What’s it like to get Lasik?

It all started when a dog bit me on the street in Chicago’s fancy Lincoln Park neighborhood a little over a year ago. I was minding my own business, walking to my postpartum doula job when a dog walker came toward me with three dogs on leashes, and as they passed me a big one suddenly grabbed my wrist in its jaws! It was pretty terrible. I had the presence of mind to get all of the owner’s information before I went to my client’s house, crying, and then to an urgent care. I was so afraid of getting a infection but thanks to excellent wound care from my dear husband I came out of it healthy and with minimal scarring. I ritualistically burned my favorite sweatshirt that was ruined, and (the good news) recently collected a settlement from the dog owner’s insurance company. 

That damn dog. I loved this hoody so much! And now I keep my distance from strange dogs.

Then last week someone on a local Facebook mom group asked about Lasik, and someone I know (a former doula client!) said she’d had hers done several years ago by a guy in Oakbrook and had been happy with it. A little more Facebook research yielded several friends who’d also had the procedure done, and yielded not one bad report.

So, money in the bank, summer vacation …. And then I realized I had been wearing contacts for forty years! Forty years of taking them in and out and cleaning them and sleeping in them when I forgot and constantly buying all the stuff and having to bring my glasses everywhere and thought ….

Enough already.

I booked an appointment online, went in on Thursday morning and got an exam and the go-ahead for the procedure. Everything was efficient and reassuring.

Although it did feel an awful lot like an eyeball factory. It reminded me of movies like Logan’s Run and The Hunger Games — what healthcare and/or cosmetic surgery looks like in the dystopian future when it is made into a true consumer product. You are smoothly moved from one area to another, from waiting room to office, to another waiting room and a video on the iPad explaining the procedure. Then another doctor and then the credit guy. Twelve months same as cash! Also a discount from our health insurance, which is really the first time that insurance has saved us money, a nice surprise.

Logan’s Run, 70s sci-fi shot in an actual California mall. Also featuring Farrah Fawcett. Must see.

I was sick to my stomach Friday morning. My appointment was at 8:00 am and it didn’t matter if I ate or not but I really couldn’t bear to. My husband laughed and said he was jealous! I took a Lyft there and back which they had assured me was common — but I didn’t see anyone else doing it, either.

The doctor does surgeries on Fridays so at 8:00 am the waiting room was filled with people looking both nervous and sick. 

Live on the scene

I was feeling so freaked out by this time that I maybe dissociated a little bit? I definitely became a docile and compliant patient. After two Tylenol PM pills (…dang it, why didn’t I ask for the Xanax?…), I went into a small pre-op/recovery room with a comfy chair and desk and hung out with a really sweet young woman who put numbing drops in my eyes. We chatted about how I’d had kefir for breakfast and how she had really pretty hair. I got a mesh surgical cap and wads of Kleenex over my ears and my glasses were put away (FOREVER). Then I was led into the big room (which was presumably sterile even though the office is in a big mall-looking place) and there were two giant machines that did I know not what. I met the doctor for the first time and he struck me very much like the kooky therapist in Twin Peaks — not something that instilled confidence. I couldn’t see at all with no glasses and numbing drops so they led me gently by the hands to the first table where I laid down. I closed my eyes and it seemed like the doctor slipped some kind of rubber thing between the lids of one eye to hold it open. I focused on a green light that turned into red — doc was talking me through it (I’ll bet he’s tempted to make a recording) — one eye, then another. Then they got me up and took me to the other machine where my head lay in like a little pit? And they did something else to my eyes — something that involved a BURNING SMELL. He says, “now you’re going to smell burning but you don’t need to worry because nothing is burning” and I thought, “….what does that mean exactly….?” And then I smelled burning! And was so freaked out it took everything I had to just be chill and get it over with.

Here is the picture they emailed me today — surprise! It seems an odd choice to me, from a marketing point of view. Still, here I am sharing it with you. Don’t I look relaxed? This was before the burning smell.

