Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Eyes Of August

I recently experienced an--how shall I say this?--health adventure. Yeah, that's it: an adventure relevant to my health. I literally lost the sight in what used to be my so-called good eye (the left one). For all intents and purposes--like seeing furniture, faces, the fingers of a hand splayed right in front of your face, the numbers (forget about the hands) on a clock right under your nose, your watch, your face in the mirror--I went blind in the one eye that worked.

My right eye is clouded by a cataract as a result of eye surgeries five years ago. Ironically, the sight under the cataract is really pretty good. So, the sudden loss of sight in the "clear" eye was nothing short of traumatic. "Son of a bitch!" traumatic, and I'm not usually labeled a big curser on my worst days.

In a nutshell, I took an over-the-counter medicaton that is not recommended for people with my eye condition. As a result, a very real crisis ensued in which I couldn't see anything while battling a severe bacterial infection that I'd caught from my darling grandboy.

I was so dangnabbed incapacitated that a friend of mine drove up from Upland and moved into my flat to care for me. People who know me well know how fiercely independent I try to be; I couldn't even open a can of Progresso Wild Rice and Chicken soup--and it's a pull-off top. My friend stayed ten days.

As of today, I can see well enough to cook, read, write, walk, grocery shop, jog across a parking lot, and identify folks a good fifty to a hundred yards away. Good thing 'cuz I start full-time at my dream job next week, and I'm rarin' to beat feet to my assignment. All I can say is, "Thank God!!" And thank all the fine folks who've wished me well, prayed for me, brought me vittles, and carted my helpless arse to the doctor for all the follow-up appointments.

During the time I was down and out, marveling at the bizarre and wondrous dreams induced by the Vicodin prescription (Johnny Depp and Donald Trump in one dream!), it never ceased to amaze me how many "seeing" comments dot our most ordinary conversations. "I can't see how this is helping." "What an eye-opener!" "What is your vision for that situation?" And on and on and on.

I can only imagine that blind people are somehow inured to it all. I'll bet it drives people who are not blind from birth bonkers. It started to inhibit my conversations a little after a few days, especially when I struggled with moments of "What if my sight doesn't come back?" That was the worst because I'm a reader, capital r, and somehow the thought of a life of books-on-tape depressed me no end.

During those times I would consider bargaining with God, wondering what I could promise to do or be that would influence Him enough to heal my eye. Please notice I said "consider" because, good Catholic that I am, I know better. (Most of the time.)

The past weeks provided me with plenty of food for thought and gave me plenty of "cause to pause." All the adages concerning gratitude and a new appreciation and a commitment to health, etc. all show up in my mind a gazillion times a day as I take up living like a sighted person once more. Like a lot of people, I would give lip service to understanding how often I took the most important things and people for granted.

This month of August demanded that I do more than give lip service to that understanding. I am beyond grateful for the return of my sight because I found out something about myself that I needed to know: I am not anywhere near as brave as I thought I could be when faced with a serious disability. I need to buck up. And at least now I can see to do it. This I shall never take for granted. --"Cranky" AnnE

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