Monthly Archives: July 2018

Double or Nothing

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A funny thing happened to me on the way to writing about what a piece of cake my cataract surgery was: I started seeing double out of the cataract eye.

We’re staying in Santa Barbara for two weeks so I thought it was a perfect time to do the cataract surgery. Our ophthalmologist here is world renown–as a matter of fact, he’d just returned from India where he’d done thirty retinal implants.

The cottage we’re staying at is on the golf course. I knew my husband was playing with our son and grandson so I kept watching for them. When they came by, I went out to say hello. The only thing strange was that it looked like they were playing with two golf balls instead of one.

Oh well, I thought. I’m only day 3 from the surgery.

The next day, my husband and I took a walk by the ocean.

“How many buoys do you see out there?” I asked him.

He looked at me strangely. “What do you mean? I see six.”

“Well, I see twelve.” (I’d show you the image, but only I can see it.)

The following morning I mentioned to my sister what was going on.

“You’re going to talk to the doctor, right?” she said.

“Sure, I’ll text him this morning,” I assured her.

There’s a lot of sures in that sentence because I was sure the doc would say it was normal. But, instead he said it wasn’t.

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The actual cataract surgery was a breeze. I was in by 6:30 and out by 8:30.

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The nurse had me get into a gown and took my vitals. Then she started the IV. She had just moved to Santa Barbara from Tennessee and was new to the Surgical Hospital. “But I’ve been doing this for 35 years,” she said.

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The surgical nurse came to wheel my gurney into the operating room. We passed storage rooms in the rather crowded hall, but other than bumping into a wall, it was a smooth ride.

I don’t think the surgery itself took more than fifteen minutes.

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You’re not put to sleep so you can respond to their direction to move your eye as they put in the lens. But, happy juice is pumped into your system via an IV so all is well. As the anesthesiologist had explained, “Being in a very cold operating room where you know someone is going to be cutting your eye can be extremely anxiety producing. We don’t want that.”

“No we don’t,” I said. “Count me in.”

I don’t know how long I was in recovery because the happy juice was still flowing through my skinny veins even if it was cut off at the source. I was impressed by the mix of professionalism and caring nature of everyone.

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Soon I was dressed, in the car and on the way to breakfast at The Pharmacy in Montecito. My eye shield made me a fashion sensation but I was so busy admiring how yellow the hibiscus flowers were that I didn’t notice. I did make some new friends as I heard their cataract stories.

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When we got home, I was tired. I always put a lot of energy into being anxious before events like this. I also eat like there may be no tomorrow. When I had uterine cancer and had to have a hysterectomy, I won’t say I was hysterical, but I did eat a donut. The cataract surgery really was no big deal, but French fries became a staple for a week. As did pancakes.

So all was well except for me being tired—which may be a part of being in my seventies anyway. Your sight is not perfect, of course, because it takes a few weeks for the lens to settle in. But at my afternoon post-op, all looked fantastic. So much so, that my husband took over, as usual, and got a check up too.

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It took two days for my natural disaster karma to set in. It turns out I have monocular diplopia. It’s very rare—it occurs in maybe 1 out of 100,000 cases. I always did say I was unique. My friend, Earl, put it another way: “Do you ever feel like you’re a magnet for trouble?”

Now I’ve been back to my ophthalmologist for a very thorough exam. He even tested for macular degeneration. While I waited for him, I looked at the charts on the all the computer screens in the examining room.

IMG_0818Not being able to interpret any of them, I immediately imagined myself with a white cane and seeing-eye dog by my side in the near future. Fortunately, all those tests came out super-duper.

To be safe, the doctor also sent me to a specialist for a second opinion and another thorough exam.

“Wow, your lens is positioned perfectly,” the specialist said. “That all looks great.”

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I smiled and gave a thumbs up in my head.

“But yes,” he continued, “you do have monocular diplopia.”

My smile turned upside down.

“But that’s better than binocular double vision.”

“Better?” I didn’t sound sure.

He nodded. “It could resolve itself. Probably will.”

That sounded good and concurred with my ophthalmologist’s opinion.

“You also have SPK,” this doctor added.

“What is that? I asked, my poor stomach’s knots getting even tighter.