They led me out of the room, put my sunglasses on me, and that was it. I was like, “am I done?” And they said yep. And then I had to call my Lyft driver but I couldn’t see a blessed thing — my eyes were super blurry like I was under water. I had the front desk person call me a car and then wandered downstairs and stood on the corner in sunglasses like a literal blind person until my Lyft came to pick me up. I wonder what the guy thought (I used to drive for Lyft and I’m sure I would have been freaked out and nosy). 

Got myself home and I crashed, on my back and in sunglasses, as instructed. One of my eyes kind of hurt and just the thought of it was freaking me out so I dug up some old pain pills and took one and ate a cracker and put it out of my mind and passed out for a while longer. Had peppermint tea when I got up. I need to wear sunglasses for sleeping and showers for the next week!

I will mention here that I’m a very holistic-type person and I try to be careful about what I eat and what I put into my body. It certainly occurred to me last night while I was still all revved up with adrenaline that it’s probably disruptive to blast lasers into your eyes, no matter how good the final result. And honestly I wouldn’t be in a hurry to do it again.

I’m more than okay with it though.

Went back today with the hubs and got the all-clear. I’m sold, so glad I did it!

 

Dec 13 — First draft of Christmas letter


The kids and I were joking about something we all saw separately that said, do you realize that the Olympics were this year? And seriously doesn’t it seem like five years ago? 

So, in an eventful year, I’m happy to say that the number one “Making My Dreams Come True” 2018 experience was visiting a dreamy and odd London attraction, The Dennis Severs’ House.

On Danny’s recommendation (!), I’d read this lovely book, The Marvels by Brian Selznick,  a few years ago and a key feature of it — a home where you could hear whispers and there was fresh food on the table and it always seemed as if someone had just left the room — is based on an actual real place you can visit! And I looked it up and indeed you can visit and I thought, sadly, “but when will I ever get back to London…?”

 So, flash forward —  we went to London for Spring Break this year, and I got to take my old-enough-to-appreciate-it kids and hubs to my favorite city!

Tower Bridge

I went to London for the first time in 1985 for a term abroad when I was 20 years old. I shared a room in a Golders Green B&B with my beautiful friend Jen Bruer — who with her height and masses of red hair and freckles and Nashville accent was the toast of young man London! There were 21 of us there from Earlham College and it truly was once in a lifetime. 

Trafalgar Square 1986

I love London so very much. I went back with a boyfriend at least a couple of times and we had a blast and he said it suited me very well —the good manners and the lovely summertime and that tea came just when I started getting crabby.

I had the genius idea to go back with my mom and my aunt and her daughter, my cousin Marie who came in from Australia for just a week. It was memorable! And timely, because Miles was born a year or so later. That was the last time I’d been, in 1999.

And now I have gone again with my own family and walked the wrong way and got on busses and had snacks from newsstands and Tesco and brunch at the pub across the street which is now my very favorite place ever and….

Went to The Dennis Severs’ House. 

18 Folgate Street 

You go at dusk or later as it is all lit by candles. It is in the Spitalfields section of London, not a wealthy part, a place where silk weavers lived and worked. 

A man with a very quiet calming voice explains to us the rules. No touching. No talking (!). Take as long as you want. Start in the cellar. (My husband asked if this man could lead us all around London in his calming way.)

The room that struck me the most was up in the garret, showing a time when the silk industry had collapsed and people were very poor. We agreed later it looked like a creepy version of Scrooge’s bedroom and had a desk that looked like Bob Cratchit’s in the corner. What I noticed is that there was a little stool and a crutch (like Tiny Tim would use!) next to the fireplace, with a picture tacked up at kid’s eye view. And I thought, “here, you sit by the fire and look at your picture” and wanted to cry. 

At this point I realize I’ve gone far afield! Will end here and dream of the big city in days gone by …

Life at home

So I’ve been spending more than my fair share of time on social media lately….

…..and really how did we eat before Instagram?

Mid-morning

The last few days for me have felt like a real need for rest — plus intense feelings of guilt about others who don’t get a chance to kick back — and the intense enjoyment I feel lounging, enjoying the quiet and the sunshine and the snoring dog. 

