I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Learning to see again

Belllingham Bay and fog with blue skies above
Lily took this picture yesterday on our walk with the ladies. The fog was such a beautiful color, even prettier than this, but she captured it well, I thought. The air was very cold and frost dusted our path as we made our way down Boulevard Park to Fairhaven. I am still enchanted with the beauty around me, with my new eye, seeing everything so clearly.

I have more than a week before I get the other eye done (the 19th), but for now I am still in an ecstasy of delight every day when I wake and open my eyes. Without glasses, I can see so much more than I ever thought I would again. I met with the surgeon to check out my progress, and he said I could resume my regular activities, even standing on my head if I wanted. But he also said, if it were him, he might wait another week for that. However, inverted postures are no problem for the moment. I went to the final yoga class of the semester yesterday, knowing I could modify anything if I choose, but it was what is called a "restorative" class, where we do some moderate stretching and then breathing practice (pranayama). It was lovely to be back.

The doctor also discussed options for the other eye: I would like to see a little more clearly close up, which he agreed to do that by inserting a lens that is a little more myopic. He also told me that although I have a fairly significant astigmatism in that eye, a speciality lens will probably not be necessary, since I'm going for close vision rather than distance. In any event, whatever I have afterwards can be corrected with my new glasses prescription. Getting the last surgery out of the way and going through the short one-week recovery will be over and done with by the end of the year, if all goes well. I will be putting drops in my eyes well into January, however. I'm hoping for the best outcome, of course.

I am vigilant about washing my hands and trying to keep from getting a cold at this vulnerable time of the year, because then I wouldn't be able to have the surgery as scheduled. So I'm staying away from sneezes and coughs as much as possible. I notice when I ride the bus, there are a lot of people who seem to be under the weather. Fortunately I am wearing gloves and not touching surfaces with my bare hands. I can be a bit of a hypochondriac.

I used to think my mother was a hypochondriac, since she was always discussing her litany of ills with me, but now that I'm older, I know she was experiencing what happens when you get old: things hurt for no apparent reason and you wonder, is it cancer? I have an ache in my side sometimes, but it is only in the morning that I notice it and forget all about it by the end of the day. I'll mention it to my doctor when I have my annual wellness visit in January. But now that I've joined the ranks of the really old, I know it will be something sooner or later that will keep me from being what I consider to be colossally healthy. On Thursday, I walked around eight miles up and down more than 2,000 feet of elevation, some of it very steep. And my knees were fine! What a relief to have been able to join my friends on a beautiful sunny day. The only residual pain has been some sore quadricep muscles, which was to be expected.

Today Judy and I are going to see Wonder, a story about a young boy with some facial disfigurement that ends up going to school and facing the world. Julia Roberts is supposedly really good in it, and it's the little boy who starred in Room who plays Auggie, the young boy (apparently with lots of makeup). I'm looking forward to it.

The dearth of good movies is always gone by the end of the year, when it seems the best are saved for the holiday season, or maybe it's for the Oscars. They want their movie to be on your mind before the nominations come out. We've already seen Lady Bird, The Florida Project, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and now this one. There's still that movie about LBJ that I want to see, but I'm not at all sure that once I've had the second eye done I'll be traveling around much during the recovery week. So far, I think Three Billboards is my pick for Best Picture. The performances are simply incredible, and I left the theater feeling glad I'd seen it. Although The Florida Project is good, it was so depressing I left the theater feeling terrible. Lady Bird was sort of in the middle: a good movie, well acted, but for me, lacking in some indefinable way. Frances McDormand from Fargo plays the lead character in Three Billboards and is simply marvelous. If you have any favorites, I'd like to know what you think.

Remember back in September when I was bemoaning the five pounds I'd gained over the last year or so? Well, they are gone, thanks to the Lose It app I downloaded onto my phone, and being able to keep track of what I eat. I used it five years ago to lose fifteen pounds, and now I feel I've got something to help me lose excess weight whenever I feel the need. I can feel the difference, although five pounds doesn't sound like much. When you're only a little over five feet tall, it makes a difference. Maybe that's one reason my knees did so well on the hike last Thursday: five pounds less to carry. Here's what the Arthritis Foundation says about it:
Every pound of excess weight exerts about 4 pounds of extra pressure on the knees. So a person who is 10 pounds overweight has 40 pounds of extra pressure on his knees; if a person is 100 pounds overweight, that is 400 pounds of extra pressure on his knees.
Yes, that would mean 20 pounds less pressure on my knees from a five-pound weight loss. I'm grateful to have lost the extra weight, in any event. Now the trick will be to keep it off. I've got a couple Christmas parties to attend, which are always times I allow myself to go off the rails. And my recent birthday party indulgence showed up the next day on the scales, I remind myself. I just kept on plugging in the food I consumed into the app and soon I was back on the losing side again.

All in all, things are looking up. I am truly grateful for the gift of sight, and that someone with limited income, like me, is eligible for cataract surgery through Medicare. I surely hope this benefit will not be one of the cuts that I hear will be ahead for us, because this is truly a miracle for those of us with dimming vision. I also am grateful for having a good doctor to take care of any needs that come up, and the ability to see specialists if necessary. It's not cheap, but there are some good benefits that come from being older. At least at the present time.