 

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(A brief hopeful thought that it could be a consonant Words With Friends word flitted through my mind, but then I was back to fear.)

“It’s nothing to worry about. Just a surface inflammation of the cornea. But since you’ve seen some flashes of light, I’m going to have you see a retina specialist.”

What? Another specialist? I was beginning to feel I’d fallen down the rabbit hole.

I could barely see anything when I drove back to Montecito.

My eyes were dilated to such an extreme that my iris was almost completely eclipsed. You could only see the black pupil and a sliver of blue. Although I am partial to that particular blue which signaled my particular eyes, I didn’t think of that. I just thought I was permanently blind.

I probably should have stayed a while in the waiting room, but I’d already been there for two and a half hours. It was already 12:30 and I had a manicure appointment at 1:00. (There are priorities, you know.)

So I Mr. Magoo’ed it along the freeway in the slow lane, making my way to the Nail Shop. I’d never been there before but had a general idea where it was. I only missed by three blocks—not bad since I still could barely see a thing.

I was, to put it mildly, a nervous wreck.

“Take an Uber home,” my wise older brother advised me over the phone.

“I don’t have Uber,” I said.

“Then take a cab. You don’t want to have an accident on top of all of this.”

We talked for a few more minutes until I said, “You know I’m going to drive home.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said.

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By the time my manicure was finished, an hour had passed and my eyesight was returning. Driving home was barely a challenge.

My eyes were almost as tired as I was. I dropped into bed and slept for two hours.

When I woke, my eyes were still very dilated and things were fuzzy, but improving.

Today, things are much better. I have blue eyes again and my sense of humor is returning along with some energy.

I’m also feeling grateful. What’s a little monocular diplopia? Nothing, my friends, as long as I can basically see.

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Keeping An Eye On The Ball

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Tomorrow I’m having cataract surgery. I’m a little nervous, which I didn’t think I’d be. It’s that same feeling—so maybe I can’t see perfectly, but I can see pretty well—I can see enough. Why the hell am I playing around with my sight? I really depend on my eyes—reading, writing and my grandkids are my life. Why take a chance I won’t be able to see any of them? I made the mistake of reading the whole consent form—I was bored and had nothing else to do. Geez, some bad stuff can happen. And having a very active imagination, I can imagine them all happening to me!

I just got up from the computer to put eye drops in my left eye. I’m supposed to put them in every two hours. The first two hours went slowly—I was hyper aware. But just now, it had been 2 and a half hours and I didn’t realize it. (Now, my sight is a little blurry. Oy vey!)

So, I’ll keep doing this until I go to bed. Then nothing to eat after midnight and get to the surgery center at 6:30 AM. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, I’m not very assertive about these kinds of things. I don’t know what kind of lens or what vision it will give me. I talked to the doctor and now I’m leaving it in his more educated hands. He’s a world-renowned ophthalmologist and has just returned from a week in India doing corneal implants. Also, my husband says he’s a great golfer.

A funny thing happened on my way to getting a cleared Pre-Op. My EKG was abnormal. It turns out my heart beats way too slowly. So the cardiologist adjusted my meds. Hopefully that will all turn out well too. I’m taking it as a gift—to know something was wrong before something happened is like getting a free-bee. I’ll wear a monitor and have some tests in August. A pacemaker may be in my future—I wouldn’t be surprised as it runs in the family. (no pun intended! HA)

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I’m grateful that modern science offers solutions to these glitches. But, I’m telling you—once you hit 70, it’s double time patch, patch patch.

 

 

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Destruction for Destruction’s Sake

via Destruction for Destruction’s Sake

Destruction for Destruction’s Sake

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I don’t understand some sorts of destruction—destruction for destruction’s sake.

I get disaster—like in Montecito this winter. These houses were eaten by the mudslides after the rains after the fires. Mother Nature played her hand, and it’s the most powerful one.

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As far as I can tell by reading on-line, the fires were not deliberately set. Power lines, not properly cared for, seemed to have been the cause. It wasn’t an arsonist—someone who started the fire for their own pyschotic reason. It wasn’t even people being careless—Smokey the Bear’s warnings were heeded. But the fires were catastrophic and set up a scenario that could have come out of the diabolical mind of a Hollywood screenwriter. The destruction was horrible but it wasn’t on purpose.

