Category Archives: Susan’s Eye Injury

Susan Speaks: An Overdue Eye Update

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People have started coming up to me, asking how things are since I haven’t updated about my eye in… eons.

There’a reason for that. Multiple reasons, actually.

First is that leading up to the third surgery, I was a total basket case. It was either going to be a perfect operation, the sort of thing you write textbooks about. A walk in the park.

Or.

It was going to be an absolute disaster that would turn into an emergency and would necessitate a fourth surgery the Monday after Christmas. We even had my original surgeon standing by, just in case.

The original surgeon actually walked me from pre-op to right outside the operating room the cataract guy used. The cataract guy was standing outside, waiting, when the original surgeon and I arrived.

I have never felt more cared for.

Now, it didn’t go totally smoothly. I was all wrapped up, the anesthesiologist had started to do her thing, the staff was great about telling me exactly what they were doing, I was having a great conversation with the surgeon and his chief resident (who was only introduced to me by his first name and as the surgeon’s assistant, and who I don’t recall ever actually seeing because he stood at my head) about the size of the cataract — it was bigger than they’d anticipated — and the microscope, which was really cool. I was kinda fascinated by it, to be honest.

It looked nothing like I’d expected.

It was WAY cooler. But not blue.

I don’t think.

And then… the staff forgot to tell me they were bringing something toward my face, I had a flashback to a certain pink-taped handlebar and… next thing I remember was being wheeled out of the ER and into recovery and the surgeon walking out behind me and giving a whoop, a fist pump, and yelling, “That went GREAT!”

Thank you, Tony the Tiger.

But he was right. The filaments in my eye, which we’d been so worried had been wrecked by the impact, had survived, entirely intact. The entire cataract surgery had taken five minutes.

Five.

Five minutes.

And then the surgeon and his chief resident spent ten minutes cleaning up some of the inside of my eye. They weren’t entirely successful, since they didn’t want to risk ripping anything, which would have sent the whole thing south, so they proved my original surgeon’s maxim: Everyone talks about how good a surgeon’s hands are, but they forget that what makes a truly brilliant surgeon is the exercise of good judgement and knowing when to stop.

Christmas Eve morning, I woke up and… I could see better than I had in almost a year.

Now, things still aren’t perfect. They need to finish cleaning up that spot on my eye, and they’ll need to use another laser to do it. I’m already fascinated by how this works.

And… it seems my close vision is what it is. Any correction we’ve tried with it has only made it worse. So I’m pretty much going through life now with a left contact lens and a bionic, Frankenstein right eye. I have a pair of glasses that make my distance vision crystal clear, but… at the sacrifice of my close-up vision. And they make my face feel funny, too, which is a really weird sensation. It’s like it’s melting.

Does this mean I’m disabled? My original surgeon says he doesn’t believe you’re ever disabled. He also doesn’t believe in concussions, but when I went to the concussion doc at the end of January, he used my own metrics to be pretty convincing: when I first saw him in August, my memory was in the 16th percentile. On January 31, it was in the 93rd.

But I can work. And I have been, pretty steadily, although of course I’ve got room in my roster for more. I’m starting to rebuild what I lost over the past year, bringing in new subcontractors so that we as a collective can turn out more of the quality work you’ve all come to associate with the West of Mars name. A bigger and better editing service is at your command.

Yet the question remains about how much I can see. And the answer is that it’s hard to answer. Yes, I can easily work. No, I can’t thread a needle, but that’s okay because I am less than domestic to begin with. I have trouble finding new places in the dark, even with a GPS or nav system–but I can read street signs. But I can see a Frisbee fly. And I can see the road in front of my bike. Can’t shop at my local Trader Joe’s, and florescent lighting is my worst enemy.

I may look into getting a funky pair of glasses that I can slip on without having to take out my contact, something so that I have that crystal clear(ish) vision when I go to the movies, to the theater, maybe to watch my beloved Thunderbirds. I’m not sure yet. I want that fourth surgery, with the laser, before I make any decisions.

But I’m here. And I can see you. Best of all, as I’ve been able to do all along, I can see my clients’ manuscripts.

So to those clients who stayed with me, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

And for those who didn’t stay by me over the past year… well, I hope you find someone as good as the editor you walked away from.

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Susan Speaks: Been Awhile

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I’ve heard from a couple people now that they’ve been looking for updates from me. What’s going on, they’re asking. How’s the eye?

I have no idea.

It’s in my head, it’s working. (And now that I think about it, having been through a severe eye injury, I don’t buy TWD’s season premiere, and you who watch know what I mean, but it made for a grand, romantic gesture, so I’ll shut up now.)

But the cataract is big and fat. And slurping down whatever it needs to get bigger and fatter by the day.

Every time it grows, I have less and less of an idea of how the original injury is healing. I have zero idea at this point how much vision I truly have, if the ripples on the retina have smoothed out as they seemed to be doing. Nothing. I have zero concept of what my vision is behind Fatso the Cataract.

The second surgeon was able to make time for me… in a month from now. So it’ll be six weeks between the time the appointment was made and when I see the guy. And who knows how long before the surgery.

But in the six weeks between the last time I was at the optometrist and the original surgeon, I lost a line on the eye chart. Doesn’t sound too terrible, but stop and think for a minute.

Forty-three weeks ago, I was faced with horror of losing my sight. And let me tell you, it’s a horror.

And here I am, losing sight.

This isn’t a comfortable place to be. Not even close.

Needless to say, life’s getting tough. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to work; I may have to switch out of my home office and my big screen on the desktop and work on the laptop for awhile. Strangely, the smaller screen is easier to see (maybe because I sit closer to it and even when standing at my desk, I’m not as close). For someone who freelances, and who is still down in income from the original accident, this is a problem, and not just because I am expecting five or six manuscripts to show up between now and whenever they arrive.

And driving? Ugh. Unfamiliar places after dark proved to be a poor option last weekend, even with GPS directions.

I am leaving messages for the second surgeon every week. Let me tell you this: when they send out that survey asking what I think, these people are being marked as horrible. I mean, I totally GET that they are doing me a favor by finding me an appointment in this calendar year. My original surgeon’s office had to call in a favor. I get it. I do. I should be grateful. I am.

But surely people cancel appointments, and surely they keep a list of people who need to get in sooner. And surely they can call me.

Because by the time the appointment comes, it’s going to be in an unfamiliar place. During the day, sure. But unfamiliar. And I may not be able to do it by myself.

So that’s how I am. Heading to end 2016 the way I began it: worried about my vision. Because as routine as a cataract removal is, mine won’t be. You can’t take an eye that’s been through as much as mine has been and expect even something simple to not have a chance to go sideways. That’s why I am stuck with this one particular surgeon: he operates on the same day as my guy, in the same hospital. If the original guy needs to come save my eye and/or my vision again, he needs to be right there.

Aren’t you glad you asked?

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Susan Speaks: Thirty and Still Counting

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Last week, I was set to stop counting. The surgeon had proclaimed my eye healed.

But guess what?

Far from it.

The eye is stable. It’s fully healed from the surgeries. Which means it’s time to figure out what’s going on in my left hand and why I can’t lay down. (You know. To do fun things like sleep.)

