Let’s Plant a Garden

After not being able to eat supper and not being able to sleep, I got up at 4:30 and finally heard what my eye doctor said. “I am 99.5% sure it’s nothing.” I didn’t hear that yesterday. I only heard, “It could be an emergency,” which led to cascading decisions that were not decisions and not thoughts. Panic. If it were a detached retina? An emergency. Several times in the sleepless night, I moved my eyeball everywhere and couldn’t get the flashes even to happen. Could my eye be dealing with the 99.5% (nothing wrong) not the .5% (holy shit you’re going blind)?

I got up at 3 and again just now and looked at the map of the two passes for me to choose from that are between me and Colorado Springs. Chain laws in effect on both passes. I don’t have chains or any other traction tools. When that law is in force even Bella wouldn’t be allowed on the mountains. To get there on time for my appointment I’d have to leave by 7 am. It’s -17 C out there. Nothing is melting soon.

A little voice inside of me said, “Pay attention to reality, Martha.” Reality? The roads are fucked. The chance of there having been serious damage to my eye is minimal. Is it worth risking EVERYTHING to save my eye? No. I can’t see that well out of that eye anyway.

Then I thought of hypochondria. My mom and brother were the worst. Am I? Yeah, I think so, since when? I thought about that, too, and I realized it began sometime in 2020 with Covid and the ambient and constantly escalating anxiety. I’ve probably been afraid, but have I this cowboy “thing” about putting a good face on stuff and getting through it to the other side. The other side is always better, in my mind, anyway. I’m an optimist. But I began to think last night in the insomnia that maybe all of this has affected me more than I know and I’m really fucking scared. Maybe the traumas of life build inside us and emerge as this later on in our lives? Fear bubbling below the surface of the good face we’ve put on it?

Last night, not sleeping, I realized I was also not breathing. “Panic, Martha. This is panic.” I’ve had friends who had panic attacks. My mom had panic attacks. It doesn’t take any eldritch phantom or Hieronymous Bosch vision to terrify us. Panic attack. I was having one. I took a few deep breaths, and relaxed a little. I took another deep breath and thought, “This is your decision. The risks here are yours to take, to choose.” I actually got up and googled whether people with one eye can still drive in Colorado, so if you’re concerned about that, yes, in all 50 states.

And I realized that part of this I really like my life as it is right now, and I’m afraid something will take it away. Change might be the only constant in the universe (as I so glibly and arrogantly wrote back when I was 25) but maybe there comes a time when a person wants to bring all that flux to a screeching halt and just enjoy life as it is.

I’ve rented a couple of AirBNBs in Ukraine. I will rent more. Both of the people have sent me heart-rending messages. Yesterday, after I “checked out” of an AirBNB, I got this review:

As I read that, I thought, “I’m not a very great person, but if that were my epitaph, I’d be honored. What more could a person do/be in life?” Then I cried. Then I thought that my night in her apartment cost me only $35. I “stayed” four nights in the other apartment I rented for $60. A young family in Ukraine’s heavily bombed city on the Black Sea. I can’t spell it, but it’s in the news. I’m so sad for all those people who didn’t do anything.

That and the idea of war in Europe is absolutely terrifying because, in a very real way, there is no “Europe” and no “America” any more. Maybe “being cool” and “putting a good face on it” is completely nuts. It hit me when I opened my email just now.

We have the news of the war and an advertisement for seeds. That’s pretty much life as we know it right now. Everything’s fucked; let’s plant a garden. Not a bad philosophy, really.

So, instead of a dangerous drive over a pass, I plan to take Bear out for a saunter in our first real snow of this winter, and, hopefully, my friends will still want to come down to see the cranes. By the time they were going to leave, the passes should be clear. Vita brevis.

66 thoughts on “Let’s Plant a Garden

  1. I hope the optician is right and it nothing serious for you.
    How silly that you cant let the dogs loose in the mountains now. I can understand beside roads and even in parks. but in wilderness areas that’s silly.

    • Well, I used to let my dogs run loose in the mountains. Then a ranger said something very wise, ‘You know, if your dog sees a bear, it will run back to you bringing the bear with it.’ That’s an argument for leashes. 🙂

      • That’s true. I live in England we have no dangerous animals here really. I can see the dog getting killed by attacking the bear. I cant imagine the bear following the dog though. That might be fun to see although a tad scary.

  2. I’m glad you decided not to cross the passes today — yes, it could be an emergency, but if you can’t even make the flashes happen again, it’s probably not! And even if it is, you can still see out of the other eye. And maybe your eye ws just reacting to those beautiful snowflakes falling to the ground! A walk in the snow sounds much more in order today, followed when it’s safe by a visit to the eye doctor in the city!

      • When I heard a year ago that I had cancer, I was terrified — more about the treatments than about the disease. I saw the doctor yesterday, and he told me that he saw “no evidence of cancer at this time.” It’s normal to be scared, and to let that out in the best way possible (writing about it, sharing it, etc.). No need to feel stupid, but I’m glad you thought about it overnight and realized that the better course of action is not the acton motivated by panic! Hugs!

