Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I Can See Clearly Now...

You may have noticed that there was a significant break in posts on this blog.  Let me assure you that it wasn't that I was bored with it or didn't have anything to write about.  The truth is that I was out of commission for over six weeks because I had cataract surgery on both of my eyes.

Always before, when I heard about someone having cataract surgery, I thought, "They must be old.  How terrible to get to the point where you can't see very well."  For Christmas this past year, I bought gifts for elderly adults through a program at my local Starbucks.  I chose a man and a woman to buy gifts for and discovered that they both wanted large print books.  It took a little searching to find some that were affordable, but I wanted to make sure to provide that along with the towels and puzzles they were asking for on their list.  I thought about how hard it would be if I couldn't read.  In fact, my son and I discussed how great it was to have a Kindle and that it was really too bad that these adults didn't have this technology that could change the font size of any book to meet their needs.  Little did I know that I would soon experience the frustration of not being able to read or drive due to my eyesight!

I learned that cataracts can happen at any age.  I am a bit young to have the surgery (I'm in my late 50s, but both of my parents had cataracts; so the doctors weren't surprised that I also had them), and I had reached a point where I was having trouble reading due to the cloudiness of my vision in my left eye.  In addition, they could no longer correct the vision in my right eye so that I could see at a distance clearly.  Therefore, I knew it was time!  Since you don't have to worry about having to have this surgery again, I decided that there was no reason to wait until I was older.  In fact, it might be a way to make my vision better so I wouldn't have to wear glasses all of the time.  My surgeon asked me if I wanted to correct for distance or reading.  Since I have had to wear glasses for distance since I was in fourth grade, I decided I wanted to try to correct for distance.  He warned me that I might still need glasses due to my astigmatism, but I wanted to try!

I had a wonderful surgeon who did surgery on one eye and then, two weeks later, on the other eye.  I cannot begin to describe how frustrated I was during those two weeks.  For that time, I had one corrected eye and one that still needed glasses.  My husband was kind enough to pop the lens for the corrected eye out of my glasses; so for this time period I walked around looking pretty weird with my half-lensed glasses!  I was especially frustrated because I couldn't read my computer or books.  I bought several different pairs of cheaters from the store but kept switching since none seemed to work right!  There were times when I cried and wondered if I had ruined my eyes forever.  However, patience paid off; I had the second surgery, and things were better.  Since it takes at least 4 weeks after surgery for your eyesight to stabilize, I had another month of waiting.

I am happy to say that my vision has improved so dramatically that I am just on the border of needing  glasses (sometimes for driving-usually at night).  I watch television, movies, my street, and anything at a distance without glasses.  I can work on my computer just fine.  I do need to wear cheaters to read.  One thing that they didn't tell me about was how much brighter the world would be!  My lenses had changed my vision so that everything had a yellowish hue-much like the headlights on most cars.  Now, with my new vision, the world was bright with a blue tinge like the new headlights you see on the road.  How beautiful the colors are!  I couldn't believe how red the cardinal was at our bird feeder.

While all of this is an improvement, it has taken some adjustment.  The biggest adjustment was my brain.  It was used to needing glasses for distance and usually being able to read without glasses (although I had started needing glasses for reading sometimes too).  Now I flipped everything around and my brain was just confused!  I had to retrain my brain to the new reality of my vision.  It took the full six weeks to complete this process.

While I have always had a tremendous appreciation for my eyesight, I cannot tell you how much I value it now.  Reading is such an important part of my life.  I always knew it on an intellectual level.  Now I understand it on an emotional level.  It is wonderful to read, to be able to look outside without glasses and watch the birds, appreciate nature, recognize my friends from a distance.  I know some of you do a double-take when you realize that there is something different when you see me sans glasses.  You just see the surface changes; I am living with the changes deep inside of me as a result of the decisions I made to have these surgeries.  I don't regret them.  In fact, my granddaughter now encourages Grandma to put on her glasses so we can watch videos of her on my iPhone.  She's so cute when she points to my head for me to put on my glasses!  My husband likes my new look with my "headband" of readers.  He thinks I'm very stylish.  I am very lucky.  I am finding great joy in my world and how I experience it!  What about you?

Have you found your joy today?

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