Now, my massage therapist and I have been working on this. We thought we knew what was up, and my massage therapist, the sports med guy said, was pretty darn good with what he did catch. The problem is that there’s more to it. And yes, it all comes back to the accident. And so, we’re at week thirty and still counting.

I guess when you fall twice on your left shoulder, it’s inevitable that you mess it up. And now, all these weeks later with zero medical attention, it’s not happy.

Neither, apparently, is my brain.

Now, if you go back, I’ve mentioned many times my frustration with the nurse in the first ER. I was sitting there, leaking eye goop, and could not, for the life of me, even begin to comprehend what a passcode on my phone was, let alone what the code could be. “Use my thumb,” I kept telling my best friend, who gave me a weird look and told me to keep thinking as I held my thumb up like he should detach it and carry it into the hallway with him so he could use my phone to call my family with updates.

The ER nurse, when I asked if I could be concussed, said, “Probably” and walked out of the room. And then it was all about the eye. As it should have been. The surgeon did not think it could be saved. The heroic battle was necessary. And damn if I don’t appreciate it.

Fast forward to the other day. My sports med guy, who has worked with our local concussion center, said he wasn’t surprised that the ER brushed off my brain. They don’t really address concussions, he said, because concussions either clear up in two weeks or else they linger. Most people figure out the headaches are a problem and don’t wait 29 weeks to see their doctor.

I, as well all well know, am not most people. A headache? After the migraines I used to get? Not even worth paying attention to. And so… I didn’t. Besides, I was still focused on the eye, then the arm, and I’ve got a business to run and kids to raise and Ultimate to watch to help me feel better about the world. What’s a headache?

Yeah. So.

PT begins on Thursday, and I’m grateful for a good friend who gave me a great referral and agreed that my plan to have it all treated under one roof was the right plan.

But as for my head? Well. Hmm. Wow.

When I called to make my appointment, they said, “Oh, it’s been seven months. We’re in no hurry to see you, then. How’s mid-August, AFTER you’ve been in PT for a month and after you’ve flown to Minnesota and spent another month taking two or three naps a day and wondering why you can’t work for more than thirty minutes at a time? Yeah. Okay. Good. Mid-August it is.”

Dude. Thirty weeks and still counting. I’m chafing to get all this behind me and resume my life.

But… I guess that’ll begin at week 34… unless the PTs can make something happen. Because how can they fix my arm if it makes my brain worse?

Week thirty. Still counting.

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Susan Speaks: Time to Stop Counting?

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Today makes twenty-nine weeks and I don’t know… maybe it’s time to stop counting. But maybe it’s not.

Maybe it is because I was at the surgeon earlier in the week. He pronounced the rupture and retina tear fully healed. That was the best part, I suppose. There was more good stuff: I can try to wear a contact in the injured eye and see if I can tolerate it. The scar tissue and my eye in general is finally stable. He’s ordering a retina scan so we have a benchmark of what my new normal is.

There was middle-of-the-road stuff: he estimates between six months to a year before the final surgery.

And there was some bad: I may be on the pressure eye drops for the rest of my life. The cataract surgery may change things. It’s hard to know. The surgeon may send me to a glaucoma specialist; he’s not sure yet. And… I will never see 20/20 out of the bad eye.

So on the one hand, it’s time to stop counting. The eye is healed. Time to start a new chapter, the post-eye-trauma chapter.

Except…

When I fell, I must have done something to my left arm. I remember landing on my left side, and I remember falling back on my left arm a second time, right before the handlebar hit. Two weeks ago, the pain became intolerable; I hadn’t slept for two weeks prior to that. So I took myself off to my trusty massage therapist (really, everyone needs a Keith in their lives!) and he spent two back-to-back weeks working on it. He relocated my radius and a rib up near my shoulder. He teased and coaxed and worked my muscles and the nerve that’s been problematic. He gave it his all, and for Keith, that’s saying quite a lot.

Which brings me to where we are: we’re both ready to concede I did something when I fell. Something that is so inflamed and angry and nasty that I need more than he can give right now. (read: right now)

So yesterday, I called my sports med doctor and I’ll let him take a look. He’s going to love this one… and I’m sure he’ll share my frustration that everyone was so focused on the eye that no one thought to look beyond the most obvious part (even when I asked them to).

Which means maybe it’s not time to stop counting. Because I’m not fully back to whatever my new normal is. Things are still wrong. Very very wrong.

But today, I’ll try not to think about it. The boy is home from Frisbee camp, full of new experiences, new lessons, new relationships — and a pair of shorts that used to belong to this year’s Callahan winner, Trent Dillon. Hopefully, he’s elevated his game. The boy, that is. Not Trent, who seemed like a nice guy when I chatted with him at pickup yesterday. I’m not sure Trent can elevate his game, but I hope I’ll get to watch.

Today is week 29. I’ll be on two fields today, sort of. The boy has practice with his summer team. Tonight, my Thunderbirds play their first-ever home playoff game.

My hand, I’m sure, will tingle and hurt and make me want to cry and puke and even contemplate cutting it off, just to get the pain to stop. But I’ll look up at the sky and watch the disc fly and… somehow, it’ll all be okay. Twenty nine weeks later, I know this.

I’d just thought the end, where it’s all okay, would have come sooner. And I’d thought, like everyone else seemed to, that the eye was the least of it and the worst of it, the most of it and the easiest. We all might have been wrong.

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Six. Six months. Six diopters. Twenty-six.

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Today is the twenty-sixth Saturday of 2016. That means it’s exactly six months since I fell off my bike and tried to take out my own eye.

How you noticed how the way I talk about it has changed? From a “catastropic fall off my bike” to “trying to take out my own eye.”

Time heals all wounds, the cliche goes. And my eye is healing. I just got back from a visit to my optometrist, who was able to adjust my prescription down. It’s still honkingly high – that’s what one of those sixes refers to — but it’s better than it was. And for the first time, the optometrist grabbed a prism and took a look inside. He said it looks good. He said that until he looked up to the area of the original tear, he’s seen similar scarring in eyes that haven’t had surgery, eyes that have had worse vision than a minus six. And he said the cataract was almost impossible to look through without dilating my eye. I can’t wait to hear what the surgeon says when I see him in a few weeks.

Way back in February and March, when celebrities and it seemed like everyone else was dropping dead on a daily basis, a lot of my friends were wishing they could have a do-over for 2016.

I get where they are coming from. I feel for their pain. It was a very rough way to start a new year.

But me? Nope. I wouldn’t redo most of the past six months. I wouldn’t reset time and not be on my bike. I wouldn’t stop my handlebar from hitting me. I might have gone directly to the second ER a bit faster, but that’s about the only change I think I’d make — but even that is a hard call, as it was the first ER who called the surgeon who saved my eye. Would the second have done that? Or would they have called someone else, someone who wasn’t as skilled?

I’d let it happen again. I think I’d let it all happen, exactly as it did.

Crazy, huh?

That’s because I had to almost lose my vision in order to see more clearly.

And boy oh boy, do I see more clearly. Like the value of so-called friends and the people who don’t call themselves friends but act like it when the time is right. Like the difference between what’s worth fighting for and what’s worth fighting over. The definition of respect, of healthy relationships, of what it means to be scared and what it means to have faith in yourself. I first noticed this back in March, at my son’s Frisbee tournament, but I am not planted in one spot anymore. I can and do move, and it’s fun and it’s great and I’ve got a right eye full of scars and ripples that may never go away and will always affect my vision and dammit, but I’ve never been happier.