        • Yeah — what scared me most was the surgery IF the retina were detached. Good god. Thank you for this. I guess I think I shouldn’t be scared but you’re right. It’s normal.

  3. I have flashes and funny lines in my eyes sometimes. Luckily our optician is half a mile away and I have retinopathy screening once a year. No problems at the moment. Just wondered if there is glaucoma in your family? I’m checked out for that too. Am I asking too many questions?❤️

  4. There is an apocryphal story about a time some students came to visit Voltaire. They were told he was working in his garden and were shown in to the garden to see the great philosopher. They asked him various questions as he worked and one of them asked him what he would want to do if he learned the world were going to end tomorrow. Voltaire responded, “I’d want to work in my garden.”

  5. I totally understand why you were scared out of your mind. One more freaking thing out of our control these days is cause for a panic attack. I get yearly eye exams because macular degeneration is a real risk. My mother and her mother had it. To get that report and then realize that help would be hard to get to – I’d have a panic attack too. Glad you spiraled back to earth. It’s a tough trip. ❤️
    Not much seems to make sense anymore – these last 2 years have taken a toll. And I can’t believe what I’m reading about the war (I can’t watch the news anymore). Your email inbox list illustrates the absurdity of life now.

    • Nothing makes sense any more. I’m beginning to feel a real disconnect between ordinary life (as I remember it) and where we are now. I don’t know if holding on to the idea of normal behavior or losing it completely is the best strategy — but I will hold on. One thing that happened from yesterday was realizing that that eye is already a pretty big mess and a person doesn’t need two eyes to have a drivers license. Sounds grim but it kind of relaxed me. 🙂

      I can’t believe this war. I don’t see why it happened. I don’t get what Russia could want that it doesn’t (in its wealth and immensity) already have. I am afraid for the future. Everything that’s happened in the past few years (beginning in 2016) just seems cruel and wasteful. I’m very sad and worried for all of us. ❤

      • As long as you can drive…hold on to that. ❤️ Some sense of normalcy. I feel that disconnect too and have deepened it by backing away from the news and videos and visceral horrors on social media. That has become my new “normal” to get through each day and night.
        I can’t believe this war either. Another madman in power wreaking havoc. I don’t even want to think where we’d be now if the 2020 election had gone differently.

        • Pathetic as it sounds, I’m very grateful for the friendship of my dogs who aren’t part of any of this. This morning when I got up ungodly early they looked puzzled, but got up with me, acted like they always have breakfast at 4:45 am. Right now they are both exhausted. 🙂

          Yeah — I believe that there is a Putin/Trump connection and that all hell would have broken loose had he been re-elected, it still could, but differently. So much evil. It’s incredible, daunting and sad.

          • It doesn’t sound pathetic. You sound profoundly lucky to have your sweet dogs. What a comfort in this crazy world.

            Good needs to triumph over evil. I don’t care how cliché it sounds.

            • That’s not cliche. Good is where things originate. Evil is where things die stupid, useless, meaningless deaths. I keep thinking now that every good thing, every friendly person, every crane, every kindness is humanity standing up to evil. ❤

              • I latch on to whatever kindness I experience, whether it be a friendly grocery store clerk or a smile from a complete stranger while on a walk. Sometimes it brings me close to tears. A breath of fresh air in today’s world. Each act is balancing or standing up to the evil, as you say, one by one. I like your way of thinking. ❤️

                • Me too. It’s funny how that’s paid off. The nice people who assemble my groceries will go out of their way to see I have Sun Chips which I can totally live without, but they don’t have them all the time and they know I often order them. I don’t know. Kindness moves the world in small ways. The fact that I’m never upset with them (I’ve seen people ream them out in the parking lot because the store didn’t have something they wanted) means that when I get there, they’re happy to see me. That’s not nothing. It’s maybe not much but for all we know that kind of thing could save the world. I know that many of my days have been turned around because of a warm, friendly smile from a stranger. ❤

  6. I think it is was a wise choice to take some deep breaths and rethink the drive through the mountains. However, when conditions are better it may be a good idea just to have your eyes checked for a piece of mind. Chains are a good investment as you never know, when you’re in the mountains when you may need them. We used to live on a road in the Kootenays where I’d have to stop at the bottom of the road and put my chains on my little toyota to get home, and it wasn’t quite as long and steep as a mountain pass.

    • I have chains for my old Ford Focus in the garage that I’ve never used… Talk about useless. 😀 I had them for years because it snowed in the mountains where I lived in California and the put the chain law up immediately just to keep people out of the mountains. I was reasonably afraid of not being able to get home from school. Here I am not obliged to go anywhere so I haven’t gotten chains, but… I have an appointment to see the specialist on April 1 which is April Fool’s day. I hope that’s a meaningless coincidence…

      • Hah! When the doctor told me that with chemo I would lose my hair temporarily, my response was that that was a pretty fair trade for my life! How is your eye today?

        • Right? Hair or life? Hmmm… which shall I choose???

          The flashes have diminished, and I have new floaters which would happen with the harmless 99.5% chance option. The more I thought about what happened yesterday the clearer it became that what had kicked in what a survival instinct that was probably hyper-rational. It was a very interesting experience.

