The good news is that I was in the hands of a very capable retinal specialist who was able to repair a tear in my retina yesterday morning. I don't have any restrictions in movement except for bending down or lifting weight over 20 pounds or exercising for a few weeks (the last being, as those who know me, music to my ears). I have a very gnarly left eye and feel vulnerable and disoriented. I feel as if I were on the other side of a ViewMaster, the tiny figure that is being looked at, clicked on, passed by. It’s also as if I were looking out at the world from inside an aquarium, the surface line of water sloshing across my eye, dark on the bottom, light at the top, shadows. The doctor told me this is normal, that the "bubble" will gradually lower and then disappear in a few weeks. I think of horizons, of suns setting on oceans. It was a scary week, but yesterday, for most of the day after the surgery (I was in at 5:45 am and home by noon), I felt calm, relaxed, even happy, and while that was partly because the surgery was successful, and I was incredibly relieved not to have to lie face-down for a week, it was mainly because I was on some kind of sedative or had the remnants of anesthesia dulling the anxiety and sadness and mild depression I've been feeling of late. It was around 10:00 last night when I felt, quite suddenly, bad again. I imagine the calming effects of the anesthesia and sedative they had given me 18 hours before had finally dissipated. Darker feelings literally washed in, and it took a good long bit of meditating and sitting in mindfulness to ease myself. When the thing happened on Sunday afternoon, I worried about my vision, of course, but what I mainly worried about was debilitation and how I would care for Sophie, how I would manage all the paperwork, the telephone calls, the doctors and pharmacies and extracurriculars and how I would manage the caregivers who come and take her and how, of course, I would deal with her father with whom I am now involved in an ugly post-post divorce court case that he has brought on us and that has, above all, magnified and brought into sharp relief some issues that I think even our country is reckoning with, as evidenced by this article in the New York Times: "How Society Has Turned Its Back on Mothers." Here's a quote that resonated with me:
“Betrayal” describes what my patients are feeling exactly. While burnout places the blame (and thus the responsibility) on the individual and tells working moms they aren’t resilient enough, betrayal points directly to the broken structures around them.
The article is about the pandemic's effect on mothers, in particular, and while I mostly read this stuff and think wry and sometimes irritated thoughts about how so much of it is what caregivers of disabled children have been talking about for DECADES, I'm relieved to see that it's being taken seriously by mainstream media. I'm sorry that it's taken a fucking pandemic to truly expose how damaged our systems are, and I don't have the mind-space or intellect, even, to fully articulate everything that is moiling about in my own tiny little mother mind.™ My intention is not to make everything about me, to boil down what is immense into something personal. The spontaneous liquefaction of the vitreous fluid in my eye, rendering it sight-less is not the ocean. It’s not even an aquarium. What I’m mulling has something to do with being asked to defend one's unpaid work in a legal system, of having to defend it to clueless people, of having one's life's work, one’s value reduced to numbers, as if it were transactional, of the lip service paid to mothers and caregivers as amazing, the backbones of families (the platitudes), but I'm already lost. It's about, above all, societal betrayal.
(Microcosm: marriage, divorce, papers and lawyers, the cost, the cost, the family court system, the Dissomaster, Reader look that up, and I keep thinking of the ViewMaster (that tiny figure), the judge looking in, his long, tapered fingers clicking, clicking, a tourist, really, those thin cardboard discs, tiny, tiny colored people and places going round and round)
The beauty of my eye, struggling through something elemental, water, to see again. I have been betrayed. I can't write through what I'm living, but I will write more when my vision clears. I think of horizons, of the sun setting on the ocean, how it slips down taking yet giving light
i don't even know how you can type, let alone write with such command and passion and force. my heart goes out to you; it has always been my fear that something would happen to my eyes. i can't imagine anythign more frightening. and yet you are such a vibrant human being; it's as though you have hidden faculties that immeditely stepped up to get you through this. still i am so sorry the ex-husband issues and all the other incredible demands of your life have not decided to chill out for this interval while you heal. all best wishes for continuing mending. xo
Oh my heart, Elizabeth, you say it all so potently and all through one eye.