Since an unfortunate incidence a year and a half ago, my left eye’s vision started to slowly but surely get bad. The eye doctors told me I would need a cataract surgery sooner or later, and I was planning on waiting until our son started kindergarten before doing any surgery. But suddenly, a month or so ago, the vision almost completely disappeared on the eye so there was no option to wait any longer. We found a reputable clinic, made all the examinations and booked an operation date a few weeks later.

Leading up to the operation, my life was that of a one-eyed, seeing the world without depth and having to walk with my head a bit turned to the left to get a good field of view when moving around. It has been quite challenging keeping an eye on my son when out walking, especially if he has been on my left side. I have found myself holding on to him on the streets, and when it comes to cycling, I stopped that as soon as I stopped seeing. As for life at home, I have found myself spilling when trying to pour water in glasses, I have found myself walking into doors at night, and I have missed more than a few stains around the house. Enough to say, I was filled with as much anticipation as nervousness waiting for the surgery.

My biggest worry has been keeping my son from interfering with the operated eye. So I talked to him every day leading up to the surgery to try to prepare him for what was to come. Dad needs to fix his eye so he can see. I will get a white patch over the eye. And then you have to be very gentle with daddy. Bara klappa snällt, was his answer. Only gentle touches. And then we negotiated about me getting to use his bedroom to sleep in, although I am not sure he quite comprehended what he agreed to. After the surgery we have had a few nights where none of the three of us has been sleeping very well, but early this morning I was woken up by a big smile when my son came to me sleeping on the floor in his bedroom, wanting me to come and play with him.

But before I get ahead of myself, back to the eye surgery. I do not really know what I had expected from the surgery, I guess I was trying to avoid thinking about it as much as possible for as long as possible. Suddenly though, it was surgery day and I was sitting in a room getting dressed in surgical coveralls by a nurse who told me what to expect during the surgery, where I should look (although I found that piece of information a bit amusing, since I did not see anything on that eye), that in the middle of the surgery I would need to go outside and do an examination when the old lens was removed, and that during the whole surgery there would be someone sitting holding my hand.

That last part about holding my hand made a very big impression on me. Normally when something difficult is happening I am used to closing my eyes and imagining myself somewhere else, finding a bit of reprieve in another world. But when the object of discomfort is the eye and closing it is no option, having a hand to hold and focus on made the experience much less distressful than it otherwise would have been I believe. I was impressed by the human element and warmth in this otherwise conveyor belt kind of operation where the doctor is having counseling in the mornings and performing cataract surgeries every afternoon. If it was big for me, who has a wife whose hand I can hold as much as our little son allows, I can only imaging what it means to elderly people coming to the clinic all alone.

At the eye clinic, I have been a few decades younger than the other patients I have met there. I cannot remember that I have felt so young and so old at the same time before getting problems with my eye, and thinking about other patients coming all by themselves, I feel so thankful to have been joined by my wife and son (although I have learned that a place that is catering for the older generation is not a good playroom for a two-year-old, even though I think my son would strongly disagree with me). During the surgery I could not help but thinking about lonely elderly people who do not have any close family to be with them. They arrive by themselves. The nurses ask how they are planning to go home, and they say walk, or take the train, which makes the nurse ask them if it is ok for the clinic to order a taxi instead. I cannot help but wonder if this surgery for some of them, holding another fellow human’s hand, might be the only human touch in their lives. And of so, if they wish for the other eye to soon need surgery too.

I am so grateful for having two eyes again, for my wife always there to hold my hand when she can. And for my other eye not seeming to need cataract surgery any time soon.

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