I figure I have two choices. I can sit here like a big baby, wail away and complain, or I can suck it up like a real American, a son of John Wayne, and take it like a man.
Before I confide that I’m leaning toward kvetching, complaining and showering the world with crocodile tears, it’s only fair to mention that there’s actually a third choice: humor.
To proceed toward what may well be a denouement, first we need a little background.
Fifteen years ago while refereeing a high school soccer game, one of the testosterone-charged wildmen whacked the ball high and hard out of his penalty area and created some drama for your author.
The well-inflated ball — unfortunately, there was no Inflategate that night — struck tender moi in the left temple, breaking my wire rims and, as I learned later, starting the process of detaching the retina.
In the manly tradition of tough-as-rawhide Western heroes, I shook off the embarrassment of having reacted with fjordlike quickness, put on some prescription sunglasses and refereed the second half.
As it turned out, continuing was an example of that heroic John Wayne thing at its very worst.
Fast forward through the eventual detachment, a fistful of surgeries, the end of officiating as I knew it and hours spent in waiting, pre-op and post-op rooms, follow-up appointments and idle comparisons to my other heroes (vision-impaired blues musicians), and I came through with a unique blend of heroic courage, blubbering self-pity and permanent vision loss.
The status quo prevailed until an artificial lens that had been implanted slipped out of place this past December and needed to be stitched back in. This was 15 years after the soccer ball and my eye held their unfortunate tete-a-tete.
I figured the surgery, though optional, was the least I could do to preserve the remaining 15 percent vision in that eye and a remnant of peripheral balance.
But then on Valentine’s Day, with arrow-like quickness, Cupid struck me in the eye with an arrow dipped in an especially virulent Class G Strep virus. The pain “brought me to my knees” — if you’ve got it in you, say this with a raspy bluesman’s voice —and needed yet another surgery.
The idea was to clean some of the infected crud out of the eye, take a culture and fight the good fight by injecting some antibiotics.
As my grandfather on my father’s side would’ve said, “thanks, Got!” I felt some relief when it was done. But it takes more than some cookie-cutter antibiotic to make these Class G Strep bacteria turn tail and run like babies.
Now that he knew it was the Class G strep bacteria he was fighting, Old Doc Sawbones doubled my eye drops from two to four (two as frequently as every hour) and decided to inject some Class G strep-specialist antibiotics into the bad eye.
I’m not going to get off on a self-glorifying description of my pain here, but let’s say the high point of the whole episode was when the nurse who looked like Mia Hamm patted my back and held my hand after I let go with the involuntary blurt of a wounded hyena.
Two days later, with no visible improvement in the quantity of white gunk in my eye, a second round of injected Class G-specific antibiotics was deemed appropriate, if not entirely greeted enthusiastically by yours truly, the patient.
These, I’m glad to say, prompted no involuntary utterances, other than me (literally) telling the doctor “You are the man!” I would’ve initiated the first celebratory chest bump in the history of his arcane retina specialty, but it was unseemly and I didn’t want the resulting impact to create any more problems.
I’m not out of the woods yet, but I have settled on “the velvet glove” as a nickname for my doctor. Today he told me, “I think you’re winning this, sir.”
I hope so, Dr. VG, but I’m taking it one gunfight at a time.
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