Friday, September 21, 2018

A fugitive

I'm in hiding, or at least my car is.  I failed the annual safety inspection program in my state, because unbeknownst to me, sometime in the last ten months thieves entered my car and stole my spare wheel and the special unlocking key tool for the particular antitheft lug nut on each wheel.

My car is a 2015 with 15,000 miles on it, what could be unsafe about it?  The safety inspection law is a ripoff, in place solely to advance the interests of the auto parts industry, service stations and collect more revenue in the form of its annual fee for the state.  The last state I lived in, Colorado, got rid of the law decades ago for those reasons, realizing the true remedy for driving a defective vehicle is the issuance of an safe vehicle ticket by the police with its two-point penalty.

I failed because the inspection station couldn't get my wheels off because I no longer had the special key, which was news to me, and so they slapped a rejection decal on my windshield, good for 16 days while I fixed the unsafe aspect of my vehicle.  Mind you, the unsafe aspect of my vehicle wasn't the absence of a spare wheel (remember it was stolen), which I could understand as a safety issue, but because the station couldn't get my wheels off without the special antitheft unlocking key for one lug nut on each wheel, which special key is unavailable for sale because its special.

So I fixed that problem by paying $72 to the Nissan dealer to remove the four remaining special antitheft lug nuts from my wheels (it's ironic, isn't it, that my wheel was stolen despite the presence on my car of this special (useless) antitheft feature) (I have no doubt that all wheel thieves have the same universal special antitheft lug nut key that dealers do) and replace them with regular lug nuts that my lug nut wrench can remove.  My car was okay with its scarlet letter pasted onto its windshield till the seventeenth but now its illegal; subject to a $50 ticket from roving meter maids so it now resides deep in my driveway while I wait for the first to arrive (so I can get an extra month going forward on the annual program).

Thursday, September 20, 2018

I love my cousin... .

Yesterday I got a call from my cousin.  I knew she was undergoing retinal reattachment surgery that day, which, since I had undergone that very same surgery last month, I was keenly interested in and very aware of.  She told me her operation was over and she was at home resting.

She said her surgery had gone well and it hadn't hurt a bit.  I was so glad to hear this, not only for her sake but also because I am facing another bout of this same surgery myself.  My cousin knew of my bad experience with this same surgery in July, the first of my two emergency eye surgeries in a one week span.

When I reached out to her two days ago to wish her luck in her upcoming surgery, she alluded to her hope that her surgery would go better than mine.  I felt bad then that I had posted so readily about my "discomfort" from my initial surgery, which is apparently undergone often by old folks like me, mostly without notable pain or lack of success.

Mine wasn't so bad, I told her then on the eve of her surgery, and there were conditions present in my first operation that clearly were not present in hers that would undoubtedly make her experience much different from mine.  For instance, hers had been scheduled for a week already, whereas I was immediately slapped into the surgical ward within minutes of the initial consult with no time in which to reconcile the procedure internally, which left me anxious, and I didn't have any family present.  Additionally, I still don't trust the skill level of the anesthesiologist who was present that day.

Her son Jimmy had been there already to give her love and support, in stark contrast to my sons who apparently don't give a damn about anyone but themselves, and of course her husband Bill had been taking good care of her.  Certain friends of mine had wonderfully provided this support and love for me on a moment's notice, and others have called me to express their hope for my speedy recovery.

This sweetheart of a relative had reached out to me in the immediate aftermath of her surgery to assure me that her operation had been painless, as she knows that I am facing the same surgery, again, later this fall to get the oil out of my eye.  She knows intuitively that I have been facing this prospect with trepidation.  I love my cousin, so concerned about others even in the hour of her need.  Get better soon, Liz.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

I haven't driven at night yet... .

At my one month check up last week following eye surgery last month, my doctor gave me an out for a third eye surgery in the fall to remove the oil filling my healing eye by telling me at the outset that he had clients who have left the oil in their eyes for years and even decades, although he didn't recommend that because the vision isn't so good out of that eye and it leads to cataracts.  He might as well have winked at me.

But more eye surgery is coming up in October or November.  Maybe I should schedule it around Thanksgiving to thank providence for restoring sight in that eye to any degree or to be thankful for the character-building process of another two months of sedate, careful recovery.  You know, the Romans 5 passage about tribulation/patience/experience and hope.

The surgeon suggested that I might want to travel now because after that surgery I'd be in recovery mode for many weeks.  But then, if all went well, the repair would be permanent.  Thank the Lord.

Where would I go, since I'm not in shape to work on any campaign, which had been my intention earlier in the summer once September came, and I haven't tried any turnpike driving nor driving at night yet.  Although I'm healed or mostly healed, I still have trouble with my eye (momentary white flares, steroid eye drops twice a day) and it feels funny so I'm mostly stick-at-home right now and I can't wait to get this oil out of my eye.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Good News and Bad News

About three weeks after the last surgery, my eye started feeling better and driving wasn't a totally exciting adventure.  Oh yeah, I could drive, I just had to be careful because my vision off to the right was distorted and lacked depth perception because of the blurry picture I received in my brain from my healing, oil-filled eye.  I have a powerful truck so if I wasn't poking along stubbornly in the right lane, I would have to memorize what the closest car to me was in the lane off to the right, identify that car in my passenger mirror before I moved over to the right and goose the car to stay ahead of it as I moved right into the free space.

