Monthly Archives: March 2010

If the Dress Fits

I’ve been on this quest the past five months or so to lose some extra “baby weight.” This is the point in my story where I should disclose that my “baby” turned seven this week. Needless to say, I’m way over due to reclaim my body.

When I was in high school, I was turned down as a blood donor. Seems I didn’t meet their minimum weight requirement. But after two kids and nearly nineteen years of marriage, I’ve put on a few more pounds than I’d care to admit. Nothing horrific, but disturbing enough to catch my attention.

Over the past few months I’ve managed, with diet and exercise, to drop a respectable thirty five pounds and I’m proud to say, I’ve met my original goal. While I’d never even want to get back to my former weight in high school, I’m actually not that far away from what I weighed on my wedding day.

Enter the dress.

The floor length, ruffled organza flowing skirt, with it’s fitted bodice with built in bust cups, has been relegated to the back of my closet for close to twenty years now, never donned since that blissful day. And for some unknown, hair-brained reason, (although I suspect the couple of glasses of wine may have had something to do with it) I decided to dig it out the other day and try it on.  Just for kicks.

As if I wasn’t enough of a glutton for punishment, I thought; wouldn’t it be fun if I made myself a new goal? One that involved fitting into my wedding dress by our anniversary date which is another five months away.

Now, what’s important to realize is that the simple act of trying on the dress was a feat I would have been much too chicken to attempt even just a month ago.  But, I dove in head first–actually I initially tried feet first and found it didn’t work too well–and slipped it on again, only this time around I was able to enlist the help of my husband without anxiety over superstitious retribution.

The only negative aftereffect was the realization that it didn’t fit.

I was mere inches away from the back zipper closing. Whether the physicality of carrying two babies or age or gravity or a combination of all the above, it seems it wouldn’t even matter if I was 0% body fat, there is no way that zipper is ever closing again. My ribcage, along with a neighboring pair of gravitationally challenged body parts, apparently aren’t small enough anymore.

Am I disappointed? No. Not really. I’m happy with how far I’ve come. Despite the fact that it’s out of style, I’m not planning on having the occasion to wear the dress; I’m happy with the guy I’ve got. And besides that, I’ve got the best two reasons in the world for not being able to fit back into that dress.

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My Blindside

I just turned thirty-seven and I have a cataract. That’s not the half of it though. This past year has been a turmoil for me in terms of what is undoubtedly our most precious of the senses.

I found out this past spring that I had a degenerative disorder where the retina in both of my eyes was slowly detaching. If left untreated, I would gradually go blind. Obviously, there was no other option than to undergo two processes to save my sight.

The first procedure would be the most invasive, performed on the worse of the two, my right eye. A vitrectomy, my retina specialist explained, is a surgical procedure where three needles are inserted into the retina. One drains the gel from the eye, another repairs the retinal wall from the inside and the other maintains pressure and replaces the natural gel with a gas. After the surgery, the gas bubble will eventually dissipate, bringing clearer sight as it does.

The procedure took. My retina was reattached, however, I’d never regain the peripheral vision I’d lost. The healing process took weeks, much longer than I expected. It was nearly maddening with the three different lenses I seemed to be looking through; my left eye with normal vision, my right eye with a blackish gas bubble in the bottom half and the blurrier, lighter sight in the top half.

After the gas bubble disappeared, the “clearer” vision was like looking through a mud-clouded windshield. Specks and spots floated in my field of vision. On more than one occasion I could have swore I’d seen a mouse run in front of me, when it was actually a floater entering the picture.

For months, this became my norm. Until one day, I realized, except for one area near the inner corner of my vision, I was seeing fairly clearly out of my right eye. It was only a few weeks later when the noticeable cataract began to form, once again clouding my vision. But there was something different about that spot near my nasal region. It was darker, more shadowy. I’d close my left eye. Look up. Look down. Testing my boundaries. I held my hand in front of my face. Moved it up. I could see it. Moved my hand down. There it was. But somewhere in the middle of my line of sight, my hand disappeared altogether.

I had a blind spot.

My eye doctor explained that I had suffered a hemorrhage in my retina during the vitrectomy, leaving my partially blind in that area. Only time would tell, but it was likely to be permanent. There was a small chance my eye would heal itself, the veins finding their own way to “re-route” themselves and restoring some vision in that area. But the chances were minimal.

For weeks, the spot was all I could see. It was right there, center-line and just off to the left of my sight. It was like having something on the side of your nose. You know it’s there, you can see it, but you can’t get it off. And it never goes away.

“It just happens sometimes,” he told me. I’m sorry that wasn’t explained to me as a possible risk before the procedure. Would it have changed my decision to have the vitrectomy? Probably not. I didn’t really have a choice, given the alternative.

I cried. That’s a lot for me. I hardly ever cry.

I was angry. I still am.

I’ve felt sorry for myself on occasion. But I like to think I’ve tried to handle the loss with grace and hope.  I say “loss” because I’ve been mourning the deterioration of my sight. I stopped writing for a long while.

I recently underwent a subsequent procedure on my left eye, a less invasive laser treatment where a “fence” is built around my retina to retain any further progress in the detachment. I continue to have floaters and arcs of light I liken to a blue lava lamp.

My sight in this eye is very much different than it was less than a year ago. It, too, will never be the same.

I have trouble seeing to read, my other favorite past-time, second only to writing. I’m only thirty-seven, but my eyes already feel like they’re eighty. I go in for cataract removal in about a week. I can only hope that having this procedure done will help alleviate some of the differences in vision that I currently have.

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