[NetBehaviour] next few days

Aileen Derieg a.derieg at eliot.at
Mon Apr 6 11:32:19 CEST 2009

Hi Alan and Marc,

To both of your messages, I would say yes and no. I've had cataract 
surgery in both eyes, subsequent laser surgery so far only in one - 
all before I was 50. Yes, it is minor surgery, meanwhile regarded 
almost as "normal" - at least for "old people". There is a great deal 
of reassuring information to be found on the Internet, but in the 
course of reading it, I became more and more infuriated by the way an 
image of "old people" is constructed in this kind of information. For 
me, it was by no means helpful to be almost condenscendingly assured 
that I would be able to return to my usual activities soon after 
surgery - like gardening, baking, knitting ...

I am a text person, I live in front of the computer, I read - 
constantly, always, even in my dreams. That is how I earn my living, 
that is what I do for recreation. I used to be very good at 
proofreading for publication, reading diagonally from bottom right to 
top left to catch spelling errors, incorrect punctuation, etc., and it 
was something I especially enjoyed. After the first cataract 
operation, this kind of work invariably gave me blinding headaches, so 
I kept going back to the eye doctor to complain that something was 
wrong. Finally he asked me to describe exactly what I was doing that 
strained my eyes, then he shook his head and told me plainly, that 
won't work. He explained that an artificial lens can never be as 
flexible as a natural lens, so that kind of eye movement will 
inevitably be painful.

A kind friend pointed out to me after the first operation that it's 
not absolutely necessary to read diagonally, but I've done it so long, 
I couldn't even remember how to read slowly. It was like having to 
learn to read all over again, and I found it frustrating and 
infuriating. I know that I am fortunate to be living now, when only a 
generation or so ago, I would simply have been blind and unable to 
work at all, but for me, cataract surgery *is* a limitation and a 
handicap - and all the reassurance I have heard and read only seems to 
reinforce this infuriating image of a whining "old woman", and 
everyone knows that "old women" need not be taken seriously.

Alan, please take the recovery time seriously. I didn't the first 
time, and ended up with a very painful inflamation. After the second 
operation I spent the summer in a hammock on the balcony listening to 
podcasts that kind people sent me links to. If you are interested, I 
collected those here: http://delicious.com/aderieg/ltl
"Learning to listen": it wasn't ideal, as my visual memory is much 
stronger than my aural memory, but it was a reasonable compromise.

I hope this is not wholly irrelevant to this list, but reading these 
messages I felt compelled to protest again, because I still live with 
all the anger and impatience that stems from having my vision so 
limited - and I hope there are people on this list who will understand 
that those limitations are not trivial, no matter how commonplace the 
surgery is, because not everyone with cataracts just wants to return 
to gardening, baking, knitting ...

All the best,

On Mon, 6 Apr 2009, marc garrett wrote:

> Hi Alan,
> Hope all goes well, a relative recently had the same surgery and it went
> well. Their eyes get watery every now and then, but this is meant to be
> a normal recovery process.
> You may have to give the computer screen a rest for a week or so...
> marc
>> Hi - if I don't reply immediately to email in the next couple of weeks, it's
>> because of cataract surgery I'm having; I'm a bit worried only because my left
>> eye has some problems with it. In any case, the surgery is minor but there's a
>> recovery period and I'm not sure how well I'll be able to use the computer.
>> Thanks, Alan
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