Getting to eye surgery while living in an area of declining population can be a challenge. I ran through my list of people who are still sound for the trip, but not employed, without finding anyone free. The last time, I had six months, and while that was a horrid amount of time to wait, with that much planning time, I could make it happen.
The lady scheduling the surgery didn't give me the call back with the time of day until Thursday for a Monday surgery. IF it were to be in the afternoon, I had it covered. 11:45 meant, nope. One of my horsing around buddies who generally meets me in Des Moines (nearly in the center of the state) offered to do it if I could not find anyone closer.
A helpful neighbor got the number for the SETA bus when my friend didn't respond, and so I reluctantly scheduled ($25.00 up, $25.00 back, and I'd be collected at 10 am for an 11;45 surgery. Reading a book at that point is NOT an option. Once those drops are in, you can't even see large objects clearly.
Friday, my friend got back in town and said she'd leave at 7 to be at my place by 10. I canceled the SETA with glee. I'd rather be with a friend any day.
At 9:45, Old Gray Mare arrived, and took the "library" tour after admiring the garage slab.
We left in plenty of time, figuring in time to wait 10-15 minutes for road construction, figure out how she's getting lost in Chariton, and "get lost" ourselves, as I had an address and general directions, but had not ever been, nor could I remember seeing the building when I'd been in town.
DH drove my car. As she crept down the driveway, setting the seat better, getting the feel of the handling, getting the mirrors adjusted, finding the necessary knobs and buttons, she paused at the bottom of the hill just as a huge semi crested the south hill and barreled toward us.
Had I been driving, I'd have pulled out and floored it, being to 55 in seconds, long before the vehicle hit the bridge, but DH watched him come on, and said, "I don't think I can make it in time."
Traffic jam, I thought. Sure enough, we didn't see anyone else in our lane until we got on Highway 14 ten miles down the road.
She set the cruise for 55, as speeding in my can can happen in the blink of an eye, and began to enjoy the scenery, commenting on what we passed.
She told about seeing a large bird on the way down. "Buzzard, hawk, or eagle?" I asked.
"Some kind of hawk."
For some reason, I couldn't think of red tail hawk, all I could get out was the red part. She suggested "tail" politely, and I continued with enthusiasm, telling about them being the most prevalent. Soon, we passed a bird sitting on a road sign. As we passed, he took wing, clearly flashing his red tail. Bird on demand! I thought as we both laughed.
At the largest pond on the road, she said, "I saw a deer here last time, and I remember you saying this was a favorite crossing place."
"Yes," I agreed, "Deer, wild turkey," I began, intending to continue the list with coons, possums, rabbits, pheasants, and quail, owls, but DH, not knowing that, interrupted.
"I'm going to slow down. How do I turn the cruise off?"
I didn't have time to reply. A wild turkey, head taller than the front hood, stood majestically on the edge of the road, poised to cross!
She slammed on the breaks as hard as she could. The bird flashed by in all its colorful glory.
"You just hit the breaks," I added unnecessarily, cranking my head to see if the bird retreated or crossed, but I was too slow.
I decided not to name any more animals if they were in "appear on demand" mode. If I dared to announce "No more buffalo" remembering the seemingly empty pastures to the south of my farm that used to abound in buffalo and elk at the Jackson's. I was sure an escapee would appear, larger and faster than thought.
DH must have been reading my mind again. "While we were in Denver, we took a side jaunt to Estes Park, where we were looking for a cheap place to stay the night that wouldn't use up too many free coupons. We pulled into one seedy looking place that appeared deserted, driving around to the back of the building right into a herd of elk, a belligerent bull and maybe 15 cows.
"He stalked toward our car, shaking his antlers at us. We froze, wondering if the red on the (supply car name- I forgot, but I can remember what it looks like) were the problem, or if elk were color blind and just exceedingly territorial. He withdrew a few steps, but the instant we moved a few feet, he spun back, lowering his head again. We stopped. He lost interest again, but the instant we went a few feet, he was back on extreme guard duty. Honestly, all we wanted was to get out of there! Back and forth we went, us creeping a few inches, him threatening to charge. Finally he lost interest and let us leave. We ended up at an even less likely spot, but without extraneous wildlife. I wish I'd thought to take a picture, even one on a cell phone."
