Tag Archives: Gratitude

Mine Eyes Have Seen

Books

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.

 

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On This Earth

A writer I much admire once wrote, “. . . waiting is the tense in which life is truly written.” Those words struck a chord with me when I read them three years ago. They’ve never left me. And sometimes when I am sitting in my rheumatologist’s waiting room, I think of how true those words are.

Reading Billies’ excellent post on waiting reminds me I meant to write about my time spent in that waiting room. While I was there in May, I came to the hard decision of looking for another doctor. Though things flow at a creeping pace at this office, I arrive on time at 3:30 p.m.

At 5:00 p.m. I see the front desk receptionist walk by me with her purse. She hasn’t yet taken my co-pay. I’d signed in and exchanged pleasantries with her and then taken my seat in the crowded waiting room. Deep into my reading, I only entertain a passing mental query as she goes by. After all, there is other staff.

At 5:30 p.m. the tech who does the preliminary workup, vitals and the dreaded weigh-in, sees me through the open sign-in window. “Did they pull your chart?” he asks.

I shrug my shoulders. How do I know?

He walks around and opens the door for me. “I’m sorry,” he says, as he escorts me toward the back. He chats with me as he works, asking how my writing is going. Fine, I say.

Before I’m shown to an exam room, I have to go up front and give my co-pay. “I can’t take a credit card. It’s after five,” says the young girl left at the front desk.

I shrug again. Not my problem. I’ve been there more than two hours by then. Somehow she gets it done.

I text my husband: “Two hours and haven’t been seen.”

“Unacceptable,” he fires back.

Sometime after 6:00 p.m. the PA comes in and makes himself comfortable. He takes an extensive history, dating from my last visit two months previously. He conscientiously taps onto his laptop my every utterance it seems. He asks me how to spell a word; I tell him. “I hate English,” he says with a sheepish grin. “It has its quirks,” I say.

He spends over 30 minutes with me, typing, chatting. I feel like I’m with family, the whole process is so familiar. With a shake of the hand he leaves me to my reading and waiting.

Around 7:00 p.m. my doctor walks in; smiling, he extends his hand towards me. He’s always smiling and he always shakes my hand. “How are you doing?” he asks. “Sorry about the wait.”

“It’s OK,” I murmur.

He meticulously reads what the PA wrote, then reviews certain comments/complaints. Satisfied with my responses, he asks me to step up onto the exam table.

He bends every one of my fingers by turn (ouch), then has me lie back and proceeds to bend my legs, my arms (no problem there), and listens to my heart, my lungs. He guides me to sit up and then checks my eyes and inside my mouth searching for RA’s sidekick, dryness of the mucous membranes. All checks out and he goes back to the desk. I step down and go sit across from him.

He checks his phone researching something for several long minutes, then comes to a decision regarding my current medications. He goes over the protocol with me. “You’re doing very well,” he says with that smile.

Returning his smile, I lock eyes with him for a moment. We are coming to the end of this slow-moving ballet we’ve engaged in for almost a decade.

And I remember why.

Because of him, I remain here, on this earth.

We shake hands and I make my way to the front desk. I schedule my next appointment, then exit the office. It is now 8:00 p.m.

Written for: Weekly Writing Challenge: Fit to Write