Friday, June 1, 2012

Seeress's New Eyes

Seeress’s New Eyes

seer·ess  (sîrs) n.
A woman who acts as a prophet or clairvoyant.

The eye doctor told me to lean my head back and not to worry, this wouldn’t hurt.  With her bare hands she removed the clear protective contact lens that had covered my eyes for the past eight days.  “Wow, you weren’t scared at all.  Most people flinch or blink.” 

From the age of ten, I had convinced my mom to let me try out contact lenses to avoid the peril and prepubescent humiliation of eyeglasses.  I had muscled my eyes through many uncomfortable situations in the past so having a doctor remove a contact lens was the least of my worries.  Touching them was quite commonplace.  I had had my hands on my eyes, determined to avoid glasses since I was a young girl.  We checked my vision, which became a little fuzzy after the clear lens was removed.  “That’s normal post surgery,” she said,  “A few more weeks and it should correct itself.”

We tested my sight and I hovered around 20/40.  The best my vision had been since around the age of seven.  I could see.   

The surgery and procedure had been a bit of a whirlwind.  The day the Groupon came out for LASIK was the day I had saved exactly enough in my ‘stash away for the dream procedure of seeing 20/20’ envelope.  I had been saving for a few years now, dropping $20 or $40 into an envelope every so often after session work.  The day when the Groupon was listed was also the day I was on my last pair of contact lenses and the day that the online contact lens distributor refused to process my order because it had been over a year since I’d been to the optometrist.  I had also been preparing for my role as the Seeress – ‘woman who sees’ in Theatre Group Dzieci’s upcoming production of Ragnarok.  The timing of everything was becoming suspiciously auspicious. 

Generally, slow footed on large purchases, I hemmed and hawed for an hour looking at the Groupon.  Large purchases were always something to be contemplated, considered, discerned from every angle, never jumped into at a moments notice.  In some ways I had been yearning for this since I was seven, but now that it was here, I felt rushed.  I needed more time… but more time for what?  More time to not see?  I clicked ‘BUY.’  In a moment, a feeling of elation soared through me.  Zings of pure exhilaration tingled over my skin. 

My first call was to my mother.  “Guess what?”  “What?” she played along.  “I just bought LASIK.  “Oh that’s wonderful!  You’ve wanted that for so long!” 

No one sympathized more than my mother around desiring new eyes.  I had flown to my parents home in Tulsa last summer just before her birthday to be with her during her cataract operation.  She was nervous.  She I and I had a sort of bad vision bond.  When I was in high school, she had gone temporarily blind in one eye from over use of contact lenses.  It was right around my senior year when we were looking at colleges.  I had to drive us up to Illinois with her in the passenger seat, something my mother’s very controlling personality would never normally allow.  My grandmother, since I can remember, wore thick coke bottle glasses with bifocal lenses and was also plagued with cataracts and glaucoma.  Good eyesight was not something that ran matrilineally in my family.

After purchasing the Groupon, I scheduled my pre-screening with Diamond Vision.  After all the tests were run, it turned out my corneas were too thin for LASIK but were okay for a procedure called PRK.  From what I understood after everything was explained to me, PRK involved scraping away cornea cells and LASIK involved making a flap.  They both used the same laser for corrective surgery.  Recovery from PRK would be longer and more uncomfortable.  The earliest appointment for me was six weeks away.  I would have to be out of contacts for two weeks prior.  “Uggghhhhh!” I bemoaned to my mom.  “That’s soooo long!” “It will be here before you know,” my mother reassured me. 

The two weeks in eyeglasses were excruciating.  I only wore glasses when I was sick or tired.  Wearing them for two weeks straight, I felt sick and tired all the time.  I had two pairs, one were the right prescription but were too big for my face and kept sliding off.  The other, a much older prescription, didn’t account for my astigmatism.  Both were exceedingly frustrating.  For two weeks I felt ugly, and distant, like there was a wall between me and others, a protective shield keeping us apart.  I squinted to read labels in the grocery store, blurred my way through session work and had to stop my new love for adult gymnastics classes while I subjected myself to the doctors orders to wear stupid, ugly, clunky, awkward glasses for two weeks while my corneas returned to their natural shape. 

All the frustration I felt as an eight to ten year old in glasses came bubbling to the surface.  For over twenty years contacts had been a lifeline and a way not to ‘deal’ with my visual frustration.  Now I was meeting it head on.  I was quick to anger and prone to isolation these two weeks.  The break through occurred the day before the surgery.  I was singing at the Cabrini nursing home with Theatre Group Dzieci.  Most at Cabrini are at the end of their life cycle and are all in various stages of declining health.  Some of the sights there are hard to see; open sores on skin, the cruel vulnerability of the deteriorating body, the elderly returning to an infant like state.  One wants to look away in these circumstances.  I took my glasses off at one point and felt much more free and seemingly present when I did connect with the patients than when they were on.  That’s when I realized, I chose these eyes. 

