No Seven Year Glitch

A few months ago, I noticed the blog of Robert K.Rehmann, a photographer living in northern Italy. Intrigued by its title — The Quiet Photographer — and given my natural inclination toward quietude, I took time to explore. Eventually, I found Robert’s explanation for his title, with his own translation into English from his native Italian:

Why a quiet photographer? Because in a world where so many people are screaming, fighting with all instrument in order to impose their idea I just desire to speak about photography in a quiet way. Without imposing my idea.
For me to make photography goes behind the “click”. It means to communicate ideas, feelings. It means to look for something. For ideas, even through an open discussion with the ones who have different ideas. To make photography means also to have friends with the same interest. This is the reason for which this blog starts, in a quiet way.

In a recent entry, he posed an interesting question: “How about you? Have you ever experienced reliving a special moment through a photograph? Would you  like to share it with us?”

Coincidentally, I’d recently made a trip into Houston for my semi-annual visit to the eye doctor. Although seven years have passed since the surgery that restored my vision, little had changed; I continue to enjoy 20/20 vision. When I read Robert’s question, the special moment that came to mind was that surgery, and the photos I remembered were a pair that I posted soon after. It was such fun to revisit the post, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share it as a response to Robert’s question, as well as a way of introducing you to The Quiet Photographer.

Hallie’s Moon ~ Debbie Little-Wilson

Perhaps because I dream so rarely, or at least remember so few dreams, frequent dreamers fascinate me. 

When friends report extravagant, tangled threads of narrative woven through their nights, I press for details. One awakens suddenly, her heart pounding, barely a step ahead of the ax-murderer with a grudge. Another, constricted with horror by the sight of luggage-toting lizards at her door, thrashes awake, gasping for breath.

My mother once dreamed the Mayor had appointed her to be Keeper of the Kitties. Despite the honor of it all, the thought that she’d been charged with caring for hundreds of cats was for her a true nightmare: fully as distressing as the week she spent all night, every night, searching the aisles of supermarkets for a product she couldn’t find, couldn’t identify, and wasn’t sure she truly needed.

But the Queen of Dreamers — the one to whom her faithful readers turned for entertainment, bemusement, and enlightenment — was Bella Rum. Bella dreamed about house repairs, a variety of ex-Presidents, vampires, and the odd assassination attempt. Hollywood screen writers would kill for the opportunity to adapt her dreams for their plots.

Because we knew each other for so many years, and because Bella maintained such a dream-friendly blog, I didn’t think twice about leaving an off-handed comment on her blog about an odd dream of my own:

I had a Bella dream last night. Things have gotten very complicated (not bad, just complicated) with the process of moving toward my eye surgery, and last night, after fussing and fuming over several problems that have to be solved, I dreamed that I went blind. Just like that. Poof! Everything went black.
I woke up convinced I couldn’t see, until I realized that I could.

By morning, the dream had faded. Finding my way to the coffee maker, I added an extra cup to the pot and pondered the issues still waiting to be resolved. Loss of sight wasn’t on the list.

First on the list had been the need to move from contact lenses to glasses prior to surgery. I wasn’t pleased by the prospect, but I had no choice. As my ever-cheerful surgical assistant explained, my hard contact lenses had reshaped my eyes. To guarantee a perfect fit for implanted lenses, they had to be allowed to return to their natural state so that my new prescription would be accurate. Weekly appointments for measurements would be involved, in order to track my eyes’ progress.

When I asked how long the process would take, the assistant laughed her cheerful little laugh and said, “We don’t have a clue. When the technicians get the same results two or three weeks in a row, they’ll know your eyes have stopped changing, and you’ll be ready for surgery.”

After only a week, there was no question my eyes had begun changing. My new glasses became less useful by the day, and my world grew increasingly blurry. “Not to worry,” said the surgical staff. “It happens.”

Two months later, I was back to the ophthalmological equivalent of square one, with nice, naturally-shaped eyes. After the removal of the first cataract and the implantation of a near-vision lens in my left eye, I was relatively functional. I could work, use the computer, and read stop signs, but with one eye corrected for near vision and the other barely corrected at all, driving was difficult. “Not to worry,” said my surgeon. “Once you get your distance lens in your right eye, things will be better.”

And so it was. After a second blurry, post-surgery night, I awoke with no cataracts, new lenses, and perfect vision. I was ecstatic until mid-afternoon, when something like zero visibility fog rolled into my right eye. Astonished by the sudden loss of vision, I thought, “Is this what it’s like to go blind?” Then, I remembered the dream, and shuddered at the thought that it might have been a premonition.

Of course it wasn’t. Reasons for the sudden fogginess were simple enough: a little inflammation here, some post-surgical swelling there. A combination of antibiotic and steroid drops brought daily improvement until, for the first time in my life — including childhood — I had 20/20 vision. 

“See?” my surgeon said. “I told you not to worry.”

In Tales of the Hasidim, Martin Buber tells the story of Rabbi Mendel, who boasted to his teacher, Rabbi Elimelekh, that “evenings he saw the angel who rolls away the light before the darkness, and mornings the angel who rolls away the darkness before the light.” “Yes,” said Rabbi Elimelekh, “in my youth, I saw that too. Later on, you don’t see these things any more.”

Perhaps. But when the day came for a greatly anticipated, long-scheduled, and oft-postponed trip to Presidio La Bahia in Goliad, I might as well have been seeing angels.

Everything in sight had been transformed into an astonishment and a marvel: great sweeps of basket-flowers along the ditches; patterned bricks in buildings; a miles-long view down Lavaca Bay; crisp, clear horizons; the vibrant, shimmering colors of businesses and billboards.

Traveling a randomly chosen Farm-to-Market road, I even found what I feared I had missed during my spring confinement: an extravagance of wildflowers. After stopping to photograph a field where swallows dipped and Gaillardia spread their rich, colorful blanket over the hills, I laughed with delight to see my first pair of images.

Thanks to my bad habit of leaving my camera in front of air-conditioning vents, I’d captured a perfect memento of my journey toward sight: one of the best before-and-after pairings in the world.

