It was about a year ago that I had eyelid surgery to correct what is technically called “droopy eyelids.” As my optometrist said when I checked with her a year ago in September, “It’s no wonder you can’t see—your eyelid is drooping halfway over your pupil.”
I haven’t said didn’t say a whole lot about this surgery because I don’t like to call a lot of attention to myself, although my appearance certainly did afterward. I looked like I had gone about three rounds with Muhammad Ali–and lost.
I experienced my drooping eyelids as not having enough light to see. If I held my eyelid up, there was much more light, but I looked funny walking around holding them up. Same thing with holding them in place with duct tape as some people do. I chose surgery, and it took six months from the time I saw the optometrist to the day of surgery.
Becky drove me over to a well-appointed surgery center in Chevy Chase last May where I was promptly taken back and prepped for surgery. I won’t go into too many details except to say I was given a “twilight sleep” sedation so I could follow commands. It worked: I was awake but didn’t care what happened to me. I had my eyes closed as the surgeon worked and as he finished, he said, “Open your eyes.”
The room seemed flooded with light. “There’s so much light,” I said, and there was, especially since it was an O.R. with O.R. lights. The surgery crew laughed at what I said.
After a short time in recovery, Becky drove me back home where we arrived about 2 PM. I was to spend the rest of that day and the next flat on my back with frozen peas or lima beans on my eyes to keep down swelling and bruising.
I found it hard to keep still and lie down. Becky kept reminding me, sometimes forcefully, how important it was to do just that. I eventually settled down, and in the next day and a half discovered some things to do while lying on your back unable to see because you have gauze pads and iced vegetables on your eyes. So, here is what I did:
I listened to the radio, particularly news, traffic and weather from the glass-enclosed nerve center of WTOP. Their frequent times checks made it easy to tell when it was time to switch the somewhat thawed peas for a freshly frozen pack. By the way, it you want to thaw about a quarter pound of peas or lima beans, hold them on your head for about half an hour. That’ll do the trick.
I listened to Pandora, the internet music service, grooving (but not too much) to the likes of Dan Fogelberg, Gordon Lightfoot, Art Garfunkel and Jim Croce. I found that I could add percussion by tapping on the wall as well.
I listen to several televised baseball games and finally switched to radio broadcasts where the descriptions were more complete.
I did some gentle yoga exercises to keep from getting stiff from lying around.
And I talked on the telephone with anyone who called, except for solicitors.
I was able to get up to go to the bathroom and eat, and then promptly go back and lie down with my iced eyeballs.
I decided after trying to make my way around the upper floor where I am familiar with what’s there that I would not make a good blind person. I kept running into things and was afraid of falling down the stairs and setting back my recovery. Vision is truly a gift. I did try playing guitar, thinking that some famous musicians like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Doc Watson and Blind Lemon Jefferson were blind. I could barely play my guitar by holding it on my chest but I didn’t find songs by these artists such as “Deep River Blues” and “See that my Grave Is Kept Clean” much help in healing. I gave that up very quickly.
With my eyelids lifted, I have had more light coming into my pupils. With more light, I also see details better. I also gained 30 additional degrees of upward peripheral vision through this procedure. I hadn’t thought about this until I was walking into the church one afternoon a couple of weeks after surgery and I thought, hey! there’s a whole sky—a whole heaven up there and I didn’t even have to raise my head to see it.
My eyes have been opened and I have seen the light.