On September 2nd, half-way through the school day, I noticed that my left eye wasn’t working very well. I closed my right eye and then the flaw was obvious. A veil seemed to be covering about 2/3 of my left eye, leaving the bottom left peripheral “corner” the only usable region. I lived in denial the rest of the day, but that night, I couldn’t help but notice that Frasier looked like an alien. I went to bed, hoping that a night of sleep would magically remove the problem. Alas, in the morning, there was no change. Feeling a little uneasy about it, I went to the optical department at Walmart and a very nice lady said, “You have a detached retina.” She was almost apologetic about it. I became even more uneasy when she was clearly urgent about setting up an appointment with a specialist. The earliest available was the following morning.
Now that I had a diagnosis, my imagination provided an image of me sitting calmly and painlessly in a comfy chair while the doctor zapped me with laser that I wouldn’t even feel— repairing me in a jiffy. Followed by possibly two days of recovery.
That evening, at the urging of my family—and the disturbing fact that the “veil” seemed to have taken over even more of my left eye, I went to the ER to make sure that it wasn’t a mistake to wait until tomorrow to see a specialist. The doctor at the ER took a look, verified the diagnosis and gave me further reassuring details. Still, at this point, it was assumed that it would all be a matter of me sitting calmly and painlessly in a comfy chair while the doctor zapped me with laser that I wouldn’t even feel— repairing me in a jiffy. Followed by two days of recovery.
Friday: Julie drove me way down to south Denver, where Dr. Specialist took a look and told me exactly what needed to happen. It included diagrams.
“What we’re going to do is take the fluid out of your eye (an illustration showed pointy instruments skewering a cross-sectioned eyeball). Then we’ll close two holes in your retina with lasers. The third thing we’ll do is put a bubble in your eye. You will then need to remain face-down for a week with basically no activity at all.”
I stared at him with my one good eye.
More than once, he assured me that I would not recover all of my vision—that there would definitely be some loss of sight. How much would depend on how well the procedure went.
He said I could be conscious for the surgery or unconscious. I chose the chicken’s way out and elected to be completely switched off. He assured me that most men choose that option, whereas most women choose to be “awake.” I figured it had to do with their pain tolerance for childbirth.
After that, it was off to the races—one event moved into another. Within a few hours, I was set up for surgery one floor down. By noon-fifteen I was riding Valium into the Great La-La. In forty-five minutes I was coming to.
For two and half days I was not allowed to read. That was the only “painful” part of the whole thing. I listened to some stories and radio dramas. I also watched a limited amount of movies. Surprisingly, the week went by pretty fast. As mandatory physical-ailment-vacations go, it was a nice one.
Early in the game, I tried to blindly jot down a journal on my computer, to keep a record. Here is a sample:
Bret took the chirkn choice and elected to be totatlyyl knocked out The doctor said most men choose option two Most of the womdn choose option one Bret assumed there must be aonc nocneetion with childbrityh
I discontinued that approach.
I drank with a straw, I got a sore neck, I had to sleep face-down, Vicodin tucked me in every night. All in all, it wasn’t so bad. Now, the bubble in my eye has almost dissipated and as far as I can tell, my vision might actually end up being better than before this all happened. Yet another obvious indication that my life is blessed.