Once we turned north on Highway 14, we were animal free, but just before Chariton, the expected construction wait appeared. We were second in line, and when the other cars finally appeared behind the pilot car, we both automatically (and silently) counted. Comparing totals, we had both come up with 12.
As we entered Chariton, DH began to tell me of her inability to stay on Highway 14 when coming in from the north, reiterating the refrain she'd first voiced on the way to Millerton, "I can drive in Denver, navigate Chicago and Minneapolis. Why do I get lost in Chariton?"
We had plenty of time to locate the vision center, figure out where she was getting lost and make sure she could get from the surgery site to the Chinese Buffet where we planned to lunch afterward. Since we were already on Highway 14, in my mind, I imagined tracing the route first. We hit a fork in the road, one road heading for the east side of the town square, the other being Highway 14.
"Left?" she asked.
Pointing to the right, I agreed with left, then watched with dismay when we turned off. Dyslexia strikes again.
After we turned west at the end of the first block of the square, as we approached the mid-point, I could see a huge sign for the Vision Center, right on the corner. We checked out the parking possibilities, finding them excellent, and left, heading along a historic brick section of the road I especially like for its historic interest, even though it drives rough, joining Highway 14 right before the turn.
This time, we stayed on 14, coming to a corner with a two tone violet/dark purple abandoned former gas station now converted into something unimaginable. To the right was a Casey's store, then the curve that DH had followed east until it met Highway 34.
Instead of going all the way down to the junction, I had her turn off one block sooner and get on a frontage road running parallel to 34. We turned around in the Chinese Buffet's parking lot, checked to be sure it would be open on a Monday, then she drove without my directions back to the turnoff for the eye clinic.
"There's a Highway 14 sign!" DH exclaimed.
We continued north.
"There's another! Definitely not a case of inadequate signage. I must have been looking ahead to the Casey's, thinking about stopping for something before the last half hour of the trip."
Problem solved. Not only did we know where she was getting off, but why, complete with attendant satisfaction.
We continued north on 14 to the hospital/nursing center where the Night Writers used to meet long ago when I first moved down here, admiring the busty big bale lady in her stunning nightgown, pushing her walker with her corrugated plastic hose arms, apron and bandana - what a sight she was.
This time, we took the "City center" route, coming in along the north and parking an easy walk from the center. We were still early, but were secure in her ability to navigate to lunch, then back to the farm even if I couldn't see a thing.
The eye surgery took over an hour, mostly spent sitting around, but the actual surgery went quickly.
Nearly all the seats in the waiting area were taken, with overflow at several tables with chairs on each side, with mirrors to check how the glasses displayed would look. DH and I were lucky to get seats next to each other. Nearly everyone in the waiting room was gray or white haired, including us, except for one sturdy baby boy. He bounced and cooed on his mother's lap, smiling hugely at the room in general.
She seems awfully old to have a baby that young, I thought. I never was much good at telling people's ages. Lots of people gray young. And wrinkle young?
A delicate boned white haired lady stood up and moved to the empty seat when someone was called out. Leaning toward the cheerful boy, she reached over and tweaked his arm. He responded with a cooy drool and laughish sound.
I leaned over to DH and said, "If I did that to a baby, it would burst into tears."
Soon, a man called my name. He acted as if he already knew me, checking in my history, talking about when "we" saw you in February in West Des Moines. I didn't remember him, nor had I ever been in this facility before, but he was right - the layout was the same.
After dilation, my eyes were so bad that I couldn't even read the bold print in a decent sized text on vision problems. One gray haired lady with an interesting round face sat on the opposite side of the room. Neither of us spoke. Soon, a white haired lady entered, and since the two knew each other, they began a conversation.
The gray haired lady commented on the white haired lady's outfit, a western cut jeans jacket with rhinestones across the front. Underneath, she had a white t-shirt with a bottle of wine and a bunch of grapes and some writing on it, all done in rhinestones, Thompson seedless grape green letters, purple grapes, tan bottle.
She'd bought the shirt that way, but had inserted the rhinestones on the jacket herself.
The gray haired lady announced that she was going to the rest room and left.
