The Eye of the Storm

On Monday, I’m going to have the first of two surgeries to remove cataracts from my eyes. I am told that following surgery and recovery, my vision will be (almost) perfect—I may not require spectacles anymore. That will be novel. I’ve been wearing eyeglasses since I was eight years old.

I first noted my present decline in vision—I mean really noticed—when I went to South Carolina in 2015. They had three half-moons in the sky. Three years and many bureaucratic snafus later, I cannot read my handwriting because I cannot see it, I cannot read what I’m typing on the computer without pressing my nose to the screen. All this is due to cataracts. After considerable struggling, I am in the care of a very good eye-surgeon and a very intense staff.

One staff member in particular has gone out of her way to address needs that, left unaddressed, would adversely affect my recovery. For the first time in two years, I’m sleeping on a bed. She has kept my in eye drops—I could float a battleship with what I have in my refrigerator. She has connected me with people in the hospital network whose job it is to obtain necessary medications at little or no cost.

The doctor has a surgery coordinator whose job it is to inform patients of procedures. Her principle patter is a very long list that begins DON’T, and when she stops speaking fifteen minutes later, the patient’s general impression is ‘I don’t know what I’m not supposed to do, but I’m probably going to die.’ Her name is DeeDee, Dottie, or Donna.

In the week before the surgery, I received a call from someone whose name was Dottie, Donna, or DeeDee, and who sounds like DeeDee, Dottie, or Donna.. I have no idea which office she is with, but she sure is bossy! She gave me another enormous list beginning DON’T, and now I can’t remember if I’m to cut the red or the blue wire.

(It should be noted that almost 100% of these lists are aimed at people who live with someone else, have complete furniture, and can send people to do this and that for them. That excludes me. The doctor’s recommendation, by way of DeeDee, Donna, or Dottie, is ‘Do your best.’)

I’ve received a lot of information and popular wisdom in the last couple of months, ranging from ‘I had that surgery and was given no restriction,’ to ‘My boss had that surgery, missed his eye drops, and his head exploded like a supernova.’ Like any person with PTSD, I overthink, and my life over the last two months has been so consumed with details that I can’t keep them straight. I have, in fact, been given too much information, much of which poses challenges with alarming consequences.

People (even the uninformed ones) have been supportive and responsive, but in the final hours, I have come to a stark realization:

On Monday, I’m the only one walking into that surgical theatre. My surgeon is the best, but the surgical procedure is only one step to improved vision. The responsibility of post-operative compliance rests solely with me. Failure could be catastrophic.

And if I am successful, the second surgery will be a cakewalk.

Paul TN Chapman
ptnc.books@gmail.com

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