Saturday, July 23, 2011

Choosing Lasik Surgery

I have been wearing eyeglasses to correct near-sightedness since I was about 7 years old.  My distance vision has continued to worsen throughout my life, and I've been forced to get new glasses just about every 3-4 years.  I'm accustomed to the limitations that eyeglasses bring, and contact lenses have never worked for me.  As long as I could put on my glasses in the morning and see all day, be productive, etc., I was happy.

However, last year I was told by my ophthalmologist  that my close vision had become more impaired due to my age (47 then) and that naturally declines as time goes on.  I was told that one pair of glasses was no longer an option and bifocals did not work for me.  She suggested I start considering surgery as a long-term solution.

Suddenly I was faced with a big decision... have Lasik surgery to correct my near-sightedness and astigmatism or be prepared to start wearing two pairs of glasses throughout the day, one for near, one for far.  What a drag it would be to have to wear two pairs of glasses at all times, one around my neck, another on my face, switching back and forth every day for the rest of my life.  I am one of those people, as my doctor said, that simply cannot wear bifocals, perhaps because my eyes are both so different (one I use for distance, one I use for near, and one eye is much worse than the other).

So at that time, I bought what would likely be my last SINGLE pair of glasses to use each day for all activities, but which did not fully correct my vision.  Since then, I truly miss seeing things with clarity.  And my eyesight has continued to get worse.  

One year later (about two weeks ago), I made an appointment to have a pre-Lasik exam.  I went to Lasik Vision Center in Waukesha.  Their ophthalmologist and surgeon, Dr. Ivan Ireland, has done 55,000 Lasik surgeries, travels around the world lecturing on the subject of sight and eye surgery, and has an excellent reputation and wonderful testimonials from his patients.  

The exam went well and I was told that I am a good candidate for Lasik.  They said my cornea is still of normal thickness, my eye health is excellent, and my sight is within the range that can be corrected by surgery.  

They recommended Custom Lasik because of my age and my extreme astigmatism.  Custom will be a more precise surgery, removing any aberrations or fluctuations on the surface of my cornea (I have many) and will result in higher quality vision, as well as eliminate any haloes, especially at night when driving.  The latter has been a real issue for me.

They also recommended buying the lifetime enhancement package, which is insurance should my eyes change and need "enhancement surgeries" later on.  They said that only 5% of their patients need enhancements, and that is only after 5-10 years have passed.  Because of my age, I opted for that package.

So my Custom Lasik surgery takes place next weekend.  I'm half scared and half excited.  I am praying that I, like millions of others, will emerge from surgery exclaiming with joy at the amazing results.  I am told I will likely need to wear reading glasses still, but that's a far cry from wearing two pairs of glasses throughout my waking hours, and I will only need the very lowest magnification for readers.  I actually look forward to buying glasses in cool different colors like so many people do these days, and also to be able to put on a  normal pair of sunglasses!  That will truly be a unique experience for me.

I will come home after surgery with antibiotic drops, anti-inflammatory drops and a pair of clear eye covers that I'll need to wear when I sleep for two weeks.  I'll have post-op exams to keep an "eye" on my healing process.  No strenuous exercise for one week and no swimming, suntanning or contact sports for two weeks.  I'll need to wear sunglasses for a few weeks if outside and perhaps use eye drops for any dryness that can happen to some patients for the first few weeks.  Other than that, they said I could resume my normal activities the following day.

I can't wait to go swimming someday and see underwater!  And go scuba diving and snorkeling and actually SEE the fish around me.  Once in Cancun, I was almost bitten by a gargantuan barracuda because I was nearly blind down there w/o my glasses.  David waved to me under the water to come up, and he then told me how close I had been to it.

I can't wait to wake up and see across the room, look out the window at the waving green trees with clarity, be able to lounge on the sofa to watch TV without smashing my glasses or rest my head in David's lap and still see him without fear of crushing my glasses because I won't be wearing any!  Wow. 

I can't wait to see clearly.  

