Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Can See Clearly Now

I'm thinking I should probably update you as to the recovery from my eye surgery. As you undoubtedly don't recall, when last we spoke of it, I had been about 2 or 3 weeks into my recovery from PRK laser surgery. My vision was obviously so much improved from where it started. I don't know what my exact prescription was in corrective terms, but "blind as a bat" works fairly well. I rarely even ventured to the bathroom from bed without putting a pair of glasses on.

At 3 weeks, I wasn't using glasses for anything at all. Day to day, I could see people, buildings, cars, billboards. I was missing all of the smaller detail. The smaller type on street signs was still a blur. Ditto for newspapers except in bright light. Even then, my vision would be in and out, blurring unexpectedly halfway through an article. Also, my distance vision was definitely lagging behind in the recovery. I saw little or no improvement after 3 weeks, and a subsequent visit to the surgeon confirmed this. In layman's terms, I couldn't see shit far away.

I tried not to get discouraged. I read and re-read all the on-line articles and blogs that said PRK recovery takes time. I gave myself an imaginary line in the sand of 6 weeks. If I didn't see some noticeable improvement by then, this would start to well and truly suck, and I began rehearsing how forceful I would be in complaining to the surgeon.

Sometime between week 5 and 6, my reading vision seemed to stabilize and improve. I was reading my computer screen without leaning forward in my chair, and I could snatch up a newspaper right on the street and start reading just like ... well ... I could see. I couldn't tell if my distance vision had improved as well. It seemed so, but I was wondering if I had just grown accustomed to not seeing very well far away.

My last visit to the surgeon was at 9 weeks. The vision in my reading eye was clocked at 20/25. The vision in my other (distance) eye was 20/40. NY State considers 20/40 in both eyes to be sufficient for driving without corrective lenses. So technically (and practically) I can see.

At this point, my vision seems at least comparable to what it was, with contacts, before the procedure. I could make a case that in some ways, it's better. My reading vision seems to be better than when I started. Most importantly, I can take photos. I never realized how much I tend to study a shot before I actually take a picture. Not having good distance vision prevented me from getting a feel for what I was shooting. It was like running on one gimpy leg. Do-able, but not fun.

My eyes are still very dry in the morning. But I've pretty much eliminated using the lubricating drops during the day. I'm still on the eye drop steroids they put me on after the surgery, and I will continue as scheduled through the end of November. My vision will blur unexpectedly, usually when I'm focusing on something detailed, but it often comes back in a few seconds. Over all, as it stands now (and I told the surgeon this on my last visit), I am completely satisfied with the surgery, the expense and the outcome. If I continue to get more improvement (and that's entirely possible according to my reading) it will just be gravy on the meatloaf.

If the weather holds this week for one more day, tomorrow I will go to the beach for the second time this year. I'll be taking only a pair of sunglasses, purely to leer at the hot boys in private.

Monday, August 30, 2010

And We're Back

A month without blogging. It wasn't my intent. I admit, I had been getting tired of keeping up on the blog. Plus, I discovered the magic that is Facebook and that seemed to satisfy one of the main reasons that I kept up blogging, long after I felt as if my original reasons for creating and maintaining From The Ashes had run it's course. I said that I wanted to give people a glimpse in to the life of a middle aged HIV+ person, and I did that. And while I still have things to say and work that I'm doing related not only to my own life as an HIV+ individual, the nuts and bolts, as it were, of my illness have pretty much been worked out. I'm in a maintenance mode that finds me pretty damn healthy, and no reason to think that will change anytime soon.

I also obviously (in retrospect) had a lot of other "issues" that needed working out too. Many of them, as it turns out, were linked in some way to alcoholism and all of the emotional and psychological damage that causes. But I've been sober for 3 1/2 years now and a lot of those issues have been resolved as well. No more panic attacks. No more General Anxiety Disorder. No more roommate troubles. No more surrounding myself with addicts and enablers. I finally feel balanced, relatively sane and at peace. In other words, I feel kind of boring.

And a boring sober middle-aged gay man doesn't necessarily have all that much to write about. At least, that's how I've been feeling. I didn't write 'cause I was happy. Which I guess means that the last 7 years could in fact be viewed as one long primal scream. In a way, I guess it was. I was lost. I was alone. I was confused. I was scared. And I poured all of it out on the page. Eventually I also poured it out to a couple of competent therapists and several hundred AA members in the last several years of meetings. Slowly, I got better. Things settled down. And I felt like I had less and less to say.

The last year maybe, certainly the last few months, I felt like I was struggling for posts, and struggling to find content. And I certainly thought about shutting From The Ashes down. I suppose I still might. But I'm not ready to walk away from it yet. And I think that this blog still has a purpose. For me, it's a creative outlet. and one that I need. I do love to write. It's only the struggle I couldn't identify that had turned it in to a chore instead of a pleasure.

So I took some time off (that lasted longer than I intended) and let things percolate for a while. I thought about what I wanted, what I had to say, and where I wanted this blog to go. I have no idea if that's what will actually happen. That's the thing about creating something from nothing - it frequently becomes something else. To me, the end of the journey is not what's important, it's the road you take along the way.

I definitely plan on writing some longer postings. Stories from my life, my childhood, as well as a chronicle of the 20+ years I've spent finding my way in a city that allows you to constantly, repeatedly reinvent yourself. Ultimately, that's what From The Ashes has always been about. I have loved the story of the phoenix from the moment I first heard it.

Rebirth. A new life rising from the ashes of the old. Renewal. Redemption. A fresh start. It's where we are today.

In the future, we'll see where it takes us. "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Let's go.