses, but everything is blurry because my eye was dilated earlier.

So the operation was a success. It didn’t hurt at all. I was awake and alert the whole time, and it was quite a colorful light show. I started hurting later as I lay on my bed listening to music. My vision is really blurry right now, so I will undoubtedly need to edit this tomorrow. I probably have a few typos. My eye was dilated earlier today and the retina looks fine. My vision has been restored. Of course, right now it isn’t restored, but before the dilation, I could see in the distance pretty darn well. It was like when you make the transition from regular tv to HD tv. I was overwhelmed by the detail. I will be more excited when I get through the recovery period unscathed. I still need to take it easy, because my eye has not fully healed. It still feels weird, as though it has rocks in it at times.It really felt that way yesterday. Like I had been in a sandstorm. I need to make sure not to overdo it, and take things slow these next few days. I should return to work Tuesday. This is just a short post to let everyone know that I am ok, and the cataract  surgery went well. I will write a lot more tomorrow when I can actually see.

Bald Faced Fact

Standard

Ready to face the bald faced fact.

I had a hectic time at SF General Hospital today. I had to go here, there, and wait endlessly.  Because they couldn’t get any confirmation that my heart had been checked lately, I almost had to reschedule the surgery. But it is still on, for Wed April 18 two days away. I’m ready. I am in my bald faced fact mode, characterized by my bald head. I got my hair cut off this afternoon after my chaotic hospital visit. I feel better bald. I feel younger, and tough. Able to endure. Even though for most people cataract surgery is no big deal, it is to me because I am more prone to have a retinal detachment and I am blind in my left eye. But I am not as freaked out as I was last Wednesday. I have come to accept that this is my decision, and it will go well. If not, I’ll deal with it. But I really think it will go extraordinarily well. I expect my vision to be much better. I expect to do much better at my job as a result, and enjoy life more as well. My eye feels tender from all the ‘pushing’ as they call it. I imagined my eye popping like a grape from the pressure. Nice. Why do I insist on making my doctor’s visits horror stories? I can imagine the stuff I will imagine during the operation. Probably that aliens are conducting a probe, and I will receive a nifty x-ray, infrared heat ray capability like Superman. Cool. Worth an hour of extreme discomfort? You betcha! When I had my truly horrific operation on my primary artery to the heart, implanting seven stints, I imagined I was on my bed at home, and my cat was there. I was having a nightmare, tossing and turning. That nightmare was a real life heart attack, albeit a mild one, which occurred during the operation. It hurt like bloody hell, that is considered a mild heart attack, because with a severe heart attack you usually don’t make it, or you are rendered unconscious. The body can only take so much pain before it shuts down. I got through that so I can get through this. I am a tough cookie, I tell myself. But there is a little boy inside that wishes it weren’t so scary and so real. Thankfully the adult is in charge.

I have always had a stoic side that accepts facts, as awful as they may be. I have a tough time accepting death, but I do. I understand tough situations and have lived through many. I prefer the facts, the bald faced facts to any well meaning consolation. I know better. I know it’s a gamble. This time the odds are in my favor, however. But life is uncertain. Underneath that uncertainty is a strange, seemingly irrational certainty that everything will ultimately be alright. I have no idea where that comes from. My parents? I don’t think so. I think it is a part of me that understands what my conscious mind does not. It reassures me. It has gotten me through some very tough times. Some things that I have read have referred to this aspect of the self as the ‘witness’, a part of yourself that calmly observes what is happening without becoming embedded in the event. Surgery is definitely not an event I would want to embed myself in, but afterward it is very important that I attend to every little nuance. Not to the point that I drive myself nuts with worry, but enough to notice when things go awry. I have designated the next two weeks as an awry-free zone. Only a smooth recovery is acceptable.

