Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Eye Update and my Widow's Memory Bank

You may or may not remember that I’ve been nervous about getting through my cataract surgeries without getting an infection in my left eye, the one with the macular pucker. I was told that the fourth week out was the most critical time for one to appear and the doctor started me on eye drops a full week before the surgery to help prevent an infection and here I am in the seventh week post-surgery and up until today I was still doing six drops a day in that eye, with two different medications. At one point, between the two eyes I was doing 16 drops a day with four medications. The doctor has been measuring changes in that pucker weekly and on the fourth week added a new drop to “let out the gas” which I’m sure isn't a perfectly proper medical term but “letting out the gas” works for me. And ohmygod does that drop hurt/sting/burn. Takes me a full three minutes to recover from putting that one in and it has me moaning and groaning as if I’m having sex, even comes with a few “Oh God's” spoken out loud. Yes, I'm worried about what my neighbor on our shared wall thinks if she can hear me.

 

Today at my eye appointment I flunked the test on my pucker so I still can't get a new eye glass prescription written until the "cornea quits moving," another, interesting non-medical term but the good news is I now only have to do three drops a day, two of which are the ones that come with sound effects. The bad news is I walked out of that office deflated that I have to keep going back to track the damn pucker. At least I'm past the point where an infection is a major concern. When I asked that question the doctor replied, "Think so." The possibility still reminds, however, so I will keep following the rules---be militant with the drops, no wearing any eye make-up or rubbing my eye and don't get water in it.

 

After the surgeries I expected the world would be like the opening of the Wizard of Oz that starts out in black and white then turns into bright colors. I do see colors noticeable brighter with my right eye but not the left. I’m legal now to drive without glasses which hasn’t been true in a long time. This not needing glasses except to read has me misplacing my glasses more in the last month than in all of the last year. 

 

A few days ago I found myself in the cafe' without my glasses to read the menu and one of my fellow residents said, “We’ll read it to you.” And they did. But that brought back a memory of a time my husband was mad at me for something long forgotten. We were out to dinner with another couple when I discovered I didn’t have my glasses and I asked Don to read the menu to me. His left-over anger from whatever we’d fought about earlier caused him to slash out at me---the bottom line being he refused to do it. His outburst left the other couple shocked and speechless. It took a lot to anger Don but when he was his fiery glare was enough to stop anyone from retorting. 

 

Flashes of memories are like that when we age, aren’t they? Something small and meaningless can trigger a memory that can consume me for several hours as I try to recall more details. As with most of my flash-memories, I wasn’t successful at doing an archaeological style dig into that day at the restaurant. But I suppose the only important thing to remember is that Don didn’t make a practice out of embarrassing me in public. I can count on the fingers of one hand the numbers of times when that happened in the 42 years we were together. 

 

In January Don will have been gone nine years. In some ways it seems like 9 months and in other ways it seems like 900 years. It took nearly half of those years for the widow’s pedestal many of us put our spouses on to start crumbing, and for me to see the full spectrum of Don’s personality again. It’s human nature I’m guessing, to forget the petty disagreements when someone has passed and to keep the good memories closer to the surface---the Disney version of our relationships---the one where no one has hissy-fits over toothpaste caps not replaced or ever farts while holding our heads under the bed covers.

 

Looking at my past is like looking out one eye, and then the other post surgery. I have two distinctive views---one probably accurate to its history, the other more like looking though a filter of rainbows and swishing puppy dogs tails pushing the colors around into a mosaic of happiness. If/when dementia catches me in its trap the big question will be which version of my history will be locked inside my head as I withdraw from the world? And can we program our brains to choose while we’re still logical, thinking human beings? My dad and brother both walked into the land of dementia. One mostly accepted it, the other fights it, fears it. What will I do when my time comes? I've always had a fertile fantasy life, will I  even know when dementia takes up residence? ©

48 comments:

  1. I like being three hours behind you ... I get your blog and usually can't wait for the real day (as I'm reading Friday night and not Saturday!). This eye regime is really something, eh? I get occasional dryness and without glasses I'm not seeing 20/20 at all. Now I'm thinking of Lazik to make them both correct. Honestly thinking of trying one at computer strength and the other long distance. The glasses off and on is a pain.

    Bella Rum commented on my brother's death blog! I emailed her immediately but that is no longer her address. The mystery continues.

    I better schedule my colonoscopy before Lazik. Just spent $150 for the prep111

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    1. I haven't seen Bella Rum anywhere lately and I feared the worst. So glad you mentioned her.


      I'd rather deal with glasses than go through surgery again. Thought I may have to have the lids done. Once I can get a new prescription I hope to get trifocals again so I shouldn't have to take my glasses on an off so much.

      I do the colon check you do at home and mail in.

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    2. I'm so glad to see a mention of Bella Rum. I think of her often, and miss her. I hope all's well in her world.

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  2. What a strongly evocative way to talk about memories and widowhood. I still have my spouse but I do occasionally wonder what it will be like if he dies first or has a long physical or cognitive illness. Sorry about you one eye and hope it gets resolved soon.

