Category Archives: Susan’s Eye Injury

Susan Speaks: Frequently Asked About The Eye


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!


Susan Speaks: Finding Balance


We all struggle with finding balance in our lives. That’s normal.

It’s just extra hard when one day, you feel really good so you sit and work and make lofty goals for the week, and the next day, you crash back to earth and can barely tolerate looking at a screen as stuff piles up.

I’ve been cleared to lay on my right side and my stomach, which I still can’t do because of the ongoing orthopedic issues. Tuesday night was the first night in I don’t know how long that I didn’t get up during the night and come sleep on the couch, on my back but propped up as the doctor ordered.

And don’t tell the kids, but I am allowed to cook, wash light dishes (the surgeon clearly doesn’t know I use All-Clad, picked up at seconds sales for all you who wonder how I can afford All-Clad on my budget. That’s how. My kids won’t need to buy cookware, and maybe my grandkids won’t either, unless there are more grandkids than there are pots), and do the laundry.

So there’s progress, and it’s welcome and moving about feels good.

Maybe that’s the problem. Editing isn’t exactly the most physical of jobs. That’s why a week post-surgery, the doctor cleared me to return to it. But… I do need it, or I feel like I’m sliding into a morass of laziness.

Not to mention that my wounded eye still picks up and reflects screen light back at me for hours after I’ve walked away.

So… balance. Clients who are waiting on stuff, I’m moving along. Slowly, but I am. Clients afraid to send me stuff, get over that. I’m a bit slower, so know that and adjust your schedules accordingly. And clients who still haven’t figured out you should be reading my blog, well… I don’t know how to help you at this second. See above about screens and lights. No offense, but I’d rather tackle the work waiting for me. I’d rather you add to the pile.

Don’t hold back. I’m good at what I do, and that means I’m good at reaching the balance I need.

Okay, maybe I’m not so good at maintaining my balance when on a bike and presented with a set of circumstances that’ll probably never be replicated or known, but really? You gonna hold one little spill off a road bike against me?

For the record, I can still close my eyes – yes, both of them – and see pink handlebar tape coming at me. Even though the pink handlebar tape has long been dumped in a landfill by this point. It may never leave me.

It’s a good reminder of the need for balance. On the bike. In life. And yes, in your writing.

You really think I wouldn’t be able to stop talking about writing forever? Really? And here I thought you knew me…


Susan Speaks: The Sexy Edition


Yeah. You thought blowing a hole in your eye was all gore and gross?

You are SO RIGHT.

I mean, think about it. The whole point of going for that bike ride on January 2 was to stretch out my back. I have back problems; this isn’t new. It’s a something like nine months older than my oldest. Go figure! If you ever wondered what would happen if Gumby had kids, I invite you to meet my back.

Yesterday, I woke up at three — in the morning — with some pretty excruciating back pain. At first, I thought the nausea was from the medicine, but as the morning progressed, I realized that nope, it’s the back. How’d I figure this out?

Easy. Since the second surgery, I have been instructed to lay either on my stomach (see note about bad back) or left side only. Absolutely, under no circumstances, am I allowed on my back. So… all night long, I’m on my left side. I wake up like six and seven times and have to get up and stretch because I can’t roll over. And all day, I sit canted off to the left, which is the normal way I have of sitting on the couch. I brought a bed pillow down and get all good and comfy and usually fall asleep.

It’s not nearly as luxurious as it sounds. And falling asleep in front of Jeopardy every night? Sexy, baby. Sexy.

So. How’d I figure out this is my back and not the nausea-inducing medicine? Easy. I laid on my back on the cold bathroom floor and felt the spasm ease. As the spasm eased, so did the nausea.

Why the bathroom floor? Dude, this is the sexy edition.

I’m still feeling pretty crummy as I write this, and I’m waiting for word from the doctor as to whether or not I can spend some time on my back and hopefully ease the situation — which is that I’ve got a pretty major dislocation going, between the lack of exercise and the lack of support as I lay on my left side. It seemed like the perfect time to share with you some of the other truly sexy moments of recovery.

