Wednesday, May 14, 2008
To have clarity of vision and purpose in this life and beyond will send seekers questing into the desert with shamans, through drug induced revelations in South American jungles, or sitting with gurus in the ashrams of India and Bali. My vision quest was simple and within reach – planted firmly in the here and now all I wanted was to see just 5 feet beyond my nose with the eyes of an eagle. To fall asleep gazing at the stars from my bedroom window and wake without spectacles pressed into my face making weird crevasses and morning line patterns. To hike without groveling on the ground searching frantically for the wind blown lost contact lens. I needed cataract surgery lens replacement. Spiritual evolution would follow.
Chicago's O'Hara International Airport, a festering petri dish of swarming peoples from all walks of life and every corner of the world – angry travelers loathing delays, frustrated ticket takers and indigestible, tasteless food. It's why the concourses are dotted with crowded bars. Sitting in the sweltering heat of gate B9 I reflect that I could have been in Prague soaking up the culture and really bad absinthe to help further blur the endless winter of Crested Butte – literally blurred as the cataract pushed the boundary into my vision. Blinding blizzards, icy roads and 440 inches of snow this past season made driving bus loads of tourists and skiers a multi-dimensional challenge. Trading Prague for cataract surgery wasn't an option, it was a safety necessity that might comfort lowland passengers sobbing in fear as road definition disappeared into utter snowy whiteness.
Where best to go but the land of the elder-eyes for cataract surgery? Florida... the place where throngs of retirees live out the rest of their lives and doctors of every discipline set up shop for the thriving business. The medical cream of the crop are in the Sunshine State... like swallows diving and snatching in a feeding frenzy through insect drenched skies, preying off the buzzing new hatch of progressively aging baby boomers desperate to reverse the physical effects of decades.
I book an appointment with a reputable, top notch ophthalmologist who had given my brother back the vision of an 10-year old, which I figured would fit nicely with my own 11-year old demeanor. In the snazzy waiting area stars like Henry Winkler and old sport pros give personal testimonials stretched across enormous flat screen TVs larger than my living room. With his brilliant smile, perfect eyes and very own cheesy theme song touting his superior expertise, the doctor assures us that life will look different when we see what we've been missing.
In a darkened room, brimmed hat pulled down low over sunglasses concealing chemically forced dilated pupils that swallow up all light like black holes, I am dizzily flying into flashbacks of trippy vertigo. The floors are breathing. The walls are waves of oscillation. Three hours and 2 doctors into the scanning, measuring and imaging every aspect, cell, curve and thickness of my eyes I was informed that I was not a lasek candidate because my cornea was too thin nor could I get the topical PRK lasik because of the cataract. However, lens replacement would be an excellent choice and eliminate the cataract while correcting both near and far sightedness so I'd never have to wear glasses anymore for anything. Finally... crystal clear vision... no more wondering where the road ended during the midnight driving shift. No more asking for shot glasses to house contact lenses for the impromptu sleep-over.
“I don't want to get your hopes up because most insurance companies won't cover cataract surgery if you can still see somewhat with glasses. They consider it cosmetic surgery,” Doctor Opto Magnifico warned me. The slice and dice procedure costs $9,000.
“Somewhat?! Yeah, right... tell that to my screaming bus loads of terrified tourists when those glasses fog up in a subzero squall and you need every millimeter of vision acuity to decipher where the road drops off the 700 foot cliff to the bottom of the river,” I snorted. Sure enough, the insurance company denied coverage deeming it “not a medical necessity at this time.”
Permanent perfect vision was within my field of view but cost prohibitive. And worse, I had allowed for over 2 weeks for post operative recovery at my family's tropical mercy who would feed and entertain me excessively during an over-extended stay. I get fitted with new contact lens as damage control for lost time and vision... and weight gain from a food-oriented Italian family.
Monk parrots scream at each other hidden in the tops of dancing palm trees and a toad croaks like a jagged, rusted door scraping in the wind. I ceremoniously drip ice water over the sugar cube hovering above my measured shot of verte absinthe... and wait for the green fairy to lend her perception and sympathy in the quest for perfect vision in the imperfect world of reason.