Here’s a logo I designed when I was free-lancing at the very beginning of my graphic design career back in the 70’s. Seems like it fits here. It’s in the Our Lives Together book, mentioned at right.
I’d been saying to Anne that I really do need to get an appointment with an ophthalmologist. It was the sense of growing floaters and sometimes tiny black dots moving around somewhere out in space in front of me. Then Wednesday morning of this week, driving to meet a friend for coffee, it became clear. A floater had become a curtain, completely occluding the left side of vision in my right eye. More like an iceberg, really, sometimes white, sometimes dark, and moving, blocking not a quarter but a half and even three-quarters of vision in that eye. Weird! I mentioned it to Mike and he warned me to get it looked at right away.
So, without appointment, I drove to my primary care doctor with appeal for a quick visit. I was instructed to read the eye chart. I couldn’t even see the “E”!
Another appointment was made to see an ophthalmologist that afternoon.
Meantime, in the studio I had a portrait commission going with a Christmas due date in Chattanooga. Between appointments I kept that ship plowing on, icebergs or no.
The ophthalmologist dilated my pupils, put a Star Wars-esque mega-microscope between us and after close inspection announced, “detached retina, we’ll get you to a surgeon right away.”
Great! A name. There’s something comforting about that. It takes the mystery out of it and puts one back into the fellowship of humanity. It’s much less amorphous than, “Hey, I’ve got something like Antartica in my eye floating off its base and threatening to take over half the world.”
The paperwork said, “urgent.” I drove across town and squeezed in another unscheduled appointment, the third that day, this with a surgeon.
That was a trip too, eyes dilated, wearing a double pair of sunglasses, trying to find a place I’d never been.
The surgeon confirmed it, retina on the loose, and if allowed to go much farther it’d be beyond repair. He scheduled me for an out-patient operation the next morning. At 5:00 a.m.!
I came home and told Anne all that had happened, enjoying, by the way, the wonderful light in the kitchen, so bright, with everything so all the more beautiful, my pupils still wide-eyed.
I heard a quote on the radio just that day. Christian scholar C.S. Lewis once said, “I believe in Christianity like I believe in the sun . . . not because I see it, but because by it I can see everything else.” Brilliant. And my experience exactly. But back to the story.
The next morning I had the operation. Truth is, I hardly knew it, being sedated into a sort of la-la land. Nor had there been any anxiety at all, not since I knew the name (or even before, really).
I will say this: I am extremely grateful for medical science, and for medicare, and to be living in a place and time where these are available. I considered that if my grandfather had experienced the same thing the curtain would have closed altogether and the eye would be lost, permanently.
Me, I need that eye, I’m a painter. Okay, it’s just as true with non-painters. But I did notice when I came home from the operation and dutifully returned to the studio and the portrait project that my depth perception was severely affected. With the right eye all bandaged up I had a hard time knowing when the brush was hitting the palette, or the painting. It took real concentration to get the detail.
Note: All this happened, from the noticing something was wrong to getting it surgically dealt with, within 24 hours. And, the progress on the painting was hardly affected, even with it being highly visual work. You know I’m grateful . . . for the system . . . for all the doctors and their training. . . and of course the Creator of the eye itself and the Scheduler of all my hours.
Now, two days later, my bandages are off, the portrait commission is finished and, just like any day, I’m moving onto next things.
For the while, however, there’s still no vision in the right eye. All I get are sensations of color. Night driving (probably not recommended) is an absolute light show, again, quite wonderful if you look at it that way. That’s due to the gas bubble that’s in the eye helping the healing process. It’s more like looking though a marble of Vaseline and would be worrisome if I weren’t told to expect it, for about two months.
Meantime I depend on my one good eye. It’s sorta good, anyway; after 74 years it’s had its own history. I’m also thinking about that saying of Jesus, “If your eye be single, your whole body will be full of light.”* I know it’s metaphorical for a much larger truth, but this experience has given me a new appreciation for light itself, and the special organ we have to take it in.
For now, it’s a single eye I’m depending on. I want to keep this body full of light.
Or at least that’s my prayer.