What was then…
…and what is now

Looking over the hills, some words of the Persian poet Rumi presented themselves as a perfect hinge between past and future.

your way begins
on the other side
become the sky
take an axe to the prison wall
escape
walk out like someone
suddenly born into color
do it now

As for what came next, the not-knowing was the best part. Varnishing became easier and my house a little less dusty, but I didn’t keep my eyes at home. There were stars and dragonflies, hummingbirds and highways to be seen and experienced; words to read and words to write; births to celebrate and deaths to mourn; all within an ever-shortening span of allotted time.

The possibilities still fill me with a certain exuberance, not unlike that found in a video our town’s volunteer fire department helped to create in 2012.  Though less elegant than Rumi’s poetry, it’s deeply human, and filled with happiness.

Both the video and my pair of before-and-after photos seem a perfect response to Robert’s question: they are, indeed, a way of reliving one of life’s special moments.

.

If all the days  that come to pass
Are behind these walls,
I’ll be left at the end of things
In a world kept small.
Travel far from what I know,
I’ll be swept away.
I need to know I can be lost
And not afraid.
We’re gonna trip the light,
We’re gonna break the night,
And we’ll see with new eyes
When we trip the light.
Remember we’re lost together,
Remember we’re the same.
We hold the burning rhythm in our hearts,
We hold the flame.
We’re gonna trip the light…
I’ll find my way home
On the western wind,
To a place that was once my world,
Back from where I’ve been.
And in the morning light I’ll remember
As the sun will rise,
We are all the glowing embers
Of a distant fire…
We’re gonna trip the light…

Comments always are welcome.

123 thoughts on “No Seven Year Glitch

  1. Your “ever-shortening span of allotted time” conjures up Andrew Marvell’s quatrain:

    But at my back I always hear
    Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
    And yonder all before us lie
    Deserts of vast eternity.

    Since your cataract surgeries, at least you can see those deserts clearly.

    And what a great before/after pair of landscapes.

    1. It’s probably a good thing I took that pair of landscape photos so soon after my surgery. Otherwise, I might well have missed the connection, and discarded the ‘bad’ photo.

      It occurs to me that the final lines of Marvell’s poem might be a more formal and poetic way of saying, “We’re gonna trip the light.”

      Let us roll all our strength and all
      Our sweetness up into one ball,
      And tear our pleasures with rough strife
      Through the iron gates of life:
      Thus, though we cannot make our sun
      Stand still, yet we will make him run.

  2. My husband had his cataracts removed a few years ago. What a difference! As for dreams…I listen to a podcast called This Jungian Life, where dreams are considered to be a window to the soul. Keeper of the Kitties is certainly an interesting one and rich in various interpretations. Glad all is well with your vision.

    1. The most amusing aspect of the Kitties dream was that my mother didn’t like cats at all. Eventually, she was forced to make peace with my Dixie Rose, since my mother was the only person Dixie would have anything to do with other than me. I’ve heard that cats can be attracted to the person in the room who most despises them, and believe me: Dixie forcing her attentions on Mom was a sight to behold.

  3. Congratulations on your successful eye surgery. I didn’t start wearing glasses until I was 58 and I find them difficult and confining. I am a dreamer and wish I was not. Some dreams affect my day. I have trained myself over the years to wake up during a bad dream.

    1. I still remember the day I got my first pair of glasses. It was third grade, and it was my teacher who noticed I couldn’t see the blackboard and contacted my parents. Post-glasses, I was astonished to realize the leaves I saw on the ground came from the trees. To that point, the trees had been only a green blob.

      I’m intrigued by your ability to wake yourself up from bad dreams. That seems like a skill worth having.

  4. I finished my second eye on Thursday and can echo your feelings about clear vision. This post has so many courses at the food for thought banquet that I have to say it is marvelous. Thanks, Linda, for sharing your thoughts.

    1. I’m glad all went well for you, John. I’m sure you remember the way things used to be for people who had cataract surgery; we’ve certainly profited from medical progress. I love your metaphor of the ‘food for thought banquet.’ I’ve never heard anyone use that expression before, and it’s a good one. Feast on!

    1. Whether patience is a virtue in the classical sense I can’t say, but it certainly is necessary for a satisfying life. In today’s society, impatience rules: whether in traffic or in newsrooms where being first is more important than being right. There’s an old Texas/western saying that what goes around, comes around. Being willing to wait for that coming is the trick.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. If you haven’t read much about how Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings changed as her vision failed, I think you’d appreciate this article. Artistic vision and physical vision don’t necessarily fade at the same rate.

  5. So much here. First of all, congratulations on the successful eye surgery. I’m sure it was scary, I get nervous even thinking about someone doing something to my eyes! I’m glad it worked so well for you.

    Second, I will have to go look at the quiet photographer blog. I feel that way too, often, but am also not above being noisy…which I plan for the next blog post. If I can get away from reading all the other blogs out there!

    Third…your two landscapes are lovely and perfectly answer the question.

    And fourth (I think there was more but I have such short term memory issues!) thank you for the video tripping the light. For some reason it made me tear up. I was thinking…what if we got Congress to dance with him. All together doing one thing, just one thing together. What a sight of unity that would be for this country.

    Thank you for sharing. I’m going to go back and watch that video again.

    1. To be honest, all of my pondering before the first surgery was a little nerve-wracking, but the procedures themselves were quick and painless. In fact, when my second eye was done, I didn’t even ask for the little “let’s float for a while” pill I was given for the first one. The cataract removal and lens implant only took about 15 minutes, and it was fun to listen to the surgical staff discussing what they might order for lunch: until the surgeon said, “Be quiet! She’s awake!”

      I love that video for any number of reasons: the involvement of people from around the world, the inclusion of children — and one sea lion! — and the upbeat, positive song. I have the video bookmarked, and enjoy watching it from time to time for its own sake, just for its message of human solidarity.

  6. how lovely. At some point I am going to need eye surgery as well. Right eye cataract. Of course I have risk of retina detachment with any surgery. but this gives me a lot of hope. I sent it to a friend who just had eye 1 surgery and will be having eye 2 etc… I always love your writing. Thank you!!

