Susan Speaks: An Overdue Eye Update


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.


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 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.



  1. Dana Griffin

    February 27, 2017 10:04 am

    That’s good news, Susan. I’m glad you’re keeping your spirits up and things might be looking better for you.

    I’m back to working on book four more steadily and hope to have it ready to send to you in a couple of months. I’ll be writing later to arrange a date.

    Hang in there.

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