Eye, Eye!

Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2021

Just a little bit of whimsy ahead of an event I’m not looking forward to.

This week I shall be having the first of two cataract surgeries. The first is in two days time, on Friday, Apr. 16, and the second is scheduled for May 11. I’ve read up on the procedure, which these days is delivered in day surgery with eye-numbing drops. It’s that last bit that gives me the heebie-jeebies. I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy, not your modern self-voyeur who likes a ringside seat. If a surgeon is going to be messing with me, I like to be unconscious.

Still, life teaches you – if you are sensible – that what must be borne must simply be borne. As with any health preventive or corrective measures, there’s a risk: that it won’t fully work; or worse. The risk is very small. It’s probably even smaller if you remember not to flinch while you can see that unnatural things are being performed upon you. And I shall try very hard to remember that.

What really irritates, however, is the evidence that the necessity for cataract surgery presents as to the failing nature of oneself. Yes, it’s a natural process. Yes, it’s also an inevitable process. And actually, it’s a welcome one, since no one should be so self-important as to want to live forever. I’m very distant from death’s door, at least so far as I know, barring the intervention of fate. But I am being forced to recognise that, actually, yes, I’m 76. How did that happen? Last thing I remember, I was chasing nymphs around rose bushes. Well, sort of. Myth is always more powerful than history. And anyway, perhaps I really was trying to get away. That could be another good myth, couldn’t it?

The truth is that up to now, for more than three score years and ten, I’ve been incredibly fortunate in terms of health and what, if I were a horse, someone might describe as condition. The usual childhood things aside, I’ve had to deal only with dysentery – an accident of short-term residence in a hot, flyblown, windy and very sandy bit of Africa 70 years ago – and two surgeries, one long ago, and one emergency matter, more recently though dealt with successfully and far enough in the past to now be merely archive material. I’ve worn spectacles since I was 18 (though if my ophthalmic surgeon, Ed. and Glas., is right, that may soon end) and – I love this joke – I’ve had my own teeth since those that my genetics issued to me proved wholly inadequate for the tasks required of them.

In a way, I feel rather like great-grandpa’s favourite axe, now a family heirloom and still in its original condition, as good as ever, having in its long and useful life had only two new heads and four new hafts. I’m on no medication. Doctors are astounded by this, or perhaps they’re just disappointed that I’m not in the market for western-style pandemic prescriptions. But I’ve never favoured “here’s a pill, pop it,” as either prophylactic or palliative medicine. I’ve shrunk a bit, as you do under the weight of years, though not too much; and now we’re back in Australia permanently, I’m never again going to win Tallest in Room.

Right. Next question?