Mine Eyes Have Seen


My latest finds.

I was browsing through a bookstore the other night. The very act of walking through the aisles and by tables full of books, while being free to linger my hand lovingly upon them, is almost erotic to me.

A bookstore is like a candy store full of beckoning treats, or a bakery full of savory scents luring you inside. Thrilling delights for the eyes. Everywhere.

Books have been my companions, my buddies, always there to fill my needs. I coveted and collected them, all types finding a happy home with me, until the usurper’s (RA) unwelcome arrival forced me to give up reading hardcovers.

Their unyielding weight hurt my hands and my wrists, and robbed me of my pleasure. How could I escape into my story if the pain formed a blockade around my brain?

A self-admitted book addict, I switched to strictly paperbacks to feed my passion. They were softer, more pliable and lighter, and they didn’t hurt my hands or wrists as much. But on some the print was a little too small, and my bedroom lighting suddenly seemed too weak. I found it a strain to read myself to sleep at night, as had been my ritual since forever.

The magic of Kindle came to try to save the day. I could enjoy my stories once again at any time of day or night, albeit with a tiny light attached. If I held it in a certain way, I could avoid having the glare bounce back from the screen directly into my eyes. But still, I missed the feel of a book. I longed for the aroma of its silky pages. And I missed having those actual pages to turn. I’d enjoyed flipping back to reread a passage, or forging ahead for a sneak preview of what was to come.

A backlit smart phone followed. I could read without any other lighting even though the screen had shrunk right before my eyes. My husband berated me for straining my eyes by reading on that tiny device. He solved the problem by surprising me with a tablet one Christmas, nine inches of backlit screen with adjustable fonts. Awesome.

A second, more powerful tablet followed that one. And then one New Year’s Eve morning, half the screen went partially dark. I wake up as I go to sleep, reading. At first, I tried blinking the blur away. I wondered if perhaps I was still asleep, dreaming that I couldn’t see all the words. But no, I really couldn’t.

I learned that I’d had a “stroke in the eye.” There was a blob of blood obstructing the vision in my right eye. The cure they said, or rather the treatment, was injections. Injections into the eye. Now I’m no coward when it comes to what life has thrown at me so far, but a needle in the eye? Come on, man!

Nevertheless, I psyched myself up for it, or rather, them (plural). I mean, how can I live without reading? In the past sixteen months, I’ve had four shots and, no, it doesn’t get easier the more you do it. You don’t get the hang of it and it doesn’t become second nature. It’s sort of like dealing with RA, whom I should probably blame for all this. After all, I blame everything else on it.

But let me tell you, thank goodness for modern medicine, and thank goodness for doctors who stay razor sharp. The blur is almost gone, so tiny as to be insignificant.

When this first happened, I went and got prescription readers. Till then I’d resorted to the cheapie drugstore kind. I had a pair in every room of the house. At that point, the optometrist could only do so much for my right eye.

Last month, I went for my checkup and got a new pair of glasses, a progressive intermediate and reader. Neither the OTC glasses nor the old readers were really helping with my computer work.

Well, night has turned into day. I can read real books again. Because not only has my vision improved, but so have my hands and wrists. And during this window of time, I’m grateful that I can indulge my passion again. That I can browse and touch and feel, and accumulate to my heart’s content.


10 thoughts on “Mine Eyes Have Seen

  1. Wren

    Oh, this is such good news, Irma! The very idea of injections in the eye make me cringe, but I’m so glad they’ve helped so much. Like you, I had to give up first hardcover, then paperback books because of my painful hands and wrists. And like you, reading has always been a huge part of my life. Not only do I love to lose myself in character and story, but I love the look, feel, and scent of books, as well. And bookstores… your description was perfect.

    The Kindle has been a reading lifesaver for me, too, but while I buy books frequently, I don’t read nearly as much as I used to. It’s just not the same, and I find “falling into the story” harder when reading a screen. Part of the give and take, I guess, and I won’t complain. I wouldn’t be able to read much at all without it.

    Yay for books! Yay for you, and your much-improved eyesight! And yay that your RD hands and wrists are giving you a break these days. How lovely it must be to read a real book the old-fashioned way!

    Sending a big hug your way. 🙂

    1. Irma Post author

      Thanks, Wren. I have an ophthalmology appt next week. To make sure all’s well and good. I guess that’s now a regular routine for me along with rheumy visits, but that’s ok, as long as I can read in the waiting room! Be well.

  2. J.G. Chayko

    I love the shape, smell and feel of real books. I too, have found them difficult to hold in weak sore hands, but I try anything to keep them close to me – laying them on pillows, switching to paperback as you did – I am grateful my eyes are still good, just the usual change to reading glasses to help me see the words. So glad to hear your eyesight has improved and that RD has given you a break so you can hold those lovely books once again. Here’s to many nights of getting lost in adventure and new worlds. Stay well X.

    1. Irma Post author

      There’s nothing like a good book, is there? I have donated so many over the years, otherwise my house would be awash in them. But the only thing better than reading one is sharing it with someone else. There was a recent story about someone in NYC who left stacks of books in different places so people could take them. That is so neat. I hope you are doing well.

  3. phat50chick

    As the daughter of a librarian, I did feel guilty when I stopped reading actual books and instead read my tablet. But it is easier on my hands to prop the tablet up on my bedside table and read that way. Even my mom and dad read on their kindles. It’s just convenient.

    And, I’ve also just begun to wear progressives. I had the dimestore cheaters all over the house, but wanted to read the instrument panel in the car. I’m surprised how much better my far vision is with these new glasses. So happy that I made that move.

    Glad you are well!!

    1. Irma Post author

      I love having a library on a gadget that fits into my purse. Especially, when I’m traveling. And that it lets me communicate with others and lets me read what’s going on in the world is a plus. Not to mention the mahjong games that sharpen the brain. But nothing can replace what a book can do for you. I’m glad you can see far now! I was told my distance vision improved which was surprising, but good to hear. Be well.

  4. tomrains

    That’s amazing! So glad you can read again. And I’m with you when you say the experience of wandering a bookstore is almost erotic! I’m a late convert to Kindle, but I love it (and paper, too).

    1. Irma Post author

      Thank you, Tom. Reading is amazing, no matter how you do it. But it’s true that there is nothing like a good book, an actual book.

  5. Carla Kienast

    Irma: Sorry for the late reply, but I’ve been traveling. I am thrilled about the vision report! What great news. I love reading as well. As much as I love a “real” book I have come to rely heavily on my Kindle — just because I can carry many books without too much weight on my arthritic hands and I can adjust the type size! I have a library full of “old favorites” though that I read at home. Thrilled for your improved vision!

    1. Irma Post author

      Hi, Carla, glad you’re back from your travels! I hope you had a wonderful time. I love my tablet all the more when I’m traveling. I can’t relax unless I have something to read. And I’m so very grateful that the treatment worked. I give thanks every day.


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