This morning, the world looks new-minted and bright, almost dazzling. I can see the shades of yellowing leaves on distant trees, spot mole hills on school playing fields.
For those who like facts — I had one or two email queries — this is what happens. The posterior capsule at the back of the eye goes opaque from scarring after removal of a cataract.
The wrinkling or cloudiness which can develop later is a result of scarring (a normal healing response) and can interfere with vision in ways similar to the original cataract. If the clouding of the posterior capsule interferes with your vision, your ophthalmologist may suggest opening the capsule to restore normal sight.
This is done with a procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy, whereby your doctor uses a laser beam to punch through the iris and make a tiny hole in the posterior membrane to let light pass through and restore clear vision.
It is not complicated in most cases but in my case there is a fragmenting retina and other kinds of scarring so the risk is increased. And this is the second time the posterior capsule has reformed.
But here I am this autumn morning, admiring the bright new world and grateful for modern science. For months now I have known that the details of my surroundings were fading and any thing in the distance lay behind a grey curtain, a very familiar sensation. As I was leaving yesterday, the eye specialist very gently warned me again that the retina is deteriorating and there may be a need for more retinal work in the near future. I tried not to hear him — years ago I would go ‘deaf’ when eye surgeons talked to me gravely about the prognosis and not recall anything from consultations. Denial is such a strong force in human nature.
And last night I phoned somebody in AA and found her considering a drink or two because she may need a mastectomy and dreads ‘disfigurement’, as she terms it.. We cheered each other up and I waited on the phone while she poured out the bottle of liquor and made herself a hot milky drink before bed. Some body said to me recently that false pride — the reluctance to call and ask for help — is often more of a stumbling block than resentment.
If we cannot be ourselves, fallible and honest, in AA, then where can we be truthful and vulnerable? It is of course much more meaningful in face-to-face encounters where there are real hugs and tears and laughter, but if that is not possible then phone calls or even emails must suffice. Heart to heart, modem to modem.