Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Right Eye 6


Not being allowed to lie down for two weeks sounds like the sort of simple but nightmarish torture inflicted on those held at Guantanamo, but in fact it's not been so bad, thanks to a comfortable chair to sleep in, even though the sleep's been on the restless side. But I have been a little surprised at the intensity of the longing; as with any prohibition, suddenly the proscribed thing seems intensely alluring, as if it's just calling to you from across the divide between the permissible and the disallowed.

On Thursday, January 20, I was allowed to lie down again, and it seemed ridiculously luxurious. I took two naps that day; i paid attention to how it felt to lower my body onto the bed, turned to my left side (lying on my back is still verboten, as it would contribute to cataract formation. I watched myself drifting into sleep, that feeling of descending further. Just now I don't think I can get enough of that.


Also on January 20, and an equal pleasure: I'm allowed out once a day, for one errand. I left the apartment at seven on Thursday morning. It had snowed in the night, and was still snowing, but by the time I walked around the block and stopped to talk to Sam's 'father' - Sam is a gorgeous Weimarner pup, and I regret I don't know his human companion's name -- the sky was clearing, and sun beginning to break out across the white sidewalk and the white cars. One eye enough to be dazzled.

I am not yet, however, allowed to read, and that seems, if it goes on much longer, far more dire than the other prohibitions.


January 22: Wally died today seventeen years ago. How can that be, seventeen years? I have a terrible time remembering dates and numbers of any sort; I need a visual or sonic mnemonic to make them stick. For the date of Wally's departure, it's two swans with their necks bent.


Sweet generosities: the kindness of Susan, Angelo, Zach, Adam, Jaime, Guy, John, Alex, Algis, Koshin, Chodo, Paul M, Carolyn, Alison, Terry, and more Facebook well-wishers than I could shake the proverbial stick at. (That's one of my parents' southern regionalisms, as far as know, and where on earth did it come from? "More than you could shake a stick at" was used to describe any uncountable number. Why would you be shaking a stick at things?)

And of course Paul, walking Ned many times a day, shopping, getting the mail, reading Jane Eyre aloud, and only very occasionaly looking like I am driving him crazy. In my own estimation I am a calm and grateful invalid, as far as the species go, but you'd have to ask him.


For two weeks I wore, at home, my perforated metal eye patch with its blue plastic rim, held onto my face with an x of white adhesive tape. Then, when I'd set it on the coffee table while I put in eye drops, Ned got ahold of it and made short work of the thing. Paul was appalled, while I was relieved; I didn't like that thing one bit, and it gave me an excuse to wear instead the classic black piratical kind I got at the drugstore. Well, almost classic: it has a stiff armature that holds it away from the eye in a flattened cone, rather like one of those bustier cups Jean Paul Gaultier made for Madonna, but not quite so pointy. Two different men have asked me if I really need it or it's just a look; they both thought it was hot. Chodo took a careful look at it and said, You like that, don't you? And I do.


So here's the prognosis. On Thursday I go back to the hospital so Dr Reddy can see how I'm healing, Late in February, the grayish bubble of gas in my eye will have been absorbed into my system, and he'll be able to see what kind of shape my retina is in. Maybe a second surgery, maybe not. Vision will be compromised to some degree by the scars on my retina, but I don't know how much. In early summer, I'll have surgery to remove the cataract caused by my treatment. Cataract surgery is remarkable: the clouded lens of my right eye will be dissolve by a laser, and then a tiny plastic lens will be inserted, unfolded, and slipped into place. It will be a prescription lens, of course, and thus to some degree will compensate for my loss of vision. And maybe, who can say, that will be the end of the saga of the eye. Though Dr. Reddy says we are going to be togther for a long time, and I don't want to press too much to learn what he means by that. Enough for the future to unfold, as it does, enough for the eye to open onto the sun on the snowy sidewalk. Or this morning, the marvel of going to the GLBT Center on 13th Street, and walking down the curving stair, holding onto the handrail while the distorted but nonetheless apprehensible stairs flow downward beneath me. Provisionally functional man descending a staircase.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking us on this journey with you. I believe as a writer--and thank you, Paul, for being the recorder of the words--the images your words create help heal the absence of your eye's images for this duration. As one of your longtime readers, I know you've always seen and better expressed more than most anyone who has "perfect" eyesight.

Among Amid While said...

To go even more southern: We shake a stick at things ALL THE TIME down here in Australia. 'More ____s than you can shake a stick at' is quite a common expression here.

Anonymous said...

yes, i echo becky thanking you for taking us on this journey.

jayme said...

i'm so happy to hear that you are making progress. i wish you all the best for a speedy recovery. you've got quite a team taking care of you!

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Congratulations on some progress!

melissashook said...

Thank you for such detail. We all need to know what might happen, how a person might deal with it.

Jim W said...

It's good to know that someone else has a dog that would do what my hound would CERTAINLY do in that situation. Best of luck for Thursday, Mark.

Peter said...

So sorry to hear about your eye, Mark.
I hope you will be seeing well again.

Love the image of the two swans for remembering Wally's day.