This upcoming surgery isn’t the only time I turn to the bald faced fact to get me through. I prefer the bald faced fact when I examine the most basic parts of life. In my relationships, at work and at play, I prefer the bald faced facts to any kind of pretension. You never need to sugar coat anything for me, unless we are talking about actual candy. The purpose of this blog is to express the bald faced fact. Sometimes that can be disturbing, or crass. Sometimes it is hilarious, at other times just annoying. So there will likely be a bit of a delay in my posts. If I feel up to it, I may do a bit of writing after my surgery. Of course, on Wednesday, I will be as blind as a bat and unable to blog. It was annoying this afternoon as I waited for my eye to return to normal after being dilated. You cannot read, or write. I get antsy. Wednesday is going to be the longest day of my life. Absolutely nothing to do, lying there with a patch over my one good eye. But that too will pass. Sunny skies ahead. No go tornado! Stay away from my head!

 

75% anxiety 20% confidence 5% terror

Standard

I am scheduled to have cataract surgery on Wed April 18 and I am anxious. Very anxious. I am blind in my left eye and that really complicates matters. I have a greater chance of having a retinal detachment than other patients. The doctor estimated a chance of 5% that that could happen, which would mean total blindness. I am concerned about the recovery process and the dangers of working at Alcatraz given the ferry ride, the steep hill etc. I need to keep the surgical area dry for several days, so I wonder about the dampness in the air. Worries worries worries. Driving me insane. I wish I could just calm down. It may be just routine. I still don’t have anyone to pick me up or take me back to the hospital. Life is complicated.

On the other hand I look forward to being able to see better. I have been going nuts with the constant blurriness. It is difficult to deal with this kind of stress, it keeps eating at you making it hard to focus on anything. Work will be much more difficult because of this. I need to focus on customer service, not my upcoming surgery. I notice that I am very easily irritated and blow up over every little thing because I am very worried underneath my usually calm exterior. Life is full of risks and inconvenience, and it has taken this to drive home the fact that I have no one to take care of me. What does the hospital do about people who have no one to take care of them? Refuse to do the surgery?

This was going to be a positive post but so far I have just poured out my worries. I will get through this fine. There!! I wrote it! Many other people have gone through this process successfully, so can I. But I am very afraid of becoming blind. That would totally screw up my life. But I can only take things day by day, hour by hour. I prayed just now, and I don’t pray often. I trust that whatever happens it will all work out fine. Worst of all, is the loneliness. I am so alone in this. Which is just as well, because my only friends just piss me off. There is nothing anyone can say to make me feel better. I just want to get through it, be done with it, and move on with my life. My apartment seems awfully cold and empty right now, though. Sometimes life is hard. I am such a cry baby, aren’t I? I sit here and think about people who are facing far more serious surgeries. They realize they might not come out of it alive. I have had some bad experiences in hospitals which makes me dread this upcoming event. But this time should be different.

I think about how fortunate I am to have a job, and how my friend told me he thought I always managed to pull through somehow. Well, not always. I lost my sight in the left eye. My life began as a close brush with death. Nobody really expected me to live. I was put in an incubator and given too much oxygen, and that is why I lost my sight later. Oh well…..So it goes. as Kurt Vonnegut would have said. So it goes. After he has written about something awful. So it goes. It isn’t quite like ‘whatever…’ it just recognizes that life is what it is, so we might as well accept it, and death as well. Because we really have no choice. There you go! That is a step up from total despair. I recognize there is no need to jump off that bridge, I will die soon enough anyway. A part of me wants to just call the whole thing off, but then I think about how great it would be to see well again, even if it isn’t perfect, just to see better than I do now would be enough. I need that spirit of Easter now, I need Stock Photo Woman to give me some of that light from her radiant face.  This all sounds so dramatic and foolish, I know. But if you were in my shoes, you would understand. When the day comes I will be very stoic and strong and brave. I always am. I just become a worry wort, imagining all the worst case scenarios on the days leading up to the ‘event’. I don’t even like writing the dreaded s word.

It’s something millions of people go through every day, but it is always different when it is happening to you.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Standard

A shot inside the bookstore I talked myself out of managing.

I talked myself out of being hired as the manager of a used book store, this afternoon. I already have a job. I was hired a couple of days ago for a temporary job lasting until October. So I didn’t have that additional pressure of unemployment hanging over me when I arrived for my interview. I did have an upset stomach, and as usual my cataracts made everyone blurry. Some customers came into the store and I realized that if I worked there I wouldn’t see their faces if they tried to get my attention. This bothered me a great deal. I consoled myself with the knowledge that my vision will very likely be improved after surgery which would hopefully occur next month. Not the right state of mind to be in going into an interview.

