As I sit here and write this post, I’m in our dining room. I’m at the table which is a makeshift office of sorts for me. I squint because the glare from the outside is bothering my eyes. The computer screen looks cloudy and faded. I cannot see the little arrow from my mouse because it’s white and fades into the background.
My otherwise pristine dining room table is now a makeshift office!
And so, this is my story to you about the cataracts which I have developed over time and my upcoming surgery. There are also some stellar eye care tips that I’ll be giving too!
Yes. ‘Tis I (or should I say “eye”) to tell you about the cataracts that were probably brewing since this photo was taken when I was about three years. (notice the pearl necklace–I was a fashionista even as a cross-eyed little girl and just as deeply shallow as I am now!)
Flashback—fade into last year!
It all began around last October. Just before the weekend when we turned the clocks back and the days became shorter. Real shorter. You know those days, when twilight commences just as you leave the office.
My normally pleasant commute through Valley Forge Park was becoming unpleasant. It began with the glare from the oncoming headlights. A halo of light prevented me from being able to see the road ahead. And my favorite part of the drive, a beautiful one on a little narrow road next to a little narrow brook, with curves more pronounced than those on my body, was turning into a challenge.
I call this the “Beetlejuice Bridge”. It is just before I veer right and follow a curved road next to a brook in the middle of Valley Forge Park. I LOVE my commute but due to increasing bad eyesight, it’s no longer fun! I miss seeing this!
I had to start driving very slowly. And could just imagine the cursing and saucy language that was being mouthed from the drivers behind me.
I was driving like and old lady. And it bothered me. And when I got home, I started to cry. And not those whiny crocodile tears. I really was moved to tears dripping down my face!
Seriously. This canine can see better than I can. Maybe I need a seeing drive dog?
And other changes with my sight were taking place as well. I had to squint to get a better view of what was in front of me.
Just call me Georgia Costanza. It’s worse because I squint with eyeglasses on!
Now it’s November 2019 and we were at Philadelphia International Airport waiting for a flight to Paris. Friends of my husband’s were on the same flight and we were chatting before boarding. I mentioned that I was having difficulty driving at night and described the halos. I was told it was most likely cataracts.
This is night driving to me. And it’s scary AF! I’m so scared I’ll get into an accident!
My initial reaction was “Hey, not me”. “I’m too young for cataracts” “I’m sure it’s something else”
And when we arrived home from our visit, the days were becoming increasingly shorter and I was becoming more and more agitated and nervous about driving home. I asked my boss if I could change my hours at work to leave at 4 PM rather than at 5.
She said “No” because someone needed to be at the office until five.
Now, I work under those disgusting fluorescent lights, and I thought that perhaps the lighting was the cause of my faltering eyesight. Fluorescent lighting is not good. Add to the fact I work not with one computer screen, but with two. And if you are familiar with working with two monitors, let alone one, you are well aware that after eight hours, the eyes get strained. That was not the case.
I thought perhaps the fluorescent lighting was the culprit. It wasn’t. However, this lighting doesn’t help my sight!
Luckily, when I addressed the lighting, my boss was great about it and my cubicle was changed to an empty spot in a corner with natural lighting from a window.
But the issue wasn’t remedied. Over time things got worse.
One of the guys from the IT department, came down to adjust my computer screens. It kind of didn’t help matters much.
Now we’re in lockdown due to the pandemic and most of the workers are home. I’m one of the skeleton crew at the office. Personally, I adored being one of three. It was a pleasure to come in, do my work without any small talk or disturbances. Yes. I’m that person who thrives on being in the office alone!
When I told my husband I’m happiest working like this with nobody around. He started laughing with uncontrolled abandon. But it’s true. When nobody is in the office, I work like Jerry from Parks & Rec!
But the eyes didn’t get better.
Instead, I thought my glasses, that are perpetually dirty filthy, were worse than usual. And after cleaning them, discovered that it wasn’t my glasses.