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    1. Enjoy your husband while you can. And take to heart the message in the book, "Don't Sweat the Small Things." The future will take care of itself.

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    2. Generally I follow your advice but recent deaths in the family have caused some thought.

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    3. I suppose it depends on how we each defines the small things?

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  3. Sorry I did laugh, certainly not at the pain from the bad eye drop but your "shared walls." Pretty sure you are being discussed:) Sure will be happy for you when you get your pucker tamed. Keep at it.

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    1. I don't really thing we can hear through the walls here. My neighbor has a dog and I've never heard him. Plus my bathroom shares a wall with her 1/2 bath which probably doesn't get used anymore than mine. At least this is what I keep telling myself. LOL

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  4. I'm sorry to hear your eye issues are extending your recovery from surgery. Ugh. That stinging drop may make you sound like you're having great sex, but it sure isn't the same is it? LOL I love your memories of Don and love that you can share both the sweet and not so sweet...I want to hear about REAL life because that's the one we all live. Also really love how you tied your observations to your surgery. Very evocative. And true.

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    1. Thank you.

      Definitely not the same, but I've been binge watching Outlander and I couldn't help compare the sounds coming from some of the sex scenes with the sounds coming out of me with the drops.

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  5. My husband has Alzheimer's and the other day commented that he can see the changes in his mental acuity every day. He asked when it would quit and I said, "It won't, but one day it will no longer bother you." It saddens me to see him so aware of his decline--it'll be better for him when he subsides into a quiet existence. More painful for me, but better for him--I'll take it.

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    1. You are so right in what you said to your husband. At least I really hope you are. No one really knows for sure what goes on in the minds of againg brains. I can see difference in my mental acuity, too. For example someone recently asked me how long my husband has been gone and I said 6 years. I knew soon after the words were out that it was wrong but by then I couldn't correct it because the conversation had gone on to something else. Very scary to see these kinds of changes.

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  6. There's something about eye doctors, apparently. For five years, I kept asking mine when it would be time to do my cataracts, and his reply always was, "We'll know." That's akin to your doc's, "I think so." Onward! And good for you, keeping to the regime. I'm glad you have a reduced number of drops now, and I'm really glad you're past the threat of infection. Just think how good life's going to be when NO drops are necessary!

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    1. All eye doctors seem to talk in terms of cataracts "getting ripe" and they'll know when the time is right to pluck those suckers off. I like my doctor not giving me a bunch of medical jargon I won't understand.

      My goal is to be drop free by Christmas. At least prescription drops free. I'll probably always need the over the counter gel drops.

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    2. I worked for an ophthalmologist for 3 years after I left dental hygiene. I think they leave it to the patient to decide when they're ready for cataract surgery based on how much their daily living is impaired---reading, TV, and driving. And I think with the Medicare rules, their distance vision has to be at least 20/30 or worse to qualify. Some (more pushy) doctors would recommend surgery when a patient's distance vision was 20/25, which is actually pretty good. My current doctor told me the average age in our area for cataract surgery was 75, which is what I'll be this next June.

      I really like how you equated looking at your past to looking out of two distinctly different eyes. I find myself doing that when I look back on my relationship with my husband too. He's been gone for three and a half years now. There were some great times and some not-so-great times but it helps to look at the overall picture instead of focusing on just one aspect. Thanks.

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    3. I'm 79 and neither I or the eye doctor pushed for the surgery until this last spring when the doctor said they are ready to come off and with the pucker she said it was better to do it right away than to wait because they are tougher to remove without leaving pieces behind in the folds of the pucker. That's what can lead to infections

      I can see both sides of my husband, but my dad who died a year before him is still on the daddy pedestal. I don't really remember him ever having any flaws. LOL

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    4. The worst case that I remember was one patient, an older Hispanic woman who didn't speak English, who waited so long to have her cataracts removed that they had to take them out in one piece. The doctor showed them to us later and they were hard, brown disks. How she could even see anything through them was a mystery to me. She probably didn't go to any doctor on a regular basis.

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    5. Wow! The little tool they use to break them up and suck them out must not work on those thickest cataracts. What a miracle she probably thought the doctor delivered.

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    6. Actually, the story of how my doc determined it was time to remove mine went like this: I'd gone in for my six month glaucoma pressure test, and he suddenly said, "You know how you're always asking if it's time to get rid of those cataracts? It''s time." When I asked how he knew, he said, "When I can't see into your eye, you obviously can't see out." Funniest doctor's appointment ever. Of course, I'd been going to him for 25 years, so there was a pretty high level of trust on both sides.

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  7. Sorry about your eye trouble. I am glad there are drops available to clear up the problem and keep you infection free. Sounds like a lot of work, tho, worth it.
    I am divorced so I do not have a lot of sweet memories about a spouse. In fact, I find it difficult to remember anything good about our 33 years together even tho, deep down I know that it wasn't always awful. I do have 5 wonderful children so there's that! :)

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    1. I'm grateful for the drops and the fact that getting cataracts removed keeps us all from going blind. Work but like you said, worth the end goal.

