Not a day over 40

I am 58 years old today. That doesn’t seem possible. How is that in two years I will be sixty? I swear to god that just yesterday I was graduating high school. Only a few years after that I was a brand new dental assistant, already coming to understand what working for a sexist a**hole was going to mean.

My children are adults, like real adults, not just beginning the “newly out of college phase” but actually marking their own year by year climb up the age ladder. Okay, I have to give Alison a little leeway- she’s only 24 so still just a toddler in the adult world. I can remember every moment of labor with each of them. How can I be almost 60 and remember those events, but forget where I put my phone only seconds after setting it down?

I have two grandchildren. Aren’t grandma’s supposed to be all round and cushy and wearing a full head of white hair while carrying around lined faces and crepe-skinned necks and saggy jowls and chicken wing arms? Alright, I will admit to a degree of round, but hey, I carried and birthed 3 children remember. I do have some crepe-ish skin, somewhere under my drooping eyelids, and I will admit to a few fine lines, but those are mostly on my well-worn hands. Chicken wings for arms–yeah, it doesn’t take much to get some flapping to occur under my arms, but white hair- no way! Garnier Nutrisse 5RB will never allow me to look like a snow queen.

I wonder, on the day I turn 68 and realize that at that time I am just two years shy of seventy, if I will finally be able to acknowledge feeling mentally the same age as my body tells me I am. My head consistently tells me, on these annual birthdays, that I am somewhere around 25. I used to say 18, but that’s pushing a bit these days. I’ve had too many life experiences to claim to be the mental age of a naive 18 year old.

I wonder when the mental clock will finally catch up with my chronological age. Perhaps we always imagine ourselves to be younger. Maybe it’s some sort of self-preservation mechanism, a way to stave off our mortality. If that’s the case, then today I’m going to hop back to about 40. I think that was a pretty good year.

Am I the only one who experiences this? How old are you- in your head anyway.

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Here’s Looking At You

Because I can now, look at you and see you that is, at least with my right eye.

The cataract in that eye is gone as of 3pm yesterday. Broken up and sucked out and gone.

What a surreal experience all of that was, but I feel it might be best to spare you some of the gory details. I will say, mostly because I never believed it when everyone said, “Easiest surgery you will ever have!” that it’s true. ‘Those people’ aren’t lying, nor have they been paid to tell you how simple and life changing 6 minutes can be. Yep, 6 minutes from the time the surgeon rolled his chair up to my head to the time the tape went on my new eye. So believe it, and don’t worry about it, if you ever face this surgery like I have been doing for the past two months.

I will share that my nurse-anesthetist, Kevin, was rather gorgeous. It was truly a shame that after loading my eye with lidocaine that he then placed a hefty patch over it while I waited to go into the surgical suite.

They warned me after, during post-op instructions, that glare, even from simple daylight, might be an issue for awhile. I even got some special glasses, which I have not worn not because they don’t help, but because I don’t feel like I’m quite so much a senior anymore and we all know what it means when we see those white haired seniors wandering around with those very dark glasses…

My world is brighter however, now that I am not living behind a constant foggy cloud. And truly an odd thing, but driving this morning I noticed that my world seemed bigger. My perspective of the lanes on the highway was that they were wider than just a few days ago when I drove those same roads pre-surgery.

I will clearly need some readers, those stylish magnifiers that help you read close up, because I chose not to have multi-focal lenses. Would have loved to banish the old-eyes presbyopia, but the cost for those lenses was definitely prohibitive right now. I will be on the lookout for a stylish chain to hang my cheaters from around my neck I think.

I am off in a bit to have a follow-up check of the eye. Even now, less than 24 hours post-op, I can tell that the vision is my left eye is lacking. I knew the cataract in that eye wasn’t as bad, but I never noticed it really much at all, apparently because the right really was that bad. 

I wonder just how big and bright my world will appear once I have a new left lens as well?

 

 

Hurrah! Hurray? Update

I’m going to go out onto a rather short limb here and say that I feel pretty confident that cataract surgery is really a thing that’s going to happen.

I picked these up at the pharmacy this morning:

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To be used in my right eye beginning the day of surgery, which is…

March 1st!!!

Men

There are men that I don’t like very much right now.

There are many reasons that I don’t feel very fond of men in general, and of some men in particular.

