Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Inevitable

I can afford an overly-long rant today because I may not be posting again for a good while. Cause tomorrow is my eye surgery so I’m forced to let it creep back into my thoughts. If you read my last blog you can readily see the stress of the effort of controlled ‘not-thinking-about-it’ has been making it impossible for me to intelligently string rational thoughts together.

But this morning, I finally allowed myself to contemplate what is so soon about to happen. At 8:30 when I woke up I felt good. Rested. Sun streaming in the window. Still lying in bed I covered my good eye and looked across the room. I could see. And then I thought, ‘Why am I doing this scary thing, when I can see? Maybe not so good, maybe not well enough to drive, but not so bad either.’

Then I began wondering. Is cataract surgery elective surgery? And isn’t elective surgery something that the patient elects to have? Something offered as a possible alternative, but not necessarily accepted? Is that what it is? A mere offering? Then why was I told, point blank, by two separate specialists, that I couldn’t have glasses? Why did they say, ‘You HAVE to have surgery.’

I’ve never involved myself in all those other elective offerings, so why this one? No spinal whatever it’s called for childbirth, no hormones for hot flashes, no drugs for the prevention of osteoporosis. My mother did perfectly well with none of it and so can I, or should I say, so did I – up until now.

But this morning, that’s a whole different matter. For tomorrow I want hormone therapy pills to chase away the blues, I want a spinal thing to numb my senses, and I want the bone thing so I can kick and flail my arms wildly enough to retain control over the whole process.

When I went for a physical three weeks ago, my doctor didn’t check anything. He went through one quick motion with his stethoscope of listening to my breathing. He did not check my heart-rate, my blood pressure, my throat, ears, or blood. Sure I look healthy, feel healthy, can walk and sit upright in a chair, but Gees, doesn’t he understand what comforts come with attention to details? How mind settling it can be for me when he shows an interest?

I want health care the way it used to be. It would be so nice to think the eye surgeon has a hospital room reserved for me in case I need it, with little terry slippers laid out, a soft quilt folded back that invites one to crawl into the bed. Crisp white linens, and a pair of cozy pastel pajamas that you tie at the waist. And nurses in crisp white little hats and rustling uniforms hovering over me like angels. Bringing me a cup of weak tea and telling me the discomfort will soon pass as they stroke my arms and hair. Nothing is as healing as that kind of rapport. The comfort is the solid knowledge that preparations have been made and no one will be going home until recovery is guaranteed. These are the comforts I want.

But this doesn’t happen anymore and added to that are new hate-crimes that society is insidiously blending into the fabric of our thinking. Hate-crimes that are happening that we see, but prefer to ignore. But the evidence is there. While I was in my G.P.’s office getting a pre-opt check, he asked me if I smoke. And yes, although my breath was mint-fresh, my clothing odor-free, and Hub and I came to town in the ‘town car’ rather than the ‘dog car’ (that would be the car that no one smokes in), I was still honest. “Yes,” I said, “I do smoke”.

I had indicated so on my pre-opt form. And with that honest confession, he suddenly pulled the stethoscope from my chest, ignored the tongue depressor set out on the table, and the blood-pressure monitor hanging on the wall right next to my shoulder and backed away from me like I had the plague. And that’s when he wrote “N/A” as fast as he could down my form next to “Heart Rate, Blood Pressure, Lymph Nodes, Nose, Throat, and Lungs”, then rose quickly and steered me by the elbow out of his office.

A few days later I phoned the hospital to get final pre-opt instructions. I ended up whining to the receptionist in the OR about my General Practitioner’s sudden change from a partnering rapport to rejection. “I know,” she said, “I’ve seen this kind of thing before. I understand because I am a smoker too.” And then she said the kindest most comforting words I could hope to hear in all this bloody melee.

“We are so close to extinct, I can’t help thinking that when I see you we should embrace and let our tears mingle.” Now I’m not being over-dramatic when I say that her words really touched me. My heart, having suffered for so long the pain of the new societal hate crimes that have even invaded doctor’s offices, connected to hers and in those kind words I found sweet bonding.

Now, back to a discussion about my eyes. Doesn’t anyone appreciate what my eyes mean to me? Seeing is a small part of it. Besides sight, my eyes are where I store so many treasures. I store everything in my eyes. My remaining beauty (now that I have crows-feet, frown lines, and withered skin), my love, my care, my empathy, my longings, my romance, my pleasure, my displeasure, my satisfaction, and my reflection.

So can I let a surgeon take out the lens on my right eye that reflects all these emotions and change it to a man-made mask that lacks the natural luster needed to convey my innermost soul? Can I put a generic lens under the delicate mesh of my retina and still be the same person I am now? Will the emotions resident in my soul that come frequently to peer out at others through the windows of my eyes, become shadowed and sealed away from Hub, the grandchildren, my sweet daughters, and their husbands? Will I look at them after this as if through a distortion of emotions that makes it impossible for them to read in my face feelings of appreciation and joy that go well beyond what words can express?

