The Eyes Have It
As hairdresser Truvy says in Steel Magnolias, “Time marches on, and it’s marching right across my face.”
There’s nothing like reading your medical chart and seeing the words Senile Optical Sclerosis. Good God! Never mind that SOS is just doctor speak for garden variety cataracts. The word senile evokes hysteria in me. This cannot be happening.
My last two months have been completely absorbed with cataract removal, first the right eye, then, four weeks later, the left. Within hours after the first surgery, I could see better than I had in years. I couldn’t believe my eye.
Now, there’s good news and bad news from this easy and painless surgery. The good news: “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.” But that’s also the bad news. I looked in the mirror and shrieked. This wasn’t just a new wrinkle, but dozens of them. I looked like a Shar Pei. Frankly, it wasn’t all that bad spending years seeing myself like Doris Day filmed through gauze.
And worse, there on my neck, I spied a thick brown hair lengthy enough to tie in a sailor’s knot. How long had that been there? And it had the gall not to turn grey like the stuff on my head. Irony.
Then came the eye drops. Four kinds, four times a day, although asking me to remember anything four times a day is cruel. I was always forgetting and dropping them in my eyes on my way out the door, so I’d arrive places looking like I was grieving. Only for my lost youth.
Also, one time, my peripheral vision faltered and I backed out of the garage a little too close to my passenger side door handle. Both the car and the garage door have forgiven me. My wife Bonnie, not so much.
And speaking of Bonnie, she often helped with the eye drop regimen, which after many weeks got a little old. Sometimes it recalled playwright Neil Simon’s line from Plaza Suite, where E.G. Marshall, getting eye drops, hollered to Maureen Stapleton “You drop them in, you don’t push them in!” Just kidding. I was the one more likely to stab myself in the eyeball.
Furthermore, the surgery rendered my $600 progressive lens, transition-coated eye glasses completely worthless. Sadder yet, I still need reading glasses and sun glasses but must wait over a month for my new prescription. For now I just juggle drug store readers and those bulky plastic sun glasses that go over the reading glasses. Now I’m Mr. Magoo. And whatever glasses I need are in the other room or the other car or nowhere at all until somebody points out that I have three pairs of ugly spectacles dangling from my shirt collar.
If the eye thing wasn’t annoying enough, since July I’ve had the honor of being MX Physical Therapy’s first Jungle Jim water park injury. I popped a ligament from my hip to my knee squirming out of an inner tube on the Lazy River.
So I’m in therapy for the right hip when I get a pain in my left foot, only to find out I have tendonitis on the left from favoring the right. The doc wants me in a boot for a month. For pity’s sake, they should just put me up on blocks in the garage. I don’t know whether to shit or go blind but I guess I can decide after my upcoming gastroenterologist appointment and eye doctor follow up.
By this time I’m feeling older than dirt and quite disgusted, channeling Bette Davis saying, “Getting old is not for sissies.” That’s when I run into a local couple at physical therapy. One gal is gingerly practicing walking around the room on her healing busted ankle, while the other is waiting for her.
“Are you going to Wings and Wheels this weekend at the Georgetown Airport?” the waitee asked me. “We went last year and loved it! I got to ride in an open cockpit bi-plane. It was fantastic. And they have helicopter rides, too.”
Well that sounded great to me. So early last Saturday morning, Bonnie and I ventured out to the airpark at Georgetown and signed up for the rides. While we waited, we got to talk with a still-spry 90-year old about his days as a World War II bomber navigator and went to check out hundreds of antique cars. I was thrilled to see a classic 1964 Corvette, a model I owned for the decade between 1968 and ’78.
And then it was time for the rides. Bonnie got to go up in the open cockpit bi-plane, doing dips and turns and having a blast. I chose the helicopter ride, taking off over farmland and ocean, seat-belted into a see-through vehicle without doors. I loved it.
I’m happy to report that I didn’t have too much trouble climbing in and out and the view with my new non-Senile-Optical-Sclerosis eyes was absolutely and utterly fantastic. Like that ’64 ‘Vette, I felt classic, not antique.
Maybe what’s been lovingly said about us gay people is true. We may get older, but thank goodness we never mature. I’m workin’ it.
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Frying—a Rehoboth Beach Memoir; Fried & True—Tales from Rehoboth Beach, and For Frying Out Loud—Rehoboth Beach Diaries.