19 May 2009

Living vicariously through a robot's voice

(note: there's some stuff in here about eye surgery. It's not terribly gross, but I've met some people who can't handle they idea, so there's your disclaimer. I'm sure there are typos in here as well, robot voice is not infallible.)

Hi there. 

I've finally figured out the screen reader software that's built into the Mac, so I'm again able to be unproductive as ever with the help of the internet. Now that I'm able to use the computer though, I have no idea what to look up. I guess it's the Random button on Wikipedia for me.

I've been busy in the last six or so months since I las put something up here. In the last post I wrote I was mentioning that I was having some vision problems. Well, it turns out I was right. We went to Emergency at Toronto Western to get a look at the eye and after a few checks and double-checks it was confirmed that I had a retinal detatchment. Seeing as this is what caused the loss of vision in my left eye, this isn't exactly what I wanted to hear. Everything was happening so quickly that before I realized it I was in the operating room. (I checked the OR, I did not like it so far). I had an IV full of God knows what, they put the gas mask on me, and I was gone. 

I barely remember the next two days. I was so messed up on the general anesthetic and having a grand time.I recall some of the people in my recovery room: one guy was speaking in tongues and coughing up whatever may constitute as his lungs; another was there for what we figured was a broken toe or fractured ankle and was splitting his time between hitting on the nurses and complaining on his phone all night to his mother. He had to have been damn near 40. I think this was the occasion where I quoted a particularly offensive Monty Python skit - "Ginger? Are you a poof? :I should thay not!" - so I'm sorry to anyone whose sensibilities I insulted, poof or otherwise. 

Oh, I'm also irrationally afraid of needles, so it wasn't really the best of times. I was complaing about feeling like I was going to throw up. The nurse explained that it was likely due to the anesthetic, and asked if I wanted some Gravol. I replied "Sure, so long as it's not a suppository." They said it wasn't. They came back with a syringe and upon seeing this I claimed I was fine and not ill in any fashion. They didn't believe me. Christ, I had a welt on my arm from that needle for weeks. 

About a week after the first surgery I was back in the hospital for a check up. The first surgery had done well, but they found another tear in the bottom of my eye. I'm sure that as I write this the back of my eye looks like a quilt. The hardest part of this result was that I had a few days to panic a boutit. With the first operation I had no time to dwell on the fact that I was about to go under the knife, but this time I had a good few days to ponder the outcome. I wasn't exactly pleasant to be around, I'd wager.

The second procedure went well and six months later everything is where it should be. I'm seeing the surgeon again July to hopefully get my third and presumably final operation done. The tears are closed and are healing nicely. The surgery would be to do some "spring cleaning." There's a cataract that's grown to protect the eye, some scar tissue to get rid of, and maybe just to tidy and reupholster the thing. 

Oh, when I had the second procedure, they put an oil bubble in my eye. It's there to put some pressure on the retina, and it kind of feels like I live in a snow globe, or a carpenter's level. The result? Fantastic balance. (not really). There's a constant curve on the top of my field of vision, like the brim of a ball cap. Since it is a kind of oil, I asked one of my surgeons what kind it was. Canola? Olive? 10W-30? He didn't even crack a smile. I then asked him if I had to change it every 3000 miles. Didn't laugh. That's comedy gold, Jerry! Opthamalogists are the Germans of the medical world: strict, efficient and humourless. Maybe it's because I have brown eyes and not blue? Oh well.

I spent the first few months getting eye drops and wearing a patch. You wouldn't believe the cocktail of drops they had me on. At one point there were three different kinds: one general dialator; an awful cold goop that I had to put in, shut my eye, and for lack of a better term, swirl; and one which I can't remeber what it did, but I needed it every two hours for two weeks. If anyone needs to get someone to do drops for them, talk to Elaine, she's get the method on lockdown. 

I'm not taking drops anymore and I'm slowly regaining my independance. I was totally dependent on Elaine for a while, but aside from my fear of knives and the oven (both of which I don't trust myself with when I can see) I'm able to cook for myself. I have a white identification cane that I tap around with and it gives me some mobility. I am nervous crossing the main intersection near my place though. There's no audio signal, there are advance signals, and throw in the general ineptitude of drivers and you don't have to be visually impaired to fear it. Both Elaine and I have been tagged by cars not paying attention there. My method is to lurk at the convenience store or McDonald's until I see a group of people going to the corner and I blend in with them. I figure if someone gets hit, I'll have a bit more warning this way. 

My biggest challenge has been finding something to do. Our apartment is fairly small and suddenly I can't do what I'd normally do to kill time. All boredom and no video games make Dan something something.  Well, that's a lie. I can play Rock Band, which doesn't sound like a huge accomplishment, but the bright primary colours are perfect for the level of sight that I have. Also I can sing, provided I know the song. It's a bit of a fiasco if I don't, I just make up the lyrics and someone inevitably gets offended. Dayna is made of feelings, wwwwwaaaaaahh. I did also recently beat Super Mario World for SNES, so my self-perscribed rehab is working as far as I can tell. I've also burned through a huge pile of audiobooks thanks to the St. Catharines Public Library. I actually have a new favourite author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Had I not lost the vision I wouldn't have been introduced to Sherlock Holmes. So, I'm happy for that.

I realize that I'm simply rambling at this point, so I'll wrap this up. I'd just like to tell everyone I haven't been able to talk to in the last while that I've been a bit predisposed of late. I'll hopefully be back on the horse in a few months. I'd also like to thank everyone who have helped us out in the last while. Everyone's been so giving and helpful and we both truly appreciate it.

I'm sure I'll find something else to talk about soon. I get bored, you see.

Take care

Living vicariously through a robot's voice