“Getting things done at my own pace,” as my husband likes to say. 

I have Christmas preparations to carry out of course. The tree is up but not decorated. Tonight is the middle school holiday concert. I picked up my holiday cards from Staples yesterday and they came out kind of shitty. 

Also I’m reading a lot. Obsessively following Twitter (we are living through history, by the way). Knitting. Watching Sabrina. Dreaming up ideas for my new sewing corner. 

So, I am making good food for hungry people, two of whom are growing and too skinny. I am making sure the kitchen and laundry and household machines keep moving. I am available for company and emotional support. In short, I am doula-ing my family. It is very much women’s work, as it’s been done for centuries.

Another thing women have done for centuries is apologize and self-deprecate. I really want to say here: Its important to me right now to publish regularly and I can’t do that

if I let perfect be the enemy of good
(as a smart friend taught me). I’m not sure any of this is “good enough.”

Some excellent advice comes to mind from my mother who says —

Just make a decision and be done with it. Right or wrong, it’s done.

That’s what I’m doing here. Thanks for reading!


Sabbatical Day 4

In which I don my husband’s robe and make apple crisp.

Driving to work

So, I’ve been doing this #1secondaday app…

…and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes using their phone a lot — it essentially grabs quick snippets of your day and strings them together. I find the variety of aural environments very satisfying! It also gives a little structure to the day, finding one thing that is #1SE-worthy. The above is a screen grab from Tuesday morning, alongside some scenic Chicago landscape 😉 

It’s been established, I hate sitting in Chicago traffic. My favorite description comes from a lawyer who said simply, “it’s brutal.” It’s terrible, and the public transportation is also just so-so and getting around is the pits, more or less. I want to reiterate again how much of a motivator not sitting in traffic has been for me to make major changes in my life.*

Now is a good time to mention that I’m moving most of my writing here and away from my business page at MesaBirth. Please take a look at this blog post to find out what I’m doing!

It’s interesting to think about the Last Straw — what is it that makes your life so absolutely miserable you decide you’ll change as much else as you possibly can so as not to have to endure it any more? First world problems, I know — but it is also very easy to disparage one’s own mental and physical health and ultimately who does that serve?

My dear sweet husband rounded up the boys to see Spiderman this afternoon and left me alone in the house where I’m basking in the quiet and the snoring dog and the cold bright winter sunshine. I have a movie to watch from the library (Annihilation!) which I am stoked to see but it is too nice to sit in the dark right now. 


Next on deck: possibly chicken and rice soup, or maybe just grilled cheese and leftover tomato soup. Look at more ideas for a sewing corner and possibly start an Ikea list. Read some more of Women Who Run With the Wolves (I want to finish by Dec 31!). Hit “publish” and walk away. 

September 13, 1935

Sam in chaps

This picture came up on my FB page today and honestly there is a lot to unpack — so, some thoughts of Sam as we approach what would have been his 84th birthday. I, his birthday present, will turn 53 a few days later. 

First of all, our tiny little Cape Cod in Willoughby, Ohio. Danny was born here. There was literally no room for a dishwasher in the tiny kitchen and I did that for ten years. 

Then, wee Dan. So little and blonde! So helpful. He has a remarkable sense of Grandpa Sam, although he was only eight when he died. I’m grateful for that, and now he can still do funny stories about and impressions of Sam. He is also naturally Sam-esque, or rather has what I consider to be a strong Sablack gene that creates talkative, charming, darkly handsome men. I would point you to my brother Michael, my cousins Ray and Colin, my nephew Tyler (a superstar in kindergarten and from birth), my Uncle George, and my Uncle David — who died young and was as I recall very funny and glamorous but maybe on the crazier side of crazy. 

So, Sam looks particularly badass here but his looks and attire are actually utilitarian and not something he usually went around in. He was really too old to be riding his motorcycle that far (back home to Martinsburg, WV, where he rented an apartment in my aunt’s home) but he didn’t like to give anything up that wasn’t absolutely necessary. He did however take good care of his clothes and his appearance in general and put time and effort into how he looked.

