I had my second eye surgery yesterday. This morning’s post op exam declared it a success. People have asked me what kind of surgery I was having done, and almost to a person they have explained it all to me without listening to what I tried to say about it.
Oh, you’re having Lasik, they butt in, and go on to tell me that they know all about that because their mother in law had it done ten years ago, and it was: a) a huge success, or b) a huge failure. Are they taking out cataracts? Oh, I know all about that, it’s laser surgery, are you having it done at that place where they do hundreds every day?
The fact is, I don’t know what the surgery was called. The word laser never came up, although I’m certain it was the main cutting tool. Laser eye surgery in all of it’s forms, including Lasik, has been around for a while, but my ophthalmologist had made it clear to me that I was not, nor likely to ever be, a candidate. Then, a little over a year ago, she announced that the technology had caught up to me. I was indeed a candidate, and the work could be done by a particular specialist who was most definitely not running the so called laser factory.
Yes, they removed cataracts. Yes, they did some other work to lessen conditions that caused blurry vision. Yes, they removed my natural lenses and installed artificial lenses. And yes, I’m sure it just the same as your mother in law had done ten years ago, so why am I even telling this story? I’m telling it because to me it is miraculous that I have been able to go from, in the popular vernacular, 20/800 vision to something close to 20/20. I think it’s wonderful to have peripheral vision that’s in focus. Now I can wear really cool shades. I may have to get used to losing glasses, reading glasses, which i shall wear down at the end of my nose in the most snobbish way possible. In all my years, I never feared losing my glasses because they were either on me or next to me on the night stand where I had checked and checked again to know that they were there if I had to get up and go somewhere in the middle of the night.
To me it’s a holy gift through the equally holy gifts of science and technology. I sometimes wonder if we fail to thankfully grasp the holy that is embedded in the science and technology that has made modern life possible? I was reminded of that when my surgeon spoke of time he spent in Nigeria where traditional healers continue to practice the art of “couching” cataracts. Couching is the same process used in the Middle Ages, and involves unsanitary needle like tools, used without reliable anesthetics, to penetrate the eye, knocking cataract material loose. The results are predictably erratic.
Before I get back to working on my piece on what it means to be normal and average, I think I’ll stop to give thanks to God for these wonderful gifts of healing that I am privileged to enjoy, to pray that the time be not far off when all persons everywhere can have access to the same, and that, in our own nation, we finally come to the recognition that they ought not to be only for those fortunate to have adequate private insurance.