27 July 2009

Oh, hi there.

so knock on wood, kids, the end is near.

A few weeks ago I went to the surgeon to get an update on my eye's condition. Rather than the customary flashing of lights in my eye and mumbling that I'd have to come back in another few months, I finally got some (somewhat) concrete answers. I am going to have a final surgery to remove the oil bubble that's in the eye, and an implant will be...implanted.

Thank God for Elaine, I wouldn't have remembered a damn thing about the visit if it weren't for her. I have some issues with hospitals, likely due to my experience with them at a young age. I get nervous, punctuated by minor panic attacks and mood swings. I can make jokes about how many packs of smokes the Gollum-voiced woman three seats down inhales on an average day, then the next minute I'll be brooding and snapping at the people who brought me there in the first place. I don't really think before I speak and I regret a lot of the things I say once it's too late to stop. In the doctor's office I make jokes, humour being my de facto defence mechanism. The doctors must get people like me all day. They're there to fix my eye, not to fuck around and have a laugh with some nervous kid. On top of all that, I either don't listen or I just hear what I want to hear. I personally come away from the visits with either a complete misunderstanding of what was said, or I latch on to the one thing that slipped through my internal wall of white noise and brood. Afterwards, I'm usually irrationally angry or I'll be super-psyched about the one scrap of good news that I've skewed into a impossibly positive sign of things to come, only to be let down later. This is why I'm lucky to have Elaine. She sets my ass straight, condenses the news into a digestible Coles Notes version for my under-developed brain to understand, and somehow manages to take my icy verbal jabs in stride. She knows I don't mean the poison that I issue forth, but I find out when I've crossed a line. I generally will spend the rest of the day kissing up to make good, which, I theorize, isa cunning plan on her part. She puts up with a lot of silly shit and I'm aware of how lucky I am for that.

As far as the eye thing goes, I may not even need glasses or contacts when it's all said and done. It's an odd feeling. I've never seen myself (in real-time) without glasses. I've seen pictures, but that's not the same as looking in a mirror and thinking 'don't I know you? You look familiar...' I've always worn glasses, and I think they've become sort of a safety blanket for me. They hide my oddly-shaped left eye and somehow that makes me feel safe. Sure, I have got the "Wow, your lenses are thick, what do you see out of those?" questions. Generally I'll be civil about the boorish comment. What the hell do you think I see out of them? I fantasize about ripping into people, though, with "Wow, your teeth are mossy and sparse, how do you eat with those?" People wearing bifocals do not have any idea what I'm talking about. Sure, they get the "four-eyes" and "Poindexter" banal bullshit, but it means nothing. There are assholes out there, who, thinking they're making an innocent query, ask extremely personal information. In such a blasé fashion you'd expect someone to ask another "what's up with the weather?" I've gotten "what the fuck is up with your glasses/eyes?" My favourite question is still "What can you see with those?" Do I look like Cyclops or Geordi La Forge? You can see my eyes through the clear glass lenses, right? Then clearly I must see a world of black and green, binary digits flying like neon snow. I see the world that is pulled over the eyes of others, and I am looking for recruits to wake up from their programmed existence to help me defeat our horrible robotic masters. That's right, fuckers, we live in the Matrix and I am your messiah.

God, I'm going to miss glasses.

Another thing I want to touch upon is the debate about US health care reform. I make no claims to know much about the politics behind it, and I don't honestly give a shit about that. I believe that, regardless of one's financial situation, everyone deserves free treatment. Simple as that. I also feel that if the US makes health care accessible to everyone, the doctors trained here in Canada will be more resistant to move South.

I know people who bitch and moan about the wait times at hospitals in Canada. These people aren't taking all patients into account. When I was first admitted to Toronto Western, not knowing I'd have to have surgery, I was thinking about that very issue. How can they make people wait so long for a procedure? I pondered the ethics of delaying surgery, thought about waiting rooms filled with pacing family members and nervous friends. I thought it was awful.