I had to almost lose my vision to find a new freedom.

Six. Six months after that horrible Saturday morning. You can still look at me and see the incision the surgeon made just to the side of my iris. You can still look at the outside corner of my eye and see where it ruptured. You can still see a bloodshot eye that’s not quite as white as its partner. The incision should smooth out. The bloodshot areas may or may not go away and the trauma and steroids may not let my eye ever be totally white again, but frankly, I hope the rupture never lies flat.

I almost lost my eye, not just my vision. I should have a visible reminder of that. You all should see the scars; you all should know what happened, what I’ve overcome. And you all should celebrate with me that we can see those scars, that there is an eye to look at.

On the six-month anniversary, on the twenty-sixth Saturday of the year, the vision in my beat-up right eye is a minus six. It’s an improvement from what it had been.

Six. Six. Six.

I remember being in the hospital the day after it all happened — the fall, the hospital hop, the surgery — and asking the good-looking resident and the cool-as-anything fellow if it was fair to expect to spend the bulk of 2016 dealing with this. It was a fair question: it was the third day of 2016. People are still thinking about the promise of a year ahead at that point.

He couldn’t answer. Or he wouldn’t.

But I knew.

Twenty-six weeks. Six months.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.

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#SaystheEditor What If?

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Week nineteen. Yep, still counting. I will be until I’m cleared after the final surgery, so count along with me.

Over the weekend, Facebook was kind enough to remind me of this post, the one all about Inherent Writerly Insecurity.

IWI pops up in interesting ways, doesn’t it? As writers, we face it not just in our writing, but in life, too. I am seeing the surgeon this week for a check-up. The appointment isn’t for a week yet, and yet IWI is rearing its ugly head in my life. What if the eye’s not healing right? What if the eye drops aren’t working the way they are supposed to and the pressure is up again? What if the surgeon won’t be able, once I’m fully healed, to give me 20/20 vision when it’s all over? What if, what if, what if, what IF????

Writers do this with our books, too — only sometimes, we dwell on the wrong things. Where we should be dwelling on the What Ifs associated with decisions our characters make, or plot points, or something within the story itself, too often, we look at the external: what if BookBub won’t take my ad? What if that agent says no? What if silence means rejection and they are too polite to say so? What if I publish it and the reviews pan it horribly? What if my publisher drops me?

Look. I’m telling myself this, too, this week. Save the What Ifs for the things you can control. What if Stacy professes her love in the third chapter instead of the thirteenth? What if the drama student chooses a different path to get home? What if her bike tire goes flat a block earlier, before she turned onto the path through the deserted park? What if I mention the yellow flowers here? Will anyone notice later on, when yellow flowers play a role in the plot? And what if they don’t? Will the reader still get a full reading experience?

What if can be your best friend as a writer. It can be your worst enemy, too. While it’s fun to tinker with your plot, you also can’t let the what ifs stop you from finishing the book (and then needing to banish the other what ifs from your life). At some point, you have to love what you’ve got, accept it for its flawed beauty, and move on to the next project, the next manuscript… the next eye appointment with the surgeon.

What if…

What if we only focus on the things we can directly control?

Feel free to keep reminding me of that one. And then apply it to your work-in-progress. What if…

It’s a loaded question, and it’s not one without power. Use that power wisely.

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#SaysTheEditor: Transformations

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EDITOR  2

Weeks fifteen and sixteen are behind us now. They’ve been weeks of transformations, if not for me personally — seems that the status quo is holding, and I suppose that’s good — but for the things in my life.

My bike now sports its new handlebar tape. While there’s some pink in the tape, there’s not enough to be confused with what tried to take me out. Mostly, what you see is black. It has changed the look of my bike. Maybe it makes it look as evil as the bike must be, to have attacked the way it did. (although I’m still holding out hope for demon possession or voodoo being the cause.)

It was my first time wrapping handlebars. I think I did okay. I think I’d have done better, except my road bike has this cool feature: a second set of hand brakes up on top of the handlebars. This is super useful when I want to sit upright and don’t need to change gears but want the brakes near to hand. (Go figure someone wants their brakes handy.)

And my furniture has been shifted around, thanks to a birthday gift. The old couch is in the basement, with more to follow. New stuff is arriving in dibs and dabs and hopefully without holes, at least for rounds two and three. Too late for round one.

If you missed it, Women’s Day featured me as one of Ten Real Women Open Up About How They Make Money Working From Home. The link will take you to the page about me, but take a few minutes to look at them all. Interesting group I’m part of. Pretty darn cool.

So what’s all this got to do with writing? This is a #SaysTheEditor post, after all.

Well, just that a few weeks ago, the only change I saw on the horizon was the handlebar tape. When my sister and I ripped the old pink tape off, I knew I wanted new furniture. Knew I needed it. Didn’t expect to have the funds so quickly. (That $60 an hour in the interview sounds good until you look at the reality and how my time is divided up and accounted for!) Didn’t expect to find the furniture on my first real trip to a store. I mean, I was only killing time, gathering intel, learning…

And that’s how transformation affects your writing. When you are open to letting the story (or life) take you where you need to go, where it needs to take you, you find… new possibilities. New horizons. New furniture!

The pantsters — those of us who write by the seat of our pants — are all nodding sagely. We get this. We live it. We open up a document, introduce some characters, and sit back and see where it’ll take us. We’re all about these moments that wind up being story transformations. “But the book wasn’t supposed to be about you, minor character!” we’ll howl and try to fight the minor character who has seized control. But even as we do, we know it’s futile. Our story’s transformed.

But you plotters? (and one of my upcoming books was written to an outline, so maybe I’m one of you now, too?) It’s a harder thing. Plotters have a tighter control on their stories and their characters. At first sign of that minor character and his or her contemplation of a coup, the plotter nudges them back in line. If that doesn’t work, they make promises: behave in this one and the next one’s all about you.

Still not working? They chuck the character to the curb. Figuratively speaking.

This is both good and bad. Plotters sometimes miss the beauty of finding a better story. They miss the shock, the frustration, the process of coming to accept the story’s transformation. Yes, it’s a process. And like most processes, even the familiar ones, it’s a learning experience.

But so is the discipline of sticking to your plot, of staying focused on the story you sat down intending to write. Maybe when you don’t deviate from your outline, the transformations can still happen. They’re just more subtle. The author has to seek them out and maybe they’re not on a big, universal level. Maybe the discovery is in the small stuff, like how the new handlebar tape feels under hands that are still a bit unsteady on this particular bike. Maybe the transformation that happens is just subtle enough to make the author a bit uncertain at first. Like poking a toe into a pond to gauge how cold the water is.

Us pantsters miss out on this part of the writing process. Maybe that lack of discipline actually winds up hurting our attempts to write a strong story. Maybe we miss the subtle stuff.

I’m not sure, so chime in with your experiences in the comments. Pantster? Plotter? What have been your biggest transformations in your fiction?

Fess up. I’m all ears. Relaxing in my new chair-and-a-half, but all ears.

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#SaysTheEditor: Slogging Through

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The Thursday running up to Week Fourteen hit me hard. Really hard. Like: three naps in one day hard.

Healing is like this. It’s tricky stuff, if you think about it.

