Hysterectomy Pirate (aka Don’t Eat the Button)

It is a running joke amongst my bevy of quail (side note: did you know that was a thing? I always thought it was a covey of quail, but apparently bevy is the more appropriate classification), that their mater is more than a little blind. The increasingly undeniable presence of deafness is another matter for another post, but today I am setting out to defend myself in the matter of my premature poor vision.

I was not always this way (gasp, swoon, note my speaking with my eyes closed…). There was a full day back in the second grade when I could see the wings of a mosquito from a distance of at least 8 inches. Then I got glasses and realized that they weren’t wings so much as steak knives being sharpened before the finest meal of the wee pest’s life. I have always tended towards the nearsighted, but it wasn’t until I had a hysterectomy a few years back that things really took a dark turn (like, literally).

Don’t panic: if you are a young man reading this, you do not need to slam your computer shut to preserve an innocence that is surely worth protecting. I will write nothing concerning this that you could not easily pick up by hanging around knitting circles, nursing homes, or Facebook.

If that reassures you, slam the computer shut — you need help.

I have had chronic pain, rather a lot of it, since my youth and maybe if you are very good children and find some way to make this blog produce an income, I’ll tell you that story someday (I have a theory that if each of you was just willing to convince your closest 10,000 friends to read this drivel once in a while, that together, we would make the big time. Like that’s so much to ask…). But for today’s purposes, all you really need to know is that my pain, like so much molasses, is fond of spreading, and at the point that it reached all of my extremities and my skin, I breathed a sigh of relief — there was nowhere left for it to go!

That, my friend, is amateur thinking. That is the sort of thinking that never discovers continents.

My pain started to spread to the bones in my face and to my internal organs. All the best doctors in the world are named Smith, did you know that? As for all you Johnsons and Bavarils out there, I have no idea why you are wasting money on medical school. At best, you will be mediocre, at worst, you’ll get sued and make the insurance premiums spike on the Smiths. Stop it. Anyway, I had a particularly excellent and creative Smith at the time when the pain spread to my abdomen and after having exhausted all the test and options we could think of, we decided to go in surgically and remove anything I could spare that could potentially cause me pain.

All of my internal organs began to frantically file paperwork, attempting to prove their usefulness and intent never to grieve me again in any way shape or form (pretty sure it was my liver that sent that fruit basket, but forgot to sign the card, so we’ll never know for sure), but whatever slacker my uterus and appendix hired to handle the red tape dropped the ball, so they went on the chopping block. This particular Smith had also been developing a theory, and the techniques to go with it, concerning the entanglement of pudendal nerves (I’ll pause while you google, gasp in horror, and then begin desperately trying to erase your search history to guard against some seriously sick ads), and he spent a good deal of time attempting to untangle mine during the surgery, as apparently they aspired to a sort of oneness rarely seen outside the Trinity.

If I suspected that my readership contained predominantly ten-year-old boys, I would spend more time on how exactly they do these procedures these days, but as I rather doubt that, let us move to the important fact that led me to tell this story at all today. When I came out of the general anesthesia, I admit to being surprised by the sharpness, dare I say blinding acuteness, of the pain — in my eye.

Now, I will admit to being slightly less than my usual state of alertness at this juncture, but even doped to high heaven I was pretty sure that removing my uterus had little to do with anything optical. The nurse persisted in assuming that when I moaned for someone to please stop stabbing me in the eye, I was just having a bad painkiller trip, and that is perhaps forgivable under the circumstances. She kept asking how my abdominal pain was rating and I continued to attempt a redirection of attention to my eye. We were like a bad vaudeville act. Finally, she humored me, took a peek at my eye and her own widened as she scurried off to find the surgeon.

My story is getting a bit long-winded, isn’t it?

Well, long and short of it, come to find that the anesthesiologist that day was preoccupied with a dip in his stocks, a cute scrub nurse, or perhaps a crossword puzzle and failed to tape my eyelids shut during the surgery. Did you know that anesthesia dries the jimjams out of your eyes? My eyes, apparently, achieved dryness to such a degree that the lid stuck to the eye and tore the cornea.

There are a lot of fun ways to spend the time we are given on this green earth. This is not one of them.

And that, children, is how it came to be that I went in for a hysterectomy and came out with an eye patch. As painful as major abdominal surgery is to recover from, a corneal tear is a contender and added a degree of comic relief to my convalescence. Just as an example: imagine trying to stay hydrated while having no depth perception, due to one eye being covered. How was my recovery? Well… damp.

The pain in my eye lingered past the pain in my abdomen, so I betook to my optometrist. I think opticians are accustomed to getting a lot of patients who whine about their eyes and it turns out to be seasonal allergies, because my most excellent physician (he wasn’t named Smith, but I would comfortably declare him a spiritual Smith) initially sought to reassure me, as he got me into the chair, that it was probably nothing and dry eye can happen for any number of reasons… and then he looked.

Actually, making physicians gasp and ask me if I often play the lottery (I don’t) is fairly normal for me. He regained his composure before telling me that I had a quite an impressively large corneal tear scar that, if it had been even 1/4 cm. further north, he probably would have been encouraging me to sue an anesthesiologist. That fascinating bit of tissue tearing gave me an instant astigmatism in one eye, which, quite logically, leads us to the button.

Since that fateful day where I became simultaneously unable to bear children anymore and unable to see for beans or wear contacts for a couple of years, I have developed in interesting and unintentional coping mechanism when I first wake up in the morning: I squint, instinctively, and view the world only through my good eye. And every morning for the last month or so, my pirated state has been catching the glimpse of a loose button resting next to my chapstick on the nightstand…

And every morning for a split second I think it is a Trader Joe’s Strawberry-O and I nearly pick it up and eat it.

There is so much wrong with this, not the least of which being that it apparently wouldn’t bother me to eat a stale piece of cereal that I had no idea how it came to be next to my bed. But then… we do this, don’t we? Something, perhaps something far in our past, caused our sight to skew and we don’t realize that we are looking through a squint. Perhaps an unkind word was spoken to us, and we have held onto an uncharitable opinion of that person ever since. Perhaps a rumor worked its way into our thoughts and somewhere along the line, we accepted it as truth — has it kept us from connecting with a church? A neighbor? An entire ministry? Did you adopt a view towards your husband that has been souring your perception — for years? What about the cockeyed views we can develop of ourselves? Somewhere along the way, did you begin to see your own feelings and opinions more up close than God’s call for you to obey Him? Have you been squinting over that bit about dying to yourself?

Good news. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever and He rather specializes in making the blind see. Turn to Him now, today, before you bring that nasty button to your mouth for one more morning and echo the words of the blind man — “Please, Master, I want my sight.”

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