Fun fact: he met my beautiful mother while selling shoes at Woodward & Lothrop (“Woody’s”) in Washington DC in the early 60s.

I love how gracefully he is reaching down to take whatever Danny is handing him. 

It also reminds me of how he liked to proclaim that he didn’t care for children or babies or puppies or kittens and although he really did hate cats all of these creatures would naturally crawl all over him if he sat still long enough. 

Elegy for a Good Dog

When Buddy first came to us in January 2013, he was sad and scared. He’d been living with an old lady who died and it wasn’t clear how long it had been until he was found. Judging by his behavior wheIMG_2232n he came to us, she let him eat lots of table food and pee inside — I wondered what he would think about our exciting house with two boys bouncing around, and he did just fine.

It’s hard to believe he was only with us for three years because he was so well-loved and had many fans. Among his sterling qualities were a friendly face, extreme fluffiness, gentleness with children, and overall good nature. Vet techs and groomers always had something to say about what a good dog he was — Buddy was patient and stoic and put up with being poked and combed and washed without protest.

Last summer we were saddened to learn that he had diabetes and embarked on a new routine of twice-daily insulin shots and frequent blood sugar checks. Part of the treatment required him to submit to all-day glucose curves where he’d spend the day at the vet, getting stuck with blood draws every couple of hours. He hated it, and our unflappable dog started to shiver uncontrollably when we arrived at the vet’s office. The last time we did the glucose curve he was so upset that he soiled his cage and had to have a bath before hIMG_2532e came home — and then still had to go back for antibiotics later in the week as he suffered from stress-induced colitis. I was growing very concerned about how we were going to handle this for the long term.

Most recently we tried a raw diet for him and he feasted on raw chicken wings twice a day and was honestly the happiest I had ever seen him — his eyes gleamed and his coat shone and he was full of pep and vigor.

IMG_4741Then, quite suddenly, on Sunday night he wouldn’t eat. Monday morning he didn’t eat either and started to decline. Since we already had an appointment scheduled for Tuesday morning we decided to wait until then.

The first vet I saw was very tight-lipped and concerned and we agreed that they’d keep him for the day, start an IV since he was extremely dehydrated, and administer hourly insulin injections to try to get his blood sugar balanced. As the day wore on, it was strongly suggested he transfer to a 24-hour facility where he could be watched all night. Once I got there and spoke to their vet, it became clear that he’d need to stay in that facility for 2-3 days and the prognosis was only fair.

I had to make a decision and I opted for euthanasia. It seemed to me that even if he got through this particular crisis, there would be another one after that and we’d have to decide all over again. And he hates the vet and would be miserable. And, he’s a dog and doesn’t understand that all of these painful procedures are life-saving measures — he would just be unhappy. And right now he was very, very sick. IMG_2288

So, they put me in the special room with kleenex where they do these things, and brought him to me wrapped in a blanket. He was miserable indeed and his breathing was fast and labored. As I held all 15 pounds of him on my lap I was reminded of the many babies I’ve been holding lately for my job, and I rhythmically patted him just as I do with them to soothe him. I told him over and over again what a good dog he was and how much we would all miss him — I wanted the last thing he heard to be: “You’re a good dog. You’re a good dog.”

IMG_4945
Buddy wasn’t a perfect dog. He barked too much, ate disgusting things out of the bathroom garbage, and still preferred to pee inside, especially when it was snowing. But he was also an easy companion, enjoyed walks around the block (and especially walking Danny to school, when he still allowed us to do so), was sweet to children, jumped on the laps of visiting women, and when he was in high spirits ran really fast in circles around the yard and made us all laugh. As of this writing he’s been gone for 24 hours and I can’t believe that when I go upstairs I won’t find him sleeping on my bed.

 

Buddy, you are a very good dog. We all miss you.