I’ve had a million and three orthopedic injuries. Usually, by week 14, you’re out of the cast, if there was one, into the brace, and deep into rehab (or, if you’re me, you’ve finally admitted defeat and been to see the doctor). There’s some sort of progress you can measure, be it number of appointments or number of reps, or even pain-free days.

Eye injuries aren’t like that. Not even close. And so, being in the middle of the healing process is that much harder.

It reminds me of the drafting progress, when writing that bad (or sloppy or whatever you’d like to call it) first draft turns into less writing and more slogging through. When all you can do is keep putting foot in front of foot, word in front of word.

This is the time to give yourself permission to do what it takes. Three naps. Write absolute garbage. Write more garbage. Take another nap. Keep on slogging through.

The only way to reach the end is to pass through the middle. It really and truly is.

The good news is that for writers, there’s this magic process called revision, where you can erase all signs of slogging through. This is why writing is a craft, folks. You get to reshape, modify, perfect your words, your ideas, your characterization, your plot points, your tension. You get a do-over, as many as you think you need. And this is a good. Putting in the hard hours, taking a walk to chew over a turn of phrase, changing things, asking, “What if this happens instead?” or “What do you mean that’s Tom who does that, not Harry?”

In this, writing’s got one up on healing. Because when healing, all I can do is take another nap. And while it may be good for the body, it’s hard to quantify in notes to a client, in revisions of my own fiction.

It’s hard, this slogging through. No one said it was easy… but then again, aren’t the best things in life the things you work hardest to obtain?

Take a nap. Write garbage. Keep on slogging through.

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Susan Speaks: Words as Weapons (Take Two)

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With a respectful nod to Seether

All I really want is something beautiful to say

Most of us grow up with that old sticks and stones maxim. As kids, we like it. It’s our defense against bullies and the mean kids and situations. It gives us a sense of power and a coating of teflon.

I was a kid who needed that teflon.

I was also a kid who grew up to be a wordsmith. I know that words can never hurt me simply isn’t true. Words can hurt. Sometimes, words do hurt.

Take last night, for example. Someone I hadn’t seen since before the accident called across a crowded room, “Hey, where’s your eye patch?”

“There never was one,” I said.

She kept going. I kept repeating the phrase.

She thought she was funny.

I … can’t say as how I agreed.

Keep me dumb, keep me paralyzed
Why try swimming? I’m drowning in fable
You’re not that saint that you externalize
You’re not anything at all

Now, here’s the thing. I had a client who made eye patch jokes… twelve weeks ago. A good friend in Texas who suggested I wear a gorgeous scarf she’d sent me years ago because it would match the patch… twelve weeks ago. Hell, even my mother made a joke about wearing an eye patch… seven weeks ago.

And the first and third were jokes, asked by people who’d checked in with me from time to time before they’d let ’em rip. Lord knows, I’ve made plenty of jokes myself about this whole thing. My favorite still remains the “Just like riding a bike. Oh, wait. We all know what happened last time I rode a bike” that I left on a friend’s Facebook wall after she discovered that after ten or more years, she still remembered how to roller skate.

The second? My friend in Texas? She truly didn’t know. And we had an absolutely fascinating discussion about the elegance and brutality of modern medicine. We theorized why I didn’t have a patch, or what circumstances might have occurred that would have resulted in having one. We talked about it. Yeah, we probably joked, too. I like to joke.

Last night? Wasn’t a joke.

That’s because this woman is someone in my community. She has my phone numbers. She knows where I live. We have shared parties and rituals. We have watched each other’s kids grow up.

She is someone I’d reached out to when the accident first happened, asking if she could help.

I probably don’t need to tell you what she said.

And last night, she was looking at me as I stood near my son. I had my new glasses on. People had been telling me through the evening that they couldn’t tell anything was wrong with my eye until I looked to my left, and then they could see it’s still pretty red, thirteen weeks later. One dad had commented that I’d been a regular at this, our weekly meeting place, and then I’d stopped showing up, and now I was back again. Was I okay? Had something happened?

So I told him the story. That I almost lost my eye. That I shouldn’t have vision.

That I have both.

That I am one lucky woman.

It’s all so playful when you demonize
To spit out the hateful, you’re willing and able
Your words are weapons of the terrified
You’re nothing in my world

And then her. Repeated demands to know where my eye patch was.

In front of my friends, my community.

In front of my son.

Say, “Can you help me?” right before the fall
Take what you can and leave me to the wolves

It’s been over thirteen weeks. I still wake up at night, scared that I’ve lost my vision; this is where the PTSD about the whole thing seems to lurk. Cloudy days are stressful days; when it’s not bright and sunny, my eye feels swollen — even though it’s not — and things are darker. Walking out of a well-lit area (like my family room) into a darkened area (like going up the stairs without turning the hall light on)? It’s like walking into a cave at first. It takes a bit longer to adjust. Zombie apocalypse? I am so toast.

In other words: I have vision, but it’s not perfect. The new glasses, with the lens that’s thicker than you can get your mind around, help.

My vision was perfect enough, though, that I could see this woman, across a room that was becoming more crowded as we drew closer to dismissal time, continue to make jokes. About me. About what I’d been through. She was just doing it softly enough that I couldn’t hear her.

I wanted to ask if she knew I could read her lips.

But I didn’t think she was succeeding in diminshing me at all. Nope. I looked at her, and I thought that I had been through so much in the past thirteen weeks (and three days) — and she didn’t care a whit to check on me once.

I thought that I continue to stop multiple times a day and say a silent thank you for my vision. That I look around and appreciate the way things look. The sharp lines of a tree that hasn’t yet blossomed or opened its buds. An angry storm, snow on the ground, the obnoxious shirt my son thinks is funny that I keep waiting for phone calls from school about. I was grateful when I got up at 4:15 in the morning last week to put my daughter on a bus for a school field trip, and that I didn’t have to sit in a dark living room with her and wait for someone to pitch in, help out, and give her a ride while I stayed home, acutely aware that life was passing by as I sat inside and healed.

And I thought that this woman was too… whatever… to realize the value in any of it.

That yeah, her words were weapons. Except…

They missed the mark.

All I really want is something beautiful to say
To never fade away
I wanna live forever

Funny how much better I’m seeing the world these days, as I wait for my vision to “resolve” (whatever that means; it’s the surgeon’s term) and I switch pairs of glasses depending on what I’m looking at, as the cataract grows and my eye heals and as I learn to live with a new reality, the outcome of which remains anyone’s guess.

Again, thanks to Seether for the amazing lyrics which may or may not fit, but suit my mood and give my roiling emotions a safe outlet. I am amused that the name of their new album is “Isolate and Medicate.”

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Susan Speaks: Things that Come in Two

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April’s my favorite month, so maybe we’ll forgive it for starting on a Friday, meaning that today, Saturday, is the second.

The last time a month started on a Friday was January. Which meant that Saturday was the second.

Thirteen weeks, folks. Thirteen weeks.

My new glasses arrived, and I’ve got better — although not perfect — distance vision. Strangely, up close got worse with these new lenses. Weird. But… getting it right, I’m told, is going to be the equivalent of hitting a moving target. My vision will change, the surgeon said. It will, he said, resolve, although now that I am in the middle of the resolution, I realize I have no idea what that actually means.

