Day one is miserable. I pry my eyes open. It’s an effort that involves my hands. W insists I need gauze to clean the whatever dried stuff builds up in your eyes–it’s like sleep sand but worse. So thick it holds everything together. There’s dried blood in it. V gets some gauze. Throughout the day (and days following) my eyes will issue discharge of all different colors and viscosities. There will be liquid in clear, yellow, and red, slightly thicker in green and yellow. There will be thick mucus in white, orange, and green. Things will dry and flake off as I blink or when I rub my eyes. It will get caught in the tear ducts, eyelashes, and along the smooth skin in the lower fold of my eye.
In order to combat this, every day I will put drops in my eyes–twice a day. I force my eyes open–they are also swollen–and W puts the steroid drops in. They leak through the mucosal system and I can taste it in the back of my throat. The back of my throat hurts. I can feel something in it and I cough and it won’t come out.
I nap. We eat. I nap some more. I practice looking at things. I feel like a child. My housemates and friends move in and out of the house. They talk to me and entertain me and I try very hard to stay awake, but my face hurts, my head hurts, my throat hurts, and I -want- to sleep. I want to sleep so it will all go away.
I have double vision. I take delight in it. There are two PTs, I say. I giggle when W has two heads and three hands. V has more hair than ever before. I had been scared of double vision, of that visual confusion, but the world manages to make sense with two of most things. I take a bit of comfort in it, even, knowing that my eyes are both working, both looking in the same place.
In the evening I push to go to dinner at a friend’s. Some of our European friends are in town and they’re grilling three blocks down the street. I can make it, I am confident. I go outside for the first time, in the twilight, and I am scared.
Too much is going on in the world around me. There is too much input. Visual data, I start to call it. I use machine terms–terms from computers and technology–to refer to my world post-surgery. It makes more sense that way, it removes it from being a biological process and turns it into a mechanical one. I take some comfort in this, in turning it into a hard, cold creation rather than a soft, warm thing I am a part of.
W leads me down the street. I talk to people. I eat even though I am not hungry. AO is welcoming and asks questions. It’s early, so I don’t mind talking about the surgery. I didn’t tell many of my friends about it beforehand, and brushed off details, because I didn’t want them to make a big deal out of it. I didn’t want to rehash the conversation, explain what I know about the surgery and vision again and again and again. But on day one, I don’t mind talking. I tell the Europeans about it. They’re in the category of people I like a lot, rarely get to see, and talk to infrequently. I think of them fondly and often. Their concern and interest is something I am happy to be covered in.
It doesn’t take very long for me to feel burnt out and run over. Everything, talking, eating, thinking is more difficult. There is more in it to process and take apart. I am trying so hard with all the visual data that everything is slower. Being out, spending time with people, drives that in a very real way.
I push and I pretend and eventually I can’t anymore. AO helps us navigate our way out of the back yard, W takes me home, and I go to sleep.