Sunday, October 26, 2008

a "Harry" eyeball

On Thursday I have my eye exam with the specialist downtown. The task of going to a different office and dealing with people who are touted as a higher level of eye doctors gave me a faint memory tug of when Muleskinner and I drove to Macon (GA) almost twenty years ago.

The Macon trip was to get a higher order of doctor's opinion on the double vision that I was struggling to control. While it was a condition that I could remember having far back into my childhood, it had seemed to get worse the summer before my senior year in high school. It was at that point that I confessed to Mom and Dad that I frequently saw two of everything . . . or at least I saw the single thing split into two images if I stared at it for a long amount of time. When I blinked, the two somethings resolved back into one and that was that.

But, as I got older, the splitting into two became more frequent and more bothersome. As the Macon specialists explained things, my brain had become "tired" and unable to properly compensate for the vision problem any more. It wasn't as uncommon an affliction as you might think, but it is usually caught earlier in life when the ability to retrain the brain or surgically correct the problem is more successful.

Even so, the Macon doctor had a plan. He could, right there, in the exam room, lean me back and try to reposition the muscles that attach to the eyeball itself. This repositioning might, he explained, pull the right eye back into proper alignment and correct the basic fact that I saw two of things because my eyes were operating from slightly different angles. This difference in perspective was the cause of my two images. I agreed, as it seemed to most direct and sensible thing to do--but I didn't ask Muleskinner's opinion. He had come along to drive, since I had anticipated having dilated pupils and not being able to drive back home on I-75 for an hour-and a-half afterwards.

I was correct about the driving, but for the wrong reason.

The doctor did indeed lean me back and numbed the eye so I wouldn't "feel" the surgical procedure. And while I can report that--of course--the anesthesia worked, it simply took the pain sensation away. I was still quite aware that someone was tugging and moving things around on my eyeball.

Owing to the fact that I had not stepped into the office that day with any of this in mind (and owing to the fact that, for obvious reasons, you have to watch the doctor bring the anesthesia needle toward your forced open eyeball, I was a bit shaken and sweaty when the procedure was finished. Muleskinner was also shaken up, because he had to sit there beside the chair and watch it all happen, seeing my hands grip the arm rests, seeing my body twist slightly in the seat. He drove me home slightly bemused and a bit shocked. I leaned myself back in the passenger chair of his Accord and just tried to relax.


That procedure did not work back then, so ever since I've been wearing glasses with a prism in the right side that bends the light to try and artificially correct the different eye angle. It works a bit, but the splitting vision can still be a problem now and then. (I just try not to use it as an excuse when I don't play well at tennis or golf.)

My visit to the doctor THIS time wasn't for that issue. I figure that is just something I'm going to be living with for a long time--or at least until someone figures out how to replace them with Geordi Laforge eyes. This exam was to judge the state of my cataract in the right eye and get the specialists opinion on whether surgery is necessary. (The answer, I am glad to report, is YES and the surgery is scheduled for late January.)

What I found amusing was that as I was preparing to finish the visit and was scheduling the surgery, I had to sign a few forms. Mind you, my eyes were dilated from the exam during this, so I found it difficult to clearly read the text on what seemed to be a pretty blindingly white piece of paper, much less clearly see the swimming line that was supposed to support my signature. (I just hope I didn't sign away my right to sue or something . . . that's a joke.)


On Friday, I had to pick up Sarah after school and quickly get her a present to take to a birthday party that I had only just heard about the day before. I think Sarah has received the invitation earlier than that but had neglected to let me see it. So, I found out that this party occurred the night after I read about it, I had to plan time to get a gift, AND it was a sleepover party to boot. But I knew what to do. I'd get Sarah, we'd go to Meijer and find a gift, then we'd pick up Grace and Hannah from daycare. We'd all troop home and Sarah would get packed for the night out while I cooked the Friday night pizza quickly so Grace would have enough time to eat before the daycare Halloween Boo Bash began later, after Sarah's party was already underway. whew

But first, Sarah and I had to find a gift.

This was one of Sarah's new classmates, and as such, wasn't someone I was familiar with. Buying a present for a pre-adolescent girl is always hard enough (even though Barbie products is a fairly reliable default setting), but to do so in the blind, for someone you have NO context for? That's even harder. And I'll be honest . . . since I knew this girl was African American, I had the added question of whether or not I ought to buy a darker skinned doll. (I didn't ask Sarah her opinion on the matter.) I was rolling this question around in my head while Sarah was trying to distract me by talking about some of the many other dolls in the aisle.

Ultimately we sidestepped the issue and purchased a Barbie furniture set that didn't come with it's own doll. I rationalized by saying that it was likely that Sarah's friend had many dolls that would have fun playing with the furniture. I knew I had done a pretty good job when, as we drove to pick up Grace and Hannah, I heard Sarah say wistfully from the backseat "I wish I had this." That was all she said, but it gave me some confidence that the toy selection would be greeted happily.

When I got home, I was greeted with welcome mail for me. The latest CDs in my Wizard Rock ep of the Month club arrived, along with the long awaited Harry: A History, Melissa Anelli's story about the growth of the Harry Potter fandom from the late 1990s until the publication of Book 7. I've done my best to read it through this weekend and it is a complement to Melissa's writing and her chosen subject that I have tried to plow through it as quickly as I have the books that constitute her source material.

I have not been an HP fan from the start, picking up the books around 2001/2002 (after GoF before OotP) and not delving deeper into the web world of The Leaky Cauldron until 2006 or so . . . but I have been a strong advocate for the books ever since I picked them up. Reading about the life Melissa has led makes me realize how much of a stand-offish fan I am in comparison to the very many that live on the discussion boards late into the night and wake up to be the first ones to experience the newest trailer or bit of book news. Still, I get Leaky news on a daily RSS feed and I have never missed a single one of Melissa, John, and Sue's 170+ podcasts. (Sarah and I and Shirtless even attended the live podcast they held in Columbus back in the Summer of 7.) And I spend many non-work-related moments with Master P in his cubicle arguing about what this bit of text meant or how it would all turn out in the end.

So, yeah, I'm a fan and I'm proud. If you know someone like me, Melissa's book would be a nice gift. If you want to understand that person (or me) a bit better, reading this book might give you some insight.

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