I’m not even sure I should care. I mean, the odds were ever in the favor of losing my sight, if not my eye entirely. The fact that I can see things out of both eyes is, as far as I’m concerned, a blessing, and it’s not uncommon for me to pause and give a silent thanks for whatever it is I’m looking at. Sometimes, whatever it is I’m looking at is viewed only through my right eye, as I like to close my left and see how good or bad the right one currently is. I can see, and that’s something pretty big and even more special.

And yes, as the weather has improved, I’ve abandoned the walks but not the yoga (hey, it feels good) in favor of my bicycle. Right now, I’m only riding my mountain bike. The road bike still doesn’t have new handlebar tape yet, although a trip to REI to pick up an online order solved the issue of not having tape on hand. So until the tape goes on and I move the bike out of the basement, where it’s been for the past thirteen weeks, I’m on the mountain bike.

It’s probably just as well that I am. My mountain bike is old. Circa 1996, which is when I moved into my home. It doesn’t have shocks, it doesn’t have disc brakes, the frame is crazy heavy. And it’s that last part that’s important. The frame is heavy. I feel like I have something substantial under me, unlike my light-as-anything road bike. And I sit more upright on it, too. It feels easier to see the world — well, my street — in this position even though it’s harder to move up the hill I live on.

I texted my sister after my first ride. I have just proven I can ride a bike and not wind up in the ER, I said to her. She understood.

Understanding is a funny thing, isn’t it? It’s hard to be angry at people who try to be considerate, but when I realized I’d been excluded from a promotional event that I’ve done in the past and had a super time with, I was heartbroken. Every time I see something about it in any of my feeds, I cry a little bit. Really, folks… ASK. Don’t assume. Ask. I’m glad to chat, glad to tell you where I am, glad to join in. And glad to work on your manuscript, too, although April is starting to fill up. Book your dates now.

One last note… it’s April, and April is my birthday month, and that means I like to release a book so we can all celebrate, since my favorite present of all time is book royalties. That definitely isn’t happening; I have two in progress and a third that is percolating away in my brain. I’d like to release them real close to each other once they are done, and I’ll be hiring a PR firm or two for them, as well (anyone do PR specifically in Pittsburgh? THAT is what I most need), so we’ll just have to celebrate my birthday another month.

Of course, if you’re so inclined, you can get me one or two of these. Birds sweatshirt That’d make for a spiffy birthday present, too — especially if you accompany me to the field for a game… or two.

Happy April 2. Another unassuming day if there ever was one. But pardon me if I skip the bike ride today.

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Susan Speaks: Eleven

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The eleven week mark came and went pretty unremarkably. And yet, it was the single most important week since it happened, since the retinal repair. This was the third in the series of important things — all things come in threes, right? — and of it all, this was my favorite important week yet.

I went from being a patient to being myself again.

Now, as I’ve said, full healing will take about a year. My optometrist yesterday said he can’t even guess when the cataract/refraction surgery will take place. Maybe the surgeon is waiting for more healing, less swelling. Maybe he’s waiting for the cataract to sing and dance (okay, not anyone’s words, but you know what I mean). Maybe he’s waiting for my vision to settle and resolve — that’s what my money is on. And I’m in no rush. A new pair of glasses is being made as we speak. It’s all good, even if it’s not over yet.

And it is good.

I had agonized from the moment this happened about whether or not I’d be available for last weekend, for this eleventh anniversary.

My son had an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. The coach had told me back in November he wanted me to be there. Hell, *I* wanted to be there; there’s something magical about being outside all day, watching the heart and soul that Ultimate demands of its players. And even though this weekend wound up being cold and rainy on the first day, causing a couple emergency runs to stores for heavier clothes and trash bags to keep gear dry, it was still magical.

See what I mean?

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This was warmup Sunday morning. Yes, that’s frost on the ground. Yes, that’s a hot air balloon in the background. Yes, I had a hard time seeing to grab this shot, between the sun and my poor beat-up eye. But it hung there so perfectly over the team…

Magical.

I stood there, on Sunday, the day after the eleventh anniversary of the day I tried to kill myself with a bicycle, and I took a deep breath of the around-freezing air. And at last, I felt alive again. Not wounded, not scared of what was going to happen. Myself. Strong, tough, smart, cool. A small force of nature. Restored.

Okay, and a little bit cold, too. And maybe, just maybe…

a little bit muddy.

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Susan Speaks: The Curse of the Red Boots

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FullSizeRender

That’s a crummy picture of my feet yesterday.

I wasn’t feeling optimistic about the outcome of my latest appointment with the surgeon. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure what a “good” outcome or “good” news could be.

So I wore my red Teva hiking boots. They have been cursed so far: I’ve worn them twice to the surgeon. The first time, I found out the pressure in my eye was too high and the visit dragged on and I wound up on the altitude sickness medicine that made me sick, loopy, and exhausted. All at once. The second time I wore the boots was the last visit, when the scar tissue and detachment were discovered.

Clearly, the boots are the problem.

Which is why I wore them. I was either sealing my fate or breaking the curse of the red boots.

To help push the situation in my favor, I paired my red boots (yes, on St. Paddy’s Day, even) with my favorite Metallica shirt. Because nothing says powerful good luck like a totally obscure band t-shirt that I can’t find a picture of in Google Images. (You Met old-school Met fans, it’s the shadow man, with a design that is cool until you look at the back, and then it’s effing cool)

The Curse of the Red Boots was broken by the Massive Magic of the Mighty Metallica.

The detachment is still there. It must be small because the fellow couldn’t see it. It’s not interfering with my vision, either.

Unless it turns into a tear, I’m going to live with it. No, the retina won’t die if it’s not pressed up against its snuggle bunny, the eye itself.

And the vision I’m swearing about? Should resolve itself over the next year. Yes, I said year. Do the nine weeks already under my belt count toward that year? Maybe. I didn’t ask. Don’t really care. Fifty-two weeks or forty-one… it’ll happen on its own time frame, although right now, I am healing ahead of schedule. (Hello, Mr. Cataract. We’ve been expecting you. Table for one?)

This brings new restrictions in my life. No more ice hockey, even though I haven’t played in over 20 years. No new contact sports, which really got ruled out when my hip went south. And eye protection, eye protection, eye protection. After all, I only have one good eye. I can’t risk it.

That brought me and the boy over to my eye doctor last night. We picked out a new pair of glasses (with clip-on polarized shades. I’m so excited!) and I have an appointment to adjust the prescription the right eye is peering through, with the intention of doing it a couple of times until things resolve. Yes, it’ll be expensive. But dammit, I’m worth it.

Actually, it’s not a question of worth. It’s that seeing life with the slightest of blurred edges is damn annoying and if we can fix it, we’re fixing it. And those clip-on shades? Best thing since Twinkies (the old recipe, thankyouverymuch) because frankly, wearing a pair of sunglasses over my current glasses is not a sexy look, and I have an inside line on my hottie coach. The team’s been practicing. They have a showcase this weekend which I have to miss ’cause I’m taking part of the boy’s team to a tournament. Hottie coach is back in town.

Susan’s gotta be at her best, man.

Which makes one wonder just how gentle my new life has to be lived. I mean… hot man? Restraint? Aren’t those oxymorons?

I’m just glad the curse of the red boots is over and I can wear them confidently again.

