As Gilda Radner observed, “It’s Always Something.” With old age the “something” is usually physical. And with the majority of us, it’s often cataracts.
It was finally my turn. Dr. Mark Weiner had told me last fall that the cataract was ready when I was. I put it off, way off, until I could not procrastinate any longer.
The appointment was made, the orders were given. The hour was set and travel arrangements to Northside Cherokee were made. (They wouldn’t let me drive.)
Coincidence found my sister-in-law Evelyn scheduled for the same day two hours before me. My chauffeur, the MOTH, is never late for any event, especially when kinfolks are involved. So we left Woodstock rather early for my check-in time of 9:15.
I had not had nourishment of any kind after a bedtime snack the night before, and I was in dire need of coffee and a bite of food. But I had little hope of either until after 12 noon, the appointed time for my cataract removal.
My hunger threshold is off the charts. I’m very ill when not fed, and caffeine withdrawal brings on a monster headache. So when that smiling face appeared and the soothing voice of Dr. Weiner asked “Are you ready?”, I was too far removed from reality to tell the truth, the truth being: I was ready three hours ago.
In fact, I was ready when I woke up at 6 a.m. that morning as soon as I remembered that today was the day. I was ready after long minutes in the waiting room and then endless needles and nurses and interviews about allergies and blood pressure and other surgeries.
I must admit that the entertainment in pre-op was pretty good. There were lots of activities as other similarly afflicted — and similarly clad — ophthalmology patients were wheeled in and out of the curtained cubicles. I was allowed to keep my false teeth, which was a good thing since without them I closely resemble a corpse. (I had my hair done the day before. I should have known better. First thing they did was put one of those beauty bonnets on my head.)
I was also allowed to wear my hearing aids in case Dr. Weiner needed to consult with me. Thank goodness I could hear. The sounds around me reminded me of early morning at home when the birds are waking up and filling the air with their morning messages, tweeting back and forth to each other. In the pre-op area, the medical equipment at my side would beep and be answered by my next-cubicle neighbor, beep-beep.
That would be answered by yet another nearby beeper, and on and on. (Then my stomach would growl to remind me that I was supposed to be grumpy and grouchy.) As I gradually moved along in the assembly line, hooked to a bag of something that contained a magic potion, I realized that I was not as alert as I had been earlier.
In fact, I wasn’t hungry. I felt no pain. I couldn’t concentrate on the matter at hand. I seemed to have the warm fuzzies.
That’s why I admitted to that familiar voice that I was ready. Then almost the next thing I knew, there was a cup of coffee in my hand.
Daughter Beverly was nearby to help me turn in the rented attire and retrieve my other belongings and “drive” the required wheelchair to the exit where my chauffeur waited. Just another day in the paradise of Northside Cherokee.
The last time we were there with most of our family, there was one more of us when we left than when we arrived. My visit last week was a lesson for the little ones, that we don’t always bring a baby home when we go to the hospital.
But more times than not, we leave with good memories of a time of healing, of pleasant surroundings and efficient and friendly medical and office staff, and the best coffee to be found in Cherokee County.
The next day found me in Dr. Weiner’s office for the scheduled check-up. I must say that he looked a bit older than when I saw him before surgery.
But so did I, when I looked in the mirror that morning. I was reminded of sister-in-law Evelyn’s first experience with glasses a few years ago.
She said that all her friends were complaining about the brown spots on their hands and faces. She didn’t have those spots … until she got glasses. The better to see you with, my dear.
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock’s official historian.