Expat Life

An expat overcomes difficult times and looks forward to better times ahead

Life is having its way with me lately, which is to say that it has been an interesting and difficult two months.

In late August, following my cataract surgery, vision in my cleaned out left eye was steadily improving when one day it suddenly went bad. Into the doctor’s office I went to receive a diagnosis of daves logoa detached retina, most likely caused by the eye being damaged by an earlier infection. And, of course, the only treatment was a third surgery on September 6.

It was successful with the retina being firmly reattached but now there is six to eight months of healing before knowing how good my vision will be. And yes, if you have looked this up on the web, my eye was injected with some very expensive healing silica oil which also increases the pressure within the eye to hold the retina in place. I had wondered after the surgery what the doctor used to reattach the retina – staples, glue? The right eye is fine and it is so nice not having to wear glasses but that does not compensate for having practically no sight in my left eye.

chl-mr-magooCataract surgery has gotten to the point that it is a routine and relatively simple procedure taking less than thirty minutes for the lightly sedated patient. After mine, I walked out to the street and caught a taxi home, the 15-minuste walk being too much to handle. Then there were two or three days of taking it very easy. But the retina repair takes longer and involves more work on the eye and takes more out of you. I had someone with me who hailed the taxi and walked me all the way up the stairs to my apartment.

So, after a few days I was able to function but not as easily as before. This was the third time I had been told that everything should work out and my vision would be fine. Living with only one eye is not easy and at times really frustrating. I can’t just reach for the handrail, I have to watch and feel my hand grasp it; I have to make sure the top of the wine bottle is really over the glass; I have to stop and look before stepping off a curb. It seems to me that somewhere down deep there was a fear that my sight would not come back.

Then there was the right hip pain which had come on when I turned over too quickly in bed the night before my sight went bad and was hanging on; the vertigo which got me to the doctor; the leg weakness and lack of control which would come on after even a short walk; a more severe than usual bout of diarrhea (cured by Melina’s Canar herb tea remedy); the spaciness and difficulty in concentrating; tiredness and needing long naps, partly caused by the brain needing to work so hard trying to figure out which of the two pictures it was getting from my eyes to use; and then of course, low energy and loss of interest in things. Depression is the appropriate word. My friend Tom agrees and points out that it was deeper and longer than I am acknowledging.

It is pretty much gone I think, but I am not a good judge of my internal state, so whatever my status, it is so good to feel good again.

Saw my doctor a few days ago and everything is fine and I can reduce my eye drops to three times a week. He agrees with me that the vision is improving and it is two months until the next appointment. From twice a week to two months between appointments tells me that things are going well. He also prescribed reading glasses which I will need for my school work. I am now ready to begin school and start again on Monday.

I finally got my needed hearing aids this past week. Music sounds so much better and I should be able to hear everything Maria Elena, my Spanish teacher, says now, which will please her as much as me.

Cuidense. And my love, Dave


  • LadyMoon

    Oh gosh, David. I’m sad to hear about all these trials and tribulations. And…glad you have loving friends around to help. (P.S. Seniors can be helped with anti-depressants…you might want to consider it. Firstly, getting older and experiencing these issues is a pain in the patoot, and secondly, chemical changes make us more susceptible to depression.) Take good care of yourself!

  • StillWatching

    Dave, I know that many of us can relate to what you are going through. Needless to say, it comes with age and is inescapable. I pray that you experience better days. Friends are the best thing there is to get us through rough times. It reminds me of this song, which you may recognize:


    Old friends, old friends,
    Sat on their parkbench like bookends
    A newspaper blown through the grass
    Falls on the round toes
    of the high shoes of the old friends

    Old friends, winter companions, the old men
    Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sun
    The sounds of the city sifting through trees
    Settles like dust on the shoulders of the old friends

    Can you imagine us years from today,
    Sharing a parkbench quietly
    How terribly strange to be seventy

    Old friends, memory brushes the same years,
    Silently sharing the same fears

  • Monte

    Dave, hang in there! I’m certain that you’ve had tough times before (although maybe not this difficult). You’ve got a lot of people cheering you on and wishing you the best.