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Susan Speaks: Evicted

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N20 wristband

The first theory was that the nitrous oxide the surgeon had filled my eye with would be gone four weeks post-surgery, but nope. Wishful thinking.

The gas remained in my eye until a few days past the eight week post-surgical mark before my body evicted the last of it.

It was kind of funny, actually. I could see it when I took my shower (with these gas bubbles, you can see them. You’re not supposed to be able to see through them, but your favorite editor here truly has an eagle eye), and it was small. Really small. The size of some of the breakaway spots I’d gotten to watch early on. I knew that, at last, I’d be free of it. Yes, I’d begun to have doubts. I’d presented it with rent agreements. When those had failed, I’d warned it that it would be evicted.

Twenty minutes after my shower, I looked down and … couldn’t find it. So I waited an hour. Tried again.

Nothing.

I kept trying for a few hours after that, but it didn’t reappear. And the feeling of looking through a drop of water was vanishing, too.

The sexy lime green wristband came off. The car keys came out.

I have my freedom back (but I uh… clearly… need a new prescription to get me over the hump until the refraction), but it may be short-lived. We’ll know more next week.

In the meantime, if you need me, check the garage. If the cars are there, don’t be surprised to find me on a yoga mat.

I have nine weeks of sit-ups, push ups, and planks to make up for.

Oh, and a bike or two to ride.

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Susan Speaks: Teeter Totter

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Nine weeks since the fall. Eight weeks since the first retinal repair.

I say first because I still don’t believe there won’t be a second one. And that’s got me on the world’s cruelest teeter totter. Will I need surgery? Won’t I? Am I okay? Is my vision worse? Can I live with this? Do I need to? Do I want to? If I have surgery, will I get more scar tissue and have to go through this again? Will I lose any, or more, vision? Have I even lost vision?

I don’t know if I’ll be having another major surgery or not. I’m trying not to dwell on it, I really am. But my best and favorite distraction — work — hasn’t been going so well.

Look, I get it. This is big, major stuff. Clients don’t know if I’ll be here, if I can see, if my usual eagle eye is still operational. And I’ve been blogging almost exclusively about the injury and the ordeal that recovery has turned into. Am I really in this upbeat mindset you are reading about?

Well, yes, I actually am. Until the word of the latest detachment and the vigil I’ve been forced to keep, anyway. I’ve actually had a few anxiety attacks, or the beginnings of some. I’ve never had one in my life, reminding me why I force myself to be upbeat and happy most of the time. Life is easier with a smile. I can say that for certain now that I’ve had a few cycles where thoughts just get more and more negative, as they swirl faster and faster until I feel like I’m drowning.

Yes, it’s better to stop dwelling on what might be and focus instead on work. I’m left-eye dominant and it’s my right eye that I hurt, so my vision isn’t as badly impaired as if I’d hurt my dominant eye. That’s been the magic of this accident. I may prefer my friends to stand on my right, but my left eye leads the charge.

I was cleared to work seven weeks ago. I have been working… some. And I love what I do. I’m good at it. And it’s been such a blessed distraction, making me feel in control at a time when I’m at the mercy of a healing body. I’ve needed to work. And yes, it helps me remain positive.

So it kills me when I get this message from clients and others I’ve made commitments to: You have a lot on your plate right now and don’t me adding to it.

Yes, I do!!!

Like I said: work is stress relief. It makes me happy. It fills my bank account, and that in turn makes me happy, too. Working distracts me from myself, and I’m on such a teeter totter of emotions that work helps keep me either upbeat or even. No more of this downer stuff; I don’t like it!

None of us have a crystal ball. We don’t know what’s going to happen with my eye.

But we DO know I’m good at what I do. We know I’m pretty much homebound. I’ve got the time. My dominant eye is fine and carrying the load.

And if you take a step back and think, you’ll remember something: a bored Susan gets into trouble. And just wait until you guys see what I’ve been up to…

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Susan Speaks: I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Eye Protection

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Eight weeks and two days. Seven weeks post-surgery.

* I’ve resigned myself to going back in for a second repair and a third surgery late in March. I just have. Mr. Google isn’t always your friend when you’re hurt, but I don’t need Mr. Google to tell me that the retina is supposed to be attached to the side of the eye and bad things happen if it isn’t.

And that’s before I get the weird flashes of light that are my own private showing of the Northern Lights.

* I ordered a new Road ID just now, before I wrote this post. The kids and I were looking through the list of slogans — the boy, of course, loved the Latin and thought I needed the slogan that said, “Always where under where” — and I suggested mine should be I don’t need no stinkin’ eye protection.

They dared me to do it.

So, of course, I didn’t.

* The gas bubble is STILL in my eye. This is one stubborn sucker! When I’m in a good mood, it’s my little buddy. When I’m in a bad mood, well… there are a lot of people out there who don’t know how thoroughly and creatively I can swear, grumble, and whine. These people are lucky.

The bubble does distort my vision.

* I was out doing something today and realized that yep, because of the new tear, I’ve lost a tiny bit of peripheral vision. Just enough that I’d been wondering, looking funny at things, trying to figure it out. But when I was doing something familiar and noticed the absence was when I could admit it to myself.

I’m not as unscathed by this thing as I’d thought.

And that’s good and bad. I mean, there should be something more than one eye with 20/20 vision and a lot of memories to remind me of what happened. Something that reminds me of what I’ve been through, what I’ve survived. Hopefully, I won’t need bigger reminders, or more of them. Because let’s face it: no one wants to lose their vision. Even tiny bits of it.

But I have.

* I’m in the first major funk since the accident. It’s the new detachment, the scar tissue. Because if I scarred after one surgery, what’ll happen after the second? How much worse will it get? How much vision will I lose with each subsequent scar tissue growth, detachment, and repair?

This keeps me up at night. This is not the way I like to be kept up at night.

The vigil for a retinal tear from the detachment continues… keep the prayers coming.

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Susan Speaks: Pins and Needles

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When this eye thing first began, I would wake up, terrified I had permanently lost my vision in the bad eye.

Of course, time is fixing that and I’ve been fairly optimistic that things are going well.

But a visit to the surgeon put a damper on my optimism. And I’m on pins and needles the next couple of weeks, waiting to see what will happen.

We’re about halfway in the worst-case scenario: scar tissue is forming in my eye. It’s puled the retina away from the surface of my eye, but right now, it’s an okay thing. No loss of vision. I could live the rest of my life like this. That’s what the surgeon said. I like this guy. I trust him.

The problem is what will happen if more scar tissue forms. That increases the chance that the retina will tear. And if it does… back to the OR I will go. (We even have a date reserved.)

So… back on the prayer lists, if you are so inclined.

I have some extra time over the next three weeks, if you need an edit. Frankly, I’d welcome the distraction. I need it right now. I love what I do, so working helps keep those pins and needles at bay and under control. And the income ain’t bad, either.

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Susan Speaks: Seven

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This was my horoscope this morning, from Tarot.com: lasting success is achieved by taking small steps again and again until you reach your goal.

We’re at seven weeks post-accident, six weeks post-retinal reconstruction. Nothing new to report. The nitrous oxide in my eye… still there. Over the weekend, it spawned two little pearls, one each day, that hung out on the outer rim of the bubble before finally dissolving around mid-afternoon. I was hopeful it was the start of the final end, but… no go. No Son of Bubble this morning.

