Thursday, May 4, 2017

It was sometime in 2002

I was on a flight to soldering certification class in California, starting to land near Pasadena when all of the sudden I noticed several spider webs in front of me. Thinking it was from the air ducts I tried to wipe them away no to no avail. I figured I had gotten something in my right eye.

The next morning I noticed spots and more junk, and what I call a fish eye, a dot surrounded by a circle. On the way home from class I asked to stop at a store so I could buy some eye wash. When asked by my classmates, I explained why and they told me it sounded like a torn retina and I should see a doctor.  I scoffed at that, but continued to think about it.  Having no internet access (no smart phones then) I did end up calling back to Washington and my family doctor asking for advice. I was told to go to the emergency room and have it checked out. I was away from my apartment (living near Mountain View CA) so I went to a local urgent care clinic where I stayed for several hours only to be told to go see a retina specialist. (they did not charge me for the visit) I found one the next day and had an appointment (Wednesday). Upon assessment, I was told I was going to need laser treatment and to come back
on Friday. I asked about waiting until I got back to Mountain View and they told me no. I made an appointment for Friday around 1 pm since my class was over at noon.

My classmates were concerned but did not offer to stay with me. My supervisor told me to stay at the hotel as long as I needed, my travel orders expired on Friday, but they would cover the cost and my team leader offered to drive the 600 miles and come get me. The doctor had told me I would be able to fly, so I changed my flight for Saturday, let everyone know what was going on and waited.
Friday came and I passed my soldering and written test, My classmate dropped my off at the eye doctor and she left for the airport.

I sat in the chair and this very pretty Asian doctor came in. She looked to be in her early thirties. She gave me a shot in my eye area, to deaden the nerves around the eye and told me she was going to use the laser to seal around the tear, sealing it off so it would not let anymore air in or come loose, the fish eyes were really little bubbles that I was seeing. She told me it would be bright and since the tear went over a nerve it was going to hurt at one point.

                   My father had laser surgery  on cataracts when it was experimental at the University of Washington. He came home with dark glasses complaining of the bright light when I asked if it hurt. I visited his grave after and apologized for thinking it was not that big of a deal. I am sure he just smiled at me.

She started to work.

Hurt is not a word I would for this experience. The light was so bright is caused pain I have never experienced as it exploded in my eye. You cannot get away from it. She had to stop several times so I could catch my breath and recover a little. The procedure lasted about 45 minutes or a lifetime depending on which side of the laser you were on. At the end, she used a cup device on my eye to keep my eye open, I could not anymore. I think I escaped during the last minutes as I don’t remember much.

I left the doctors via taxi, wearing dark shades with my eye so dilated and overloaded any light hurt. I went to my room, called to tell people I was alright but was going to take a nap, took a handful of Tylenol and laid down in the dark.  At five pm I went down to the hotel reception hall for the free drinks. I asked for two whiskeys and downed them, then went and  asked for two more.  I called Halmonie and asked her to talk to me. She did talk for a while, I have no idea what she said but her voice was soothing. I slept that night and got up for my flight back to my empty apartment Saturday night and spent the rest of the weekend in the shade. My eye adjusted, the memory subsided and I recovered.

I have a large floater in my eye I call Freddy. During the first several months I could feel it danced around in my eye. It is still there but I have learned to ignore it unless the light is just right. There was a lot of junk, really blood bits but most of that is gone now. The black spots where he laser burned are only noticeable in certain light and color conditions.

I was alone during this experience and this taught me something of myself. I was not fond of my classmates for deserting me but they really owed me nothing, I let that go. I learned about torn retinas and what to look for in case it came back or happened in my other eye. So far, I have been lucky with no other effects except for some minor pain and focus issues in certain lights.  This event has made me stronger.


What’s the point of this story?

I am not looking for sympathy or pity. This is something that happened and I have learned how to deal with it.

The point is really to let you know that when life throws you a curve  - learn to deal with it and get through it. You can do it. It may seem difficult and unfair, but strengthen up and move on. Staying in that moment would do no good. Throw the experience in your backpack to learn from and continue on down your path.

Love grandpa





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Love grandpa