by Ben Small
Yup. Momma done told' me I'd get cataracts. Said it was just a matter of time. Said those smoke rings I was blowing around her head, tossed out from pursed lips and settling around her ears like a lasso around a steer, would come back to haunt me. And then she gave me Rheumatoid Arthritis, although I didn't know it yet and wouldn't for years to come.
Mom wasn't being nasty, just looking for non-smoking leverage, even though she was a smoker herself and ended up dying of smoking-related causes.
So, yeah, I got 'em. Cataracts. Got 'em a bit earlier than I expected.
"You're too young for cataracts," my doctor said, smiling of course, as he'd be the principal beneficiary of the diagnosis. But I'd already come to realize the inevitability of his diagnosis. Cataracts grow slowly, most times, but grow they do, spreading a translucent drop-cloth over my eyes, clouding and blurring my vision. Got so bad, I couldn't read road signs when I sat in front of them.
So off to the doc I traipsed.
I'd never researched cataracts, just assumed the removal would be simple, like carving off a thin slice of apple with a razor blade.
I could not have been more wrong. And how wrong I was -- the truth about cataract surgery -- scared me to weak knees. I broke out in a sweat just thinking about the procedure.
Okay, so call me a baby. You won't be the first.
So this doctor was gonna knock me out, stand on my shoulders, stick some sort of de-plugger into my eyeball and yank. Then, once the lens was gone, he'd stand on my shoulders again, grab some industrial sized plunger and jab some new lens into its place.
A writer. Active imagination, you know.
Well, the surgery was nothing like I feared. First of all, they didn't knock me out. Just gave me some drops of feel-good juice dripped through an IV. I was so happy, I chattered through the whole procedure like the nurses, doc and staff had all grown up with me.
There was no pain, none at all, not even a twinge I could inflate into a blazing story of bravery under fire. Sure, there was light, even pretty colors to stare at during the surgery. But no stars, no burning, no blackness to hint at a loss of sight. The only thing I felt was a slight pressure as the new lens was pushed into place. Then, ten minutes after we'd started, the surgery was over.
I was still waiting for it to begin. Thought the slight pressure I'd felt was the doc's first touch. I said, "That it?" thinking it was time to brace for pain. "Yes," he said, "you're done."
Where was the pain? Where were the blood, the bruising -- all the horrors I'd been anticipating?
Well, there weren't any. No big deal. Nothing to even write home about. No stories of courage demonstrated I could relate to my kids or to my granddaughter. Nothing. I was left to complain only about the nuisance of having to put drops in my eyes for awhile and not to bend over for a week.
Hardly a test of character, of one's endurance and bravery under fire.
And I got a choice of lenses. Cool.
I selected a specialty item: extreme far-sighted lenses. A shooter, you see. Don't want to lose the beer round at the range. So now, when my eyes stop gobbing up with the various drop-goos I'm forced to apply, I'm assured of spotting bugs on the underwing of an eagle at three thousand feet. I'll be able to spot my wife flashing out her credit card from across the mall.
I'd drop my momma a note if she was still alive. Tell her those cataracts were no big deal. But I can't yet see. Too much goo in my eye, and I need reading glasses now. Besides, I'm too worried about the second eye procedure.
Maybe the first one was the easy one. Maybe all the pain, the blood, the bruising are all associated with the second eye.
My god! Why didn't Momma warn me?