The problem with long injuries is that the people who rush to your aid at the beginning have forgotten about you. Their lives go back to normal; they’ve done their duty, showing up with a meal. Now, of course, this is a blanket statement, but last week, I went eight solid days without leaving the house. I didn’t need anything at the grocery, so there was no need to ask for a lift anywhere, so… I didn’t. And no one dropped in to say, “Hey, what have you been doing? Have you gotten out at all?”

By Saturday, I was climbing the walls. And it was in the fifties and sunny. I texted my BFF: If I don’t get out of this house, I am going for a bike ride.

He was on my driveway in ten minutes, and I spent the day with him, running his kids around and hanging out. (For those of you not in the know, I routinely help run their kids around. Two parents, four kids, lots of activities, and his wife, one of my other BFFs, is often out of town. The kids are like my own, and I love all six of ’em. No, not six kids. Six in the family.)

My own kids came home from a weekend with their dad. As soon as she got in the house, the girl inspected my eye. She proclaimed it less bloody and open wider. I asked if that meant the swelling was down; one of the BFF’s neighbors, who I used to work out with at the Hoity Toity Health Club, stopped in to pick up her son and said until she was close, she couldn’t tell anything was funky, other than I was wearing my glasses.

That’s progress. Maybe it means an end to the weird, almost-horrified looks I’d get when I’d go out.

I’m not complaining!

Small steps, like my horoscope said. It’s only taken seven weeks to get this far.

But the big one came later that evening, as we were cleaning up from dinner. It was the girl again, telling me that I seemed different. Less sick or injured. More energetic. More myself.

Thinking about it, I have to agree. As restlessness was conquered, as I’ve been able to get outside, either to sit on the deck or to take a short walk (and I promise, it’s short! Nothing like the prospect of losing your vision after you’ve fought seven weeks to save it to keep me from not pulling a Typical Susan and overdoing), as I got out of the house, I could feel it all settling back into place.

But the gas is still in my eye, which means I’m still not allowed to drive. I may be stuck inside all week again, and that’s a prospect I’m less at peace with.

Here’s your words of wisdom: when your friends and family have a long rehab, don’t forget about them. Sometimes, the farther out a person is from the trauma, the more they need you.

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Susan Speaks: Questions, questions, and more questions

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It’s hard to detail the healing when it happens in such small increments. There’s more time between visits to the surgeon. The eye itself is more open, which means I can see how red it still is, especially at the site of the rupture. And I am an absolute pro at pouring eye drops down my face, particularly when I’m tired.

The laughing gas Band-aid should be disappearing soon, although at this point in time, I’d say it seems determined to outlast the surgeon’s prediction. What’s cool is that, from time to time (usually when I’m a bit more active than merely sitting around), I can see little dots break away from the bubble and float away into the ether. Best guess is that’s the reabsorption of the gas. It’s like sunspots. My own private show.

Work is still slow, because my vision is still off and I still tire easily. It’s no longer double, which reinforces the idea that it’s the gas bubble that caused it. Now I have streaks, color, auras… except they aren’t auras. They are streaks of color. As I’m typing, they are the color of my hands. I need a lot of breaks, a lot of naps, but I am working and have a bunch of clients to schedule. That’s good. I can only exist on savings for so long before they run out.

But now I begin to think too much. Will I be able to get a contact on a repaired eye? Will I need to; I’m told (but not by my surgeon) that the cataract surgery will include Lasik. Will they do one eye, or both? If they don’t do the good eye, I’m SO ordering the expensive contact lenses for it! Is the cataract even forming? What’s the expected timeframe? A year… a month… what?

And, of course, is the repair holding?

I passed the six-week mark of the accident last Saturday, and the five-week mark of the repair surgery yesterday. Will I be able to go to my son’s next Ultimate frisbee tournament? Not just will I be medically cleared, but will I have the stamina, the energy? No one said I have to stand on the edge of the field for six or eight hours, but … it’s a long drive, from here to Cincinnati. I want to: I want to drive the boy and the two I took to Virginia back in November. (that feels like an entire lifetime ago, and in a way, I suppose it was) But can I? Is this realistic, when I am still homebound, when two hours doing errands wipes me out?

Questions.

I’ve been told I think too much. I don’t doubt that I probably do. And, of course, the best way to stop all the questions, other than being patient and finding out the answers in due time, is to distract myself. With work.

Back to it, then.

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Susan Speaks: Getting Out

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So another week, another post-op trip to the surgeon. Not much has changed… my progress is impressive and more than was expected. I was allowed to change the eyedrop schedule. (THIS is living large, folks.)

But healing is expected to be super slow. For one, I’m a slow healer, as my sports med guru will tell you. For another, there’s a layer of trauma on top of an already slow-to-heal surgical repair. The trauma adds healing time.

In other words: I’m still spending most of my time around the house, on the couch. And at my desk, although sitting more than standing (Oh, my aching back). I like being at my desk because my water glass is handy, so I’m finally feeling properly hydrated and like myself again. Getting off the altitude sickness medicine helps with that, too, and the doctor apologized for putting me on it (except, he said, it works so well. Which is true), but I told him I had no issues with it. While I was sleeping 12+ hours a day, I was getting some good healing time in, and I’ll take the healing.

Of course, it’s hard to work when you’re sleeping that much. And I am working, so if you’ve been holding off on contacting me about your new book, get over that because you’re last to get the memo. That may mean you’re last to get the dates you want, too. And yes, I am still a bit on the slow side. But that’s improving, too.

But… my other restrictions remain. No lifting heavy things. I can cook and do dishes. And I’ve been sneaking out to the grocery once or twice a week. Nothing major, but enough to remind me that there’s an outside world.

The girl took me for a walk the other day. I made it four houses down the street. At this rate, I’ll be back on my bike and riding centuries next week!

One downer, though: sometimes, after trauma, the eye gets frozen and remains dilated. Again, time and healing will tell, but on the flip side, my eyes are so dark, you may never notice if this happens to me. Then again, you might. I don’t know. Unless there are mirrors around, I only get to look out through my eyes, not at them.

Last night, though, the kids were helping lead the Friday night Shabbat service at temple, and the girl in particular wanted me to be there. I think she’s tired of people asking how I am, and I was certainly greeted with enough warm hugs and friendly faces to make me believe that. The kids — mine and their classmates — led a fabulous service, although I hope no one bought the boy’s bluster there at the end. He knew damn well about that assignment. We’d discussed it; that’s where my “no harm, no bovine” joke came from and no, it’s not funny when that’s all you hear, but it’s elicited really satisfying groans from everyone else who’s heard the whole thing. Next time you see me, ask me about it.

Interestingly, my friends at the temple asked the same set of questions, and in the same order:
1. How ARE you?
2. When can you drive?
3. What exactly happened?

And yes, those who heard the whole story gave me quite satisfying slack jaws. My cousin posited that I need to take my bike in for an exorcism. Another friend suggested I’m the victim of a voodoo attack (think about it: you need a sharp set of eyes to edit, and a writer needs vision to tell her stories properly. I can believe this one!). Let’s face it: people fall off their bikes all the time. But taking out an eye in the fall? Very rare, indeed. So rare, it freaked out the good-looking resident who helped with the first surgery. (He’s the one who raved about my handwriting and what a shame that wasn’t a pickup line. I’m still sad about that. And what do you mean, why am I thinking about good-looking residents and pickup lines when I’m possibly concussed and about to be wheeled into emergency surgery to save my eye? You mean you don’t?)