    1. I remember you mentioning your eye issues in the past. It pleases me that you could take some encouragement from this post; I hope your friend enjoys it, too. Today’s methods are so much improved that the procedures are relatively easy, and recovery takes place more quickly. When your time comes, I hope there aren’t any problems at all.

  7. We are camping at ‘our’ Arrow Lake right now. The solitude and quietude of this lovely spot reinforced what you wrote about the Quiet Photographer. But best of all was the hope-inspiring report of the miraculous recovery of your vision. As the light was breaking through the trees above the glittering lake and my wife was waking up from a restful night, I read the entire post to her. She has been suffering from eye problems for quite some time and has been taking eye drops to slow down the effects of glaucoma. You can imagine how depressing it is for someone who is an artist and photographer like my wife. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for cheering up my wife this morning. Being a passionate dancer, she also enjoyed the video and played it several times. Greetings from Biene and Peter!

    1. Although it wasn’t directly relevant to this post, I also have been dealing with glaucoma for several years: at least ten, and maybe more. The good news is that once I was put on eye drops the pressures in my eyes were cut in half, and have stayed that way. They were a little higher at my last visit, but perfectly acceptable, and caused no concern for the doctor. I hope Biene’s treatment is as successful.

      I wondered how many readers would be as taken with the video as I am. I certainly am glad that Biene enjoyed it; thanks for sharing the post with her! (And enjoy your time at Arrow Lake.)

  8. Glad your eyes are healed and in good shape. I like the before and after shots, both revealing in their own particular ways.

    When I dream, which isn’t all that often, they’re such odd dreams and I don’t typically remember but bits and pieces. I know I dream in color, but don’t know why I don’t remember more. I love your story about Dixie Rose adoring your less-adoring mother. My father-in-law wasn’t ever much of a dog person, but our dogs were always drawn to him. He was a good sport about it.

    I can believe that your hard contacts re-shaped your eye. I tried hard lenses, but could never wear them. I wore soft lenses for years, but my eyes are so dry, that I can’t wear them anymore. I hate glasses, they’re always dirty, I can’t look through my camera lens with them (I have to remove my glasses to my head–then I can’t see the bird I was trying to get. Argh!), but I have no choice these days. There are worse things.

    1. When I do recall a dream, it’s always in color. The last one I remember was not long after the great freeze of 2021. I was traveling down a rutted dirt road toward a dilapidated house surrounded by bluebonnets and paintbrush. That one wasn’t hard to interpret.

      Mom’s dislike of cats went back to childhood. Her sister had some stories to tell; Mom wasn’t ever cruel to the house and barn cats, but she didn’t cut them any slack. Perhaps Dixie was the reincarnation of one of those cats.

      Does your camera have an LCD screen on the back? I don’t much use the one I have, but it occurs to me that could be one solution to your problem. When I still was having to use reading glasses, my biggest problem was remembering where I’d left the darned things. I finally resorted to multiple pairs — and that didn’t always do the trick.

  9. This is a beautiful post of your frightening journey with eye surgeries!! Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement. I had some eye troubles and still fear the floating, which I have frequently. Need to see the eye doctor again myself.
    Martin Buber, isn’t he also the “I and thou” thinker? I think we studied him in psychology class.
    I dream too much, of the wildest things ever.

    1. To be honest, the journey was more frustrating than frightening. It was hard to wait nearly five years for the go-ahead for the surgery, and then frustrating for the preparation period to take so long. The surgery itself was so easy and pain-free I hardly could believe it. Of course, the only people I knew who’d had cataract surgery had theirs in the “old days” before lasers and such. It’s much different now.

      Martin Buber was the author of a book titled I and Thou; his concept influenced a number of psychologists, like Carl Rogers, as well as a number of Christian theologians. You remember rightly!

      1. The waiting was very long for you!! Glad to hear it was a pain-free surgery. Whew…health journeys are fraught with waiting, waiting, anxiety, inconvenience, etc. But if the results are good, it was all worth it!!
        Good to know that I still remember some things from school. lol.
        Have a great start to a new week and take care. I hope you get some rain this coming season…we in CA. are hoping to get some too. That’s a big maybe though.

        1. We’ve begun getting good rains, and more is forecast for the coming week. I hope it spreads to areas of the state that stilll are in serious drought. You have a good week, today — it’s the first day of school for you!

  10. My BFF has just had cataract surgery on both eyes. She was amazed at all the color she had been missing and how obscured her vision had become. She’s an artist and she had “lost” her art due to her vision problems. Now she can see, she found it quickly. One thing that working nights did for me was keep me out of the sun and delay cataract formation significantly.

    1. It was a loss of color that was my first clue that I had a problem. With one eye, I saw lovely green grass; with the other, the color seemed desaturated and weak. Sure enough, my eye doc confirmed my suspicion. The bad news was that my cataracts had progressed to the point that something needed to be done. The good news was that something could be done. I’m glad things went well for your friend: visual artists need vision, after all.

  11. Cataract surgery is remarkable. I imagine that it’s a delicate, potentially-problematic procedure. Yet, it has become commonplace, and has improved the lives of who knows how many millions of people. A great advancement.

    1. The procedure fascinated me. No blades, these days — at least, in most cases. The laser they used was about the size of a shoe box, and it destroyed the cataract by breaking it into tiny pieces. Then, an instrument much like a teeny, tiny vacuum cleaner sucked up the pieces: done! In my case, things took a little longer because I had new lenses implanted, but I could sort-of-watch that part of the procedure, and the whole thing took only about fifteen minutes. After a half-hour wait with cookies and juice, I was ready to go home. Amazing.

  12. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was eight, I can’t imagine having uncorrected 20/20 vision. How wonderful! The landscape images vividly show how your world changed. It was also wonderful to see so many people dancing together- an antidote to the divisiveness I see so much of.

    1. We got our first glasses at about the same time. I was in third grade, so I would have been seven or eight. By high school, vanity demanded contact lenses, and they worked until it was time for something new. The cost of new lenses gave me pause, but like my camera and its lenses, the return has been worth it.

