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Life goes on even if it’s not what we planned

It has been three months since my last column and I have been sitting here in front of my computer screen for two hours trying to decide how to begin this one. Even if I don’t write regularly, my life does go on so here are some things about that life that have transpired since my last installment.

I have become a prisoner of my left eye. The surgery to re-attach the detached retina was in early September, 2016. Silicon oil was injected into the eye to put pressure on the repair so it would hold and reattach, leaving me with very little sight in the eye. The expectation was for the oil to be removed in six to eight months, maybe a year, and I would have full sight again with the new lens that was put into place with the earlier cataract surgery.

Since then, I’ve had checkups every three months, each time hearing the same report from the doctor: “It is better but not soft enough to risk oil removal and if we do it too soon you will have a an increased risk of another detachment and if that happens you will be blind permanently.” This always came with the stipulation that he will remove the oil if I want him to. A recent second-opinion consultation yielded the same answer and so here I sit, nearly 2½ years later, again hoping for a different answer at my March appointment.

According to my regular doctor, my increased balance problems after the retina surgery are caused by the partial vision in the left eye. So that problem awaits the outcome of my left eye problem although it has been helped by me finally letting good sense overcome my pride and buying a cane.

I had high hopes for the cataract surgery and was fully expecting to be able to see well without glasses so it was a huge disappointment to learn that not only that it would be awhile but that the left eye might not turn out as well as the right. I am pretty good at accepting the events that life brings me so with chin out and a “this is hard but I can manage it” attitude, I carry on.

I fully accept the idea that my reaction to external events is determined by my internal state of mind so instead of a “this is bad” I try to react with “this is interesting, I wonder what comes next?” exemplified by the Byron Katie teaching of “loving what is because if it was supposed to be different, it would be.”

So I carry on but after awhile I realized that life was not as interesting; I go out to dinner but more as a duty than wanting to, go to fewer events, spend more time sleeping, at times forcing myself to get out of bed in the morning, and reading less.

Then the “Oh, I’m depressed.” realization finally got through. Other than a brief few days here and there, the lessened energy, reduced interest in everything (with the exception of Trump’s election and behavior as President), not completely indifferent but not as engaged as before, was the pattern.

Then in October, at the suggestion of my friend Melina who said she was worried about me, I began a strict vegetarian diet regime with a long list of “no’s” beginning with alcohol, red meat, sugar, milk products, etc.  The first purpose was to rid my body of the many toxins it had accumulated over the years and second, to give me some practice in eating things that are good for me. It worked! Tania delivers breakfast with a luncheon smoothie and dinner daily and within a couple of weeks I was feeling much better. That betterment has continued and by the end of December I looked back and realized that I have not felt this good, alive, and sparkly (the word from a friend who told me she saw a sparkle in my eyes that had not been there before) since before the eye surgeries.

So, after a month of feeling alive perhaps it’s safe to say that the depression is gone. I am certainly better prepared to take life as it comes or, as Bobby Jones and Joan Didion famously said, to “play it as it lays”.
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Dave Nelson is a retired workers’ comp attorney (representing injured workers). He was born and grew up in Oregon but practiced law in Oakland, California. He lives in Cuenca.