Wednesday, September 12, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

I’m not a girl who cries--as far as anyone else sees.  I spent most of high school and significant time on one job in the women’s room where no one could see the tears.  

I spent my young years in a relationship that made me cry almost every day, but I learned that isn’t love, and I left him and the tears in a galaxy far, far away.  Then my first marriage turned abusive.  Crying and fear seemed to give the man more power, so I turned my face to stone and learned to never cry.

Usually my tears are the result of anger or frustration.  It would be preferable to simply slap the offender but that’s uncivilized and usually illegal.
One friend worried about me for years because I would just shrug and walk away when demeaned or injured.  She dragged me to tearjerker movies in the hope that I would let it all out.  But I never cried over manufactured emotion.

I once slammed my hand into a fire door--those suckers are heavy--and shed not a tear.  Hopped around on one foot repeating a particular four-letter word under my breath, but no tears.
Recently I have been undergoing a series of eye surgeries.  I do my best not to cry, even when the procedure is painful.  I am determined to allow my eyes to heal as quickly as possible.  Crying is not on the medical agenda.

This summer something shifted.  I sat watching my Facebook page change by the minute with news and photos of the Waldo Canyon fire and the destruction it left.  Friends posted their evacuation status.  I switched back and forth between my page and Colorado Springs news sources--and the tears flowed non-stop.

I grew up as an Army brat.  I attended 16 schools before graduating from Palmer High in Colorado Springs.  I lived in that city off and on since I was eight years old--third and fourth grade, half of seventh grade, high school, then college.  I moved to Denver for graduate school and did not return for 24 years.  I didn’t last long when I returned; I couldn’t find a job and finally moved to the Four Corners area for work.

During the years I lived in Denver I traveled.  People would ask where I was from and I would respond that I lived in Denver.
“But where are you from?” they would ask.  And I would have to explain growing up Army.  Many military kids don’t have a sense of hometown.  I moved so often that sometimes my only bit of stability was the bed pillow I insisted on carrying everywhere.  That pillow was re-covered and re-stuffed so many times that it wasn’t the same pillow with which I started.  It was only last year that I threw it away.

Moving meant leaving behind clothing, toys and anything deemed unnecessary.  When I left Colorado Springs I took only what was necessary, but kept my memories.
Our house in Colorado Springs was near the top of a hill on the west side.  A short walk up the hill gave us a spectacular view of the Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak and the horrid strip-mining scar on the mountain.  We walked around Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs.  We used Highway 24 to Woodland Park to practice snow driving.  We went to the Flying W Ranch to sing with the cowboys because it was hokey and fun.  Whenever I returned to visit family, those same landmarks of my childhood were there.

I watched on-line as those landmarks changed or were destroyed.  And I cried until my eyes swelled because I realized that I do have a hometown and it is Colorado Springs.

My heart is with those who have lost their homes and the playgrounds I enjoyed in my youth.  They are my family.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Can See Clearly Now

Well, not really. But I can see much better than I have in the last three months. I had my second laser surgery last week to clear up my diabetes related vision problems. I still use the magnifier on the computer and need to use a magnifying glass to read, but I can see to walk and drive now.

I should probably just get used to using large print from here on out. No need to strain these eyes any more. It’s scary to think that I can never practice law or be a librarian again because of the vision limitations.

I am just grateful to see more than shapes and colors. And happy to get healthier every day.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Doctor, My Eyes

The past month has not been fun. On Friday December 9, as I left a holiday party, the vision in my left eye went out. It looked like someone drew black lines on my glasses and then smeared mayonnaise on them.

On Monday, the vision in the right eye blew out.

I was virtually blind. I could see shapes and colors, but could not see the detail in a face.

After arguing with the eye clinic and having the insurance company affirm my coverage I was able to see the doctor on Tuesday. The diagnosis was diabetic related bleed in both eyes. I have had a few floaters in the past year, but nothing like this. I suppose that after 26 years of being diabetic, I am fortunate that this did not happen long ago.

I was told to sleep sitting up--a true pain in the back and hips. I stopped my daily 81 mg aspirin and avoided shaking my head.

The first few days were scary. I made coffee by feel. Once when making iced tea, I poured the Stevia on the counter. I gave up and just slept a lot for a few days.

But I had a column deadline for the Denver Post on December 16 and I needed to quit feeling sorry for myself. I was able to meet deadline by typing the thing with a 48 point bold font, and with the assistance of my husband, an excellent proofreader.

Christmas shopping had to be completed on-line, with the zoom set at 4x. I could not read on websites that used light gray or blue print, no matter how much I blew it up. I had to give up my addiction to advice columns for a couple of weeks.

The worst thing was that I could not go anywhere.

I have always been independent, and depending on my husband to get me to doctors’ appointments was difficult. He was kind and concerned--much more patient than usual. I jokingly called him my ‘seeing-eye-husband.’ But in truth, that was exactly what he was. I could not see well enough to keep my balance, so I clung to him. He verbalized the curbs and other obstacles in my path.

He did forget once and at the butcher counter asked me to take a look at a roast. “Just sling it onto the counter,” I snarled, “I’ll give it a feel.” Later we could laugh at that.

Our friend Lynn stepped in and made the Christmas dinner for me. I still made my trademark Sachertorte. I expected it to be funny looking, as the frosting is difficult anyway. but I did it and it was great.

Slowly my vision began to return.

Then one night I was listening to Dr. Wayne Dyer on a PBS show about excuses. His last suggestion was that instead of spending the five minutes before falling asleep fretting about the day’s mistakes, we should think about how great we will feel when things go our way. So I tried it.

I thought about how great I was going to feel when I finished my article with an upcoming deadline. I thought about how great I will feel about being able to drive again when my vision returned.

I finished the article two days early. And the vision has improved enough for me to drive safely.

I am scheduled for laser surgery to correct the problem on Tuesday January 10. And it’s going to be great to fully recover my vision and not worry about losing it again.