      I love the vitality and fun of that video. Perhaps someday there can be more of that in our world — especially if we keep trying to help it happen.

      1. I didn’t think I could put up with the maintenance contacts require, so I never tried them. The video is part of a series – quite a project. Keep trying? Yes!

        1. That’s interesting. My hard lenses only required a bit of cleaning morning and night, and an overnight soak in a solution. They sometimes had to be taken out and cleaned if I got into wind, sanding dust, and such, but that was it. I do have a vague sense that soft lenses might be more of a hassle.

          Keeping track of them was a bigger issue. If I dropped one, finding it could be a chore. Of course, there are the odd stories. When I was in high school, one popped out during Thanksgiving dinner. When all was said and done, we assumed I might have eaten the thing, assuming it was a piece of celery or a walnut in the dressing.

  13. I love everything about this post, Linda.The Rumi poem spoke to me at a feelings level and the two photographs illustrated why we, your loyal readers, are so pleased that your surgery was successful. Your writing in this post is like an Italian pasta.

    1. Let’s see: like pasta? Tangled, over-cooked, and tasteless? Oh! You said Italian pasta. That’s better! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Every now and then a look back is worth the time and effort. Sometimes we make the right decisions, and celebrating those is even more important than regretting the wrong ones. Besides, who doesn’t like to dance occasionally?

  14. I wish I had the results you had with your cataract surgeries. Your two photos are what everyone claims they get and I’d hoped for but, of course, I had to be different.

    As always I admire your gift for poetry and photos.

    1. It’s important to note that I didn’t just have my cataracts removed. I also had new lenses implanted, and that took things up a notch. Medicare covers cataract surgery, but not lens implantation, so taking on that kind of debt made me swallow a few times.

      Now, of course, that “investment in myself” has paid dividends galore. As long as I can keep my glaucoma under control and don’t have to deal with something like macular degeneration, my vision should remain clear and sharp enough to see the pearly gates when they hove into view!

    1. As am I. It’s not possible to eliminate every consequence of aging, but in this case it was, and having skilled people around to make it possible was a real blessing.

  15. It’s been a while since I’ve stopped by this side of your blog world, I’d forgotten how well you did it. I do dream, but once I awake it’s a-gone. And your story of your cataract surgery brought back memories of mine – although for me it was more for a correction for angle closure glaucoma than actual cataracts, so I didn’t get the dramatic improvement in vision you did. Nice you still have 20-20, I didn’t quite get there…

    1. I didn’t realize that surgery for glaucoma sometimes is indicated. There are so many procedures now that weren’t available even a few decades ago; even though there can be issues with the way technological advances are utilized, there’s no question that they do much to improve our lives. I hope you experienced enough improvement to be satisfied.

      1. That method for fixing certain glaucoma symptoms has been around for a while, but spent some time being controversial as it seems more extreme than older methods. If I was 20 years younger they may not have considered it, but my demographic suggests eventually needing cataract surgery anyway, so two birds in one surgery.

        I wrote about my experience last April. My improvement wasn’t so much in vision, that’s better in some respects and worse in others. It was mostly eliminating the issue that can lead to glaucoma, and potentially blindness.

        1. Ha! Clearly vision isn’t the only thing that can go. Memory sometimes fades, too. I remember your post now, and have the details sorted out a bit better in my mind. I’ll tell you this: I intend to be fanatical about my eye drops (two different drops, one for evening and one for morning). The last thing I want to hear is someone saying “I’m gonna cut your eyes out!”

  16. I enjoyed your story, and the site of the fotógrafo tranquilo. It must have been scary when you got foggy eyes. I used to have perfect vision but in my40s that went way together with a bunch of other things. Oh well.

    1. Age does have a way of laying its claim. Some effects — like changing hair color — I pay no attention to, but it was good to be able to reverse my vision problems. The experience of vision loss — despite being temporary — was completely unnerving. That’s when having professionals on call is critical. The professionalism of my eye clinic and its reputation as perhaps the best in Houston is the reason I keep making that horrific drive, rather than seeking someone closer to home.

  17. Lately and especially now after reading this post I asked myself which would be worse; loss of sight or loss of hearing? My eyesight has actually also improved after cataract removals and now don’t wear glasses after at least 65 years of wearing them. I use reading glasses.

    But in the opposite tandem I have become quite deaf, much to the annoyance or delights when in company. Often my responses to conversations are so off tangent that I now tend to become more of a ‘quiet listener’. I try humor as a defense if I misheard.

    As I get older the quiet world is rather nice.

    1. I have a friend who had to deal with deafness for years. Today, she’s had surgeries, and has recovered sufficiently to be able to hear music again, although things like telephone conversations still are difficult. It’s another example of the medical advancements that benefit us so greatly. In a forced choice situation, I think I’d chose sight over hearing, but to be honest, I hope I never have to make such a choice.

      Like you, I’m a lover of a quieter world. For one thing, it’s easier to hear birdsong when other noises subside.

    1. I was thinking of you recently. You might have seen Steve G’s post of the white clematis a couple of days ago. There are very few counties where it appears in Texas; most are in our eastern counties. But it’s also listed for McClennan County, and I’d bet anything it’s found at the Waco Wetlands at the north end of Lake Waco. Someday I’d love to get up there, and see all the wildflowers that bloom there. It’s too bad that it’s too far for a day trip.

      1. Actually, I didn’t see Steve’s post if it was on WP. I haven’t seen any notifications of his posts in a long time, I will need to look into that. I follow him and Andrew on FB. Funny thing is that I never see Andrew’s post and forget to look for him, but I see Steve’s FB posts just about every day. Yes, if you could get to Waco, I could hopefully feel well enough to meet you out near the wetlands, I suppose those all dried up this summer because of the drought but I am hoping that with the few recent rains that maybe a little bit has been recharged with a few things blooming.

        1. When I saw the news this morning about the flooding in Dallas, I looked at your forecast. It seems as though your wetlands have a good chance of being refilled, at least a bit. I hope the rain is plentiful, but not damaging.