Growing up as a young girl, things were not always easy.  My parents fought.  There was alcoholism in the family. My mother’s temper was volatile.  My father’s spirit was absentee.  I did not want to always see the unpleasantness of what was going on around me.  I blurred my vision for protection and to create another world that was safer and easier on the eyes so to speak.  My eyesight continued to get worse through middle school and high school and eventually leveled out in college when I moved out of my parent’s house.  It had stabilized since then but sight wellness continued to revolve around contact lenses.  The simple removing of my glasses at Cabrini the day before my schedule surgery brought all of this bubbling to the surface.  It was safe in my blurry world.  Would clarity bring back what I had longed to turn a blind eye to?

I bustled about the evening before the surgery with chores until I finally stilled myself during a late dinner with my husband.  That’s when it sunk in.  Tomorrow morning I would get new eyes.  A gamut of emotions flooded through me as I struggled to take conscious bites of my supper.  I phoned my mom and a close friend who talked me through what I was feeling.  The next morning came like a lightening bolt.  I dressed, had breakfast, put a carnelian stone in my pocket for grounding and support and went to the eye doctor. 

I was the first operation of the day.  I was ushered into a room, my vision checked a final time.  I was hastily given a blue operating cap to contain my hair and blue booties to put over my shoes.  The doctor came in and spoke to me about the procedure.  I was then taken into a clean operating room and given a choice of a teddy bear or stress balls to hold.  Stress balls...  Damn, why didn’t I take the bear?  I was covered with a blanket and asked to lie back on a chair.  Before I could catch my breath, a plastic cover was put over my eye that terrifyingly held it open.  Drops were put in and then ice cold water was poured over my eye for ten seconds while I squirmed and writhed.  Something equivalent to an electric toothbrush came over my eye and scraped the cornea cells away while I tried not to leap out of the operating chair.  I took deep breaths and then room went dark.  A white light appeared before me in a far away tunnel and suddenly everything in my body relaxed.  In the darkness, the white light came closer as the sound of the laser clicked away.  In the tunnel, my vision changed.  A new eye was given to me from the other side and a realization washed through me that this was what it was like at moments of birth and death – the crossing.  The same horrifying process was repeated on the other eye, plastic shield, ice water, electric tooth brush and the same mystical blackness into a tunnel of white light followed by a feeling of euphoria crept through me as my body accepted her second new eye.

In less than fifteen minutes, the procedure was complete.  The doctor asked me to read the clock on the wall and for the first time in twenty-five years, I did so without the support of contacts or glasses.  I arose from my chair and grabbed the doctor in an embrace.  I slam dunked my eyeglasses into the donation bin and embraced my husband Mark who was nervously sitting in the waiting room.

An orderly encouraged me to sit for a few minutes to adjust, but as soon as I was feeling ready, to go home and sleep as the numbing drops would wear off in the next half hour and the PRK corneal abrasion would begin to sting.  The orderly gave me a kit with sunglasses, night eye patches and eye drops. I was instructed to avoid books and anything with a screen – computers, televisions, phones, ipads and direct sunlight in my eyes for three days.  Mark and I hailed a cab home.

The next three days were like a sensory deprivation tank.  The smallest bit of light in the same room was excruciating.  I sat in darkness, complete with wrap around shades, blinds and curtains drawn on all the windows.  I meditated for most of the day and night, my vision going in and out of blurriness and itchy burning feelings pounding around my eyes. In the three days of darkness, I had many overwhelming moments feeling into past and parallel lives where I had been blind and how blindness opened my body to wise woman and crone energy.  The feeling of seeing without seeing was oddly familiar, comforting and empowering.

 My friend Cindy came over and read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and Harry Potter, to me as I lay with cool towels over my eyes. She cooked a quiche.  Lisa came over with pineapple hibiscus infused vodka and toasted to a successful surgery. 

On the fourth day, my vision slowly began to focus and the blurriness dissipated.  A world of clarity awaited me.  I rose from the sensory deprivation chamber – light, sound, taste, smell all heightened beyond my usual experience of them.  Both my vision and my psychic sight were palpably present.

In researching Seeresses of the past in preparation for exploring the role Seeress in Dzieci’s Ragnarok, I discovered that historically, many Seeress were actually blind at some time in their life, born that way or blinded early in life, which ushered in active gifts of psychic sight.  As a Seeress who now ‘sees’ both physically and psychically, I’m recommitting myself to taking in the details of perception on the Earthly and psychic planes including that, which might be unpleasant to witness.  I’m replacing my rose colored glasses with laser cut clarity.

I call on the lineage of and ancestry of Seeresses to awaken within me.  Our physical site is restored.  Now the eyes of our eyes are open.