Well, with that, I've written another Sunday post. Next week will be the final one before I go under the knife again, and so you'll know by Christmas what Santa might have brought for me. I'm hoping for another good eye. I remember when all I wanted was my "two front teeth," a long, long time ago. The incessant Christmas songs play over the loudspeakers in every store I visit, and the pretty lights shine everywhere, lifting my spirits and reminding me that, if I wish it, I can concentrate on the season of giving, of love, and light. I can leave behind all the woes of the world for a short while. Love is in my heart and lights the way ahead.

My dear partner still sleeps, making a few sounds as he stirs, and my tea is gone again. I am scheduled for a massage early today, after coffee with my friends and before the movie with Judy. It just doesn't get much better than this, if I remember to focus on the season and count my blessings. Until we meet again next week, I hope you are well and happy. I found this quote to leave you with, from Albert Schweitzer:
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. 


Marie Smith said...

Yay for Medicare!

I have become fanatical about hands away from face when I’m out of the house and washing hands immediately when I came home. It helps for sure.

I saw Wonder with a friend last week and loved it. Bring tissues!

Have a great week, Jan!

Tabor said...

Free or cheap healthcare for all. That is my goal. So many other countries do it, and it is a shame that the billionaires want all the money for themselves. Glad your eyes are doing so well. My time for that may come sooner than I expect.

Rian said...

DJan, I'm also very vigilant about washing my hands. My routine is to wash my hands, spray my nose with Ocean (salt water), and gargle with Listerine when I return from errands, etc. (and of course try to keep my hands away from my face when out running around). I think it works fairly well. One can't avoid all germs, but IMO, one can do what might likely hinder their advance.
So glad you are happy with your eye surgery. I'm sure the next one will be equally wonderful. I do have the special lens in my left (due to astigmatism)and the regular one in my right (which also has astigmatism but not as significant). I did have to pay a little extra for the special lens, but I too am happy that Medicare was there to help.

Marty Damon said...

I did cave and get the pneumonia shot my doctor recommended, but since I can't do both in one trip, I haven't had a flu shot yet. I wasn't going to (haven't had the flu since 1973), but the news just announced that flu cases have doubled this year.
Your day sounds absolutely perfect. Enjoy!

Elephant's Child said...

Yet another truly lovely life (and DJan) affirming post. Thank you. I am thrilled that the first surgery went so well and that your recovery was quick. And am hoping for exactly the same for the second. Cyber hugs.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Glad your eye surgerybwent well and your app helped with the weight which also improved the knees. I love you quote. I studied his life many years ago in order to prepare for a speech cometition, i managed to win at the local level. He jed a fascinating life in Africa .

Gigi said...

I am so pleased that your vision is so improved - just imagine how delighted you will be when the other surgery is behind you.

Hilary said...

My second surgery was scheduled for this coming Tuesday, but lo and behold, I got the FLU, for the first time in my life.......so I will be calling tomorrow to cancel.

Red said...

I didn't know that cataract surgery improved the eye sight so much. You've got me looking forward to cataract surgery. I miss the color when I'm birding. In most light I don't see much color. Have a gerat weekend.

The Furry Gnome said...

I've got one of those colds/coughs, and I'm worried my surgery might be postponed tomorrow.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am hoping for another good outcome for you! We are afraid of germs here too, now I stand back at the checkout counter at the grocery store and watch the checkers...if they are coughing I wait for a checker that looks and sounds healthier. In Walmart we check ourselves out! We carry disinfecting wipes in the vehicle and I have some in my backpack...and we use them:)

Arkansas Patti said...

I am so pleased to hear about how delighted you are with your new vision. You were so apprehensive before and so positive now. Love it!!! Can't wait to hear your reaction when you get the full treatment.
Also great that the weight loss has helped your knees. I know my loss completely eliminated my hip and back pain. So much of our health is in our own hands. Keep up the great work.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I am so happy for you that these operations are restoring your vision so clearly. Your gratitude for this is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your journey with what is happening with your eyes and your vision.

And thank you, too, for that quotation from Albert Schweitzer (spelling?). So many people enlighten my life with their kindness. You do it for me whenever you leave one of your discerning comments on my blog. Thank you. Peace.

Rita said...

I actually was missing my two front teeth when they were playing that song on the radio all the time. My dad teased the heck out of me and would turn it up loud and sing along. Can hardly wait till you have both eyes done!! Exciting way to start the new year.

I heard Wonder was good. I hope you give us a review.

Stay well! Big smiles!! :)

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

3 billboards on my list. Your recommendation is the 3rd or 4th I've read.

Linda Reeder said...

We are completely out of the loop on movies. We'll have to catch up when Oscar nominations come out. it's a good activity for the winter months.
I'm so glad to hear how successful your eye surgery is so far.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Sometimes blogging contains an element of “back to the future.” Well, like today, I read this post, and then your earlier one (December 3rd) and now I’m back to commenting on this one. :-) It is just great to hear the results of your first eye surgery. You may recall that I had the same surgeries just over a year ago and it has turned out to be the best thing that has happened to me ever since open heart surgery in 2010. Both have been life changing events. It always adds to the quality of my day to read your blog. You just have a great take on things and know how to express your thoughts and feelings so well. Take care and be well! Thank you, as always, for sharing and for your kind comments on my blog. John