I understand accidents. They happen. But they can be destructive in so many ways. As well as the behaviors that lead to them.

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But people going out intentionally to destroy things, that I don’t get.

The other day on my walk, I saw what could have only been a purposeful act of destruction. I love artichokes and I’d been watching  these lovely  plants develop since Spring.

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I loved the symmetry of the artichokes and the colorful blooming of the flower as they matured.

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But then one day, I came upon this—the smashed remains of part of the plant. It couldn’t have been an accident.

IMG_0713.jpgIt grows on an incline. There’s a wall. I don’t think an animal could gain purchase there—even the mountain lion that people see every once and awhile. No, I’m assuming this was wanton destruction by a human hand. Someone hacked it down.

Why?

Were people so angry, so hurt, so disturbed, that they had to take it out in some way? Does the violence of school shootings stem from this same kind of rage? Is the urge to destroy primal? Or does someone just not care about other people’s property? Or other people’s lives?

And what happens when something or someone is crushed? They wither and die, that’s what.

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We live in a huge, complex country. We’re no longer a melting pot but a stew with the ingredients of different races, religions, languages and ideas. To destroy one branch will lead to the destruction of the whole. History has taught us that. Nature displays it. Let’s learn from it.

 

As American As The Fourth of July

Last Saturday morning, we gave up our usual recreational pursuits to gather on a street corner with other families in Thousand Oaks, California. What a great American morning! We were there to protest children being separated from their parents as they tried to seek asylum in the United States. And also to celebrate the ideals of the Red, White and Blue.

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Over a 1000 of us were also there to support the sanctity of family and American values, the ideals of freedom and equality for all Americans, and for the humane treatment of all people and families.

Signs were everywhere. “We Welcome The Hungry and Poor,” one sign said, referencing Emma Lazarus’s poem about the teeming masses yearning to be free, and to the fact that we are proud to be a sanctuary city. “I Care. We should all Care,” said another sign.

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We ran the gamut of Americans from the youngest to the oldest. For a lot of us, it wasn’t the first time we’d sung “We shall Overcome Some Day” and I think we’ll be singing it again. Cars driving by honked in solidarity, raising our weary spirits.

 

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It was a patriotic event with many American flags waving. It reminded me of a 4th of July celebrations we’ve been attending for years. Below was Westlake Village in 2003.

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People milled around, exchanging greetings and actually smiling.

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Congresswoman Julia Brownley gave an impromptu and impassioned speech that came from her heart.

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She held back tears as she said that our being there gave her so much hope. Once, her voice filled with anger and tears as she talked about the plight of the little children, and that we must do something about it!

As the morning wore on, more people streamed to Thousand Oaks Blvd. We congregated on the sidewalks and the grass. It was the first time I had a sense of peace in days.

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Standing between my son and my husband, I couldn’t help beaming from ear to ear. I kissed first Dave’s cheek, then Moe’s. (I know, I know. I’m so mushy. It just happens.)

Will our public stand together make a difference? I don’t know. I’ve already been challenged on my Facebook page: “Did you march for homeless Americans or just non-Americans?” someone asked. I wrote back: “Yes. We were marching for all in need. We were marching for vets who are homeless, for people with illnesses without health insurance who lost their homes, for people who lost their jobs and have no way out. We marched for people who are our neighbors and who aren’t our neighbors. We marched against injustice and cruelty. We marched for helping those who need help. Do unto to others …” and I add, we marched for the best of what is in America’s heart.

I certainly didn’t think this would be my third “March” of the year. I’m a babyboomer senior citizen…I should be on a porch somewhere rocking in a chair. Yet none of us can just sit by while children, all children, are being harmed. My children and grandchildren are safe right now, but we’ve all read history. There are no guarantees.When will we get the knock on the door?

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Letters, emails, tweets and phone calls to our Congress people are essential. But there is power in the visual image. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder on a sunny June morning, we proved we were willing to show up. And gave notice that we’ll do it again. And the world knows it.

Happy Fourth of July to all. Enjoy the parties and the fireworks and let’s remember what the holiday is about.

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.