Hopefully intermediate distance won't be an issue for me.  That's another concern, and no one really knows until they have the surgery as everyone is different.  Fingers and toes crossed, I'll be happily writing and blogging again within a few days and hopefully I won't even have to wear reading glasses for that.  

More later... as the saga continues.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Precious Time

Time has always been one of my most precious possessions, the one I guarded like a sentry.  That strict, protective vigilance was the natural response of a hyperactive, overachiever who worked full-time in fast-paced, stressful jobs.  I first worked for a newspaper doing sales and writing (deadlines), then horse racing in advertising and promotions and then into the corporate world for a telecommunications company.  Every second counted. Multi-tasking was crucial.  Prioritizing tasks was necessary and sometimes a challenge when multiple projects and leaders all had equally demanding timelines.  There was never enough time in a day, and rarely did I feel a sense of accomplishment.  I had no time to bask in the joy of a completed task, much less acknowledge a job well done.  It was crazy, crazy, crazy.  The train was always speeding forward, and I was breathless and dissatisfied, watching life zip by in a blur.

At the end of the day I was eager for down time.  I was starved for quiet, unencumbered, timeless solitude.  After I got my initial dose of it, I was ready to share any remaining free time with others. First, David, my husband, and my cats and then other family and friends.  However, I was also engaged in a series of hobbies and interests:  writing, bird-watching, nature photography, karaoke, drum circles, volunteering at animal shelters, travel, motorcycle rides, piano, gourmet cooking, gardening, Zumba, Yoga, Art of Living, etc.

I think losing my mother early in life made me all the more aware of how precious time is.  And I want to learn and experience everything I can while I'm here.

Finally, after 30 years of rushing through life, the stress had its impact.  Health issues mounted, pain racked my body and mind.  I was one gigantic nerve from head to toe.  Emotionally, I felt like a fragile, glass vase, and every touch, vibration or noise added another crack to my surface. I thought I would crumble into  pieces at any moment.

So I quit.  I left the corporate world and the traditional workplace.  I'm no longer going to a job that I dread and doing unfulfilling work like a mindless drone.  I feel blessed that we are in a financial position to allow me to do this.  But I also know that many others could do the same since telecommuting and home-based jobs are becoming more and more  available.  Working from home requires commitment, self-motivation, organization and sometimes a minor  financial investment to make it profitable, but it can be a reality. 

I recently discovered a quote that sums up my feelings on the matter of time:

I am tired of the imposed rhythms of men,
Tethered time, restrained and trained
To a monotonous beat
Digital time blinking exactness

~Phillip Pulfrey

I've cast away the imposed rhythms of men, tethered time -- all of it.  I embrace my right to dance to my own erratic, unique beat.  I have rediscovered the original me and grasped the fullness of who I am with both hands.  I won't let her go again.  I am living as I was meant to live.  The creative me is writing again, singing, dancing, laughing, exercising spontaneity, giving, loving, listening, stopping to breathe and drink in every moment of this precious life.

I am doing what I was born to be, a writer.  

And I celebrate every moment, every day, every lesson, every challenge, everyone I love who adorns my heart.  I am so blessed to be fully awake again and loving life.

Many have asked me (sometimes with eyes of green) -- what do you do all day? They say or infer:  It must be fun to just sit around and sip tea all day, punch out a few words, then time for another break.  No, this is not the nature of my life.  Yes, the pace has changed.  Thankfully, it has slowed down.  But I have the same structure as any full-time worker.  I still rise every morning before 7 AM, shower and dress.  I still work five days a week.  Two days on transcription work.  And three or more days of writing.  I never quit before 5 PM.  I do it because I love what I'm doing, and I can't wait to do it.

And because I am thankful for this opportunity to work at home, I also take care of all the household and yard chores (save for mowing), cooking, cleaning, small sewing jobs, errands, shopping, etc.  

My days are still full from beginning to end.  The difference is the pace and loving what I'm doing.  Also -- freelancing gives me the flexibility of time.  If something important comes up -- I can shift my hours.  

Time is precious.  And I'm not wasting another moment.