I can see clearly now – sort of
August 23, 2006
Well, I still need glasses, but at least now I can see where I left them.A week after laser surgery to correct extreme nearsightedness, I now read license plates for fun, but I can’t make out a restaurant menu unless it’s a considerable distance away – say, Utah.It’s not that I wasn’t warned that I’d sacrifice my close-up vision for the luxury of seeing a tree before I smack into it – it was in the fine print that I can no longer read.I’d like to say the outcome was a true miracle, but that would be only half true. My right eye is capable of feats of visual acuity I haven’t experienced since I was about 7 years old, but my left eye is as useless as a gift certificate to Stage 3.I’m thinking about bringing the eye patch back into fashion. A patch has to look less idiotic than the piece of paper I’ve been using to cover the left lens in the pair of reading glasses I bought so I could see the words I’m typing on my computer screen. Already, my right eye has pretty much taken over out of necessity, while my left eye has been cast aside faster than a fat guy on “Survivor.”The day after surgery, the eye doc advised me my left eye was far more swollen, and that my vision in that eye would change – hopefully improve – as I healed. Still waiting.The whole surgery thing, by the way, was supposed to take place three weeks ago, but I arrived in Denver only to be informed the equivalent of the “Service Engine Soon” light had flashed on the machine that cuts a flap in the cornea. The surgery was postponed, and I was sent home to fret about the whole ordeal for two more weeks.The surgery itself, described to me as a snap by countless satisfied Lasik patients, scared the bejeeszus out of me. They numbed my eyes and gave me valium to take the edge off, but I was shaking like a leaf when the first big machine settled over my eye with clostrophobia-inducing proximity. Either they didn’t give me nearly enough valium or the drug was actually working and, without it, the laser could have wound up pointed at my earlobe.They gave me one of those pliable balls to squeeze throughout, and I did my best to wring the cushy innards right out of it, even though the cutting took just 15 seconds per eye and the actual laser surgery required less than 90 seconds per eye, and I couldn’t actually feel any of it.Everyone said there would likely be no pain, which was crap. After the numbness wore off, my eyes hurt as though someone was shining a very bright light into them. I wound up tying a blindfold over the top of the Ray Charles-issue sunglasses they gave me, and I lost faith in humanity when no one mistook me for a kidnap victim during the drive home from Denver.I had hoped to regale my driver with the evidence of my newly restored vision – “Did you see that Juicy Fruit wrapper on the pavement!” – but much to her relief, I was ordered to keep my eyes closed. Everything looked like I was viewing it through opaque cellophane, anyway.Now, I can find my way around without glasses or contacts for the first time in four decades, but don’t ask me to read a map.Janet Urquhart has become an eye-drop junkie. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.