Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Interlude Note

with 9 comments

So, here I am, you know, sitting in the office, wondering what I should be writing, if anything. 

I’ve gotten some work done, which is good.  On the other hand, I’m very distracted.  So there’s that.

Here’s the thing:  starting about the 2nd of January, my younger son started to complain of blurry vision.   Then he’d say he was okay.  Then he’d complain again.

This did not particularly worry me, because he was obviously getting around the house fine, playing video games, watching DVDs, all the rest of that stuff.  If anything was odd, it was that he wasn’t reading as much as usual, but he goes through phases where he doesn’t, so I was just mildly annoyed.

Then, about halfway through the month, he announced that he could no longer see anything at all except colors and shapes, all fuzzy and indistinct, and that he was “freaked out.”

Yes, well.  That’s putting it mildly. 

After that we went through two weeks of trying to get appointments with doctors and keep them. 

You have no idea what kind of a mess your life becomes when it puts down two feet of snow every five days for weeks at a time.   Appointments were made.  Doctors cancelled them. 

And in the meantime, my son got more and more frantic and so did I. 

The one hopeful sign was that he obviously wasn’t blind blind–he could (and can) see enough to get around at least in familiar places.   His pupils were obviously dilating normally when exposed to light.   If he got something close enough to his eyes, he could usually make it out.

But still.

The weather finally cleared up this week, more or less.  At least the snow banks down my front walk aren’t shoulder height any  more, and it isn’t snowing every time you turn around.

And we know what’s wrong with Greg’s vision:  cataracts, in both eyes.

In case you’re wondering, yes, this is a thing–a congenital condition, a rare one, but nowhere near as rare as some things.

Usually, it would have been caught at an earlier stage, because he would have been having increasing problems with his vision over time.

But he wasn’t.  As late as his last physical, his eye exam was perfectly normal and didn’t even suggest the need for glasses. 

Nobody thought to check for something like this because–well, why would you?  There’s nothing in his medical history of anything like it happening to anybody in the family.  He doesn’t have any of the conditions that can sometimes cause cataracts in children and adolescents (like diabetes).

Anyway, everybody tells me that I shouldn’t feel so badly about this, that it’s a minor operation (true) that is virtually always entirely suggessful (also true), that unless something extremely weird and at this point completely unexpected show up on the next round of tests, he’ll almost certainly get back his sight at least to the level it was when he lost it.

And all of that is true, but I’m freaked and upset anyway, and depressed as hell.

I’m worried about him and for him and feeling a little shell shocked all at the same time.

The last five years have been one avalanche of crises after the other, some of them solvable, some of them not.

You’d think  just the law of averages would bring some easing up somewhere, especially for Greg, who just seems to get hit with one damn thing after another.

Ah, but I know more about the law of averages than that.

Written by janeh

February 10th, 2011 at 10:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

9 Responses to 'Interlude Note'

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  1. I’m sorry this is happening. The odds are very good that Greg will be fine, though. One of the guys who works for me had cataract surgery on both eyes this last year and barely even stayed away from work. Glen is 60, so I’d imagine that Greg will heal at least as well.


    10 Feb 11 at 11:11 am

  2. {{{{Jane}}}}. I feel for you, I wish I could express it better.


    10 Feb 11 at 12:30 pm

  3. My situation isn’t exactly comparable, but it does deal with ‘mother guilt’.
    I was 10 when my mother decided to get my eyes checked — her first clue that something wasn’t quite right was my failure to win the Alphabet Game on a long summer car trip.
    After I got my brand new glasses, Mom and I walked out of the doctor’s office and I exclaimed, “I can read the words on the door at the end of the hall!”.
    Years later, Mom told me that she almost cried then, because she hadn’t realized that my eyes were THAT bad.
    The doctor told her that it wasn’t her fault, that kids’ eyes can change very quickly at that age.
    I’m now 65 and I’m getting cataracts that will be taken care of some few years down the line.

    Kathie Goblirsch

    10 Feb 11 at 1:35 pm

  4. If its any help, I can tell you that both Mique and I have had cataract surgery with no problems. One thing to consider is what sort of lens to put in. Distance vision for driving or close in for reading?

    I ended up with distance in my left eye and near in my right eye. Rather surprisingly, the combination works well. I only use glasses for watching TV from 3 meters away from the screen and that is so I can read the subtitles.


    10 Feb 11 at 2:34 pm

  5. “Mother guilt” is always with us, isn’t it?

    One time my husband & I turned off our cellphones for a movie in the middle of the day. Got home to frantic messages from the high school. My son had broken his wrist playing basketball in gym class, and had to sit in pain for 4 hours before we got home. :/

    Then there was the time my mother ignored my own high-school basketball injury. She thought my jammed thumb was just bruised. A year later when she noticed I still couldn’t open a car door with my right thumb (back when car doors had buttons you pushed) she took me to the doctor. He said…”Oh yeah, this was badly dislocated. Too bad you didn’t come in then, we might have been able to do something about it.” That thumb has arthritis now and aches constantly. My mom still feels bad about it. Hey, 40 years of guilt. A promising career in bowling cut tragically short…not.

    Anyway, every cataract operation I know of has gone great, people have nearly 20/20 or better sight, even if they needed glasses previously.

    @Kathie, my mother’s hint I might need glasses at age 8, was when I asked her, “Is that a plane or a bird? I can’t tell if it’s flapping its wings.” I still remember that astonishing moment of revelation when I walked out with my first glasses and things had sharp edges!! I could read signs! The world wasn’t fuzzy anymore. Wow.


    10 Feb 11 at 3:25 pm

  6. My grandmother used to say that being a mother meant never again drawing an easy breath. Not the only thing she was right about.


    10 Feb 11 at 4:43 pm

  7. Hugs, Jane. As jd says, we have both had hugely successful cataract surgery over the last year or two. In my own case, I have been myopic since about age 11, and had, until the surgery, never not worn glasses since. Now, after surgery, both eyes are better than 20/20, and I only need glasses for reading and close work.

    If he’s at all curious about such things, Greg will actually enjoy the procedure, so not to worry.


    10 Feb 11 at 6:47 pm

  8. It must have been terribly stressful for you both, but now you have a diagnosis and a good treatment.

    I know it’s hard to focus on the good news when you’ve been hit by one thing after another for years. I find it helpful to narrow the focus (sorry for the optical reference!) – one day at a time, trying not to think of the past or future, just get through one day – in this case, enjoying the good news. And cataract operations usually go very well these days.

    My mother had a similar experience to Kathie’s – she was a teenager in her parents’ bedroom on the second floor when she tried on her mother’s glasses, looked out the window, and said in pleased astonishment ‘I can see things on the ground!’. She had her eyes tested as soon as possible, and she had her children’s eyes tested early. I can remember my first pair of glasses – back then, they had to be ordered from ‘Away’ so they came in the mail. I put them on and looked out the living room window into the back yard and was overwhelmed at the colour and sharpness of the garden. I never had to be reminded to put on my glasses.


    11 Feb 11 at 9:34 am

  9. Hugs, Jane. I’m sorry Greg is getting hit again, but as others have noted, cataract surgery is easy and I’m sure it will go fine.

    I remember being amazed to be able to see trees as something other than a lollipop shape–there are branches! and twigs! and leaves!



    11 Feb 11 at 9:39 pm

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