8/20/2003

Yes, I have been a bit quiet lately. I'll tell you why, but you'd better hope you're not squeamish, because this is going to get icky.

I had a long-anticipated eye operation on Monday afternoon, under local anaesthetic, at a local hospital. I've had a bad cataract in my right eye for several years, gradually getting worse, probably attributable to using prescription topical (ie external on the skin, not internal pill) steroids to control and abate eczema, which I've suffered from to varying degrees since early childhood. It's very much under control these days, but in my twenties and teens it frequently made my life rather miserable. However, the medicines can affect your eyesight with prolonged use. And if anybody out there is thinking they would never use steroids, well, you get them all the time, when you go to the dentist, or every time you whip out your inhaler if you're asthmatic. My quality of life would have been zero without those steroids at certain points in my life. If you met me nowadays, you might have a hard time telling. That wasn't always the case.

I was operated on under local anaesthetic; painkilling stuff was swabbed around my eye, and then several injections were made above and below the eyelids (not in them). My sight faded to near-black in my right eye. Then, to the tune of a tape of '60's soul classics, a small cut was made in the surface of my eye, and into the internal membrane that houses my cataract-damaged lens. The lens was sliced into several sections working through this incision, and then ultrasound was used to liquidise it in situ, before the resulting liquid was sucked out through a tube. Then, the new lens was placed inside.

I didn't see that much because they cover up both of your eyes. However, as is apparently often the case, sight began to come back in the damaged eye, in the form of bright overhead lights and vague scalpel-like blurry shapes and hands and what might have been the outline of faces. There was one interesting optical effect resulting from the new plastic lens being manipulated in its new home in my eyeball; shifted around to fit, I suspect. There was a new doctor just transferred to the eye ward getting a running commentary from my surgeon as he worked - he was showing her what he was doing while Gloria Gaynor maxed out of a cheap ghettoblaster - but I couldn't really make out what he was saying through his surgical mask. Finally, one small microscopic permanent stitch to hold the eyeflap in place, and that was me. Sat around in a waiting room with a plastic shield over the eye for an hour or so while the anaesthetic wore off and I read magazines.

So, that was my Monday. Mostly, I waited around for something to happen; the procedure itself only took about fifteen to twenty minutes, I'd say. It was sort of ... interesting. Intellectually I wasn't bothered at all by having somebody poke at my eye - I couldn't feel anything after all ... but definitely a bit weird.

So how is my eyesight? Until Monday, I was seeing everything through a kind of vaguely porno soft-focus - or about 5% gaussian blur in the left eye (which also has a much, much milder cataract) and 20% minimum in the left eye, if you're a graphic designer. It takes a couple of weeks for the eye to learn to focus with the new lens, but already things seem clearer ...

... almost too clear ... I went on an insane cleaning jag in my rented flat when I realised how dirty the kitchen was. Bought a wad of soap pads and scourers and went cer-razy. Walking up the road on Monday evening, I kept staring at the back of my hand like some acid-drenched '60's casualty. All those little crinkly wrinkly bits ... where the hell did they come from? Oh that's right, I can see them now. If I look through my right eye alone, everything's got a vaguely misty, smoothed-out, almost cinematic look to it. Through the new lens, although still a touch blurry for the next few days, it's like freaking robo-vision - everything's just too damn clear, like seeing a videotape. And talk about sharp!

You know, by some people's definitions, this makes me a cyborg, heh ...

Partly because of that, and partly because I've been running around looking at flats I might want to buy, I'm not getting as much work done on Against Gravity as I might like. Nevertheless, I'm about a quarter of the way through the rewrite, which means I'm probably further ahead now than I thought I would be.
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