          I always forget that people post on Facebook, too. Since I don’t participate in any of those sites — FB, Instagram, and so on — I’m sure I miss a good bit. So it goes. I have all I can do to keep up here. If I do ever get a chance to head that way, I’ll be sure to let you know. It would be fun to meet, for a cup of coffee or tea if nothing else.

  18. I have had friends who had eye correction surgery and it has been very successful I have one friend for whom it went horribly wrong. It took years to get sort out. I don’t have the nerve yet but if I had cataracts I am sure I would elect to have the surgery. I paid for my aunt to have it done privately because the NHS waiting list was about 2 years and she was badly sight-impaired by then. She was delighted. As a hobby photographer losing my eyesight would be tragic but I read recently about one photographer who has tunnel vision and sees about 5% of what we should see and he can still function professionally with some adaptation in his approach. Loved the post, Linda.

    1. I know a person or two who’ve had post-surgical issues, although in both cases things eventually were resolved to their satisfaction. With laser removal becoming more common, it’s an amazingly simple procedure. I’m glad it worked well for your aunt.

      I still laugh when I remember the process of waiting to have mine removed. It took five years for them to reach that point, and I kept asking my doctor, “When?” He would say, “When the time comes, we’ll know.” One day, I’d come in for my regular six-month appointment, and he said, “Well, it’s time to schedule that cataract surgery.” When I asked what had changed his mind, he said, “Easy. If I can’t see into your eye, you can’t see out of it.” So simple!

    1. It was great fun to put this one together: rather like a collage. I never can see that video too many times, and it was especially pleasing to find a way to share it.

  19. Thanks for the link to the quiet photographer. I will give him a try. I often go back into my thousands of photos via the google machine. In there, I can search with a key word to see what pops up. It can be amusing and amazing. Not only can it find images with the word in the title. It can also find images with the word in print in the photo. It reads them. Spooky. The video of Matt dancing with the world brings tears of joy.

    1. Now I’m wondering how many photos I have in my files. I do know that their number is going to decrease considerably in the future, as I delete duplicates and so on. Fourteen photos of the same flower aren’t really necessary, but it can be instructive to go through them and find the two or three best.

      I love the vision of the world encapsulated in that video. I find myself wondering if it would be possible to create it today. So many of the places shown might not be willing to allow him and his crew in. On the other hand, if they were shown his videos first, they might be willing to buy in.

  20. The Rumi verse goes so well with your account of the success of your eye surgery. I can well imagine the delight of 20/20 vision and how exciting it must have been. (I wear glasses for short-sight.) Mum had cataract surgery and was delighted with the results, so I wouldn’t hesitate if I needed it.

    1. I’m glad it went well for your mother. The procedures certainly have changed since my mother had hers done. Then, a week’s recovery was assumed, along with eye patches, cautions about bending, and so on. After mine, because I’d had new lenses implanted, there were a few differences, but none interferred with life in general. I did have to wear sunglasses at the computer for a couple of days until my pupils contracted a bit, but otherwise it was an easy recovery.

  21. I love this post far more than I have the words to say. It’s beautiful — the discovery, the chipper assistant, the concerns, the dream talk. I’m thrilled your world is clear again. (And by the way, both photos are wonderful but isn’t it nice to be able to choose with filters rather than have your eyes dictate the fuzz?)

    And the dreams… I am only a snippet rememberer. I wish I was better and probably would be if I allowed myself to wake up enough to write down things before I went back to sleep but because I might not GET back to sleep, I never do. I miss Bella’s blog so much. Oh, how I long for her visits with the Grand Trio, her hunky fridge repair man “Kevin” (or whatever it was he fixed), her fabulous humor and of course her dreams. I hope she is well. One of the people I feel very sad to have lost touch with.

    1. My fuzzy photo wasn’t due to a filter, but to our everlasting humidity. I’d had the camera in the front seat of the car with the air conditioning blowing on it, so when I stepped out of the car, the first thing the lens did was fog up. I’ve found some lens wipes that help to deal with that, but most of the time it’s just a matter of letting the camera warm up — or remembering not to stick it in front of the AC.

      Kevin was the refrigerator repairman, although I seem to remember he branched out a bit in response to some kind of emergency. About a year ago, I noticed a comment from Bella on another blog. Now, I can’t remember which one it was, and none of the old email addresses I had for her seem to be functional. I hope she’s still decorating that front step dog — it’s about time for it to adopt its autumn colors.

  22. So much “meat” here, Linda, that I find my response pretty inadequate! Like you, my dad had cataract surgery and was totally amazed at how well he saw afterward. I think it’s just marvelous how GOOD medical procedures can be, in the hands of trained doctors and on a patient who complies with the parameters they line out. Such lovely poems you’ve included, too! Glad everything went well for you (and I’ll check out the quiet photographer next!)

    1. You’re so right — both the patient and the doctor need to be involved in the treatment. Sometimes a little creativity helps. When my mom broke her ankle in two places and was in the hospital for maybe three weeks, her doctors and I set up a system. If I had a question, I wrote it on the whiteboard in her room. When they came through, they’d leave an answer. Texting and such weren’t possibilities then, and cell phones were barely in use, but that old-fashioned system still worked.

      I’m blessed indeed that my vision still is holding. Because I had artificial lenses implanted, my only real issue will be my glaucoma, or macular degeneration. Medication and diet should hold those at bay — or so I hope.

  23. Congrats Linda for your 20/20 vision!
    Thanks for the mention of my simple blog, much appreciated. Love both your landscapes, before and after! Impressionistic style before, painterly look after!
    I m very sensible about my eyes, both my wife and I have an yearly control visit by our eye doctor and even having a drop falling into my eye is a difficult action!
    My ophthalmologist laugh each time and has to apply small tricks, like with children to do it!
    Beautiful video, it gives hope and joy, thanks for sharing! I ll show it to my wife, I’m sure she will like it!

    1. I was delighted with your question. At first, I thought I didn’t have a photo that told a story of a special experience, and then I realized I did. Now I’ve shared it, just as you suggested, and introduced people to you, as well.