There’s the plastic eye shield they want me to wear at night, although I’m not sure why. It’s not like I can move at all, stuck on my left side as I create an orthopedic nightmare (and remember: I was on my bike to AVOID this particular nightmare. How’s that for karma?). But… wear the eye shield.

Let me tell you about it. It’s clear plastic. It has holes in it so air can presumably flow, but I continue to wake up with my lashes crusted shut. Sexy, baby. Sexy.

The shield itself, as I’ve said to many of my real-life friends, looks like a cross between the drain in the bottom of a urinal and the plastic part of a jock strap.

(At this revelation, most of my friends pause, either to try to envision this or to figure out how it is that I know what those two things look like.)

I have never been more glad to be single in my life.

But we’re not done yet! Nope. I have the singular privilege of wearing a lime-green plastic band around my right wrist that announces to the world that my eye is full of laughing gas and in the unlikely event that something happens to me, this needs to be a known fact so that in potentially saving my life, no one makes me go blind along the way.

Yes, it’s a lime green, plastic, sexy-as-hell MedicAlert bracelet. I’m grateful it’s only temporary.

And then there’s my sexy swollen eyelid, my sexy closed eye, the sexy concept of having a blind spot that people can sit in and take advantage of…

I’m not sure that any injury is ever sexy, but at least the boob job gave me a sexier outcome than this will. And the recovery was a heck of a lot shorter. We still have weeks to go, my friends. Weeks and weeks and weeks… if my poor back doesn’t eat me alive first.


Susan Speaks: Doing the Hard Work


Recovering is hard work.

Spin that, twist it, turn it however you like. But the simple fact is that recovering is hard work. It may not seem like it — even I am now a pro with drops, and I’m not doing much more than hanging out on the couch with a cat who’s decided he’s my therapy cat — because, really, how hard is it to sit on the couch all day?

You’d be surprised. It’s hard, and not just because if you’ve followed me for the past year, you’ve seen me happily and gloriously transition to a standing desk.

My teenagers have been phenomenal, helping with laundry and dishes and the boy has taken over the litter pans as his own project, no resentment that his sister isn’t helping with them (she’s getting pretty much the full brunt of the laundry, and they are splitting dishes). It’s working.

We have a hodgepodge of friends helping out with the driving. A few strangers. And last year’s captain of the boy’s ultimate team thrown in for good measure. And food still shows up every now and then, although with less frequency. That’s a good thing. My freezer is full of red sauce and meatballs!

And yet… and yet… snags happen. One happened yesterday: the pressure in my eye is still too high. We have to get it down. No options. We HAVE to get it down. Two pharmacies, two new eye drops and an oral something-or-other, and a lot of crossed fingers, toes, arms, and legs. I’d cross my eyes, too, but … yeah. Maybe not right now.

This would be a good time for more prayers.

But there’s a lot to be grateful for. Kids who bravely face this with me. The cat who’s decided he’s my therapy cat and rarely leaves my side. Health insurance that’s saving me from bankruptcy and letting me keep my house.

And, of course, a sense of humor. Some of the bad jokes are slowing as this progresses from a shocking incident to become a new way of life. Doesn’t mean I’m not seizing opportunities. It just means I’m not searching them out, trying to use levity to keep my cool.

Except… right now, I’m kinda scared. This was a hurdle I knew we had to jump over, but when I’m standing in front of it, it’s a pretty tall one, although the surgeon is concerned but not terribly alarmed. Keep the good vibes coming.

And work! Work is rolling in and I was going to turn yesterday into my first work day, but wound up spending first most of the day at the doctor’s and then a couple hours trying to find the medicines I need. (And in the middle of that, my father had the misfortunate of Face Timing me and I think I scared him more than I needed to, but my transportation was on a strict timeframe, so chatting wasn’t the best idea.)