I told her that I had made the shirt I was wearing from material that was too narrow. My savvy sister told me I couldn't make a blouse out of that fabric as it was quilting cotton. The store was going out of business, so I bought three yards, and a yard and a half of the border, which finished off the bolt. I cut the border along the edge off, using the darker green part as a center strip covering what would normally be the buttons, thus widening the fabric so it fit comfortably. I put in a set of deep back pleats, huge pockets, and made full length cuffed sleeves from the border fabric so they matched the pockets. The result is comfortable and interesting.
We got into a discussion about hair. I can't remember what set it off, but I do remember getting warm and tying it on my head at some point. She liked my hair, which was still down at that point. (Maybe it just looked good, as later on, when I talked to Bonnie on face time, she also complimented it.) I liked hers, which was short, curly on top, but straight below, and she pointed out a "black" fringe her hair dresser and she had just found, but I could not tell that it was any darker than what a natural shadow would be.
She opened her jacket and held out the t-shirt. I had quite a struggle to read it all, but I came, I saw, I wined, seemed to be the idea. The I wined is the only line I can actually remember. It was gaudy and funny.
The gray haired lady returned, then a tall, raw boned man with a huge hawk beak of a nose entered, sitting on the end of the same wall as the gray haired lady.
The white haired lady turned out to be the great grandmother of the smiling baby being bounced by his 50's aged grandmother.
Another more heavily set, overweight gray haired man joined me on my wall.
The baby's mother had just been in a horrendous accident, so grandmother was taking him a lot. (When she seemed to have vocabulary trouble, the white haired man would help her gently.) Great grandmother described the baby as always sunny unless he got sleepy, just a super, cheerful, outgoing child. (she didn't seem to know outgoing) His mother was wearing a neck brace that consisted of a frame that was projecting out from her face. The baby loved to grab the frame for balance and bounce in her lap.
"It doesn't hurt," she confided. The room had been filling up. The tall white haired man told a story about a friend who had worn just that kind of a cage, that was SCREWED into his forehead. It was removed for cleaning, then screwed back in. If Great Grandmother knew that her granddaughter's was screwed in, she didn't say so.
Great grandmother then told about a vertebrae (which name she did not know; she got the idea across by gesture) that was the main one crushed, but some damage to the one above and below, as well, leaving the daughter's final outcome in some doubt. It sounded terribly sad.
For some reason, ages came up. The white haired man said he was probably the oldest, as he was 72. The gray haired lady admitted to being 73. The man said he'd be 73 in December. She announced she'd be 74 in December. I'm sitting there humming in my head, thinking of "My dog's bigger than your dog" playground tit for tat talk...
"What day?" White hair continued.
"The 21st. I was an early Christmas present," she explained, eyes twinkling.
I thought he said December 3rd, but it might have been 23rd, as the attendant called the gray haired lady out just then.
The white haired lady said, "I'm 78," but before she could claim the title as the oldest one in the waiting room, the man next to me stole her thunder. "I've got you all beat. I'm 83."
Everyone turned expectantly to me. "I just turned 67 last week." Soft laughs greeted this. "Spring chicken," supplied my wall mate. I was called out, appreciating anew DH's conversational abilities.
The surgery involved putting a clear round frame in the eye to hold it open. (Like the white haired lady, I have forgotten the name, even though I was told.) Then the laser zapped seven pops, (snap your fingers seven times... and you will have the idea about the time and noise). He repositioned the laser after each pop, starting on the right, down low, then raising it and working toward the left, zapping seven different areas which I could see as bright flashes of multicolored light. I can clearly remember the last one being a lovely shade of green before the brightness dimmed out all color. No pain - they replaced the anesthetic right before the surgery...
Then extreme sensitivity to light, due to the dilation.
Not expanded yet: (I went out with my girlfriend who likes Chinese food, so we went to a buffet and I ate way too much. I am not hungry at all.)
9:00 am 213.42
9:20 am 213.0, 214.0, 216.4, 215.42
I didn't think that thing was ever going to repeat one number. Would you believe, I stepped off the scale, walked two steps to the bathroom sink, recorded the weight, then stepped back the same two steps, and got back on the scale? Weird.