      I have friends who find eye drops difficult and a terrible nuisance: so much so that a couple of them have refused contact lenses. I suppose we all have things that bother us. Injections don’t bother me at all, but I have a friend who sometimes comes close to fainting at the sight of a needle. On the other hand, she can have an MRI without a thought, while I’m claustrophobic enough that I don’t think I would like that one bit.

      If you watch the video again, the section that was filmed in Houston was done against one of our most wonderful sculptures: a huge waterwall: a permanently flowing fountain several stories high. Just today I happened across a video that was posted by a fellow who was part of the group that danced there; it’s great fun to see, too.

  24. Your story allows me to marvel at the wonders of modern medicine. That you could have this surgery and find your life improved because of it makes me joyful. I do like your line “but I didn’t keep my eyes at home.” Such a marvelous way to inspire all of us to get out and do something good with ourselves.

    1. Wonders, indeed. To be able to go in, have a cataract removed, have a new lens plunked into my eye, have some juice and cookies and then be on my way home again in less than an hour is — well, who knew? Of course I couldn’t drive myself the thirty miles to and from the clinic, but not to worry: the clinic itself keeps drivers on staff to transport people. No need for relatives, neighbors, or Uber; they attend to every detail with (dare I say it?) surgical precision. With luck, I’ll still be driving myself to checkups for years to come.

  25. With a consultation looming for possible cataract surgery, I found this post most reassuring. A friend described the results of cataract surgery, describing the wonderful sharpness of vision that the surgery afforded. Here’s hoping I see the same.
    The video link with this is such fun! Wherever the hell Matt is right now, I hope the dance inspiration continues. (Loved the juggler, the seal, and the offspring!)
    Permit me to put the link on my blog? Great stuff.

    1. I was offered a choice. I could have a simple cataract removal, which Medicare would pay for, or I could have new artificial lenses implanted, which I’d have to fund. Despite the cost, I decided on the new lenses. On the advice of my doctor, I chose monofocal lenses: distance in my right eye, closeup in my left. I wondered how long it would take my brain to adjust to near and distant vision in different eyes, but as I recall it was about a day before I wasn’t thinking about it at all.

      The procedure itself was simple and painless — and really quite interesting. I was very lightly sedated the first time, but I chose to pass on that for the second eye, which meant I was able to follow everything that was going on — including a staff discussion centered on pizza or Chinese takeout for lunch.

      Sure, you can put a link in your blog. You might enjoy this rehearsal scene from Houston as well. In the credits at the end it says that Matt would take photos or dance with anyone who wanted that as a souvenir.

    1. It all was a pretty darned wonderful experience, too. That accidentally foggy flower photo turned out to be just what was needed — I’m glad I kept it.

  26. I’m so glad you still have 20/20 vision so many years after your surgery! I didn’t realize that contacts could change the shape of our eyes, or that that could be a problem for cataract surgery. As for dreams, mine are vivid and frequent. Usually I forget them shortly after waking up, but some were odd enough that I remember them years later. Like the time I dreamed I was dating Al Gore…….

    1. I’m not sure soft lenses change the shape of the eye, but hard ones certainly kept my eyes from changing shape. That’s one reason I went for years without needing a prescription change. Whether going without contacts would be necessary for a simple cataract removal, I don’t know. In my situation, my eyes had to be allowed to revert to their natural shape so that the prescription of the newly implanted lenses would be correct.

      I tried to think of one of my dreams that could equal dating Al Gore, but I’m still pondering. I do know that my subconscious is active at night. If I’m having trouble finding a title, or a phrase, or a direction for an essay, I’ll often wake in the morning with it in mind. I do try to write it down immediately, or it will fade as quickly as a dream.

  27. I love that video – it always makes me smile. I remember having to wear glasses before my lasik surgery – UGH. So annoying. And it’s hilarious now because I wear glasses all the time now. Don’t need them for vision, but have to have them for computer/reading. Sigh.

    P.S. I miss Bella Rum!

    1. I love the videos even more now that I’ve learned that Matt always stayed long enough to take a photo with anyone who wanted one, or to be recorded dancing with each individual. The guy’s as nice as his videos are fun. He started out as a video game developer, went traveling, had a buddy video him dancing with someone — in Australia, I think — and the rest is history.

      I hated my glasses, and got out of them as soon as I could: high school, to be precise. Of course, I had a mother who insisted that my first glasses have pink plaid frames. That was third grade, and I was traumatized. It’s no wonder I hate pink.

  28. What an incredible thing it is to be able to have cataracts removed. I took Mum when she had hers done and found it very scary, hoping everything would go to plan. Like you, she had glaucoma and her surgery helped with that too. My sweetheart dreamed the other night that he wanted to see a film on sansevierias (a cult movie as he described it) and it was sold out, but he pleaded to be able to stand at the back and watch.

    1. I suspect that a film on sansevierias might fit the ‘cult’ category. I can’t imagine it bringing in hordes of people, unless it might qualify in the sci-fi category. That said: what an interesting dream. I don’t spend much time trying to interpret my dreams when I do remember them, but they’re an interesting phenomenon.

      I well remember when my own mother had her cataract surgery. It was so many decades ago that the procedures were more dangerous, and the outcome less predictable. I’m certainly glad yours was helped.

  29. Wonderful and profound to hear the story of your restored vision, Linda, and to see the two photos depicting it. Interesting dream discussion too. Lovely post.

    1. After seven years, I’d gotten to the point of hardly thinking about my renewed vision: apart from the daily routine of drops for my glaucoma, of course. But Robert’s question brought the experience to mind so quickly I realized it had been a significant experience, and it was a fun opportunity to write about it. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Now that our heat is abating somewhat, the thought of outdoor recreation is more inviting. I believe I might take my eyes ‘out’ this coming weekend!

  30. I remember getting my first pair of glasses. I was around 7, I suppose. I hadn’t really noticed any problems but my teacher had. I wasn’t seeing the blackboard clearly. So, Mama took me in to get my eyes examined and glasses ordered.