I do have a soft spot in my heart for older men though, and I realize that this has been the case for a long time.

So many of the older gentlemen who were patients of mine over the years during my dental career were wonderful. Of course they may have smelled a little sometimes, or needed to trim their ear hair, or those long wiry eyebrows. They may even have said some things that I could easily have taken offense to, sexist things that for the men of their generation were common, and accepted. For those men I would just smile, choosing not to take exception to their off-hand comments.

Those older men were bent, and often shaky. Their clothing hung off bodies that I assume were once strong and healthy and fit. They had a hard time hearing or seeing or both.

I found myself looking at them, and listening to their stories and wondering what life had been like for them. I had a few that were nasty. Curmudgeon is the word of choice for them, but I always assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that they might simply be lonely, or sad, or fearful of what was coming in the short time they had left.

I often found myself, at one point or another in our conversation, giving these older men a brief touch on their arm or hand. No, I didn’t ask, and yes it was clearly an invasion of their personal space, but I never had one complain or pull away. And I know that non-complaint doesn’t make it right. It did however, seem like it was important to connect with each of them, to say to them “I hear you and you’re important.”

This act of touching happened again for me, just the other day and it has made me wonder, in light of my own views on sexism and inappropriate behavior exhibited by men toward women, if I am just as guilty as I would assume a man to be if he felt it necessary to touch my arm or hand uninvited.

I was in the grocery store. It was the morning of the Super Bowl and the lines were LONG. I didn’t have a lot in my cart and neither did the older man behind me. A lady in the line next to us commented that we both might fit the “20 items or less criteria” and move to the line that had no one in it. Each of us decided to stay put, but we thanked her for her suggestion.

When my turn came I unloaded my cart and placed the divider thingy down. I also tried to move my cart up as far as possible so the man behind me could start unloading his stuff. By that time we’d been waiting in line for a good 15 minutes or longer. He hung back with his groceries and the space on the belt was wide open the entire way before he began unloading. He slowly put one item after another down. Two quarts of milk. Some lettuce. Hot dogs and buns. I had a feeling that he was trying not to crowd me or push forward too fast. I was still stuck, unmoved because the person who had just finished was chatting while having issues with their payment.

Something made me begin rearranging his groceries, moving them up to fill the open space while I rather offhandedly said, “Oh here, let’s get this moving. We’ve been here long enough.”

I can honestly say that I’ve never overstepped like that before. I don’t make it a routine practice to tell people how to put their groceries on the belt, nor do I typically jump in and handle their items either. He chuckled though and said, “When you’re over 80, you have all time in the world. I’m in no hurry.”

It was at that point that I noticed his ice cream tub and I asked him if he planned to eat the whole tub himself. What was I thinking! First I take charge of the man’s groceries then I insinuate that he would seriously consider eating a gallon size tub of ice cream. The final straw to all this was that as I was insulting his eating habits I also, without any thought to him or his comfort, automatically reached out and touched his forearm.

So there it was. I was, apparently without regard, touching another nice older man just like I had done on numerous occasions without considering that I might be offending him or making him uncomfortable.

I can only guess that my actions started during my dental career as a means to try to connect with, or reassure fearful patients. It wasn’t just older men that I would gently touch. I held kids hands. I have placed my hand over women’s hands, or given a female patient the same forearm touch. I’ve even gently patted the shoulder of a patient on occasion. I’ve often wondered though if I feel a connection to older men because I see my dad in these men. Do I feel a need to connect on a physical level, even so very briefly, with them because I miss the ability to do that with my dad?

I haven’t begun stalking men over 70, or randomly reaching out to inappropriately touch the arms of senior men I pass so I have hope that I can keep this in check.

By the way, the man behind me in line…he was shopping for his wife who was on crutches and couldn’t walk. The ice cream was for her…

Hurrah! Hurray?

But first, I always thought it was hurray! but Google tells me that using hurray! is “an utterance of the word ‘hurrah'” as a noun or a verb, and right now all this grammar is confusing and who the fuck cares because YES, finally a piece of good news…

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I was in and out of the retina specialists office in about 90 minutes with the all clear to proceed with cataract surgery!!!!

However; because there always seems to be a however these days, she did recommend followup laser zapping of some areas of concern that might be at risk of tearing somewhere into the future.

