Vision

contact.lensThis morning, the seventh day, I opened both eyes –the right, cautiously — and felt again the miracle of binocular vision. Not what it was, and not yet comfortable, but still: two functioning eyes.

A week ago, I suffered a dressing injury, the kind of humiliating and dire accident that embodies the absurdity of being human. I had barely stirred from my bed and was donning a hooded sweatshirt when, while sweeping back the hood, I poked my thumb squarely into my right eye.

Ouch.

In the last seven years, I have twice previously scratched a cornea, both times while doing yard work for which I should have been wearing eye protection.  In other words, my own carelessness was to blame.  One does not generally require eye protection while dressing, so after this last incident I can only conclude that I am a master of corneal abrasion.  I plan, hereafter, to spend every moment, waking or sleeping, in protective eyewear, because this is an experience eminently worth avoiding.

A scratched cornea evokes the kind of pain that sends you lurching around whatever space you   are occupying, now darkly, hands belatedly shielding the injured eye, which weeps copiously while the functioning eye tries vainly to gets its bearing. You wonder if you have blinded yourself; you think of Helen Keller and seeing-eye dogs. This continues for hours, or until you can get to the emergency room or an ophthalmologist, who will confirm the damage, perhaps bandage the cornea with a soft contact lens, and prescribe eye drops to prevent infection and aid healing.dropsandgooglesx

While most abrasions heal superficially in a few days, they are a few days for which you do not want to be alive.  In the manner of all injured animals, you are acutely aware of your vulnerability; in the manner of all injured humans, you worry also about the future. It is impossible to know with any certainty what scarring may occur, in what exact form your cornea — and vision — will be restored.

My ophthalmologist had not been encouraging. “Wow,” he said, his voice infused with the kind of awe you don’t want to hear in such circumstances. “It’s big. And just where you don’t want it, right in the center. It looks like you got in there with a little shovel.”

Had I been in less pain, I would have punched him.  But the way things were going, I would likely have hit the heavy examining scope and broken my hand. Besides, I was grateful for the numbing drops. So I fumbled my way home, and the vigil commenced.

In the days following a corneal abrasion,  it is best to keep the injured eye closed.  It’s easier to close both, if you are able, to spare your good eye and your confused brain the strain of monocular vision.  So there you sit, or lie,  functionally blind.  No TV. No computer. No books.

You wait, and wonder, and listen. In my case, to psychologist Wayne Dyer’s audio reflection on the Tao Te Ching:


I thought then, of the rigidity of my ego, of my tendency to impose my will on people and situations;  I thought of what I have gained — and lost — in so living.  Sitting in my easy chair, stilled and humbled, I considered the wisdom of fluidity and the serenity in surrender.

I turned then to Orson Welles, whose Mercury Theatre on the Air was a miracle of radio’s golden age in the late 1930s. Today I can stream it,  and so I listened to many episodes, including Hell on Ice, Welles’ recreation of the ill-fated 1879 North Pole expedition of the naval exploration vessel Jeannette.

Likely arrogant and certainly unlucky, the ship’s crew was icebound and drifting for nearly two years before their vessel was released, then recaptured and crushed by the ice. They faced, then, a brittle 90-mile march across the harsh Arctic landscape:


There followed a similarly lengthy passage through frigid, storm-tossed seas in three small boats. Most of the crew perished:


Talk about pain.

So the days passed, and I listened, eyes closed, to the wisdom and folly of the ages. Considered the same in my own life — always, it seems, more of the latter and less of the former. Breathed deeply and wondered how I might reverse that calculus. Ate and slept and kept still, while my injured eye, gritty beneath the closed eyelid, alternately rolled and rested. And healed.

“There’s just a little spot still left at the center,” the ophthalmologist said as he peeled the protective contact lens off my cornea yesterday.  “But you’re seeing better than I thought you would at this point, so I’m going to release you. Keep the eye closed for the rest of the day if you can. Keep up with the drops. And maybe think about wearing mittens.”feederw.snow

I awoke this morning to a foot of new-fallen snow, a wintry wallop that surprised me, blind as I have been to online forecasts. I thought of life before meteorology, of the sun and rain and snow and cold we humans once could anticipate only to the limits of our animal senses, of weather we knew with certainty only when it arrived.

And again of the 2,500-year-old wisdom of Laozi, who wrote the Tao Te Ching. And of the folly and suffering of the Jeannette‘s crew.  And, too, of the fiery brilliance of Orson Welles, who captivated our hearing decades before modern technology — image after rapid-fire image — dazzled and wearied our vision.

And looked out at my snow-whitened world with two good eyes, and the gratitude we feel when a treasure is lost, and then — after a time, and through some mysterious grace —  restored.

mittensx

 

 

 

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18 comments

  1. I’m squinting: eyes watering; pained, closed shoulders protecting myself from your plight.
    The release of the multi-sensory radio painting… The words of the Tao.
    wincing followed by reflection… not a bad way to start my Friday. Heal quick, dear poet. ((hugs))

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    1. Healing is well along, Cousin. Thank you!

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  2. As usual, beautifully and fluidly composed.

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    1. What a lovely compliment; how good that feels! Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful post…I also once had an eye injury and experienced the same. Kudos to you for coming up with such a candid post. Read my Blog on https://riversworld2015.wordpress.com. Feedback and comments are welcome.

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    1. Thank you; I hope that you, too, recovered substantially from your eye injury. And I appreciate that you honor the world’s amazing rivers with your blog; thank you for sharing the link.

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  4. I promise I’m not laughing AT you, I’m laughing WITH you. Both beautiful and humorous at the same time. (How do you do that?!) So glad your vision is returning.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Christy. Glad you enjoyed it! Today I am going to try a short run in deep snow, wearing googles, of course, and mittens, but for the standard reason. Frigid in the Rockies but too beautiful to stay in!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hope you enjoyed that run, Cate!

        I actually thought of you when I read this piece on running as moving meditation, at the OnBeing blog. Thought you’d enjoy it too. 🙂

        http://www.onbeing.org/blog/running-is-moving-meditation/8324

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        1. This is lovely, Christy! “On Being” is a favorite podcast, and you have reminded me of the riches also available on the Web site. This runner’s journey is insightful and touching, and takes a surprising turn near the end. I hope other runner/readers will look at it, too. You are one of my handful of blogging Beloveds; I appreciate that you thought of me and shared this.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I’ve always been a run-to-music girl, just because I love music and will listen any and every chance I get. But next time I run outside, I think I’ll skip the headphones.

          I appreciate the kind words. I’ve been quiet on RoS lately, maybe that’s the new norm for me there though…posting when inspired. Inevitably something always comes up when I least expect it.

          Are you a poetry fan? I keep a daily poetry site at wordsfortheyear.com as my alter ego Christina’s Words. I’ll be back with new posts in April, but there is a ton of goodness in the archives. (Just FYI in case you too are a poetry fan.)

          Enjoy the weekend, c-

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Will you also wear a helmet with your 24-hour protective eyewear? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It occurred to me, Bob — as did a suit of armor. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve contemplated a “Michelin Man” outfit for myself.

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        1. No shame in that. In fact, I rather like the image. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        2. It would help me bounce better!

          Liked by 1 person

  6. There’s something wrong with MY eye now … oh wait, it’s just tears of laughter. I read this one out loud to W. Your ophthalmologist has quite the gift of candor!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and appreciating, mi amiga! My doc apparently knew what he was doing, even if his bedside manner left a little to be desired.:)

      Liked by 1 person

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