          • I think that instinct tells us if there is something wrong we need to take care of it as quickly as possible, no matter what. I’m glad you thought about and overrode your instinct to the point of waiting till the roads would not be quite so dangerous! ❤

  7. I totally understand that panicky feeling and remember it well! My flashing lights happened as I was walking around the lagoon around 5pm with my son. Even though I knew what it was, I think somehow that made me even more stressed. I called my eye doc after hours who told me to just show up first thing next morning (I got ZERO sleep that night) which I did and he got me into a retina specialist the same day and had emergency laser repair a couple days later. It doesn’t sound like yours is at that level yet, thank goodness!

    • It’s scary and I’m still scared and Monday I’m going to call other doctors in a nearer city and see if I can get seen sooner than April 1. My eye has Asteroid Hyalosis so some of the symptoms of a retinal tear would be impossible for me to experience and that was why my optometrist couldn’t see to the back of my eye with his instruments.

      • The retina specialist has really great technology, I’m not an easy patient and ask tons of questions and make them explain everything in detail. Here’s what I suggest until you get to the doc. In case you do, don’t do any downward dogs or plank or push ups or anything where you put your head down and create pressure on your eyes. This is one thing I was told not to do for about 3 weeks after my surgery and I swear, it kinda still scares me to do it even though everything is OK. The possibility of not being able to see totally freaked me out cos if I can’t read, I wouldn’t know what to do.

        • Thank you! That’s good advice! I can’t never put my head down but I can definitely adjust things so it isn’t as necessary and move differently to minimize it.

          • Just a precaution. When I do downward dog, I feel a lot of pressure in my eyes/head and makes me uncomfortable to stay there for long periods. RE your Asterioids, its true that it’s not usually related to vitreal detachment, but still a specialist is the best one to know 100%. It’s relatively uncommon tho. Let me know how it goes!

            • Thank you for all of this info and moral support! It’s really helpful and reassuring. I’m definitely going to try to see the ophthalmologist in Salida (bigger richer Town) and see what he/she says and keep the spot with the specialist too, probably. 🥰

                    • Good luck on your visit. I think I’m in the “trying to calm down” zone right now. 😉 And, maybe by Friday I will have seen a better doctor than the one I have here. I realized I just really need to find someone who can look through all that stuff to my retina.

                    • I have to calm down right now because there’s nothing I can do until morning. I’ve decided to go see the local doc (the one in my town) who has different equipment for looking at the retina. That will tell me (hopefully) if I have a problem or not which is really the question. My research has (among a lot of other things) shown me what other causes exist — for one, eye fatigue. I just finished reading 100+ books for a writing contest, most of the books in recent weeks have been online and all the work I had to do to communicate the results was done online which means I’ve been in front of this screen for at least 8 hours/day for more than a week. So, I’m trying to be a little chill until morning when I’ll make at least one phone call. It could have been that the doc I saw Thursday didn’t see anything because there was nothing there. I don’t know. I think it’s second opinion time and the sooner and closer the better.

                      And you were right about dilation drops. I don’t think my eye got back to normal for more than 36 hours. It’s a lot less light-sensitive and blurry today. And I keep thinking if I hadn’t sold my house in City Heights back in 2003 I’d have a paid for house in San Diego. OH well. I had good reasons to move… But wow.

                    • I can def say that stress isn’t good for every single part of our body and mind. No one said completely no but I think the stress of my son’s full on life saving emergency abdominal surgery contributed to the first torn retina and the second one on the other eye was from that other stressor that I endured, but it miraculously disappeared just before surgery. Doc even said it was kind of a miracle. So BREATHE.

                    • Yes! Breathing… Anxiety really makes us stop that without noticing. I’m having to be very conscious of it now which is good.

                      Funny, just now I was researching the relationship of stress and vision. And everything that happened to me last week could be caused from stress which makes me a little less nervous. Godnose we’ve been in a stressful time and I’ve had a couple of major personal stresses in the past few months. My eye is so much better today that I’m a little less freaked out.

                      I have a scar in my left eye from a retinal tear I didn’t even know I had! Maybe from falling off a horse and landing on my head when I was 17. Who knows.

                      I look at the state of the world right now and think, “God, all anyone wants is to get through life with as much peace and happiness as they can find for themselves, those they love and those around them. We all have so many personal challenges throughout our lives. What arrogance, immorality, to add more to that with war?”

                    • I’m a basket case. I think most people are right now and some have very strange ways of dealing with that. I’m sad for the people in the Ukraine. I’m scared of WW 3, too. I was going to have house guests this past weekend, people I love but who are very complicated. I was so stressed cleaning ahead of their visit it was insane. Who knows. Maybe this was a hysterical retinal problem. I honestly just want to take my dogs for a hike in the Lagunas. I’m very very sorry you have a mean neighbor.

  8. From your last response to Enchanted Seashells, t looks as if you don’t even have to go to Salida — that would be ideal to be able to stay in your own town to determine next steps. Then Salida could be a next step, or Colorado Springs on 4/1 — lots of good information along the way! Good luck with it all! ❤

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