I do have some retinal tears in both eyes, but they are small and OLD and self healed. I also have something called ‘lattice degeneration’ which means thinning in areas that shouldn’t be thin, thus the possibility that a tear in the retina could occur. Part of me knows that I should take this seriously, but part of me also feels like I don’t have a good handle on just how much likelihood there might be of more tearing, severe tearing and thus detachment of the retina. I mean I’m almost 60 for god’s sake. If I can see with shiny new not-my-own lenses for a few more years, well that makes me happy and much less concerned about what might possibly happen down the road.

Also, there’s that upcoming issue of healthcare coverage, which of course I didn’t mention today as they were scheduling me for this laser stuff in early June. I can’t think that far ahead, in any way connected to anything other than getting this legal stuff moving. At the rate that I suspect the divorce process to proceed, I will almost assuredly still have the healthcare coverage that I do now, and I will not hesitate to go get these eyeballs zapped. If not, well- as with everything else I do lately- we face one day at a time and move forward.

Right now, moving forward means calling the cataract clinic and scheduling a surgery!

 

 

 

Moving forward, and likely back a bit as well…

I had my consultation today for the cataract surgery. But first, can I just say that I must have the biggest case of “white coat syndrome” ever. They took my blood pressure. It wasn’t good. It’s always great when I take it at home but today… the systolic was fine, the diastolic…not so much. She took it again after about 10 minutes and it was fine. It was strongly suggested that I consider having a small dose of sublingual Versed prior to my surgery if I was going to get myself that worked up. I don’t like the amnesia that accompanies Versed. I think meditation is a better option, or perhaps I’ll brush up on my Lamaze visualization techniques.

With that rather rocky start there was also a glitch tossed into what I hoped would be a straightforward consult. In general they tell me that my eyes are healthy, that I have no signs of glaucoma, that my left eye is already seeing 20/20 and that they can likely correct my right eye to 20/40. I do have old eyes though so I think some cheaters are still going to be in the works as my bifocals will disappear with my glasses. I can live with a handy pair or two of magnifiers.

The doctor then told me that she had two concerns, and that until they could be evaluated by another specialist, we couldn’t schedule the surgery. Apparently, at some point and completely unknown to me, I had a very small tear in my retina (right eye) that seems to have healed itself. As Dr. Abbie noted though, they don’t want to be messing around with my eye and have this ‘healed’ area decide to re-open. The left eye has some sort of vitreous attachment, that again, when the eye is messed with, could cause a resultant pulling, and/or tearing of the retina.

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Of course there’s a laundry list of possible causes for both of these issues, none of which seem to apply to me except the ‘generalized aging’ category. I’m getting a little tired of being told that I have old eyes. I already know that my body isn’t as firm, fit, or generally healthy as it used to be. I don’t need my eyes to keep reminding me of that.

Initially after this news, I had to not only adjust to the idea of another delay but also that the cost would now be going up. Something that I haven’t shared with you in the blog is that our current health insurance is crap. In short, the providers within the network that aren’t two hours or more away from me are not clinics that I want anywhere near my eyes. Their reviews and reputations are far less than stellar. I was referred to an amazing clinic for this consultation today, but they don’t accept my insurance. I have been working to find a way to pay for this surgery myself. When I was hit with the news that a preferred retina specialist (upon learning I was a private pay patient) wanted a $1000 deposit prior to even seeing me, I wanted to crawl under the schedulers desk and cry.

What I did instead was to come home, pull up my list of network providers, and found a specialist on the list whose office is 20 minutes away and who confirmed that yes, they accept our insurance! The evaluation will happen in a few weeks. Fingers are crossed that she will say that nothing needs to be done. When I called the cataract clinic back to tell them that I was still moving forward the scheduler mentioned that this doctor was fantastic. That piece of news helped me a lot after all the disappointment earlier.

I was also encouraged to here from Dr. Abbie that, once we can schedule the right eye surgery, and if it goes well, I can almost immediately schedule the left eye as well if I want. She said that they have had patients who have had both eye surgeries within a week of each other. Financial considerations will influence the timing, but as long as I can get the right eye done, then I feel like I can move ahead with all the very official stuff associated in ending my marriage.

Even though these eyes are old they have a clear vision of the final goal and we just keep pushing forward…