I was just honest with them. They were nice people, very honest and straight-forward themselves. I could see myself working for them. But I sold myself short. I gave them all the reasons they shouldn’t hire me, instead of the reasons they should. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I did say that I would be very enthusiastic about the job, and devote myself to it, and that I was very good with people. All true. But I was apprehensive, thinking I would be getting in over my head. They appreciated my saying that. But the truth was they needed someone they wouldn’t have to spend too much time training. They also wanted someone well versed in used books, and I had just a small bit of used book experience. I felt out of place, when I should have been finding reasons to feel at home there. I emailed them afterward saying how they couldn’t find a more dependable and committed manager than myself. Which isn’t bragging, when I take on a job I care about I put all of myself into it. It becomes my life. All things I should have pointed out in the interview. Alas.

So here is the lesson. Don’t sell yourself short. Go into an interview upbeat and giving them all the reasons to hire you. If you have reservations about the job keep them to yourself. Because an interview isn’t just a conversation, it is about selling yourself. I failed this afternoon at selling myself. I guess I didn’t really want the job because I was afraid I would be overwhelmed and do a terrible job. I wanted to spare these nice people and myself that experience. Fair enough. But it didn’t need to be like that. I could also have looked at it entirely differently. I would have a lot to learn, but I could have handled it after a few stressful months of on the job training. As I said, I have a job already, so all is not lost. Still, I wish I had approached the interview differently, Let this be a lesson to you. Don’t sell yourself short! or you will beat yourself up afterward just like I am.

Blurry (just another day in San Francisco)

Standard

SF General Hospital, my home away from home. Notice how they have a heart out front so you think it's a fun place? (I don't think it's there anymore. At least I didn't notice it. But then, I can't see!)

My eyes are just now starting to adjust. I went to an opthamologist at SF General Hospital and had my one good eye dilated. He was checking my cataracts to see if they could be safely removed surgically. There is always risk involved in such an operation, and in my case that risk would involve possible blindness. However, the doctor seemed to think the chances were one in a hundred of there being a problem. Also, now is the best time to get them removed, and my eyesight would come out better than ever. I wouldn’t even need glasses except possibly for reading, he said. That sounds pretty good, considering that right now pretty much everything is blurry in my life. I have to lean in close to the computer screen to type which is hard on my back. People’s faces are blurry. It makes it hard to keep a job, so if I can get this handled, all the better.

I suspect a lot of my readers are familiar with the dull disrespectful drill involved in visits to a public hospital, which is the only recourse for someone unemployed and dependent on public assistance for his/her health. It involves being herded around like cattle into and out of rooms and hallways, and made to wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait a very long time. My appointment was at 2pm and I got home at 5:20pm. Actually that’s not so bad, it felt like six hours. Some poor soul was still waiting his turn when I left. It wouldn’t be as bad if it weren’t for the disrespect. The doctor was fine, but the nurses were short tempered and treated you like just another body to deal with. I understand the work is stressful. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. A lot of people complain endlessly about the wait, which gets on everyone’s nerves. Going to the doctor can be kind of stressful even without all that additional nonsense. But it can’t be avoided. Too many people, too little facilities, too few staff, and you end up with tired, pissed off people all the way around.

And so, hopefully in about three months I will be cataract free, although I may not have an apartment to go home to. I will be able to see my plight more clearly than before. But maybe not. Perhaps something will come through. If I get a job,I could explain that I am getting an operation soon to get my eyesight back. I gotta think positively, right? But that stuff they use to dilate your eyes gives you a major headache, or maybe that is from the stress on the eyes. I hate it, and the checking out was no picnic either, ‘Look right! Look left! Look up! Look down! Really look down!’ and it hurts! My eye doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing and I’m trying to give it the right instructions, but it’s tired and wants to go home. So I’m not looking forward to that drill again. What a whiner I am! There are certainly worse visits to the doctor. Now when you have the money to go to one of those fancy joints you get the friendly nurses who make the whole thing a lot more bearable. That’s my goal, to go to the fancy doctor’s with the cute and friendly nurses. Especially if I need to get my prostrate checked.

