It’s A Miracle!

It’s a miracle of modern technology and medicine.  See the picture below.

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This is me.  I now look like this all day while I’m awake.  Please notice that I am not wearing glasses.  For the first time in 63 years, I can see the world without Coke-bottle glasses, and that’s a miracle in my book.

I have had cataracts for many years, and they got worse within the last two years.  I had to start taking my glasses off to read, about a year ago.  I started having trouble reading my computer screen at work, which was very annoying.  So I made an appointment with the ophthalmologist at my local clinic.  We discussed what my options were, and I decided to have cataract surgery, and get implanted lenses, which would correct for both of my problems (nearsightedness and astigmatism).  This would be expensive, but that’s what I have savings for.

Last Tuesday morning, I had the first of two surgeries, on the left eye, which is the worst. I arrived at the clinic around 8AM, and there was an extensive pre-op routine where they put what seemed like a liter of various eye-drops in my eye, and inserted a Luer-lock port in my hand to allow IV sedation during the surgery.  That was the only painful part, and it wasn’t very painful.  Around 9AM, they wheeled me into the OR, and I introduced myself to the doctor and nurses.  The anesthesiologist injected the sedative, and I was draped with sterile drapes, and my face was cleaned with old-fashioned Betadine.  I got more eye-drops, and the surgery itself began.  You may not believe this, but I actually enjoyed the surgery while it was going in.  I was awake, and it looked to me like a light-show of various colored shapes.  I remember thinking that if I were an artist, I would like to paint what I saw. [I apologize if this gives you the willies].

The operation took about 15 minutes, and I was wheeled back into the Recovery area.  After about a half-hour of recovery, and finally being able to drink something (no food or drinks after midnight the night before is standard), hubby brought the car around, and we went home.  I could already see that the surgery was a success.  I could see things out of the left eye, like the clock display in the car, that were a blur to the right eye.  I had a feeling that this would be life-changing for me.  We got home, and I finally had breakfast.  I went home with three different eye drops, which I had to use every two hours while awake for the first two days.  What a pain!  After breakfast, I decided to just go back to bed, and I slept about four hours.  When I got up, I started getting used to my new vision.  For the first day, it looked like there was a gauzy curtain over the world, but that dissipated by Tuesday night.

I discovered that the human brain doesn’t take long to compensate for the different vision-capabilities in the two eyes.  When looking at distant objects, everything is clear, even though one eye is still uncorrected.  It is really remarkable when I cover my right eye and only look through the left.  I can see!!!!  I see my bedside clock without having to squint.

The next day, Wednesday, Hubby drove me to an 8AM post-op appointment at the clinic.  The nurse tested my vision, and my left eye, which was 20/200, tested at 20/25!  It’s not perfect, but it really is an earth-shaking improvement.  I don’t have the superlatives to describe how wonderful it is to be able to see without glasses.  That evening, I had my second wonderful experience.  I took a shower, and was able to see everything in the bathtub!  I will never again lose the sponge if I drop it on the floor.  I can see where the drips are, and wipe them off.

I went back to work on Thursday, and it was an adventure.  No more washing my glasses when they get dusty.  I can see my computer monitors without squinting, and unfortunately I can see clearly all the emails in my inbox! [I have limited backup in my department, so every little issue has to wait for me to return if I’m out]  I was pleased when two of my coworkers said I looked ten years younger.  After work, I had another new experience.  I had a haircut, and I could actually see what the hairdresser was doing while she worked!  In the past, I had to remove my glasses, and just trust that she was doing what I wanted, and now I can watch.  This is heaven!

The “intra-ocular lens” technology has been around for a while, but it’s only fairly recently that it became advanced enough to correct astigmatism.  I have always been in awe of the things human ingenuity has been able to accomplish, and I never take any of it for granted.  As the population of most countries ages, this kind of surgery is becoming more common, and eye surgeons do thousands every month.  It is minimally-invasive, ambulatory surgery, and has become almost commonplace in most advanced countries.  Medicare and most insurance plans cover it, so if it is recommended, there should be few if any obstacles to a person being able to get back nearly-perfect vision.

I am looking forward to getting the right eye done in two weeks.  I am also looking eagerly forward to joining the ranks of people who keep losing their sunglasses!  I can now go out and shop for fashion non-prescription sunglasses to take on our cruise to Hawaii in July.  The doctor said I might also need reading glasses for close work, so I can shop for those too, and become a member of the “left their reading-glasses somewhere” tribe.  It is fortunate that Costco sells them in packs of four!  I am going to be enjoying this miracle of good vision without glasses, for a very long time.  It’s a miracle!

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Take a Guided Tour, Through my Beautiful Pacific Northwest

I think I live in the most beautiful part of the USA, the Pacific Northwest.  Within one or two hours’ drive, you can be at the ocean, the lake, the mountains, or the desert.  Let’s start right close to my home, in Everett, Washington, just north of Seattle.

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This is Silver Lake, about a half-mile south of my house.  You can rent a little sailboat at Silver Lake Park in the summer, or have a drink on the deck at Emory’s Restaurant.

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Just a bit farther north, you can walk in the tulip fields of the Skagit Valley in April.

Mount Baker, seen from San Juan Ferry
Mount Baker, seen from San Juan Ferry, Puget Sound, WA

You can take a Washington State Ferry through the San Juan Islands at the northwest corner of the state.

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Liberty Bell Mountain

Turning east, you can drive over the North Cascades Highway, and see Liberty Bell Mountain.

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Or you can go east over the Cascades to Yakima, and drive down the shrub-steppe terrain along the winding Yakima River.

And if you’re a city kid, you can spend a pleasant afternoon at the Seattle Japanese Garden.

Seattle Japanese Garden with Pagoda
Seattle Japanese Garden with Pagoda

I hope you’ve enjoyed your tour of my beautiful Pacific Northwest.   Come visit sometime.

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