The nurse seemed unmoved by the fact that I couldn’t see squat. Then the doctor came in and finished his examination and said to continue “positioning.”
“But I still can’t see anything,” I said.
“As you heal your vision will improve,” he said.
This time he gave me permission to stay home alone. In order to make this work, Jennifer became my chauffeur and Susan my maid. It was comforting to be in my own house, but my usual entertainments of reading and writing could only be done in “the position.” Not being “Rubber Woman,” I spent most of my time listening to the cooking channel; white noise to quiet my ever-racing mind and imagination.
Days passed slowly. Boredom was broken only by Susan’s daily visits to tidy my kitchen, empty trash, sort through and read me my mail, and other such mundane tasks that we hardly notice in normal times. But suddenly, every small detail of life became a challenge. My big event of the day was showering and shampooing. (What a relief to be able to stand tall once again, even with one eye tightly shut against water and shower gel.)
I adopted my friend Peggy Fielding’s method of life; the one she calls “The Swiss-Cheese Method:” one small task at a time. Then I would reposition. Peggy called me and talked for brief periods, knowing that every act of life was complicated by my enforced awkward position.
And those eye drops! The never ending eye drops with a schedule so complicated that Susan charted my times with spaces to check off when completed. What a Godsend to have a private licensed Occupational Therapist at my beck and call.
Life without reading and or writing is like a life without sunshine. What do people do who don’t read? What seemed to me like my Technicolor life turned into Black and White. The only advantage was plenty of time to meditate and pray.
Small victories filled my life. Obvious day by day improvement encouraged me to believe that I might eventually recover. On frequent trips to the doctor my eye was checked and progress tracked. I lived for the nurse’s smile and her encouraging, “That’s better.” Especially after it became harder for me to tell if there was improvement.
A big step was the day I was told I could drive, “When I felt like it.” But in order not to trouble my grown daughters, I promised to wait a few more days. (I once was a mother with two daughters, now I’m a daughter with two mothers. How lucky can one woman be?)
And the thought of driving seemed intimidating. I longed for the freedom driving permitted, but doubts troubled me. What if I banged up my new car—that shiny red sedan with the new-car smell I so loved? Although I’ve never received any traffic violations, I feared if I got one now, my girls might “ground” me, fearing for my safety.
Finally I decided to venture to the grocery store for bananas and a bottle of milk. I felt as excited and nervous as a 16-year-old with a brand new license. You’ve seen these folks creeping along and driving other drivers insane? That would have been me on that day.
Almost as quickly as I went blinded, my life was restored. I could read for my own entertainment in addition to handling my own housework and mail. My driving fears quieted, and I once again had wheels. But most important of all, to me at least, I could write.
The first day I put in a serious day of writing, I felt exhausted. So I realized that, like everything else, I’d have to work toward my ultimate goal a bit slowly.
The last milestone was being able to exercise on my treadmill. The doctor wouldn’t release me for this until about two and a half weeks had passed. Again I began very slowly and for shorter lengths of time. But the important thing was:
I had my life back!To be continued tomorrow…
My best wishes and healthy reading eyes to one and all,