Green Eyes

I’ve waited in many surgical waiting rooms, nervously sorting the contents of my purse or reorganizing a file box I brought just to release some of the tension that builds when getting my child ready for surgery. My projects never lasted as long as the surgeries, due to my excessive, jangled speed and the way surgeries on children take up expanding hours that defy calculation.

Tim’s in surgery now, to remove a cataract from his right eye. Next week he’ll get the left eye done, and have a complete set of functioning eyes. We have said goodbye to the era of Mint Condition Tim, all-original parts, and are content to use after-market lenses to get him back to his perfect eyesight. Cataracts in a 48 year old are uncommon, especially without the conditions that usually contribute to clouded lenses. He stopped smoking more than two decades ago, has never had diabetes, never had a head trauma that he knows of (in his hockey days, he played with a full face cage), has not had radiation therapy or prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation. I mean, we live in Portland and he’s Canadian and he just doesn’t like sunshine. His cataracts are a mystery.

Tim’s dilated eye, pre-surgery

But the doctor and crew are back there using an ultrasound to pulse away the damaged lens, and a tiny tweezers to insert a perfect new lens in its place. We’ve been making eyesight jokes for weeks now, but he’s nervous, and I understand why; until he was about 40, he had *perfect* vision. He’s eager to go back to that place of clarity and confidence. Right now, he’s bumping into tables and holding packages to his face to read labels.

He cracked his shin but good on the trailer hitch yesterday. I thought he broke his tibia. How he has functioned as a programmer reading millions of lines of miniscule code is a miracle, but his descent into blurred vision accelerated since October. He was remarkably resourceful on his own in Albany; he adapted his computer monitor to reverse resolution and added an on-screen magnification to increase the size of the characters to 1″ high lettering. Taking the bus to work helped too, and while I was terribly nervous about him getting hurt living out there all by himself, I’m impressed with his ability and willingness to adapt.

But looking at his history, I shouldn’t be surprised. The moment he met Sophia, he reacted not with pity or fear, the way many people did. He introduced himself to my then-five-year-old daughter, started building a rapport, as you would with any child of a woman you want to date.  Then he asked me how to pick her up, how to handle her, how to manage her wheelchair, and jumped in not like a visitor, but fully invested, his eye on the future, his goal as a person being to make things better.

As  set as he is in his habits and patterns, he’s not afraid of change when the situation demands. When we went through a difficult period, he put his whole effort into adapting to our changing relationship, because he was determined to be better so the future would be better. He is not afraid of hard work or rough circumstances. To use a hockey phrase, he just puts his head down and skates; he puts in the time, does whatever is required of him physically or mentally or emotionally, and pushes forward.

He’s resting comfortably now, sleeping through both a Blackhawks’ game and the final episode of the Epix “Road to  the Winter Classic” we’ve watched with such fascination. He’ll probably sleep through the night. Tomorrow he’ll get the patch off and, with our coming snow and ice storms, we’ll snuggle into the apartment for a cozy evening catching up on the recorded hockey. Maybe I’ll make him a celebratory cake, shaped like a single eye, its match to be baked next week when the next one’s done.

I’m grateful for our brand-new insurance plan, for a doctor who fit him into her schedule on a short timeline when his eyes started deteriorating rapidly, and for his quick recovery period. I’ll be glad to be able to look in his eyes and know that he can see me again. We’ll take a moment to enjoy the view, and then, I’m sure, we’ll look at the future together and figure out what’s next. There’s still a lot of uncertainty for us.

Who knew that a high school boyfriend could be such a good husband.

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