My glasses are usually worse than this. The new eye doctor agreed. He referred to my glasses as “filthy”
Then I thought, perhaps, my mascara had expired and the gunk from my expired eye makeup was irritating my eyes, making it more difficult to see. (Yes. I’m that person who will wear mascara well-past any expiration date. I’ll even spit into the tube to get the last bits—after all, it’s my spit).
Okay. So maybe my expired mascara and eye makeup was the culprit.
I did the unimaginable. I threw out the old mascara and replaced with new. There was no improvement.
The last straw was when my son, Roman came to visit in June. He wanted to spend time with us before returning to work at Rock Plaza. Bonaparte and I drove into NYC to pick him up as we are very-much into social distancing. So, when we had dinner out on our deck, Roman was sitting across from me, as was Bonaparte. I couldn’t see their faces. It’s akin to looking at an overexposed photo.
This is how I saw my son Roman. And that was the final straw before I did something!
And it was scary AF.
There’s a saying that some people look at life through rose-colored glasses. I was looking at life through a blurry cloud where I couldn’t read anymore unless I was in a room with no lighting during the day and dim lighting at night.
On the left–it’s how I SHOULD see. On the right–is how I DO see!
Bonaparte drives me to and from work these days. And I hate that. It is having my independence taken away from me simply because I cannot see. On the days when he has early or late clients, I drive myself to work. And with the assistance of my prescription sunglasses I’m okay. But that’s for summer. There’s no way I can do that in the winter with the short days.
My daughter Oona is like Homer Simpson asking me if I can drive at night. Actually she asks me if I can drive AT ALL!!
An eye patch is also worn at work. Oddly enough, patching over the bad eye helps the good eye to see better!
The first time I decided to get creative with my eye patches, I ended up drawing an eye upside down. Bonaparte told me I resembled a Picasso illustration. I liken it more to a hot mess!
My second attempt was a bit better but creepy..
And my third attempt was an homage to my OCD regarding where the shades should be pulled down to. (They all need to be pulled down to the same length so I can relax). Let us add some self-effacing humor here!
And so, Bonaparte did research and found an Ophthalmologist for me to see. Now, under normal circumstances I go to a fine optometrist but this issue demanded something more. We headed into Ardmore and for the first time in years, since my childhood into adulthood Ophthalmologist and surgeon retired,I was in the hands of another.
This was the office of my beloved Dr. Norman Stevens. Rockaway Park, NY and it was always a pleasure to go see him.
The technician pre-examined me, and then Dr. Sando came in to examine me. Truth be told. I do not like going to the doctor. Any doctor because, as a hypochondriac who is angst-ridden and suspects the worst, my fear gets the better of me. My childhood eye doctor, Norman Stevens was a gem. He took such good care of me and became more of a friend. I’ve even assisted him from time to time if I had an appointment and a petrified child came in to see him. He would put them at ease by telling them I was his favorite patient! I trusted him and loved him. And his office in Rockaway beach was like home to me.
In all honesty, Dr. Sando gave out great vibes. He was very thorough and explained everything in a professional and amicable way.
Dr. Ralph Sando. He looks completely different without his mask. All I saw through the clouds was two eyes. I hope this is him. It is!
I got the cataracts! But not just one type, I have two. Cataracts in front and in back. Add to that my amblyopic eyes with astigmatism and far-sightedness are a delightful mélange of sight issues that add to this fun time mix!
Funny thing is, my eyes look normal but they ain’t!
Dr. Ralph explained that surgery would be done on the bad eye first. This will give a better idea on how to work the good eye. He went on to tell me about the risks and worst-case scenario of ocular explosion. And a retina surgeon would be on hand should that happen. But that is a very low occurrence.
While others are pondering risks, I’m pondering what wig I’ll wear. Uh oh. I hope they allow me to wear a wig!
The surgery would be preformed on an out-patient basis, which is great. Since I have a plethora of eye issues, laser surgery isn’t really for me. It would be more intense. And recovery would be quick. Surgery will be done on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to heal. Since my job is ye of little PTO, I asked if it would be possible to go to work on the Friday. I know he wasn’t thrilled with this question but he agreed; and only if I take it easy (of which I almost burst out laughing).