Overall, it’s a mixed bag. I’m looking forward to working today, on the couch. Sitting on my butt, per the doctor’s orders. Taking my medicines and eye drops and hanging out. And healing. Thursday, I go back to see how things are progressing. And I’m scared of what the answer will be.

Recovery is hard work. But you gotta do the hard work to get the payout. Vision. Standing desks. And clients who write amazing fiction and keep me on my toes.

As one of my favorite clients says, Excelsior.

But keep those prayers coming. I’ll keep doing the hard work.


Susan Speaks: Party On, Wayne!


Monday dawned the way Mondays do: full of promise of the week ahead, if only you’d get yourself out of bed and in gear so you can discover it all.

I got the kids up and moving and together, we waited for our ride to the hospital. The kids had said they’d be too nervous to focus in school all day, so I’d told them that instead of staying home, where they’d still be nervous, to come to the hospital with me and my friend. They’d be able to watch the process and that ought to help. It wouldn’t be a panacea, of course. For years now, I’ve been the rock for these kids. They were understandably scared.

Hell, so was I.

The week before, I had cleared it with the schools that the kids would be out so they could be with me, and we fed the foster kitty and I encouraged the kids to use their nervous energy to straighten stuff up. They, of course, retreated into their phones. Kids.

My friend and her husband picked us up and we piled in and he drove and then we were at the hospital and in the waiting room and man, it was hot in there. And I was dressed to recover at home, in fleece. I keep the house on the cool side, so by the time I finally got to go back to pre-op, I was getting sick from the warmth.

Nothing a flimsy hospital gown can’t cure, though, and once I started feeling better, my nurse showed up. “Get ready,” she warned me. I was going to have three series of a lot of drops — “five or six,” she assured me.

Now, before all this happened, if you asked me to lay my head back so someone — you know, like my eye doctor — could give me drops, I’d have a panic attack. Just the act of leaning back while someone stood at my head… and there are people reading this who know me really well. They can’t believe it. SUSAN, having a PANIC attack?

Well, that’s how it USED to be. Amazing the fears you conquer when you blow a hole in your eyeball.

Once the drops were in, she asked why I was watching Cops: Las Vegas or whatever it was. “You don’t have to,” she said, handing me the paddle to change the channel. That’s when we discovered the privacy curtain was covering the sensor, so I said to her, “I’ll just flip it one channel. Anything’s bound to be better than this.”

I laughed at my bad luck. This is the time for bad luck, and yep, there’s a picture of Jesus on the cross and … well, I didn’t stick around. This ain’t no channel for a good Jewish girl.

But Amy the nurse needed to get to other patients, so I said, “I’m going to flip to … here. And this is what it’ll be.”

It was a commercial. I was rolling the dice again. But I couldn’t keep the nurse standing there, holding the privacy curtain away from a TV I didn’t particularly want to be watching.

Turns out, it’s action month on AMC, and that meant the end of the Karate Kid.

Amy went to bring my friend and my kids back to sit with me. And there might have been a second set of drops in there, too. There were only two chairs and three visitors, so the girl hopped up on my bed near my feet. She kept complaining she couldn’t see the TV; it had glare on it, she said. I offered to move so she could sit somewhere else on the narrow hospital gurney. She said no. She’s a considerate kid. Or maybe she was worried I’d flash her brother, which was a distinct possibility.

Now, I have awesome friends. Like attracts like after all, right? My kids are funny, when they’re not nervous out of their minds. So we chatted through the end of the Karate Kid and we got the boy to laugh a few times. Amy the nurse might have brought more drops. I know the kids were there for one set because we talked about how much better I’ve gotten about the whole thing.

Didn’t stop the boy from turning a new shade of white, though. Each step of the process, I worried, was going to be too much for him. This is the kid, after all, who passed out during School Career Day when the classroom was hot and the doctor describing his job had pictures of maggot-infested flesh on the screen.