Oh, and another thing! The Rain. We need it here in San Francisco, and we got it. It wouldn’t have been bad walking in it except the wind made trying to use an umbrella just plain silly. So I just got wet. So now I will get a cold just in time for when I may be starting a new job, if in fact I get the job (I should find out this week). So let’s see, any other grumpy old man stuff I can lay on you? I was looking forward to working on my blog tonight, but my vision is still a bit blurry, I have a headache, so maybe this will be my only contribution on this blessed thirteenth of March.  I want to thank the people that take the time to read my blogs. I appreciate it. I try my best to check out your work as well. I am seriously thinking of trying to do some Flash animation to depict …..oh I shouldn’t give it away. I am going to try to use even more ways to bring my fiction alive. Perhaps some music as well, if I can get the hang of Garage Band on my Mac. I have a lot of stuff I want to blog about, although if I land a job I won’t have as much energy to devote to it, I suspect. I am so so old. You have no idea how old I am. I can barely see, barely move my fingers, my back is screaming in pain,  I can’t walk too well, and the bathroom is horror incarnate. I am 58 but I feel 75. I may die soon. Seriously!

No, not seriously. I made all that up, except for my age and the part about the bathroom. Actually horror incarnate doesn’t even begin to describe the terror. Right now, as I’m writing this I feel about thirty years old. Sometimes I feel younger and dance around my apartment like a complete idiot. (where did we get this idea that idiots dance? Or do anything? True idiots don’t do much of anything except drool.) Other times I feel old, about 63 or so. Other times I feel exactly my age.

I wish Stock Photo Woman could have been there with me, at the hospital today. Then the wait wouldn’t have been so bad. Oh, wait, she is with me at the hospital in my fictional world, isn’t she?

My Life in 2-D

Standard

looking towards alcatraz, as I see it.

I had a good morning. I paid off my rent, thanks to the help of friends, one of which I ran into as I stood in line at Wells Fargo.  She looked cute in her stylish hat. It is nice to have friends.

But enough sunshine and daisies, I had wanted to bitch on this post so here goes. I love San Francisco. I came here partly because of it’s unique beauty, and now I can’t really see it! My vision is shot to hell. I don’t care if prospective employers see this, they would figure it out soon enough. I can still do a job. I’ve learned how to compensate. I am still a wise investment. I’ve got a brain and I know how…..Ok Ok!! I’ll stop trying to sell myself. But, anyhow, as I walked down Polk St. to the bay, checking for help wanted signs, and other places where I might work, I was unable to enjoy the city I love. No more 3-D. My life is now in 2-D. Not literally of course, but that is how it feels. Out of focus, with a bit of double vision. I gaze out on the bay at fuzzy dots. Are those boats? It is more than enough to make a cheerful guy like me pretty grumpy.

My life is flat and dull. I don’t have all those sharp edges anymore. It isn’t just because of the cataracts. My brain is dull as well. I have come to accept a lot of things that used to drive me up the wall, or leave me in a deep depression. I thought I would never get used to losing my sight in my left eye. But I did. I accepted that fifty percent of life would be shrouded in darkness. I simply lived my life to the right. There is no left as far as I am concerned. (and I think the same is true of Barack Obama). Unfortunately, when I first began living my life on the right, I was still driving. I almost side swiped another car on the interstate. I was unbelievably close! The other guy’s eyes were so wide! Scared the shit out of me! That guy was living his life on the right and left. So I gave up driving. Once in a while I accidentally ran into somebody. I mean, I literally ran into them. They look at me like I am a total jerk, and it usually doesn’t do any good to explain. I was in the wrong. Even though my left is in darkness, it is still there, and I have to take it into consideration.

The uncertainty and fear I feel could be considered a part of that dark left side of my life. Rather than let it lie in darkness I need to bring it over to the right, so it doesn’t just fester, grow mold and poison me. Awful things can happen in the dark.

So even though I live in a 2-D world, it could be worse. How about 0-D? So I carry on. At some point I will likely get an operation to remove my cataracts, even though I risk total blindness. Seeing well was an important part of my life. I want it to be again. Otherwise all those beautiful sights in San Francisco are going to waste!!