It was a good night last night. I’ve got weeks ahead of me yet to sit and heal, so it’s back to the couch (or desk chair and stop it. I am NOT standing at my standing desk. Nope. Not me. My back is just happy because it’s happy.). The boy has a couple of Ultimate tournaments coming up this spring and his coach has asked me to come along for the trips. The girl has an anime con, and she wants me to come. And I’m waiting on word about a pending promotional appearance that I doubt I’ll make the cut for (because I’ve had a pretty long string of good luck at this point and if I have to choose, I choose my eye) but cross your fingers because it combines my favorite things in life and has a scary echo to the past five weeks of my life.

Yeah. Not getting out so much yet. This can still go wrong, no matter how good — okay, tired from my night out — I feel today. (Still not standing at the standing desk!) But it’s progress and it’s encouraging and the only person not surprised by how well I’m healing is my sports med guy, who’s seen me rehab around injuries that would take out 95% of the population.

I got this. As soon as I hit the levers on my desk and sit back down.

Five weeks down since I fell. At least five more to go. I got this.

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Susan Speaks: Frequently Asked About The Eye

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I am trying to keep my computing time to work time, so from now on, whenever these questions pop into my inbox, I’m sending you the link to this post. Because do you really think I won’t update here and on Facebook when things change? Really?

No, I mean that. REALLY?????

Sigh. You did, didn’t you?

So. Here we go:

How’s the eye?
Well, it’s still in my head. It’s still got a gas bubble in it, so it’s like looking through a prism. That, in turn, is worse than being both seasick and drunk at the same time and no, at least in terms of my eye, those two things don’t cancel each other out. So there’s a lot of people out there thinking I’m winking at them when really, I’m just keeping the injured eye closed. Trust me: the world at large is not this good looking that I’m doing this much winking.

How do you feel?
I didn’t realize how sick the altitude sickness medicine made me until I stopped taking it. That’s when I stopped sleeping twelve hours or more a day, too. Which was kinda sad. I mean, you do a lot of healing when you’re sleeping that much. Of course, I don’t miss the huge number of crackers I had to eat to keep my stomach calm. Now that I’ve kicked the meds and the crackers out of my diet again, I feel overall better. Just lazy and a bit slow. And that part? I’m kind of enjoying. How often do YOU get ordered to sit on the couch and pretend you’re a woman of leisure hanging out in Bora Bora? Although, cripes, I hope the furniture in Bora Bora is more ergonomically perfect for a woman of my lack of height.

How can you be such a good sport about this?
Well, what choice do I have? Dude. I’m a single mom. I own a microbusiness. Before this happened, I hadn’t chosen an easy path through this thing called life, but one thing I have learned is that if you can’t laugh, it ain’t worth enduring. So I am making the choice to make jokes. My favorite was to a friend who was happy she could roller skate after a layoff of like twenty years. “Just like riding a bike,” I said on Facebook. “Wait. We all know what happened the last time I rode a bike. Nevermind.”

That may be my crowning moment, but I’m always looking to top it.

Besides, you all are having a lot more fun following along when I’m leading the charge into the field of funny. And don’t forget, my eye is full of LAUGHING GAS. It kinda goes with the healing.

What do the doctors say?
My surgeon, who I like a lot, says very little. So there is no prognosis, either short-term or long-term. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. See above about having fun with it.

Any verdict about a concussion?
Nope, and no one seems to care about it. My massage therapist earned his keep again last week (and not just because neither of us could remember when we last shaved our legs) when he discovered I’ve got a lovely case of whiplash. So this one, we’re just not going to know about. But I still have headaches and I still have other symptoms, but they could all be explained away by the eye, so… maybe? Probably?

It’s the not knowing that is making me nuts. In fact, it’s easier to accept we won’t know anything about the eye than it is to accept that we’ll never know for certain how this impacted my poor brain.

However, I have been told that this little escapade of mine has made me funny. Or funnier, depending on who you ask.

When can you drive again?
Well, think about it. Do you really WANT someone driving when her eye is full of laughing gas? Just beyond the risk that presents to my vision if I do something dumb, and just beyond the fact that I have to keep my eye closed so I don’t have the acid trip-drunk-seasick thing happening…

I know driving me and my kids around is a pain in the rear. I get that. Trust me. I used to do it on a daily basis. I can’t wait to do it again. But right now, we all have to wait. And be it in six more weeks or a year from now, I promise to either pay it back or pay it forward. This does not mean I’m going to go drive for Uber, btw.

If I had a shot for every time I’ve been asked about driving, I bet I’d stop complaining about that weird acid-seasick-drunk effect my healing eye gives me. And not just because I’d be too pickled to care.

Can I bring you dinner?
This is a dicey one. For one, I’m independent as hell and the kids and I love to cook.

But here’s the bigger problem: people have shown up on my doorstep with food. Which is super nice, except… I have other health issues. And most people have shown up with some variant of red sauce, pasta, and/or beef, pork, or lamb. All of these foods (except for maybe the tomato sauce, but the jury’s out about me and nightshades) promote inflammation, and I have an inflammation issue already. So these good-hearted gestures are really doing a lot of damage, and at a time when I can’t exercise to offset some of the effects.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the gesture. I do. But… my favorite foodie care package came from Dawn, who took the time to ask what I was craving. She came up short on a quart from Bruster’s (not that I blame her), but she delivered trail mix from Aldi, who makes the best trail mix ever, and my most favorite food item yet: a bag of baby carrots!

It sounds kinda crazy, but the snack foods — and healthy, anti-inflammatory foods, at that — have been the biggest blessing. That’s because I eat more than one meal a day. And I am a snacker, so a handful of trail mix, a handful of carrots… Oh, every day, I say a silent thank you to Dawn for her ingenuity.

I did also ask for super ripe cantaloupe at room temperature, perfectly crisp and chilled watermelon that’s been cut into cubes and snaps when you bite into it and then turns into juice on your tongue, and blueberries. The blueberries were delivered, thanks to a friend who was running to the grocery for me anyway. The rest, I think we’ll have to wait to summer for.

So what DO you need?
Honestly? Company. Pick up dinner (oh, how I could go for my local Chinese takeout) and bring it over and hang out with me while we eat. Together. Or lunch. Lunch is good. Come get me and let’s go out for a quick meal – but it’s got to be quick, and it’s got to be somewhere I can show up in my sweats. Because, dude, I’m allowed to be lazy, so I’m milking this. And it’s got to be quick because I swear the whole world is staring at me and yes, I’m the rare and beautiful Cyclops right now, but… like I said, there just ain’t that many good-looking people in the world who are worth winking at. Besides, I do get tired easily. After all, I’m busy healing! (I hope)

Which brings me to the final question:
Why did you get over the hot young thing?
I didn’t.

It’s the off-season.

Drooling, lusting, sighing, and off-color jokes will resume closer to my birthday. However, any of you who encounter him (and I’m looking at my nineteen-year-old pro athlete here) are free to tell him to quit wasting his time on my Twitter feed and friend me on Facebook instead. Because as most of you know: we’re having a good time over there. Think what he’s missing out on!

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