Dear past me,
You’re sitting there right now freaking out about what is to come later today. It’s a frightening and ookey prospect and your fear totally makes sense. But I am going to talk to you about what it means to be on the other side of that. About how remarkable it is that you have the option for this in your life and what it will mean to you after you go through the gross part. You’re going to be amazed.
So sit back and listen.
A few hours from now, you will get in the car to go to the eye clinic. You will be nervous, anxious, excited and unsure of what to expect. That’s totally normal. When you arrive, there will be forms to fill out, ones that talk about lots of horrible things that can go catastrophically wrong. You’ll take a deep breath and sign them. You’ll have quick eye exams to sit through and a brief visit with your doctor who will answer all your last questions, see that nervous glimmer in your eye and tell you it’ll be okay. You’ll only sort of believe him.
You’ll be whisked to a sterile waiting room – booties placed on your feet, hair nets slid over your locks – and sat in a large, soft recliner in a small glass cubicle. You’ll wonder if they would notice if you stole this chair. It’s a really comfy chair. Your nearly bare feet will touch the cold tile floor and it will calm you.
The nurse will put drops in your eyes, numb them for the operation, and then wash them in a complicated way that will leave you perplexed but which she clearly does every day a million times. You’ll decide to trust her. She’ll rinse your eyes with a stream of slightly cool water. You won’t feel the water on your your eyeballs, only on the thin lines of your eyelids and down your face where it flows cool and wet. You’ll look up into the stream of water, right up the middle of it – the drops bubbling over and around each other, the stream sparkling in a steady flow down onto your eye – and think you’ve never seen anything so beautiful.
You’ll be wrong.
Tomorrow you’ll see.
You’ll be escorted into the operating room and situated on a table where the nurse will adjust your head in such small movements that you’ll worry a slight shift will be the ruin of you and your eyeballs. It won’t. Your doctor will walk you through all the steps, letting you know where to look, letting you know what you’ll see, talking through numbers you don’t understand with his assistants all the while.
He’ll do a lot of different things and you’ll feel a little weird about the fact he is touching your eyeballs, touching them a lot, and your eyes don’t seem to care. You’ll start to care about them not caring, start to care immensely, and you’ll worry that you should care and then instantly worry that you shouldn’t care and in the end you’ll decide to breathe deeply and let it be.
It’ll last longer than you expect and be done faster than you expect. Time is weird.
You’ll be accompanied once more to the small glass cubicle with the big soft chair and the nurse will wash your eyes one last time. She’ll give you a pair of ridiculous but kind of awesome new goggles that’ll make your now delicate eyes feel a whole lot safer.
When you walk out of the sterile room, you’ll see Chris and, realising you are safe and it’s all over, all the adrenaline you kept at bay during the surgery will come back in a wave of general ookey-ness. You’ll feel shaky, a little weak and not opposed to the idea of vomiting. It’s okay. You’ll be home soon.
You’ll sit at home for a few hours in a dark room, listening to some podcasts. Chris’ idea. Genius. It’ll take your mind off the surgery. Your eyes won’t hurt, but you’ll be aware of them, all the while trying not to be. When a few hours have passed, you’ll try to test out your new eyes, see if they are fixed, but realise it is too soon to expect any results.
At some point, you’ll turn your head and look down the hall where the only light is coming from and see photos on the wall. They’re photos you see every day, photos you took, photos that look exactly like they always do. You’ll do a double take. They’ll look exactly like they always do….with your glasses on. But you’re in your bed with funky goggles on. You’ll start to feel a weird feeling of excitement mixed with confusion mixed with a little remaining nausea. Why can you see those??
Chris will call you for dinner – fajitas – and you’ll eat by candle light. You’ll start looking around and see that you can actually see things, but you’ll wonder if you are just seeing what you always do and filling in the gaps, making up the details because you know them so well. You’ll tell yourself you are exaggerating, that you can’t possibly notice results when your eyes are still fresh out of surgery.
Then you’ll see the package of tortillas across the table and realise you can read some of it. Chris will put it up to the candle, a low, soft, yellow light and you’ll tease out the white text from the red background, reading it clearly from across the table. You’ll freak out a little both inside and out. How is this possible?? How can that be?
The next day, you’ll wake up and see the world differently.
After a quick trip to your doctor you’ll take the long way home and find yourself by the sea. A new sea. A different sea. A sea full of so much detail you don’t know how to process it. You’ll sit on a rock overlooking the waves and find yourself completely humbled, totally in awe of the change that has just taken place. You will see the bubbles on the waves. You will see the feathers on the birds. You will see the perfect reflection of a sandpiper walking along the surf. And you’ll cry and cry at the thought of it. The beauty of it. The magic of it. How is this possible? How can you not see one day and see so perfectly the next? How can humans be capable of such incredible precision? How can we do something so miraculous?
You will want to thank the person who made this possible, the people who gave you this gift. Thank them from the bottom of your heart, from the most grateful part of your soul. But who are they and how would you do that? Who would you even thank?
You’ll start thinking of all the people who are involved in something like this. You’ll realise that at your clinic alone you met people from Venezuela, Columbia, India, Oman and more – that even your small part of this story links in with so many other places and people. Then you’ll start thinking about the scientists, the doctors, the lawyers (because they’re always somewhere in these things), the tinkerers, the engineers, the manufacturers, the transporters, the testers, the repairmen, all the people who are involved in this one piece of machinery and you’ll feel like a whole town dedicated itself to this pursuit so that you could sit by the sea and appreciate tiny bubbles popping on the sand.
You’ll cry more. And you’ll worry that all the tears will do something horrible to your new eyes (oh the irony!), but you can’t stop crying because the joy is welling up and out of you and it always finds its way out through your eyeballs. Those new eyeballs that can now see it all so clearly.