But then my anxiety went into overdrive.  My first surgery had failed after a week, but my second surgery was okay at the one-week checkup but then the next check-up was scheduled for two months away.  I decided to move that consultation up to see if this delicate surgery was holding, in light of my daily effort not to strain myself or pick up more than five pounds, which was an impossible standard to meet unless I stayed in bed all day.  For instance, my vacuum cleaner was in the basement; it probably weighs twenty pounds but I waited three weeks before I brought it up to the main floor for some much-needed vacuuming.

When I called for an earlier appointment, they gave me the first available opening, one month out instead of two months out.  As my eye continued to heal, I saw or imagined all sorts of ominous warning signs--floaters, tiny clear bubbles in my field of vision, occasional sudden, momentary flashes of white light.  The day of my late afternoon appointment late last week was totally anxiety-ridden, as all day I imagined what the doctor would see when he looked into my dilated eye.

However, the examination left me feeling giddy because he said my eye was healing nicely.  Then he asked when I wanted to schedule the third surgery, to get the oil out of my eye.  It would be like the first surgery, he said, where I was sentient during surgery and in great "discomfort" unlike the second surgery when I was out, but he said he would give me more or different drugs to put me in la-la land.  The old good news, bad news routine, although this was obviously great news because the eye was healing and my sight was returning to close or closer to normal vision.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Half full

My first eye surgery was on July 31st, and the second was on August 9th.  The first time I was awake and aware in the OR, by the doctor's design, and although sedated apparently, I suffered a lot of "discomfort" during the procedure as he later termed it.  The next time I was under and it went much better for me because I didn't feel or remember the surgery.  The night following the surgery, the most difficult point in the recovery period, was much better the second time.

Standard procedure for worsening retinal detachment or tears is to replace the vitreous humor with a gas bubble and wait for the lasered retina to heal and the gas bubble to dissipate and sight improves as it heals.  It takes 4 to 6 months to fully heal and don't fly too soon or your eye might burst.  They give you a green wrist tag to wear with this vivid warning.

If this surgery fails, an oil bubble is inserted into the eye which keeps it inflated for 2 to 4 months as the retina heals.  This oil has to be removed with additional surgery which necessitates another two-month recovery period for the eye to heal from that.  Then, yay! it's a permanent fix.

But if the oil ball treatment doesn't work, then as my doctor put it, there's only "one more bullet in the cartridge belt," surgery to band the eye.  I don't know what that procedure is and I shudder at the sound of it.  But I don't believe I'm headed in that direction, despite horror stories I've heard about this surgery being repeated several times that I hope are outliers.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Uh, okay so far...

I went in for the one-week-after check-up after my second eye surgery in a week for a detached retina but the prognosis following that surgery, after the first surgery failed, was okay.  I now had a gas bubble in my eye, which would have to be surgically removed later, instead of a gas bubble which would have just dissipated eventually if that surgery had been successful.

The surgeon said the repair of the three tears in the superior region of the retina, the subject of the first surgery, were pretty set now, and the subsequently deteriorating bottom of the retina in the inferior region, the subject of the second surgery, was still adhering although it was still "wet" (not yet adhering although still in place).  He set the next check-up for two months away.

I couldn't lift anything over 5 pounds for weeks if not months, or do anything that would induce strain including sneezing much less scrubbing a sink basin or a floor or pulling up weeds in the yard.  Try living alone and see how that goes as the weeks turn into a month or more.

The weeks of recovery started to drone on.  My eye hurt sometimes, and gave me occasional sudden pangs of pain, and it itched maddeningly, and I started feeding my paranoia by reading reports of persons who had this surgery multiple times, a half dozen or more, in the hope of it taking.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

I had two eye surgeries in a week--don't try that at home!

Shockingly, eight days after emergency eye surgery on my "bad eye,"which was definitely rapidly going blind by the hour (three tears in the retina in the superior region), I was undergoing emergency eye surgery for a second time to save either my typical-or-less normal eyesight or to save my dominant eyeball. I was apparently, according to the ophthalmologist, a bad actor who didn't adhere to the severe recovery routine, but remember that he was the surgeon whose operation had failed, and I was discharged from this second surgery within the hour for my most important sense, sight.

My friend Steve drove me to my friend's apartment (all on one floor) (she was away for a family wedding) and I underwent a week of intensive eyeball-saving recovery routine.  Oh yeah, I did.

What had transpired was that I had had the first hopeful surgery to retain my sight, the insertion of a gas bubble into my eye (to keep it inflated) (90 to 95% success rate) (surgeons lie) fail, so now an oil bubble occupied my eye.  It would have to be removed, if the secondary procedure was successful, with a third eye surgery (the gas bubble dissipates, ending the surgical merry-go-round) to remove the oil.

An excruciating week followed wherein my head was flat on a table for 14 hours a day, forehead down.  It sucked hugely, and I went to my one-week-after doctor's appointment with great trepidation, because it seemed that every time I went to Kaiser they slapped me into the OR.