Monday, September 22, 2008

To See or Not To See, Detached Retinas, Etc.

I just had surgery for a detached retina. I have always had a mortal fear of going blind. It used to be of dying, but now that I'm older and closer to that eventuality, that fear seems to have eased somewhat. Especially since after 50 I just started counting backwards, figuring if I reach zero, I will have done pretty well. But going blind has always freaked me out.

I am such a visual person. I need to see things to understand them. I need to read the directions, (at least 3 times), I need to see the math, (except for my bank balance, that's one area when I have to HEAR "Sorry, your debit card has been refused.") Show me a picture, draw me a diagram. I can't even listen to audiobooks because my mind starts wandering and wondering about what I am seeing; like who's the freaking idiot who just tried to cut me off and why are you going 70 in the passing lane when the speed limit is 70, you moron. OK, so I'm an aggressive driver, but that is a direct result of having spent my Drivers Ed years and most of my adult life in Toronto. It's hard to get into the PNW driving head space. But I digress and that is a whole other post.

I am on day 11, yes you read that right, DAY ELEVEN, of having to keep my head perpendicular to the floor 24/7. Without the gross details, they repaired the retina and then put a gas bubble in my eye which expands upon coming in contact with body temperature and pushes the retina back against the eyeball, holding it in place until it heals. Now picture yourself in a diving bell. You know, those big brass helmet things with the round glass faceplate. Imagine being in one of those under the sea and walking into a gasoline slick; all those neat psychedelic colors swirling around in puddles at the gas station. Well that's what it looked like seeing through my left eye. 

Now imagine starting to come back up to the surface through this gas slick and your face plate is halfway out into the air, but the bottom half is still submerged. There's that line across your vision sloshing around. That's where I am at now. Eventually, they tell me, the bubble will resorb and I will no longer be walking around in the middle of a bad acid flashback. Oh and my vision should be OK again in a few weeks/months after my pupil undilates and is no longer looking in the opposite direction to what I am staring at.

In the meantime, I have become very well acquainted and familiarized with my toes and their nails, a relationship once the sole responsibility of my pedicurist person and have gleaned all the intimate details of my lap and how it spreads depending on what I am wearing, (I will never wear shorts again and sit down). And I have had nightmares of going blind. 

I have heard that apparently given the choice to regain one sense, most people who have some degree of blindness and deafness would prefer to be blind. I guess the loss of your auditory sense would be very isolating. But for me, not to see would be catastrophic. At least if I was deaf, I could still read, still be independently mobile, watch CNN (junkie), write, see my kids grow and change, make sure they're wearing non-grease stained T-shirts out to dinner and have at least made an attempt to comb their hair. I could still tell my husband he has stuff on his face and see the laughter in his eyes when he's perpetually taking advantage of my gullibility. I could still watch my dog eat peanut butter, step over the dry cleaning I placed in front of the door so I wouldn't forget it, and be able to get totally P.O.'d because I can't find my glasses, keys, cell-phone. 

Being deaf? screaming parrot, no "Mum, Mum, Mum!!!", when I'm right in the middle of a good part of a book, no having to listen to the sound of politicians irritating voices, no Rage Against the Machine, I'd miss Trent Reznor though, no whining and complaining (my own generally...but I guess I would still hear the voices in my head...mwaaahhahah). 

Granted, being selectively hard of hearing has it's advantages, but I can't imagine loosing my sight. 


vanchick said...

Loosing my blogging virginity here and I'm glad its to someone I trust. Pen, I had no idea that you were going thru all this and thanks for sharing the detail. I look forward to following your journey of bubble living or livin with a bubble ( wasn't there a show with Shawn Cassidy in it around that ) anyway, One question... can you still drink wine?

SweetReet said...

Penny, I recently heard of a neighbour that went through the same procedure and I thought Oh My God - my glaucoma attack and emergency peripheral iridotomy was a walk in the park!! I hope you are OK! I too am greatful for my eyesight and greatful that it was caught in time!! Reading your blog reminded me of a movie we watched at film club "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" - have you seen it by any chance? Not the most uplifting movie I have ever seen - but certainly one that made me appreciate life! I hope you recover and are upright soon!! All Love and Best Wishes - Rita!

Nan said...

Good post.