My right eye has always had an uncorrectable “lazy muscle,” but the other one has worked pretty well. Even so, after I got my driver’s license I wasn’t seeing road signs clearly enough, so I started wearing glasses to make my left eye less myopic, and driving immediately became easier and safer. About ten years later, I started wearing a contact lens on the good eye.
In my particular profession it helps if you can hear the judge and the witness, and at some point I started asking, “What?” This was more than twenty years ago. So I went to an audiologist, who recommended hearing aids. I took her advice and one day, a few weeks later, I stood outside and asked the Pianist, “What’s that noise?”
“Birds,” she said.
With the help of these devices I’ve been able to see and hear a lot better, but a few years ago the eye doctor told me I was developing “age related” cataracts. As time passed, I started fighting a pitched battle with words on the printed page. I took to wearing a visor, using a magnifying glass, upping the wattage, and preferring audiobooks. All the while, I kept getting “not yets” from the eye doctor, but finally I got the green light (I think it was green) and a referral to a surgeon described to me as the “Rolls Royce” of cataract specialists.
So I made an appointment and went in to meet Dr. R.R., who was wearing a suit. The fact that we were dealing with my so-called “good” eye didn’t seem to faze him, so we booked a date.
A few weeks ago I arrived for my appointment at what I call “the Cataract Factory.” They took me right away for my first stop, a technician who asked me a question that became the mantra for the day, “Which eye?”
“Left,” I told her.
She took a bunch of tests, made some notes, and then walked me down the hall to see the doctor – not Dr. R.R. but the one who sees you first. He asked me the question, I gave him the answer (“Left”), and then he checked me over and pronounced me fit for surgery.
My next stop was a special chair surrounded by medical professionals who wanted to be sure I was OK, understood everything, and could answer the “which eye” question. “He will be out to see you shortly,” a nurse said, and I knew whom she meant.
This time Dr. R.R. was wearing blue surgical scrubs. I remember greeting him, but not much else although I was awake throughout the surgery which, after all that workup, took less than ten painless minutes. “It went perfectly,” he told me afterwards.
My last stop on the assembly line was the next morning, when yet another doctor (the only one who didn’t ask me the question) looked me over and pronounced me good to go.
The upshot of all this is that not only am I still able to hear the birds, but I see them better. Driving is once again easier, especially at night, and I don’t need the visor or the magnifier.
There’s one more thing I no longer need – my contact lens. That’s because when you get rid of a cataract they install an “intraocular” lens. So, I have thrown away all the solutions, plastic holders, and other paraphernalia that have been part of my life for many decades.
But my brain still thinks I’m supposed to go through the daily lens cleaning, soaking, and in and out rituals. Old habits die hard.