Monday, October 4, 2010

Momma Done Tol' Me

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."

Huh? What? 

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?


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on a successful surgery. Like you,I've heard a bunch of horror stories so I'm putting off seeing an eye doctor until I finish my WIP -- which may take forever. (:

Jean Henry Mead said...

I'm glad you came through the surgery with flying colors, Ben. We always seem to fear the worst when it comes to operations.

Chester Campbell said...

I have cataracts, mainly my right eye. They only bother me driving at night, which I do as little of as possible. I also have AMD (age-related macular degeneration) in that eye. The high-powered vitamin pills I take have kept it at bay, and the doc says forget the cataract surgery until it really bothers me. She's afraid it might affect the macula.

Anonymous said...

Chester, what is it about the right eye? That's the eye that bothers me, too, but I'm glad you passed on your doctor's advice. I had come to that conclusion, too.

So tell me -- what are the high-powered vitamins that you take? Maybe they would help me also.

Pat Browning

Mark W. Danielson said...

Both my parents and my mother-in-law have had lens replacements, and all are doing great. It's amazing what modern medicine can do. Glad all is well, Ben.

Having said that, I still remember a nightmarish movie where a crooked doctor dropped acid in his patient's eyes. I don't remember the plot -- only the acid drops, and I've been fearful of eye drops ever since.

Ben Small said...

Way to go, Mark! Now I'll be thinking of that with each eye drop. :)

Chester, I had no idea you had AMD. My father in law has it, and he's almost blind. But he doesn't let it stop him. He gives us directions on travel, even though he can't see anything. It's weird getting directions from a blind man. :)

Beth Terrell said...

My grandmother had cataract surgery in her eighties, and afterward, her vision was perfect. She didn't even need her glasses anymore. Glad you came through it okay, Ben!

Mark, I think I saw that movie, and I always think about it before I put in eye drops.