Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Minor Annoyances

Sometimes the most minor annoyance can change the way in which we are viewing life. As I was preparing to visit the local VA hospital for a six month examination of my formerly detached retina the small motel room sized coffee maker I commonly use chose to overflow, discharging much of its product on the counter. Why this happens occasionally and without warning escapes detection.

As I cleaned the mess then repeated the preparation process in the full size drip coffeemaker my thoughts turned to my health in general and eye health in particular. It’s remarkable how well our various body parts functions and damn fortunate, too. Even the myriad of aches and pains resulting from aging and injuries aggravated by aging do not change the fact that for a machine to function as well as mine has is pretty impressive.

When I was told that my diminished visual acuity was cataract related I was very unhappy. Yet, I also knew that my former excellent night vision had passed into “back in the day” history. Those “age appropriate” cataracts had increased to the point where the view from within was clearly not very clear. So, in November and December of 2010, I had my foggy lenses replaced with “high-refractive-index, soft, foldable, hydrophobic acrylic material.” The result? Twenty-twenty vision and the need for “readers” which I had been using in much higher magnification prior to surgery.

How does this relate to cycling? Well . . . not only had I become an aging danger behind the wheel of a car at night, I was not as aware of the goings-on around me while cycling. Post surgery (I witnessed the surgery from the inside both times) I had perfect distant vision and was surprised how much more aware I could be. The subtle deterioration had allowed me to believe that things always looked less distinct.

Nearly two years ago (May ’11) I had to deal with a detached retina. I only thought having cataracts was bad! Fortunately, this, too, the VA took care of in efficient fashion. The procedure to fix the retina (cryotherapy) was done in a retina doctor’s office and application of a scleral buckle was avoided. Yay! The right eye is no longer 20/20 falling slightly after this problem to 20/25. The left eye, unaffected by retina problems, has improved to 20/15.

I cannot imagine being unable to ride and the coffee overflow reminded me how large some problems can be. Working at remaining active is a deeply ingrained part of my lifestyle, but I also carry the awareness that things can go wrong. For me, then, the important thing is to make the most of all of life’s moments.

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