Volume 4 Book 4 of
Living in the Bonus Round
Seeing (actually SEEING) my new eyes on the morning after.
Notice Joan looking over my shoulder.
[ Book 4-3 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt6A-6B ] [ Pt 7 ]
[ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] -- [ Book 4-5 ]
June 30 - July 4, 2005.
We almost didn't make it to the hospital for my eye surgery and it was all my fault, although we did blame it on Jim. "You know how terrible I am about directions. You should have Googled it yourself!"
"I know. I know," he said. "It's all my fault."
We ended up driving all the way home from central L.A., googling the address, and then zipping back to the hospital. It was really early in the morning so there was no one in the office when we tried calling from the road. I had also left my papers at the apartment and finally got someone at the out-patient clinic informing them that we would be an hour late. Luckily, though my scheduled arrival time was 6am, my surgery wasn't until 7:30.
We arrived at 7, rushed into the pre-op, and... this was my favorite part: I was lying on the gurney, hadn't eaten since midnight, no morning fluids, so I was disheveled, thirsty and hungry. In front of me were three nurses and a very cute doctor (the anesthesiologist) who were peppering me with questions about my medications, my eating habits, my allergies, my physical activities, previous surgeries, etc. On and on.
My eye surgeon came by, reviewed the papers and we talked about the surgery. "Okay," he said. "We're going to do major work in your right eye. The goal is to bring it down into alignment with the other. This means we detach all the muscles, roll the eye down, and then reattach the muscles at a different place on the eyeball. Then with the left eye, we are going to put a staple on the 'up' muscle to prevent it from flying all over the place when you look up, hopefully so the two eyes will better coordinate. Is that right?"
"That sounds like it," I responded.
Then, they hooked me up to an I.V. and the doctor said, "Okay, this is going to start putting you to sleep..."
And out I went.
When I woke up, there was a nurse asking me if I was in pain. I was very groggy and, yes, I was hurting -- especially if I tried to open my eyes. There was a bandage over my right eye, but the left eye, though not bandaged, was frozen shut with pain. Trying to open that was like taking a knife across it. I must have whelped. She gave me a little more pain medication and said to rest. Shortly after that, she said it was time to go home. We called Jimmy (who had been told to just go on home and wait).
I changed clothes, slowly and painfully. It hurt to lean over. It was impossible to open my left eye. It hurt to move at all. But it wasn't debilitating pain. Just pain.
By now, of course, traffic was up to L.A.-peak and we had a long drive. First, over to the drug store on Venice Blvd. to pick up eye ointment and Vicodin. Then, up Crescent Heights.
That's when I had to pee. Badly. Painfully. We made it almost to the hills when we spied a convenience store. "Pull in there. They gotta have a bathroom."
By now I could almost crack open my eye just to peer out. Jimmy pulled up and I raced out of the car, peeping here and there to make sure I didn't trip over anything, got into the store and found the bathroom.
I spun around, peered out again and saw a key on the end of a long wooden stick sitting on a microwave oven. I grabbed it, fumbled for the door and -- since my eye was now watering like crazy and shutting itself closed -- blindly unlocked the door, stepped inside, found the urinal and finally started peeing, hoping beyond all hope that I was actually hitting it, because by now, there was no chance of me opening my eye again.
Yes! I made it! Relief.
Jimmy was, by now, in the store. I took his arm and we made out to the car.
I took to Vicodin and laid down on the couch and went right to sleep, dreaming Vicodin dreams of flying and SEEING.
In fact, I had this dream that I was in Florida on a beach. And it was time to take off the bandage. And when I did, my right eye, huge and blue, dropped down into its place like the roller on a slot machine. Perfectly aligned. And in my dream I looked 30 years old again.
The next morning, following instructions, I pulled off the bandage, holding my cam on the "reveal" so I could share the moment. Success or failure, I was ready to see the result. It wasn't painful, btw, though it might look like it.
I put my glasses on.
A single image. It worked.
Close-up. Day One.
Red, but totally in sync.
After that, I collapsed back onto the couch. When Jimmy woke up, I walked into the bedroom and said, "Look into my eyes..."
He said it was a miracle. He said, "How do they feel?"
I said, "It's like they were never bad. The vision is perfect. And it hurts like hell."
I spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday on the couch, moving rarely. Using my computer to send quick messages about my progress, and trying not to look upor down or sideways or to move my eyes in any way at all. Everything was painful except sitting perfectly still and not moving my eyes in any way at all. I was still taking the Vicodin but I was down from two pills to one every six hours. Then on Sunday I began taking OTC pain pills like Aleve. After all, I didnt' want to become the next Rush Limbaugh, hiding out in parking lots and buying up narcotics.
Friday and Saturday were ridiculously painful unless I was sitting and moving anything. It hurt, btw, to bend over. I was ordered to not do that, nor to pick up anything heavy or sing. Also, no jacuzzis, swimming pools or saunas (as if I could remember the last time I went into one of those).
Sunday morning, the pain seemed to break, as I said. I switched to non-narcotic` pain pills and I took video of my eyes every morning and evening. What I saw was the swelling gradually subsiding along with the pain. Then I began to be able to move my eyes around without the paper-cut pain disabling me.
Monday was even better. As I write this, it's the first time I've been able to sit and read and write for longer than five minutes. The worst is over. I am still applying the eye gel three times a day. My beard is five days old and looking scraggly. I still haven't moved from the couch or gone outside. I can't exercise. But at least we've had some interesting teevee. I finally got to see "City of God," which totally destroyed me. It's set in the Brazilian slums. Reminded me of "Pichote" or "The Harder They Come," two other films I would have loved to have made.
And speaking of that, the one thing I missed about Saturday was not getting to go hand out with Linda Fulton and the Improv for Kids program. I have been meaning to show you these kids. They are so interesting and creative and bright. We are still planning our film, but I've taken video of them three weekends in a row just riffing and improvising together. It hasn't amounted to a whole lot yet since we don't have a plot, but I'm learning how to be a better cameraman, not an easy job when you have 10 or more teenagers improving a scene, not knowing who's going to say the next line.
Now I'll be able to see what I'm shooting!
I will post some pictures this next week here in the diary as I continue to recuperate. But for those who have been asking about my eye, so far, so good. I go back to Dr. Quiroz on Wednesday for the follow-up.
I can't wait to tell him he's a genius.
© 1996-2005 by Steve Schalchlin.You have permission to print from this diary and distribute for use in support groups, schools, or to just give to a friend. You do not have permission to sell it.