I’ve been noticing for a while now that the nighttime hours look much darker than they used to. I’m nocturnal, so taking a walk with my dogs at 11 PM is nothing out of the ordinary for me. And I‘ve always enjoyed doing my grocery shopping at 10 PM, especially back in the pre-pandemic days, when the stores closed at midnight.
Just last week, I took my black dog out for a walk after dark and I couldn’t even see her. And forget about driving anywhere at night. I was doing okay following the yellow or white lines on the road…until I came to a road that didn’t have any lines. I’m sure the guy in the car behind me didn’t appreciate having to crawl along at 15 miles per hour as I felt my way down the road, my knuckles white from my death grip on the steering wheel.
So for a while now, I’ve stopped going out after dark and have remained nocturnal only in the safe confines of my house, where the light bulbs, for some reason, seem to be getting dimmer every night. I’d like to switch all of them to 100 watts…but first I would have to unearth some ancient, buried treasure of gold coins in my back yard so I could afford the electric bill.
Anyway, last week I went for my annual eye exam and, for the first time in three years, a different doctor did the honors.
Let’s just say that when an optometrist finishes your exam and gasps, “Ohmigod! You have to get those cataracts removed ASAP or you won’t pass your driver’s eye exam for your license renewal!” it can be just a tad unnerving.
To make matters even worse, she handed me my new eyeglass prescription and said it was much stronger than my previous one. But then, in her next breath, she told me not to even bother getting it filled. “Once you have the cataracts removed, you won’t even need this prescription, so it would just be a waste of money,” she said.
"If I have the surgery, will I be able to see at night again?” I asked, hoping I’d no longer have to lock myself in the house at 6 PM every night in an effort to protect my life, as well as the lives of others.
“Yes, you’ll be able to see much better in the dark and you also will be able drive at night…and believe me, you will thank me afterwards!”
Then she casually mentioned she thought she’d seen a hole in my retina, and wanted some pictures taken of the back of my eye. I understand enough about eyes to know that a hole in any part of one is never a good thing.
I proceeded to have photos of my eye taken at every angle imaginable. An additional assistant even was called in to hold up my eyelashes to keep them out of the way. That surprised me because I’ve always been cursed with what they call “toothbrush” lashes, which are stubby little things with no shape to them, like the bristles on a toothbrush. The only thing I’d attract if I batted my lashes at someone would be a tube of Crest.
After the photos were taken, I sat and nervously waited for the optometrist to check out the results. She came into the room and studied the images on the computer screen, then shrugged and said, “It looks like an old hole, and the edges are well-defined, so it’s nothing to worry about.”
An old hole? It hadn’t been there a year ago during my last eye exam, so it definitely wasn’t a senior citizen in the “old eye-hole” category. I silently prayed it wouldn’t decide to wake up and start reproducing, just to spite her for calling it old.
By the time I left there, the doctor had set up an appointment for me to see a surgeon on August 29th for a consultation about my cataracts. To me, that seemed like nothing short of an eternity, especially since I’d still have to suffer with my old glasses in the meantime. I also wondered how long it would take after the consultation to actually have the surgery. Christmas?
Of course, the minute I got home, I rushed over to my laptop and looked up everything about cataract surgery I could find…and also, out of curiosity, information about holes in retinas. One page stated that after the surgery to repair a retinal hole or tear, the patient often is required to lie face-down with very little movement for one to two weeks while the eye heals.
I knew there was NO way I ever could remain on my stomach for two weeks – or even two hours. And how, I wondered, would I go to the bathroom while lying face-down? Or eat? It defied gravity in every sense of the word.
The rules to follow after cataract surgery also were a bit disturbing. No eye makeup for four to six weeks? When I don’t wear eye makeup, my eyes look like two oysters on the half-shell. It also recommended avoiding sneezing, coughing, vomiting or straining to have a bowel movement the first few days after surgery – all of which might increase eye pressure and blow out all of the delicate work.
Well, just thinking about not doing any of those things makes me feel as if a severe case of constipation is inevitable, with stools made of concrete…combined with catching a common cold that will make me sneeze non-stop. And speaking of sneezing, I love ground black pepper and liberally use it on all of my food, mainly because this year’s previous bout of Covid left me with taste buds that need tons of flavor or all of my food tastes like wet cardboard. So every night when I make my dinner, I bring out the pepper and shake it on everything I’m cooking…and even on a few things I'm not...and then I sneeze for a while.
So I guess I’m going to have to hide the pepper shaker the day before my surgery…and then develop a taste for wet cardboard.
But the post-surgical rule that struck me the funniest was to make sure to avoid all dust, so it won’t get into the eyes.
The guy who wrote that rule obviously has never been in my house – or met my two dogs, a.k.a. the “I love to roll in the dirt outside” rottweiler and the “I shed fur 24/7” boxer/lab.
At the rate I’m going, I might end up having to train them to become guide dogs.
So wish me luck. I’m pretty sure I’m going to need it.
# # #
Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.