      I have always been happy I didn't go through a divorce like so many others have. I think about some of the guys I had serious relationships with and I know had I married one of them I would have been in that statistic. Can't have been easy for any one ending a marriage, especially with kids involved and the life long connection you still have with an x-spouse.

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  8. I don't know how I would cope with eye issues...............

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    1. We all learn to cope when we have to, with many things that life throws at us.

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  9. A profound question you ask: "which version of my history will be locked inside my head as I withdraw from the world?" I wonder the same thing. I hope your eye problems aren't making you too irritable. I fear they might turn me into a first class crank.

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    1. Not so much cranky as depressed because not having glasses that work anymore is driving me crazy, especially during my computer time. I broke down and bought a cheap pair of readers today. which helps but I've got a strong sigmatism in one eye so I will still always need a prescription lens.

      When my dad got so he couldn't tell his nightmares from reality I quit reading and watching gorgy, crime stuff and things like Stephen King. I'm gambling that without the garbage going in, it won't take over my brain cells someday. LOL

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  10. Every time I use tinfoil to cover a casserole dish to go in the oven I remember my first husband screaming (and I do mean screaming) at me that I didn't have it shiny side up. This was at the beginning of our marriage and I ignored the signs because I was determined to make it work. Maybe if I get dementia, I'll no longer have that one pop up. Good luck with your eyes, Jean! Sounds like slow but good progress is being made.

    Deb

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    1. Maybe a mind-Jedi trick would work to dismiss that thought from your mind. Now you've got me wondering which side I put up. I've never cared so I probably mix it up.

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  11. I appreciate your connection between your vision and your times past. I'm glad you're seeing more clearly and hope that the pucker gets the puck out soon. That last drop sounds grim. Nine years. It isn't long at all, yet I'm sure sometimes seems a world away. Hugs.

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    1. Usually the January sad-iversary of Don dying sneaks up on me but I think this year it will come marching in. Too many changes this year.

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  12. I hope your pucker resolves soon...my DH has one, too, and they were the reason for a lot of doctor visits after his cataract surgeries. That said, once things settled down, he is doing well and no long term issues. I wish the same for you. :)

    Also, after reading your post and the comments, I agree that you have to not sweat the small stuff. My DH has a temper that doesn't flare often, and he's gotten more mellow with age, but man, we had some go 'rounds back in the day. LOL.

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    1. I'm confident the eye issue will be history by the new year.

      Thankfully we all mellow with age.

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  13. My husband had cataract surgery years ago and I had to help him with the drops because he just couldn't do it. Hopefully you won't have to use the drops for much longer.

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    1. Half the time I miss the eyes and get the drops down my cheeks.

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  14. "What will I do when my time comes? I've always had a fertile fantasy life, will I even know when dementia takes up residence?"

    I hope your eye improves soon, and especially that you can stop the painful drops, but I laughed out loud at those last two lines. As long as you have that sense of humor you can rest assured you're still doing fine.

    I'm with you, get in the practice of thinking pleasant thoughts just in case.

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    1. It just makes sense not to fill our brains with garbage, doesn't it.

      The eye doctor on my last visit called in a renewal on the painful drop but there's no additional refills on it so that's really encouraging.

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  15. After Lasik in both Eyes years ago I had to use Eye Drops for several Months due to the dryness caused by the Lasers. The one that was the most refreshing was a mist you sprayed, some of the drops were burning and uncomfortable, but that spray was wonderful. The Lasik itself was painless, they numbed the Eyes of coarse and Emotionally it was scary to know what they were doing to my Eyes, but Eyes Heal and Recover so rapidly that it's pretty Amazing actually. I don't think I found any of the Treatment Orgasmic tho'. *Winks*

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    1. I will need over the counter drops for the rest of my life when this is over. For dry eyes. I'll have to see if it comes in a spray. I can do the gel drops better than the others.

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  16. This reminds me of when Rachel needed eyedrops in Friends! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKWvtZZrdPg Hope everything goes well for you.

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  17. I get chronic dry eye, and Restasis was my Burning Devil Drop. That stuff--whew! I feel your pain. And not being able to rub your eyes when that's the first instinct is so, so difficult.

    Memory is often a painter with a kind and Impressionist's brush, I think. My mother, who is in the earlier stages of Alzheimer's, tends to remember only the most wonderful and romantic things about my father, and focuses mostly upon the early years of their romance and marriage. She also tends to co-opt other people's good stories as her own, claiming some things that happened to her sisters or someone as having happened to her instead. So you see, Jean, you can even create memories if you find your own to be lacking. ;-)

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    1. Good to know! LOL And I like how your mom's brain is selecting memories.

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  18. Hugs, and yes, you will know. I know each time I have a small stroke,

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  19. That Pucker is a new one for me. I learn of more diseases and complications of the eye from my now over-the-hill friends. Who knew there would be so many parts that could fall apart.

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