    When Dr. Jackson put my new specs on, I looked across the street to what was then an Edwards Five and Dime. GOOD GOSH! I can see all the things in the window from way over here!

    At home, there were individual blades of grass to admire without lying down on the ground.

    The world opened back up!

    My cataract surgery was amazing, in a different way. I no longer had to wear glasses to see distance. I still need readers and magnifying mirrors for up close but to be able to walk around without glasses on was something I hadn’t done since, well, the above recalling of getting my first pair of specs.

    1. So many of us were blessed with teachers who really paid attention to us. Something that just occurred to me this morning is the significant difference between a blackboard and a laptop screen. When we had no look at a blackboard, vision problems were easy to spot. Today, with kids spending all their time squinting at a computer screen, the teachers have no way to know who’s having problems with distance vision. Not only that, all that screen time introduces its own problems. Sometimes, progress isn’t.

      One of the best things about living glasses-free is not having to deal with fogged-up glasses. Now, all I need to worry about is a fogged-up camera lens, but I’ve learned a techniques to deal with that one when I inevitably forget and end up with a cold camera.

  31. What an uplifting post, in so many ways!

    I guess I’m fortunate to be among those who don’t remember much about my dreams. I dream of Gini (with the light brown hair), but that is the opposite of the type you’re talking about.
    (Side note: Interestingly, the 1854 song, I Dream of Jeannie written by Stephen Foster contains the line “I see her tripping where the bright streams play”, which sort of ties in with your video.)

    Your checkup results are absolutely outstanding! The prospect of losing any of our senses, but especially the ability to see, is beyond frightening.
    I am essentially blind in one eye with no cure available. With one eye open, my world is like your first image of the field, but with the other one open, all is bright and clear.

    We take a lot for granted in our lives.

    The video and the lyrics to the song should be played as a wake-up motivator every day!
    Thank you for making my day so much better!!

    1. I wonder how many people know “I Dream of Jeannie” only because of the tv show. I fear Stephen Foster has faded into the mists of time. I don’t hear any kids singing “Camptown Races” or “Oh, Susanna” these days, let alone “Beautiful Dreamer.” I wonder if Foster himself was a prolific dreamer; his songs certainly included a lot of dream references.

      Your comment about your own vision really surprised me. Your photography is so wonderful I never would have guessed that. But of course when I pulled out my own camera, I realized that I use only one eye with the optical viewfinder. It’s yet another example of ‘one’ being better than ‘none.’ Of course, the consequences of blindness are myriad, and the ability to take photos is pretty far down the list. While my car was out of commission in June, you can bet I pondered what it would be like to lose that independence because of blindness. Unnerving, for sure.

      Now, I believe I’ll watch the video again, just to sweep all that out of my mind!

  32. There was so much to enjoy in this post, Linda. Even the comments brought back memories of my own walk with glasses, contact lenses and Lasik over the years. I’m back in glasses again – this time progressives. Maybe by the time I develop cataracts, there’ll be even more advances in that field. I’m so happy for you that you have 20/20 vision now.

    Dreaming is fascinating! I remember mine, and generally know what they mean in my life. One of my favorite dreams was having springy deer legs. What an fantastic feeling to run, leap and dodge the woodlands and open spaces with those amazing legs and hooves. I recall that dream every time I’m walking the woods with my big feet, snapping sticks and making all sorts of noise with my giant footprints.

    That video was upbeat interesting to watch. My favorite part, of course, was the seal! What a performance!

    1. It’s hard for me to imagine what advances in cataract surgery would be. I’m sure they’ll come up with something, but mine was so easy and so complication free I hardly could believe it. It certainly is nice to finally be rid of those reading glasses. My biggest problem with them was that I couldn’t keep track of them. Even buying extra pairs and stashing them around didn’t seem to help.

      Most of the time, the dreams I remember aren’t particularly hard to interpret. They’re often related to specific events or issues: as though my mind’s working the night shift, trying to figure them out. Of course, your deer dream’s understandable, too, but what a neat variation on your everyday involvement with them.

      I love that video. It’s a good tonic for what ails you, as my grandma would say. Living through a hard time, as we are, every little bit of optimism and cheerfulness is a good thing.

  33. I’m always amused and much the wiser after reading one of your posts, Linda. This one strikes too close to home, because going blind is one of the few fears that I acknowledge. I can remember fondly the day I got my first pair of glasses as a child. The ride home behind my uncle on the back of a motorcycle was an other worldly experience. I could see the leaves on the stately trees lining the French colonial streets. Wow! My fear of blindness comes from my eye doctor’s warning to be aware of retina detachment due to the extreme near-sightedness of my eyes. It’s not really something that I can control other than taking eyes vitamin. So eye surgery is not a matter of if but when. That is, if I’m fortunate to live that long. Thanks for painting your surgery in a good light.

    1. I’ve not experienced retinal detachment, but somewhere along the line I learned about the various ways that it can be treated now, including lasers. I know there are other ways of dealing with it, but it also seems to be another “issue” that’s not always as serious as it used to be. The thought of blindness unnerves me, too: primarily because of the loss of independence it would bring. But, for now, all is well for us both.

      Your experience on that ride home was much like mine. Realizing that trees and leaves belong together was wonderful. Were there other things that impressed you? Being able to see the stars was great, too. I still remember long nights lying on the lawn, just looking.

      1. Probing my memories I don’t recall anything vivid regarding the stars. Other than that one night after martial arts practice when another and I were sitting beneath the church’s bell tower and wondering if the stars look the same on the other side of the world in America. I found out a few months later, but that’s another story.
        I think the other noticeable difference for me was the clarity details of people’s faces, their eye lashes and skin creases and pock marks where they were amorphous faces in the crowds. I still remember the shock I experienced when I saw the pain in the eyes of a woman at a market stall when she notice my childhood fixation at the disfigurement of her face due to some debilitating illness. I can still remember that feeling of shame both hers and mine.

