Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Crummy Cataracts Put a Glitch in my Adventuring

I'm a visual person whose eyesight was deteriorating due to cataracts. Complicating things was the fact that I am a travel writer and photographer. I need my eyes for my work. And my work is my passion.

I drove less and less and took public transportation
more and more.
Was the Airport sign really out of focus or was it
my eyesight?
Fortunately, my eye problems were correctable. My problem was cataracts, probably fueled by those glorious sunny days traveling in the desert Southwest.

I didn't have surgery right away because I had press trips to enjoy, restaurants to review and, of course the Northwest Travel Writers Conference in Bend, Oregon (couldn't miss that!). But as I toured, wrote and photographed, my eyesight got worse and worse.

So how did I cope?  I rarely drove at night in unfamiliar territory due to the glare. I wrote exclusively on my gigantic screen desktop computer (backlighting was my friend) and published exclusively on the Internet. Flying was avoided for many reasons. One of which was the fact I could no longer read gate and flight information no matter how huge!

How did I take photos? Well I could still compose photos and snap away but never knew what I had captured until I got home and looked at my work on that gigantic screen. But, forget shooting on manual!

So I was emotionally ready for surgery once I met with my opthamologist. One eye was scheduled at the beginning of the month and the second about 4 weeks later. I put my affairs in order, drove less and less and accepted the offer of a dear friend to accompany me to surgery and follow up appointments. I even watched YouTube videos of cataract surgeries. I was more than ready when I got that phone call. My surgeon's father had passed and, of course, my surgery was postponed... A month.

During that month my eyesight got even worse! I could no longer identify birds without photographing them first. I reflected on what it would be like to permanently lose eyesight. I coped by walking for exercise. I could see enough to do that! I enjoyed architectural walking tours. (My right eye still had fair distance vision with glasses.)

I thought about what it might be like to really lose my sight.
At the travel writers conference the use of Instagram was recommended. But I couldn't trust my eyesight enough to take photos on a teeny smart phone and, without review or editing, post them for all the world to see. So I fell behind my colleagues in the world of social media.

So when the day came to check in to the surgi-center I was feeling more relieved than scared. I wanted to see my world again. I wanted to write more. And perhaps I would be able to read books again.

After all I was a travel writer and photographer.