You know, for the most part, as a human race, we are thoughtful and clever. Always seeking, it seems to have understanding take precedence over emotion. So I can’t help thinking that something yet undiscovered by scientists is causing the new hate-crimes against the obese, smokers, couch potatoes and choco-holics? Could it be that the perpetrators have all had eye surgery and through that process now have a ‘mote’ or ‘beam’ in the eye that distorts what they see? And so prior to instalment of an artificial lens, they saw and felt unimpeded acceptance for all of society, included those whom they now see as ‘misfits’. But since surgery, that acceptance has been over-ridden by a changed image. A distorted image that now sees warped reflections through a man-made lens of a world with two distinct races/species not dictated by birth. A race/species of plague-carrying degenerates and a separate race/species of supremes who are Journeymen of self-discipline and self-preservation.

Now I started this post out suggesting that I see well enough to forego surgery. That was my first excuse to cancel. But now I have a better excuse to cancel. To preserve my clear understanding and perception of ‘what I see’. But, unfortunately, it is too late to cancel now. I will have to go with the flow and hopefully when the eye scars are healed I will still see ALL mankind and womankind as one race and one people.

You know it. I am very stressed. I may not be back here for several weeks, at this point I don’t know. And yes, I am scared, I think more so by the unwritten exclusionary clause because I smoke. But I am going to embrace the nurse in O.R. as promised, mingle my tears with hers, and then turn myself bravely over to a surgeon, who I hope, deep in his heart, harbors no bias.

“See???” you all later.


Anonymous said...

Stop worrying! While any sort of surgery is risky, the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of the good, and you'll be seeing crystal-clear in a short recovery time.

As for the smoking, it sounds like the man was rude. However, if the lens is man-made, might there be a possibility that the smoking may discolor it or that it can be absorbed? Just wild-guessing here, but I know that I didn't do well with contacts because they got messed up by smoke.

Anyway, good luck. Hope you'll be happy that you had the courage to do this, and that it will overcome the fears you're having now.

susan @ spinning

Julie Oakley said...

I'm sure it'll go fine. Doctor compassion-isn't-my-middle-name, probably didn't help the nerve-wracking process. We'll miss your posts, but please rest and recuperate properly.

Matty said...

Eye surgery has come so far! you will breeze through this, I promise! I went with my mom and she had both eye's done,,,and she was in no pain,,,the recovery time was short, and she was back on her feet the next day.
As for the smoking,God help us all. I'm down to 3 or 4 a day, outside, and yet I've been made to feel like an uncaring criminal who doesn't give a damn about my grandkids. Although I smoke outside, never in the car, never in their presence.,I have felt the animosity so thick I can cut it with a knife.
Now I'd rather admit to drinking and fooling around, or the odd murder here and there than admit to smoking.
Wishing you the best of luck. A warm hug is going your way. Hoping you will be back soon and let us know all about your experience.

Pauline said...

Can't wait to hear how it all went. Keeping you tucked in my prayer-sleeve. I'll miss reading your rants :)

Dick said...

Damn, I missed 'tomorrow' & couldn't wish you the luck which, as others have pointed out, you shouldn't need. I'd have added that my father, who was blind in one eye, had the cataract removed from the other & ended up with better sight in one eye than I had in both!

Roberta, check back in & tell us how it went.

Matty said...

How are you doing? Will we be 'seeing' you soon? Sorry, bad pun!
Are you Okay? Should we send over the creepy guy with the happy meds? This time I swear he'll bring new (slightly used) syringes.
Give us the 'blow by blow' details,,,,,uhh,,,you know,,step by step.
Hopefully, you are feeling much better, and the worse is over?
If not, can I steal the name of your blog??
Just kidding!

Roberta S said...

Well, I’m back and I’m in one piece. I can see colors better, distance better. Close stuff, not so good -- but nothing is quite as fatiguing as a computer screen. So we’ll chat later. I think I need a couple more days of R and R. In the meantime, thanks so much for all your kind comments. I will acknowledge them more fully later.

the old bag said...

Hi Roberta -- catching-up on a few blogs. I hope you are doing well, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Roberta S said...

susan, thanks for the lovely thoughtful get-well card.

julie, your good wishes are equally appreciated.

matty, thank you for the encouragement and that hug with co-mingled tears. You're so right about smoking confessions. It really is the most perverse of all crimes it seems. To the extent that I'm starting to wonder if 'honesty is really the best policy'. I always thought so but I'm beginning to wonder if I err in that thought. And no, although theft is a more santified crime than smoking, you can not have my blog. Go out on your back step and find some other malicious thing to do. ;D

pauline, dear girl, thanks so much.

Dick, appreciate seeing you. How did it go? I think for the next while you'll hear all about it -- blow by blow. (It's not that I am self-centered. Matty insisted I tell it blow by blow so that's what I guess I'll do.)

OB, thanks for the wave and the encouragement to again take up my pen/computer and sword.

My eye is still quite sensitive but I found I can manage fairly well with the brightness and contrast set at a low light level.