It’s A New Day

I began wearing glasses in second grade. Mrs. Kelley, my first grade teacher, put me in the front row, but I still wasn’t close enough to decipher the cursive letters posted on green and white placards on top of the blackboard. When Dr. Roberts, the local optometrist, sent me out of his office with my first pair of glasses in hand, he strongly suggested that I leave them in my desk during recess. The first day I did that, and when I came back into the classroom, my glasses were no longer in my desk. When I told Mrs. Spangler they were missing, she immediately launched a search and destroy mission and found the them hidden a desk belonging to one of the boys—a notorious troublemaker. I’m pretty sure he’s the one who did the crime, but I’m not naming him here. I believe Mrs. Spangler conducted an illegal warrantless search, and at this point the alleged culprit has never been found guilty in a court of law.

But I had learned my lesson. From then on I wore my glasses to recess no matter what. And because glasses back then were made of … well … glass, my spectacles were broken on several occasions, often by the same person. A girl named Lucy Skoviak was the hands-down winner on that score. She broke my glasses three different times—once with a kick ball, once with a volley ball, and once with a softball. Trust me, none of those incidents were actually Lucy’s fault. Not only was I very nearsighted, I also had a severe astigmatism which meant that I had zero depth perception which explains why I was so bad at every sport that required interaction with a ball. I never saw one of those coming until the ball literally hit me in the face!

Over the years my eyes got worse and worse. For a time I wore contacts, but eventually my eyes went on strike as far as wetting solutions were concerned, and back to glasses I went. The lenses got thicker and thicker. Then in the mid-nineties, Bill and I both had Lasik surgery on the same day. By then my vision was 20/850 and 20/900. Our son, Tom, drove us to and from surgery. When we came home, it seemed like nothing short of a miracle. For the first time in my life, I could read highway signs without needing glasses.

The ophthalmologist who performed my Lasik surgery left me slightly nearsighted. That meant I didn’t require glasses for either reading or working on the computer, however I did need a distance prescription for driving, but considering where I had been before, that was barely a hardship.

And then time passed—twenty-five plus years–and I could see that my vision was once again going south. Bill is five years older than I am, so he had his cataract surgery several years ago, done by Dr. Michael Gilbert of the Northwest Vision Institute here in Bellevue, Washington. As I was driving him home from his second surgery, he said, “Hey, look. All those people on the sidewalk have FACES!” It made me wonder how long I had been riding around with Mr. Magoo at the wheel.

So a month or so ago, I bit the bullet and went to see Dr. Gilbert. Yes, cataracts were the issue. His office scheduled surgery in a way that meant my pre-op appointment was on October 27th—not an especially auspicious way to celebrate my 77th birthday, but went I did. I was anxious leading up to the first surgery which happened last Thursday, when they worked on my right eye. The left one was done this past Tuesday.

On Friday evening, after the first surgery, my vision was clear enough that I put my glasses down on the side table next to my chair, and there they remained for the rest of the weekend. Yesterday, when I was through the pre-op and awaiting the doctor’s arrival in the OR, I was able to read off the model and production numbers on the equipment he was going to use. Believe me, those count as fine print. One of the nurses actually checked the numbers to be sure I had read them correctly.

Yesterday after the surgery, the left eye was much blurrier than the right one had been on the day of last week’s surgery, but by this morning that had cleared up. The sun was shining outside the house and inside as well. When I went in for my checkup this afternoon I tested in at 20/30 and 20/40. That’s some improvement.

So today is a whole new day. I celebrated by coming home from the doctor’s office, picking up my glasses from the side table, and tossing them into the trash. No, I didn’t donate them. I loved the frames, but they had rhinestones on them. They had fallen off several times over the years, and since I’m six-one, a fall from my face is … well … a real fall. The plastic lenses didn’t break, but some of the rhinestones definitely went AWOL and, in my opinion, they weren’t worth donating.

So this is me offering an encouraging word to those of you out there who happens to be people of a certain age and are feeling as though the world is a whole lot dimmer than it used to be. It’s not. You probably have cataracts, and having them fixed may be worrying, but trust me—it’s worth it.