Rendered Fat Content


Reijer Stolk: Gmünder See mit Traunstein (1906 - 1945)

" … no more than an annoying background mumble eliciting a muffled scream."

I might privately admit that over recent months, my vision had gone to shit, but I would never otherwise consider admitting this because vision, Seeing, seems such a personal and private experience. My optometrist commented—in no more than an aside, really—that it appeared to him that the lens installed during my cataract surgeries three years ago were starting to look a little cloudy. Cloudy, I thought? But I believed that the cataract surgery would be the last such insult to my eyes, to my vision, that they wouldn't require additional procedures. So much for belief, for I later learned that pretty much everyone who receives that surgery needs a follow-on procedure a few very short years later. I told my optometrist that I'd get back to him later on the subject, thereby entering that first stage of acceptance, denial.

A few weeks later, I'd grown weary of fuzzy perception.
I could not see to drive at night. That was nothing new, but I increasingly could no longer really see during the daytime, either. Summer's glare literally blinded me. I couldn't properly read traffic signs and couldn't really read street signs at all. My world became an impressionist's representation, with boundaries between objects increasingly indistinct and even reading The New Yorker sometimes impossible. Backlight seemed the biggest challenge. If I was looking into a light source, the foreground melted. Side light, too, proved generally distorting. I decided to get referred to that specialist the optometrist had mentioned.

The specialist's reception room featured a big flat screen television playing an episode of Dora The Explorer with the sound down to just below understandable. Garish colors flashed out of mindless cadences producing a thoroughly disorienting welcome. I first asked at the reception desk if the receptionist could do something to turn off the television because its very presence rendered me unable to focus upon the business at hand. She replied that the person responsible for turning down the television was not present in the office at that time, so, no, she couldn't turn it down. I said that I'd wait outside in the ninety-eight degree heat, then, and away I went.

The assistant found me sweltering on a bench out front, then escorted me back to an examination room. He almost immediately asked me if I was there to receive the laser treatment, to which I replied, what laser treatment might that be? I hadn't known the purpose of this visit. I'd naively imagined that it might be to inform me of my condition, to lay out treatment options, to explain potential ramifications, to provide adequate information such that I might make an informed choice about options. My question sat the clerk back on his heels a bit. He was clearly expecting a standard patient. I was expecting something different. The doctor eventually appeared, after the clerk had numbed and dilated my eyes. He explained in more detail what he had been expecting. I learned that I had been experiencing an inevitable, a completely normal response to cataract surgery, and that contrary to what I'd understood, that surgery required subsequent maintenance, a laser treatment, but that no actual sharks would be involved.

Even I can usually see when I have no alternative. My vision had been rapidly degrading and would continue to get worse. I could only limit my activity so much. Eventually, I'd have to face this ordeal. I finally agreed to receive the procedure.

I will not go into detail about the subsequent ordeal, other than to say that the incident with the television in the reception room seemed a perfectly appropriate introduction to this particular form of witch doctoring. The doctor, if that's what he was, proved incapable of giving directions as he continually asked me to "Move back in," and similar instructions, which encouraged me to do pretty much the opposite of what he intended. He orchestrated like a mad conductor, instructing me to look, up, look, down, and look across the street with my eyes so numb I had no physical control over either of them. He asked fundamentally unanswerable questions like, "Which eye is stronger?", a deeply philosophical enquiry for which I'd never done the requisite study to answer. I sat numbly in response.

I do not know why, other than hubris, the HealthScare profession insists upon performing procedures without first rendering the patient unconscious. This doctor, if he was a doctor, insisted that the procedure would be painless, and it was if I didn't count the excruciating insult of experiencing klieg light forced into an open, unblinking eye. I screamed silently as his "just a minute" duration seemed like an idle hour. Under torture, time slows. I left with the clear and unnerving memory of a grievous injury, a trauma which I explained to the doctor as he led me out of the place, I might be able to discuss over twenty years hence.

It might be that I see better now. Last night, I stood on the back deck and I could swear that I could see pillowy shadows surrounding everything and that, furthermore, the shadow even encircled my hands like fuzzy mittens. I called The Muse out to ask if she could see the pillows, too, and she explained that it was probably just the humidity lingering after an earlier rain. I interpreted that to mean that she couldn't see the pillowy shadows. The light in the distance seemed to be ringed with concentric circles of differing colors, like a background scene on an odd installment of the Dora The Explorer series with the sound turned down to no more than an annoying background mumble eliciting a muffled scream.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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