Last Thursday I had the first of two cataract operations. This one was on my right eye. Since I had been the chauffer for both my parents when they had their cataracts removed, I knew about the enormous improvement to overall sight it would bring, with so little fuss and inconvenience. Although when I picked my mother up after her second operation she was a bit miffed.
‘They put me under last time, but this time I had to keep myself still and they held my head very tight. I was looking forward to waking up after it was all over!’ she complained.
Of course things have changed in the intervening twenty or so years. At the Perth Eye Hospital the other day they used no anaesthetic and needed very little sedation to send me into a deep sleep. Half an hour later I woke up and it was all over. Everyone was smiling and telling me it went very well. I had a special eye shield taped over my right eye and instructions to take that one off when I got home. They provided me with a pair of sunnies with an extra layer of protection over the right eye and a second shield with a whole roll of tape so that I could wear that one to bed. They had certainly covered all the bases in terms of what might happen. However, nothing could have prepared me for the shock I felt when I first looked in the mirror the next morning.
I took off my super-efficient, medical grade eye patch and gone into the bathroom to have a shower when I glanced in the mirror. Looking back at me was this person with one eye that I thought was me, but the other must have belonged to someone ten years older! The right eye, which I must admit was not fully open, had deep wrinkles across the eyelid, and running from the outer corner of the eye across my cheek! What used to be my ‘smile lines’ had turned into the wrinkles of some really ancient creature out of a horror movie. I was shocked and distressed. Would I have to go through the rest of my life with one eye looking ten years older than the other? I had a shower and tried to work out what to do. Peter was still asleep, but I didn’t particularly want him to see me anyway. I dried myself and, out of force of habit, took out the lanolin to moisten my dry skin. When I looked in the mirror there I was! Both eyes looked back at me with a slightly foolish expression. My right eye was, by now, fully open. The fearsome wrinkles on the eyelid, hidden. The mocking ‘smile lines’ looking perfectly normal and telling me how foolish I was. The shower had improved my circulation and, just as everyone had told me, things looked a lot clearer without that cataract concealing a few home truths. Phew!