Then I was told I needed immediate surgery. My doctor scrubbed up, I was ushered into the frigid change room and donned a lovely gown featuring a delightful floral design. I walked past other patients, who I found out that, because of my surgery, they've been bumped from the schedule. 'What made me more special or deserving?', I thought. I felt their glares boring into my back, not needing vision to know a lot of people were pissed at me. Did I just condemn these people to a long, agonizing death? I asked Elaine and the nurse taking my blood pressure and administering eye drops about the people I gave the shaft to. "Oh, you no worry 'bout them," said the nurse, a thick Latin accent tangoing with her words, "they only have sore toes, hang-a-nails, you know? You much more severe, they wait a bit longer." I protested that I felt bad, saying that I could wait just the same. "No, you can't," Elaine told me as she squeezed my hand, "the doctor said it can't wait and you need to be in right now. The other people have broken bones, minor things that can wait." Not an hour after the doctor muttered, to no one in particular, "yeah, it's a detachment," I was shuffling down the freezing hallway to the OR. This is when I realized that though wait times are prevalent in Canadian hospitals, admittance is based on urgency. We don't have people coughing up blood, keeling over, and expiring in a full waiting room as nurses blithely sip their double-double and glue their eyes on CP24. I guarantee the people complaining about wait times are either yuppie do-gooders who haven't been in an ER for so much has the snuffles, or they're people with a non-serious issue (meaning not requiring immediate attention, broken bones, minor burns, etc.), who don't believe that they, God forbid, should be waiting for treatment with the plebs. I agree with a hospital gauging seriousness by "might die/might have lifelong repercussions" and "trivial shit." It's that cut-and-dry.

In one waiting room there was a guy who was, what I can only try to convey, frantically throwing up into the waiting room's garbage can. Every hurk and heave, followed by a splash of expelled fluids made the whole roil and shift uneasily. I eavesdropped that the poor guy had been violently ill like this a few weeks before, and had just recovered a bit. His doctor warned him not to go back to work until he was better, but rent loomed. He returned to his job, which I gathered was temporary construction work,, and the long, hard shifts brought his sickness back in full force. As unsettling as the scene was, he still had to wait to be seen by the doctor on call. I felt for the guy, who was sobbing softly between upchucks, praying for a moment's respite. No dice, another "Urp!" and another splash, amplified by the steel, hollow trash can. Doctors see a guy with a stomach bug. "Any blood?" they'd ask. "N...no, no blood, only...", his voice trailing as he whips around just in time to make another deposit. He'll have to wait, then.

Blood or a life-altering issue are what doctors are concerned with. I'm not saying that the guy who puked for the better part of four hours had it easy, and I don't envy people with broken bones or loosened teeth. I do have a problem when people complain that wait times are too long. Get a serious injury, get priority treatment. Doctors don't give a shit that you're going to miss dinner, your kid's tee-ball game, or a few hours of work.

If we lived in the States right now, I'd be blind. Simple as that. I couldn't afford the amounts that they charge for surgery. If I had the surgery there, I would have crippled our future, and compromised the financial states of my family. I couldn't do that, so I simply would have accepted it and stocked up on audiobooks. I feel for the people who ruin their lives by having it saved, if that makes sense. I don't mind waiting two or three months for my surgery. I'm at a safe point right now, and after eight months, what's a few more? I fully expect to be delayed in the waiting room for gunshot victims, people with severed digits, and other serious problems. My case was urgent in December, and now I have the luxury of waiting for the finale.

I'm not psyched for having surgery, but I'm willing to wait if it means I come out of it wit a few bucks still in my pocket.

I hope in that rant people can glean my point from it.

On a lighter note, I've been thinking about what I'll be doing when I can finally see. My plans are as follows:

-read almost an entire year of National Geographic, Penny Arcade comics, and the Time and People magazines I picked up commemorating Obama's inauguration.

-play the following:

-Prince of Persia (still sealed)

-finish Force Unleashed (turns out I didn't...)

-beat Elaine at Rock Band

-school people in Trivial Pursuit

-replay Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess


-pry Professor Layton out of Elaine's DS...

-Oh, and buy a DSi.

-I want to cook, but I'm currently afraid of knives (nothing's scarier than not knowing if you've cut yourself).

-an extension of the last one, I might take cooking classes

-learn what the hell is so good about Twitter

-get an iPhone (*swoon*)

It goes on. Honestly my first day back in the visual spectrum, I'm going to stare at Elaine for a long time, then I'm going for an extended drive alone, with my iPod on shuffle and no particular destination. Maybe I'll read Calvin and Hobbes and have a beer.

All done!