It was such a beautiful day, a Saturday in October of 2009. I was happy, my world was suddenly so bright that you could not feel anything but optimistic. That joy of a bright world was something that remained with me for several months.
I had moved to Alphaetta, Georgia in December of 2007 for a lot of reasons. I gave up a lot, namely being able to see my kid, my son and be in his life on a daily basis. I had long conversations with my ex-wife going over all the pros and cons and we had a plan that at the time did not seem so bad when we made it. I cried all the way to Georgia. It does no good to regret decisions but I wish I had not made that one.
When I left for Georgia I was having some vision issues. I was pretty sure that I had a cataract in my left eye. I had always had amazingly good vision. I attributed the cataract to asthma medication. Still I did nothing about this until I started to have real problems seeing at night. With the immense pine trees it was just darker in Georgia. I had also come to the conclusion that it was just dumb not to have it taken care of.
I saw a doctor who specialized in cataract removals and he asked what I thought was the problem so I told him and a little while later he confirmed the cataract. He said it was a bad one so I asked if I had waited too long. He was reassuring and told me it did not matter. He always recommended waiting as long as possible. It didn’t matter because that lens would have to be removed and replaced. He did ask me a lot of questions about my past though, accidents, blows to the head and injuries. He could not explain why I had a cataract so young. I told him my own theory about the asthma medication and he said it was a good one except that in his experience I should have an equal cataract on my right eye too.
I went through all the pre=op stuff. I sometimes have an irregular heartbeat so I had to have a nuclear scan which was negative. Before the surgery he told me that I was going to have some swelling. There is a thin layer of tissue in your eye which acts as a drainage tool to remove excess fluid. Mine was thinner due to degeneration. Again I was very young for degeneration and it was a conversation I would have again and again in the future.He would take greater precautions in the surgery to make it as comfortable as possible but he prepared me for some post operative swelling. It was no big deal.
I had a friend who flew in from Austin just to take me to surgery. I had only one friend in Georgia and he was going to help me after she left until I could drive. I was scheduled second and per my usual concern about being on time I was quite early. The woman scheduled in front of me walked in about ten minutes after me with a large cup of coffee from Starbucks. Her surgery was moved to the last of the day because she did not seem to understand what nothing by mouth after midnight actually means. It was a good omen for me that I got moved up to first in line. By this time the cataract was completely blocking my vision like some giant brown veil. The surgery went well. I had swelling but not as bad as I thought. As the numbing shots wore off and my eye regained movement I could see light through the shield which looks like a small fencing mask.
A week or so later after the swelling was mostly gone I ended up at the grocery store and it was when I got back in my truck that I had that wonderful moment of joy, I did not know that a journey was beginning, scary, sometimes nightmarish. I would review those days after the cataract surgery many times trying to understand what I did that was wrong. Almost seven years later I would by lying on another gurney preparing to go into another surgery knowing that when I woke up I would be blind.