        1. Children’s fascination with the unusual is so common. I still remember my dad taking me to the yearly carnival that came to our town, and wondering at his refusal to take me to some of the ‘sideshows.’ Of course, the tattoed lady is checking my groceries at the store these days, but in the 1950s, she qualified as something strange and unusual, and he said that we shouldn’t stare or make fun of her and her companions: the bearded lady, the fat man, and so on. Of course we couldn’t help ourselves when it came to staring at a polio-crippled classmate, but we also learned a lot from him: how to ask honest questions, and how to begin seeing him as a person and far more than that leg.

          1. You almost made me spit out my coffee with the tattooed grocery checker. I’ve become more desensitized to the tattoos but the body piercings still make me gape.

            1. Me, too. Of course, I still don’t have pierced ears. I’m not sure it’s cowardice that’s kept me from it, but it certainly doesn’t appeal.

  34. So interesting! I’m glad you have your vision back. I’m a prolific dreamer. I wake up remembering my dreams almost every morning. For years, as part of Jungian therapy, I would write them out. Eventually, I found that I could dream lucidly sometimes.

    1. I’ve heard of lucid dreaming, but didn’t know what it was. I just read a bit about it, and was reminded of a single occasion when I was dreaming that I was asleep — and dreaming inside the dream. It was such a vivid experience I’ve never forgotten it. I did see some articles suggesting that lucid dreaming can be encouraged by writing dreams in a journal, as you did. My other favorite experience is waking from a dream, then going back to sleep and continuing the dream from the point I left it off. Our minds really are amazing things!

  35. Recalling my dreams has been erratic in my older years. One in particular I recall was very pertinent to events in my life then with the color adding meaning of its own.
    This piece you’ve written and dancing video is an especially uplifting tripping of the light in so many ways. Concern for preserving my vision has always been on my mind given my mother’s vision issues beginning when I was quite young. Eventually, soon after mid-life, she gradually became legally blind with several vision issues that could have probably been corrected given today’s advancements. Years after her death, unexpectedly to me I did need cataract surgery but, fortunately, it was just after lens replacement had been perfected. Every day I am thankful for my sight today requiring only reading glasses but all else is fine.

    1. Those of us whose lives span different ‘eras,’ medically and otherwise, often have a perspective on things that seems mysterious to the young ones. When I get the chance, I enjoy explaining the telephone I grew up with to a smart phone toting youngster: black, no dial, an operator on the other end asking, “Number, please?” And I well remember my own mother’s cataract surgery, which involved a week of no lifting or bending, a metal eye patch, and a good bit of anxiety until the patch was removed.

      As for the video, it’s a fine antidote to the sometimes overhyped doses of bad news that surround us. “Doom scrolling” emerged as a term for a reason; social media and news aggregators want those clicks, and the best way to get them is to provide analogies to the car crashes no one can seem to avoid looking at. As the programmers liked to say, even in the early days, “Garbage in, garbage out.” A little less garbage is good for the soul.

  36. Because I am terribly forgetful, I don’t remember hearing of your odyssey between blurred vision and sharp. I am very glad for you that the seven years of improved 20/20 vision has maintained itself and we are all grateful for the wonderful imagery you share.

    I’ve had some slight cataract formation for several years now but thankfully it hasn’t changed very much from exam to exam. I never considered contacts even after wearing glasses since the age of four (70 years and counting). They are just part of me and I rarely am even aware that they are on my head.

    In a way, I had a similar awakening when I recovering from the virus in 2018. As in the case of many folks, once recovered from something dire the whole world seems new and wonderful like the flowers you wrote of. And as in the case of many folks, life eventually returns to what we knew as normal but I do recall at times what it was like to be restricted and how wonderful it was to be free again.

    And I have done the same thing many times with my camera and lenses coming out of an air conditioned car. It was a good example of how your vision changed.

    And once again, at the risk of embarrassing you, I enjoy your writing so much and envy your obvious talent for it. Your search for “just the right words” always seems a great success.

    1. You’ve reminded me of one of the great truths of life: after feeling bad, there’s nothing better than feeling good. Even with something as relatively benign as a light case of flu, or a good dose of allergies, that moment when we suddenly realize “It’s gone!” is a great one.

      Cataracts do form slowly. We kept watching mine for five years post-discovery. I kept asking, “When can we deal with these?” and my doc kept saying, “When it’s time, we’ll know.” One day, I went in for my six-month checkup and he said, “Well, I guess it’s time to deal with those cataracts.” When I asked why, he said, “When I can’t see into your eyes, you can’t see out.”

      Thanks so much for those kind words about my writing. I still have several posts that I need to work on; I’ve found that the Biblical advice about not trying to serve two masters is on target. Writing and photography both require large investments of time. Oddly, I’ve found this week that being able to put in full days at work — thanks to a lessening of heat and despite the rain — actually is helping me focus more on my artsy stuff. I’m beginning to think that work is a more important part of my routine than I realized, as well as being a way to pay the bills.

      1. There’s something to be said about a balance between work and play/artsy stuff. I find, not always but at times, that after a day’s work I am motivated to be creative in a personal way that differs from that which is required to solve problems at work. Both are satisfying but the change in emphasis is rejuvenating.

  37. Thanks for this… I love the photograph of the two trees. It is very mystical to me. Your post brought to mind when I first got glasses as a ten year old, or so. I was so surprised to discover that the green signposts on the side of the road had names and numbers on them! I had developed some very fine strategies to deal with my short vision in class (constantly sharpening my pencil and memorizing the board work) but there was nothing like glasses for giving me a new world. They didn’t change my dream though… it remained and remains dull.

    1. I was puzzled by your comment at first. Two trees? Where? Eventually, I came to realized that I’ve always seen that pair of trees in the photo as a single tree. Apparently a bit of blindness still lingers. I don’t remember ever having trouble reading street signs before my own glasses, but of course my school was directly across from our house, and it would be years before I did any driving, so I probably paid little attention to them.

      That pencil-sharpening technique was very clever. Kids today don’t realize how large blackboards loomed in past decades. Being called to work a problem at the board could instill terror, but being asked to go outdoor and clean the erasers was a huge honor.

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