One of our Summer Projects

Just in case someone thinks we've been resting and relaxing here at the farm this summer, here's a glimpse of a summer project we've been working on.

Blackwaters break.

Taking a break. There comes a time... every once in a while... you just gotta take a break.

Where’d You Get Them Peepers?

Well, it turns out this is the year. Tests and measurements of the worst eye indicated it’s time to get on with it. Wasting no time, I signed up for the next date open on the surgery calendar… about a week out. One eye would be done and the other a couple weeks later. There was a 3 day period of prep, a series of eye-drops that needed to be installed in the target eye, and the wait.

I arrived bright and early on a Tuesday and reported to surgery, my trusty patient advocate and moral support at my side. Mustering up courage and my best game-day face, I struggled to keep things light by bantering with the staff and joking around a bit to keep my mind off the chamber of horrors in the next room. It was fine. I’m going to get through this.

I don’t remember much after getting to the operating room. I climbed on the table, positioned myself where they wanted me, an injection of a drug cocktail including versed, my personal amnesiatic of choice, and I was in la-la land. Vague memories of 70s music… some conversation… the doctor talking his way through the procedure… and it was over. I’m told the procedure usually takes just 12 to 15 minutes, but it seemed like just a minute or two to me. Just another minute or two to come out of the drug stupor and I climbed down off the table and into an awaiting wheel chair for the ride to my prep room. Into a recliner, cup of coffee, and the best toast I’ve ever eaten.

One must be a little careful the first few days after cataract surgery. No bending over or heavy lifting or anything that could cause strain or raise the blood pressure. I was fine with that, mellowing in the afterglow of knowing that it was over.

Anyway, the eye healed and I was happy with the result. My previous prescription glasses no longer worked. As expected, I will need reading glasses for close-up work, but the clarity and crispness of my new vision is really something. I wonder what Alaska looks like with these new peepers?

A follow-up visit to the eye doc proved that all was going as it should for the first eye, and that the second eye would be following along just a couple weeks later. That procedure was an almost identical repeat of the first.

And now I’m done. Two eyes… two new lenses… new clearer and crisper vision. In a few more weeks I’ll get a new prescription for glasses, but I can tell already that it’s quite possible to function without any correction at all for most things. I can even read without glasses if I hold what I’m reading at a stretched arms length. A remarkable ordeal. A remarkable change for the better.

And now we’re ready to go exploring again.


Medical advancements can be divided into two separate but overlapping categories: those that improve the quality of life and those that extend the quantity, or length, of life. IOLs, Intra-Ocular Lens implants fall clearly in the former. After installation they function like the originals with no needed care or anti-rejection drugs or anything. They truly improve the quality of life with virtually no negatives at all for most people. And they haven’t been around for very long. Someone born just 50 years prior to me would’ve been largely out of luck. Other than increasingly powerful correction with decreasing results, they would have slowly lost this incredibly important human sense. Adaptation was the only remedy.

Here’s an unfortunate fact. I’m not very strong when it comes to medical procedures of almost any kind. I’ve passed out from blood draws and other needle sticks. Donating blood is a worthy cause that I’ve done, but a few times the ordeal ended with me on the floor... even after getting my cookie and orange juice. Putting eye drops in has required a team of people. Eye clinics have rarely had patients that needed so many hands to hold open the eye lids for the dreaded glaucoma test. Contact lenses were not even a consideration when I needed glasses. So, the idea of surgery on my eye was simply off-the-chart. Fear, even baseless fear, is a powerful force.

But the prospect of going blind is an even more powerful force. A force that’ll make even the weak strong. And, over time, I came to accept, even look forward to, the idea that someone would be sticking a hot poker into my eye, shattering and sucking out the old lens, and sliding a new plastic replacement in through the hole made by the hot poker. And all this, mind you, while I’m awake? Really?

Me and My Eyes

New eyes. Well, at least new lenses. The original lenses, the ones that came with this body, were rapidly becoming a problem (cataracts), and my big hope as we drove into Wisconsin this year was that I’d be able to have them replaced during our visit this year.

Beaver Dam was (is?) our hometown. We both grew up here. But like so many kids who grew up in small towns, we couldn’t wait to get out into the bigger world beyond the borders of our little town. For some, like me, who weren’t particularly “popular” in high school, that desire to get away was probably also driven by a chance to start over, to hit the reset button.

Fast forward through most of our working years… which were coming to an end while we lived in Geneva Illinois. This is when, after a long period of soul-searching and deliberation, we decided to chuck it all and hit the road as full time RVers. That’s a story for another time. At any rate, we needed an official place to get mail, file taxes, and other such administrivia, so we took an address in Beaver Dam and that’s been our “official home” since. It’s where our doctors, dentists, and other medical shit happens. And included in that grouping would be my eye doctor.

I’ve known I had cataracts brewing for some years, but only in the past couple years has the situation degraded to the point where my quality of life was affected. Last summer, just prior to our Alaska and Yukon trip, tests indicated one eye was almost ready. Close, but not quite. As it would have screwed up our big summer trip, I was happy to put it off. But this year I was really ready. I want to see clearly again.