I did a lot of foolish things in my thirties.  I thought about some of them while I was under the knife.  One or more may have helped trigger the cloud in my left eye that the doctor was attempting to remove.  The whole procedure wouldn’t take much more than ten or twenty minutes.  It was the preliminaries which took forever.  Antibiotic drops, drops to dilate, drops to numb.  At some point the assistant anesthesiologist slipped in an IV to help reduce my anxiety level and I ceased to be concerned about anything at all.

When I lost my glasses over a year ago, I was dismayed to discover that my eyesight had deteriorated considerably.  I had cataracts.  I could have had an operation then, but I’m very reluctant to have surgery of any kind, especially on eyes, so I procrastinated.

I ordered new glasses based on the stronger prescription and started to do my research.  I asked around among our limited set of acquaintances here and finally came up with the name of a doctor who had operated on both eyes of a fellow cyclist.  She was very pleased with the result.  Dr Burgess has been at this awhile.  He has done thousands of cataract operations.

The last postponement was for the trip to Italy, but when I returned there did not seem much point in putting it off. Despite my trepidation, the surgery went well.  I did not need anything more than a topical anesthetic.  I had actually watched my wife’s cataract surgery on a large screen video monitor, so it was not difficult to imagine what was happening.  But I can’t really say I was aware of very much during the operation.  The mind goes elsewhere.

In post op I was offered a sandwich and coffee.  They had sent a car at 6:45 AM to pick me up and bring me to the clinic and it nearly 10 AM when I came out.  I was going into caffeine withdrawal.  I inhaled the coffee and watched other patients wheeled out.  Some had eye patches, which meant they had required (or requested) more than a topical anesthetic.

One of the foolish things I did in my thirties was to accidentally blast my eye with compressed air.  Another was to drive around for days on the freeways of Los Angeles scouting locations for TV shows most people have never heard of.  It exposed the left side of my face (the driver’s side) to a heavy dose of California sunshine, to ultraviolet light.  Even with decent sunglasses, that much exposure to strong sun is hard on eyes.

One of the directors I met was an eccentric old-timer by the name of Andre de Toth.  He had an eye patch.  His claim to fame was one of the most successful 3 D films ever made, “House of Wax,” with Vincent Price.  Not bad for a guy with no depth perception.

By the time he came to work for “This is the Life.” a Lutheran television series I worked on, his glory days were over.  I was utterly charmed by his larger-than-life charm and his great stories.  What I hadn’t counted on was his lack of tact.

For some reason I no longer remember, Andre blew a hole in the minuscule budget of the show by replacing the lead actor two days before production.   Before the filming began for every episode, the producer (an ordained Lutheran minister) said a prayer.

He had barely begun when Andre broke in in his booming voice and said:   “Thank God you backed me up when I fired that sonofabitch.”  There was stunned silence for a long moment as our small group digested that comment.  Then, a tentative chorus of “Amen.”  Andre was never asked back to direct another episode, but he had done  a slew of movies and TV shows over the years.  He finally took his comments and complaints to his Maker at the age of ninety in 2002.

The operation on my left eye was successful and my eyesight is back to 20/20.  The color blue has returned to my left side.  I hadn’t even realized that until I went to see the physician for a follow up visit.  He brought up Monet, pointing out that the paintings in his later years got more and more yellow because of his cataracts.  Finally he got up the nerve to have an operation.  Overnight, the blues and purples came back into his work. One more operation to go but that can wait.


The great news is we have a brand new granddaughter, Zooey Marie, born April 18th.  6 pounds, 12 ounces.  I have no doubt she will be the most photographed child in Portland, Oregon.  But she’s beautiful so it will be a treat to see her smiling face up on Flickr in thousands of permutations.   Bonne Anniversaire, Zooey!