I’ve been writing about how seventy is the new twenty and loving it. Taking on societal impressions of aging like a fierce opponent in a boxing ring.
And then. And then this week scored on me like a nicely planted left hook.
The Hook Lands
The whole cataract surgery experience landed like a square punch to the face of my determined youthfulness.
Not sure if it was the tone and forced volume of the voice, or the substance of the pre-surgical phone calls that got to me.
“Mr. BF, have you received the forms we sent you? Were you able to successfully complete them? Do you have a Health Care Directive? Okay, be sure to bring that with you. Now, we will be transporting you from our southside office to the surgery center, but will you be able to make it to our office at 3530 S. Keystone Avenue at 6:30 A.M. on Monday, June 12th? Would you like us to provide transportation from your home?”
Easily overhearing the entire conversation, I was a bit taken aback at the way this woman was talking to a man who just peddled a bicycle across America. It was jarring. Off-putting. But I was thinking how maybe we’d be much younger than most of their patients.
The Big Day
I must admit, we were both a bit anxious. We stepped off the elevator, right on time, into a massive waiting room with sleek, contemporary seating pods arranged around a shiny, black, baby grand piano.
While they carted BF off for multiple tests, I walked the circumference of the waiting room studying the incredible display of art by Kyle Ragsdale, feeling like I had stepped into a gallery. I studied the kitchenette and its fancy coffee machine, fun snacks, and well-stocked fridge. I’d call it inviting yet elegant.
I chose a seat where I could study the beautiful painting above. I sat writing in my journal, looking up each time I heard the ding of the elevator doors. To my surprise, the majority of the people were not old at all. In fact, they looked our age. Who knew? Cataracts must be occurring in younger folks these days.
The optometrist’s scribe, Keaton typed briskly as the doctor called notations to him as he examined BF’s eyes. This went on until the doctor told BF he had the green light to proceed with surgery if he was ready. BF affirmed and the energy shifted to more of a “Let’s do this thing.”
I immediately liked Keaton even though it felt like he thought he was handling the aged. I don’t know, maybe I’m being overly sensitive about this, but that’s how it felt to me. Before he began his spiel, most of which we’d already either read or been told, he called me to attention, “I’ll tell you both this because two ears are better than one.”
I stopped him. “Keaton, wouldn’t it be four ears are better than two?”
Keaton laughed. He said, “I say that all the time and not one has ever said that.” I wanted to say, and, just so you know, we’re not old, but I didn’t. I just sat there silently feeling proud I had been the sole noticer of something. And Keaton had laughed at my joke.
Over the next two days, BF and I bonded with the other patient, a super sweet lady, who rode the party bus with us. I Liked her immediately. We could have become friends, and I wish I’d given her my number. And I’ll have you know that the driver tried to help me fasten my seatbelt. Are you kidding me?
While I waited with the cadre of support people while our beloveds had surgery, we drank coffee, ate cookies, freshly baked right there at the surgery center. We chatted about grandkids, travels, and hobbies. They were interesting and interested. And not at all “old.”
When they called me back to greet BF following his surgery, I found him holding a yellow rose which he held out to me and proposed. I think he was a little loopy, but how sweet, right?
I’m happy to say, the results of BF’s surgery were “excellent” and he’s already benefiting from the results. Couldn’t be happier.
What we learned
I truly hope this never happens, but should BF ever need a caregiver, I can’t be that person. I’d rather stay friends. He did not like it when I yelled, “Don’t!” when he started to bend over to pick up a napkin from the floor. He did not like it when, in order to enforce the no reading or small screens instructions, I confiscated his phone and the new Hemmings magazine that arrived in the mail.
While we were waiting in the exam room for his third-day-follow-up appointment, I had my little list titled, “How Long Till He Can . . . “ My pen was poised and ready.
BF said to me, “I can’t wait till you have to have cataract surgery and I get to dictate over you.” That’s exactly what he said. I made a quick note to make sure I got the direct quote for you.
Turns out most of the things BF loves to do, have at least a two-week waiting period. No biking, pickleball, weight training, landscaping, or working on cars. I assured him two weeks would fly by. He pouted a little.
Thankfully, the anesthesia had left him sleepy immediately after surgery, but once that was over, it took him exactly one half of a day to become bored. He engaged in finding allowable activities. He has organized his closet, tossed clothes, and caught up on all the stuff he reads on his phone. We watched A Man Called Otto, had our car serviced, and met with our financial advisor. He’s been to a fundraiser and a car show. We’re walking.
How does one balance it all? How does one nurture her/his spirit of youth while blocking the left hooks? Does it have to be a fight, or can it be a dance? I’m not sure. Right now, I’m guessing it’ll be a bit of both. Just praying the choreography outweighs the punches.