Tuesday, December 20, 2005

December 20, 2005
I got an iPod for my birthday and Robert Ray loaded it up to my office computer so I can download songs. I also got a couple books, Jimmy Carter’s Lost American Values, from Carole, and 1776 by David McCullough, one of Bob Brink's classmate at Yale. Mike Melrose got me the DVD of Fargo, which is way cool. However, I don’t remember asking for the torture scene from Clockwork Orange but I got that as well.

Yesterday afternoon I drove down into the beast for an appointment with a retina specialist. I was supposed to go last Friday (I was referred by the optometrist I saw last week) but cancelled. When I did they insisted I come down Monday so I thought, what the hey, it’s my birthday, I’ll listen to tunes on my iPod and make it a road trip. I also had dinner plans at Saba’s after work (Saba’s sent me one of those clever, it’s your birthday, come eat for free coupons). I got to 1101 E. Missouri at about 2:20 and filled out all the insurance paperwork, except for the social security number. Someone told me last week, do not put your social security number on anything! The identity theft problem is out of control so don’t make their jobs easier. Julie called my name and took me in the back and made me watch a video on detached retinas and I sketched the entire time, glancing only occasionally at the amateur production which showed a guy working on his car, and then getting light flashes and tunnel vision and of course he was a bad actor and it was all quite cheesy. None of this applied to me. Next came the eye drops that dilate the pupils and then came the exam with Doctor Dugel. Before he came in, Julie told me he is the best eye surgeon in town and she has worked with plenty. She also told me if she ever had any eye problems she would go to his house and lay across his driveway until he treated her. "He’s that good," she assured me. Doc Dugel came in, short guy, dark, handsome, intense, and all business. He turned off the lights, told me to put my chin in the machine and shined a flashlight in my eyes and started dictating to Julie. This is what I heard: "Macular fine. . .cornea, plus 025 on right retina. . .tear O.C.. . “

A tear! Are you kidding me? Nope. A retinal tear in the right eye. That’s why I've got the floaters. The vitreous has pulled away from its attachment to the retina at the back of the eye. Fluid is passing through the retinal tear, lifting the retina off the back of the eye, like wallpaper peeling off a wall. Happy Birthday and thanks for the tear-rific gift!

Fifteen minutes later I’m in the operating room and the doctor is injecting my right eye-ball with a hypodermic needle. Well, not right in the eye, but just underneath the bottom lid, which is close enough.

After a forty minute wait for the drugs to freeze my eye, and during which I reviewed my life with some regret (“It’s the coffee! I shouldn’t have drank all that coffee!), the doctor came in, put me down on my back, put an eye clamp on my right eye, exactly like the one in the movie A Clockwork Orange and began to probe my actual eye. When I protested that it hurt, he sat me up and injected my eyeball with more painkiller, which I couldn’t feel at all and then it was Probe City. It felt like he was using an ice cream scoop. It was not fun. After he lasered my torn retina, he froze the whole deal with cryotherapy. I actually asked the doc and Julie if they had seen the scene in A Clockwork Orange. They didn't answer or laugh.

Kathy and Carole drove down from Cave Creek. Obviously I couldn't drive, so Carole drove my truck back out to the office and Kathy and I went to Taco Villa for my one-eyed birthday dinner. Had the Pepe Special and two Pacificos ($26 plus $5 tip, cash).

End result: feeling mighty mortal! Got home about seven and went right to bed.

"I may be going to hell, but I'll go there playing the piano."
—Jerry Lee Lewis

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