Medicine is not in my son’s future.

Karate Kid ended and we’re still in pre-op. Amy the nurse reports that the surgeon is working on the case before us. The surgeon had told me that he does the sickest patients first, and I seemed to be smack in the middle of his day. Not dire, but not a breeze, either. I guess I was okay with that.

And then it happened. The movie ended and the next one came on. Dudes, it was a doozy of a film. A sequel, even.

Tremors 2.

And I had the volume down low. Which of course means it wasn’t long before the four of us were writing our own scripts and talking about MST3K and … well, party on, Wayne! We were loud. We were laughing. And I kept looking at the people across from me and watching that poor woman’s feet wave with her nervousness while her companion slept and I wanted to go to her and tell her it was okay. I wanted to invite her into our stress-free zone so she could relax and have fun and be in a better place, mentally.

But by the time I would have done this, my IV had been placed. Let me tell you, I’ve had bad IVs before, but these recent two have been amazing. This doctor said, “A little pinch” and I waited for it… and waited for it… and then said, “You mean it’s in? Wow, you’re good.”

I appreciate that sort of care. But it also does a really good job of illustrating how awesome everyone I’ve encountered has been.

We kept this crazy talk going up until the teenage boy needed to be refueled. Not only is he a teenage boy, he’s an athlete these days, Mr. Ultimate Frisbee. He doesn’t have a lot of lean body mass or fat to begin with, so keeping that kid topped off can be a challenge. I sent the three to find the cafeteria and put my stuff in a locker.

That’s when the exhaustion hit. Exhaustion from… all of it. I’ve barely been alone since I fell off my bike. People have been around, and while they’ve been helpful beyond all compare, they are still company in MY home. It’s strange and it’s stressful. And I’m hurt and I’m scared and I’m the one who’s the rock around here and the kids need that to continue and… it was a struggle to stay awake. I actually asked if they’d put more in my IV than saline, but they said no. The nurse anesthetist who was there to check on me patted my shoulder and said it was good that I could relax.

I may have appreciated the contact more than the words.

But then the kids and my friend reappeared and Tremors 2 was still on and I had a new nurse and the fun recommenced and the new nurse came to do more drops… and for the first time, she stood on my left to do them. And for the first time, I didn’t tell her I had bad eye anxiety. And guess what? It was all okay.

By the time the dad from Family Ties was out of the bulldozer and the weird creatures had run into the barn and were happily munching away and we’d thoroughly made fun of all that, things started to happen. The final set of eye drops. The heart monitors put in place (Me to the boy: “Did you just see more of your mother than you ever wanted to, or was [the medical person] in the way?” Boy to me, “Huh? What?” Girl to me, “She’s in the way.”).

My surgeon stopped by. We chatted. He put his initials over my right eye. It felt like he drew a smiley face, but nope. Just the letter E.

I remember the sedative to “relax” me. I think I remember the family standing up. I know I remember handing my glasses over to the girl. And I think I remember the team starting to wheel me out.

The party was over. It had lasted hours. It was good, it kept me calm.

But damn if I didn’t ask, on the drive home, how Tremors 2 ended. Just so I don’t ever have to watch it again to see if I do, indeed, remember.

Dudes, that was one bad movie. And it was so deliciously perfect for the moment, I can’t begin to tell you.


Susan Speaks: Next Steps


It’s Monday. Ten days since I fell off my bicycle and yes, I will tell you guys the story of what exactly happened because it’s too funny not to. But not right now.

Today’s the day we take the next steps to recovery. The first retinal repair surgery. And I say first because no one knows if today will fix it entirely or there’s more surgery in my future. I’ve been told that until they start talking about the cataract surgery, we’re not anywhere near the end of the road. (Yes, cataracts and no, I am not THAT old, thankyouverymuch. But if they’re going to do it now, maybe I’ll get fifty or more years before they have to do it again. It’s better longevity than if I needed a new hip tomorrow.)

