I’ m off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz …
Well, not exactly of Oz, but of the local eye clinic. And a whizz of a wiz he was indeed!
When you have had a cataract developing over a number of years, as I have, and it finally gets to the point where it’s a matter of have the operation or lose your driving licence, there isn’t really very much choice. A cataract diffuses the light, gives objects several outlines and makes them fuzzy, so that for instance the new moon looked like a bunch of bananas. It couldn’t go on like that. So I opted for the op.
What’s the big deal? You ask. Cataract operations are routine …
The big deal is that just about ten years ago I went blithely along for cataract surgery in my left eye. It seemed to have gone well, but then BANG! Just a month later, my retina detached, like a curtain descending, tearing as it went. A not very pleasant procedure to repair the holes and stick the retina back into place, with a couple of weeks recovery time, and then WHOOSH! Flashing lights and off it went again. Four weeks to the day since the first detachment repair I was back on the operating table having my poor old eye fixed again. I won’t go into detail here, but if you want the gory details, YouTube has some graphic videos of vitrectomies and how to fit a scleral buckle. The upshot of the whole thing is that my left eye serves little purpose other than decorative.
So the reason I have procrastinated for so long over getting my second eye done can be summed up in one word: FEAR.
I do not want to trigger a retinal detachment in my one remaining good eye, or have to go through all that again, knowing that blindness is probably at the end of it. However, I gave myself a good talking to and prayed about it all, and in the end decided to go for it.
Naturally, nobody can guarantee anything, and although the consultant I saw at the pre-op assessment was very confidence-inspiring, when it came to signing the consent form there in black and white were the chances of things going wrong … I signed it anyway.
My dear granddaughter came to granny-sit, braving floods, rain, snow, rail disruptions and a barely existent bus service, culminating in premier-league football-match traffic that extended a journey which normally takes about 4 hours into almost 8 hours of caterpillar crawl interspersed with standing around in draughty, wet shelters. She arrived shivering with cold, wet, hungry, with a splitting headache and chilled to the bone but cheerful and prepared to do her bit.
And so I have now had my cataract removed and a new lens inserted, a fifteen-minute procedure by a very capable gentleman with an excellent reputation as a vitreoretinal specialist – just in case – who talked me through the whole thing: “Anaesthetic drops going in — just a bit of water now … it will feel slightly uncomfortable for a second … look up … look down … removing the cataract … relax … a bit more water … here comes the lens … look down … OK, you can sit up now.” Well, maybe not quite in that order, but the time did pass very quickly.
They slapped a padded guard over my eye, taped firmly to my face, and my pupil was still dilated when it was time to put in the eye drops so I wasn’t aware of any great change in my vision. The guard went back on overnight, but when I removed it the following morning, expecting things to be a bit blurred – WOW! All things bright and beautiful – what a dazzlingly clean world! Just for once, the sun was shining and the sky was bright blue, a bonus! Most of all, though, I was amazed at the clarity of everything. Although the world looked clean and bright before I got my cataract, I have always been very short-sighted so without my glasses, everything was always out of focus. Now, I have suddenly become long-sighted: reading is slightly problematic, but I can see the face on the full moon for the very first time, and colours are suddenly much more intense.
I can’t help singing HALLELUJAH!