Friday, March 20, 2020

Cataracts & COVID-19

I
I had cataract surgery on the eve of COVID-19.

II
Born cross-eyed and extremely farsighted, I’ve worn glasses since age two. After hiding them once too often in the sandbox, my mother assigned the task of keeping my heavy specs on my pudgy nose to an older sister.

Later, during my vain years, I tried contact lenses. The first time, a young co-ed at Seattle U, I fell asleep without removing my new contacts and couldn’t open my eyes the next morning. My roommate called my mother, who rushed to Seattle and drove me to the eye doctor. Problem solved and contacts abandoned.

A half dozen years passed. A new boyfriend preferred me without glasses, so I gave contacts a second try. Again, the discomfort, the eye irritation, the inability to read in comfort led to my return to specs. The relationship went the way of the contacts.

A decade or so later, I was back in Seattle. Now in my early thirties, I was curious to see if medical developments had made contacts more comfortable. They hadn’t. I decided once and for all, I was perfectly content with glasses and would no longer stash them in the sandbox.

III
Fast forward three decades. When a second specialist confirmed cataracts in both eyes, I laid careful plans. I took medical leave for the last week of the academic term to allow for the mandatory two-week gap between surgeries. The first surgery was successful.

Now I’m a tad near-sighted in the right eye and extremely farsighted in the left. Now I’m wearing a contact again. Now, but my vision is still blurred and the eye gets irritated. I can handle this for two weeks, I tell myself.

To limit this scratchy irritation, I delay popping the thing in my eye. As I write these words in the morning light, I see with the right eye and hold my hand over the left. My husband’s taken to calling me the “one-eyed poet.”


IV
All this was expected. What was unexpected was the rapid spread of COVID-19. What was unexpected was the cancellation of all selective surgeries. What was unexpected was the self-quarantine to help stop the spread of this pandemic.

My second surgery has been cancelled. No one knows when it will be possible to reschedule, when I will see clearly again. 

As frustrating and unnerving as this is, and despite my fears for my pregnant daughter working in Harborview ER and my worries for my husband struggling to save his small business, I know I’m lucky. My loved ones and I are all (still) healthy. We are (still) financially secure. We have a small house with a yard to putter in, we are creatives who enjoy a solitary life. We’ll manage. 

V
My hope is that we all adhere to public health recommendations. We stay at home for the next two weeks and do our part to stop the spread of this deadly virus as quickly as possible. 

5 comments:

Judith Works said...

This is such a trying time. I do hope in a few weeks everything will begin to right itself.
My best wishes to you and family.

Pamela said...

One-Eyed Poet, This is personal and universal, thoughtful and practical. Heal soon!

Unknown said...

Arleen- Hang in there! Go to the pharmacy and get yourself an eye patch! When my son had eye surgery, they had these nifty eye patch 'bandaid' style eye covers
And for the record, I think you look great in glasses :) ginny

Mindy Halleck said...

Oh Arlene, I'm so sorry for your added stress. As if the eye surgery was not enough. Prayers for your daughter and her baby, and certainly sending hugs and high hopes your way. Take care. Mindy

arleen said...

Thanks to all of you for reading my words and sharing your thoughts.
Stay well. Arleen