" ...one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." (from John 9:25)
(First of all, a "shout out" to the Rev. Rob W. who gave me a word of encouragement about writing this blog and inquired about why I don't post as much on it as I used to. That word of encouragement is part of why I'm posting this story today! It was at a Christmas function that he gave me that word of encouragement. It's a good reminder that at this season we should seek to encourage and uplift others.) I experienced a true adventure yesterday! It had its highs and lows; it was definitely "educational", but as much as some aspects of it were not "fun" the overall result of it was very positive. For that, I thank the Lord! Today, at age sixty, my vision is the best that it has been in over fifty years! I think of the faith and love of people like the late Ray Charles and the late Helen Keller, and I know I've got a lot to be thankful for regarding my eyesight. I first experienced minor nearsightedness in the autumn of 1962. Yes, during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, I had my first formal eye exam and got eyeglasses to wear. The nearsightedness gradually got worse over the years and decades. There were many pairs of eyeglasses that I wore during those times. In early 2012, I began having serious vision problems, even with my glasses on. During 2012, things just got worse and worse. By late 2012, I could hardly see to drive at night- and even driving during the day was becoming challenging. After several eye examinations and referrals to specialists, it was determined that I needed cataract surgery in both eyes. I was fifty-eight when I had my eye surgeries done in early 2013- about twenty years younger than most cataract surgery patients. Today, they correct not only for cataracts, but even for nearsightedness! So, I have remarkably good vision. Now, one complication is that I experienced a detached retina in my right eye in the summer of 2013 and had emergency surgery in Boston to reattach it. Had this been one hundred years ago, I'd have been left blind in that eye, but the surgery was remarkably successful! I had to have several checkups following the retina surgery; the final one was in November of 2013. The above is all introductory material as to why I had an appointment with the retina specialist in Waltham, Massachusetts yesterday. This was my "one year later" [following my last appointment] checkup. Now, there is a critical error I made when scheduling this appointment a couple of months ago: I was not thinking in terms of the time of day that I'd be leaving the appointment and that it would be "pitch dark" outside when I did! I was not thinking about the fact that the pupils of my eyes would have been "dilated" for the eye exam, and that this would badly affect my vision- especially concerning driving! The good news is that I did very well on my eye exam. A year ago, my vision was 20/30, it's now better- closer to 20/20! The doctor said my eyes are doing very well. I don't need to see him nor an optometrist nor any eye doctor for at least a year unless any sudden problem develops. I did know that on all of these eye appointments, your eyes are dilated. The difference is, I've always left my appointments during the day. The experience of driving and functioning with dilated eyes was always a little challenging, but as long as I concentrated and squinted I could see to drive and do other things with minimal difficulty. Yesterday, just prior to leaving the medical building which is located in the Totten Pond Road area of Waltham, just off Route 128, I realized my vision was quite cloudy. When I got into the car and pulled out of the parking garage, all I could see were headlights that looked ten times brighter than they were supposed to, and all sorts of glaring and "halos". Now, the glaring and "halos" are very similar to how a person with bad cataracts sees at night, but this experience including the very bright headlights and taillights was easily ten times worse than any of my bad visual experiences driving at night with cataracts! I really wondered if I should be driving, and how I was going to get home (well over fifteen miles away). I pulled the car onto Route 128 (also known as Interstate 95) South and began driving. It was very scary. I remembered how difficult things had been when I drove at night with bad cataracts, and this was so much scarier even than that! I only "made it" to one exit! I knew I had to get off of the highway! I took the exit for Route 20 West, thinking this would be better. It wasn't! Now, I had headlights much closer to my field of vision! I literally could barely see the road, let alone any Stop signs or anything else I really needed to see! I took a few turns at intersections and after about ten minutes ended up right back at the spot where I'd first gotten onto Route 20! All I could think of is, "I've got to find a parking lot where I can stop for awhile!"
I did see a combination Mobil gas station/convenience store/Dunkin' Donuts ahead. I pulled into the parking lot. I spent forty minutes in that lot, hoping my vision would get better. After the forty minutes, my vision was a little better, but the key phrase is "a little". I used to be terrified to drive on superhighways when I was a teenager and I'd recently gotten my driver's license. You may laugh, but in those days when I was by myself driving on a superhighway, I'd yell just like Curly Howard of The Three Stooges as I was driving, "Woo, woo, woo, woo, woo, woo, woo, woo!" No, I didn't "pull a Curly Howard" last night. I was honestly too terrified to do even that! It's only God who kept me from having an accident on Route 128 last night. At the Route 9 interchange, the traffic on Route 128 was jammed and the speed was (no kidding) five miles an hour. I decided to take the exit for Route 9 West, and I did. Pretty soon, I was in Natick (which of course was the opposite direction I really wanted to be traveling in). I got onto Route 27 South and commenced the trip through Sherborn and a bunch of towns before getting home. (The highlight in Sherborn was a deer who was about to dart across the road but my horn blast scared him!)
Yes, I finally got home, two hours and fifteen minutes after I'd left that medical building in Waltham! Today, my vision is normal and fine! I hated that experience last night, but it has made me think of a couple of things: How thankful I am that the Lord got me home last night, and how thankful I am that [when my eyes are not dilated] my vision is truly excellent. Yup, I can see clearly now!