An “ewww” moment. I will be awake. That’s so gross. However, Dr. Sando said that the lighting will be so bright I won’t see him coming at me. I hope I am rewarded with Vicoden after the surgery to relax me. Or perhaps before. Maybe I’ll just get Latisse to make my lashes longer!
He also gave me a sheet, more like a menu of sorts of the different levels of cataract surgery. My medical insurance basically sucks—however, it’s pretty-much the norm these days for the working middle-class. (BTW, a good chunk of my paycheck goes toward medical insurance). I told him to do whatever insurance will cover.
I’ll still be wearing my beloved eyeglasses. (I told the good doctor they are like Botox for the eyes). I’ll be able to see facial features again (although in some cases I might not enjoy what I see). The world won’t be seen through dirty glasses anymore (which is bullshit because my eyeglasses are always dirty). Let me correct that one. The world won’t be seen through a blur anymore.
My eyeglasses define me. They really do. Besides, they protect my GOOD eye and that’s more important!
Headlights won’t blind me. I’ll be able to enjoy my twilight commute through Valley Forge Park without driving like an old lady.
Speaking of old ladies. When Dr. Ralph spoke of risks I didn’t flinch. When he mentioned cataracts come with the aging process, I, in my most deep shallowness, started bawling like a toddler who couldn’t get her way!
My feelings were hurt. I’m not old. I’m a PRO-AGER!!!
But wait! There’s more and it is in the form of eyecare! Yes! Who knew? We spend a lot of time on skincare but eyecare? Well……. not really!
Other than wiping my eye makeup off in the evening, I kind of don’t do anything else.
Yeah. I wipe my eye makeup off with Albolene. I’m sure all that gunk is having a party in between my lashes!
The doctor’s technician spoke with me for a while on this subject. I have to go in to see her for measurements in two weeks. It’s a pre-op procedure.
Anyway, (reminder that anywayssss is not a word) it was recommended to use hydrating drops for my dry eyes. I was shocked to learn that mine eyes that don’t see the glory were dry! I have no problem crying at the drop of a hat and my eyes don’t itch. But she explained that in order to get correct measurements the eyes must be hydrated—it’ll stop the blinking and allow me to keep my eyes opened longer as she measures.
I got samples! It was like being at Sephora and coming home with makeup samples! Note the standard surgery. That’s what my insurance is covering. I need to win the lottery.
Then, the best! Actually, the best and most pragmatic advice ever! Johnson’s Baby Shampoo! Yes. Baby Shampoo to clean my eyelids. Take a dab of the shampoo and place on your fore fingertip. Rub the shampoo in a circular motion where the lash line meets lid and gently rub. Then wash off with water.
A little dab at the top of my finger..
..and rubbed onto the edge of my eyelid to clean out the gunk!
The baby shampoo doesn’t sting and all that eye gunk is gone. Who knew?
Who knew that Johnson’s baby shampoo would be used to clean my eyelids? And it works beautifully–no stings at all!
Am I nervous about the upcoming cataract surgery? Of course, I am, I would be foolish to not be.
Of course I’m nervous. However, I don’t like the taste of acrylic nails so I won’t be doing this!
Am I excited about it? Kinda? As nervous as I may be, I’m looking forward to the gift of sight returning. Presently, it’s difficult to write on my laptop because I can’t get the screen’s brightness to where it’s comfortable. I also can’t see the mouse pointer.
Yeah. I’m pretty excited. I don’t want to rely on my sunglasses too much. Lately I’ve been wearing them a lot. And I look forward to getting as much of normal eye sight can be had!
I am looking forward to not squinting. You seriously do not realize how important the sense of sight is until it begins to fade. And it’s true. Cataracts are conducive to aging.
But I like to call it eye care for the pro-aging!
Eye care for the pro-aging. Are you in?
Hey. Have you had cataract surgery? Are your eyes seeing a bit cloudy these days? If you think you may have cataracts get thee to an ophthalmologist!! Proage those eyes!