Your prayers and thoughts and comments and texts and Facebook messages have been keeping me going all week, so please keep them coming. I keep my personal Facebook page pretty closed to people I don’t interact with on a regular basis, so you’ve missed such fun as me posting an actual picture of myself. No surprise that of all the FB posts since this began, it’s gotten the fewest number of likes. And my eye doesn’t look that bad. I’ve seen it more swollen after a good cry. But… it’s a picture of me, and cameras have known to break when pointed at me, so I get the lack of love.

There was the night when I went to put my drops in — there is no better way to cure your massive eye anxiety than to injure your eye — and I held up the bottle of drops, only to stop myself. “Dodo,” I said because, yes, I call myself things like Dodo, “take OFF your glasses first.”

That turned into a pithy Facebook status. As well it should have.

Spirits are high and I’m trying really hard not to think about the bills, both monthly and medical, that are piling up. Every time I write a check, I take a big gulp and remind myself to breathe, that it’ll be okay somehow. I’ve had a million and five adventures up to now and after every single one, I’ve come out better than before. I am like my cats: I have a habit of landing on my feet. Maybe I’ll play the Powerball, although if I have to choose between vision and cash, I’ll take the vision. It’ll help me see the cash I’m going to come across down the road.

More when I know it. Keep the good vibes, the prayers, and the thoughts coming. Next steps are always terrifying before you lift your foot to take them, but it’s good to know you guys are at my back.


Susan Speaks: I Missed My Calling


This blog will be 10 in April, and for almost all of those ten years, it’s been the blog of a writer and editor. If you’ve gotten used to the sage writing and editorial words of wisdom I’ve been doling out of late and you can’t figure out how the recording of my recovery from a very serious eye injury ties into writing, well… maybe you’re not ready for Writing Wisdom According to Susan.

I’m writing this on Friday. It’s funny because I’ve been able to tolerate the light emanating from my phone – in small doses — but the laptop has been harder. And the desktop is still the most uncomfortable. This is because I can’t see the buttons to turn down the brightness. Naturally, now that 24-7 help has gone (for the time being), I remember to try. But the desktop is in its own room and despite the pleas of Lucy Cat, who misses going to work with me, I haven’t been in there much.

Anyway, I have a million thoughts and a million stories to tell. This is good.

Let’s flash back to last Monday, my first morning out of the hospital. I had to get up and get the kids off to school and maybe it was when my daughter was eating, and maybe it was after she’d left. Time… I’ve been very time challenged through this. (I asked in the first ER if I could possibly have a concussion and they shrugged and kept doing what they were doing. You know it’s bad when no one cares about your brain.)

So. Monday morning. I decided that I needed to eat something because, as I said to my Scouting buddy Will, “I ate more at Order of the Arrow ordeal than I have up to now.” If you don’t get the joke, ask an OA member.

And dude! I could make TOAST. I was feeling very proud of myself, ready to crow, “Hey, I can COOK!” when I blinked and …

This is it.

This is the moment in which I realized I missed my calling.

Guys, I should have gone into rocket science. I really should have been a rocket scientist.

Because I paused and looked at my toast and realized I couldn’t see it very clearly. “WHAT is up with that?” I asked myself, possibly out loud but who knows. “It’s my right eye that’s messed up. I should be able to see out of the left.”

Shoulda been a rocket scientist. I’m telling you this right here, right now.

I squinted. I tried to widen my eye (not as easy as you’d think when the other one is swollen shut). “What the HECK?”

Jet Propulsion Laboratory is sorry they never got their hooks in me.

Because no matter what, if you are nearsighted and you don’t have ANY sort of correction happening, YOU CANNOT SEE WELL.

Yeah… that explained a lot.

So I went upstairs and put in my left contact and all of a sudden, things were clear. It was a miracle!


As Vonnegut said so famously, “And so it goes.”

More later…

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