Tag Archives: progress

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


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.


Susan Speaks: Things that Come in Two


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.


Susan Speaks: The Curse of the Red Boots



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.