IMG_3599
Buddy 2009-May 24, 2016

Church-shopping and mic savvy

My love affair with church has waxed and waned my whole life. Our most recent church home, Trinity Cathedral, had a lot going for it — gorgeous music, a strong interest in social justice work, stuff for children, a knitting ministry, political values that align with our own, and Dean Tracey Lind, whom I adore. As do a lot of other people — her intelligence and charisma have won fans across the country and around the world, and everywhere I go I meet someone who knows her.

And did I mentioned gender-neutral language? It wasn’t until I had it that I realized how much I loved it and how necessary it is. I would insist on it, if I had a choice. It’s not all “he, his, him.” Instead of “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” we might hear about  “Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer of Life.” It’s much nicer that way, don’t you agree?

The biggest problem with Trinity was that it was 30 minutes away and the service started at 9:00 am.

So, now we’re in Lombard and I am ready for a fresh start. A neighborhood church would be great! A church where we can make friends and do church stuff. A church that doesn’t make me grit my teeth … or just turn off the alarm and roll over for a delicious Sunday morning lie-in.

I’ve been to three. Week One was Calvary Episcopal Church — my first choice as I have grown to love the liturgy and the Episcopal Church itself. It is a wee little space — in the picture I am sitting just a row or two from the back.

IMG_3793People were nice without being crazily welcoming (something that tends to scare Michael off) and the lady priest was earnest and friendly. The choir was amazingly good, especially for such a small congregation, and I was charmed when during the Passing of the Peace the choir shouted down from their loft, “Peace down there!” while the priest shouted back, “Peace up there!”

But …. she used a microphone. Why? She could have used her normal speaking voice and I could have heard her in the back of the room with no problem. I found it so distracting. Like, really distracting. Like, I sat there in judgment over the use of a stupid microphone.

The next week I visited First United Methodist Lombard. The Methodist Church is the church of my youth and the church where Michael and I were married. There is a lot I like about it, especially the hymns, but when we moved to Ohio I was disenchanted with how conservative the Methodist churches tended to be … and as time went on I became more impatient with churches that opposed gay marriage. Nevertheless, I thought I’d give it another try. IMG_3831

The late morning service we went to  (for this time young D accompanied me) was sparsely attended, and the minister and some other folks hastened to assure us that most of the church had come to the earlier service that took place out on the patio. The pastor, Luis Reyes, was born and raised in Puerto Rico and still speaks with an accent, and it seemed unusual to see him leading what seems otherwise to be a pretty typically whitebread Midwestern congregation. He scored extra points to me by roaming around and speaking extemporaneously during his sermon (and if he did wear a mic, it wasn’t distracting!). We liked it.

D would have been happy to go back there again this week but I want to see what else our new town has to offer, so today we made our way to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Sadly, this was where the lack of mic-savvy put me over the edge. At Trinity, which is a pretty huge space, there was a person in charge of A/V and still there were problems with the mics from time to time. Now, put less expensive technology into constant use with no one in charge — combined with a minister who sings part of the service and wears a mic the whole time — well, it is unfortunate. IMG_3864

People were not especially friendly. Early in the service he asked everyone to look around and if they saw someone they didn’t recognize, to introduce themselves and say hello. D and I laughed later that the woman in front of us just basically gave us the side-eye over her shoulder.

It being Pentecost (one of my favorite church days), the minister gave a sermon in the first person, as if he was one of the people there, which interested me — but there was a baby who babbled (not crying, just making noise) through the whole thing. I would be a churlish mother indeed if I faulted the parent or the baby, which I don’t. But I do wish they had left earlier than they did.  And before they left, I felt like I could see every thought bubble over every other head in the place, thinking irritably, “get that kid out of here!”

It was a church fail.

As a former marketing type, it interests me to see how churches welcome, or fail to welcome, visitors to their midst. What are the first impressions? What is the follow up? And it interests me so much that I wonder if I ought to try visiting some churches that are out of my comfort zone — the ones that don’t allow women to be ministers, the ones whose predominant political views are polar opposites of my own, the ones who insist that the Bible is the final inerrant word of God? The big churches, the well-attended churches, the churches with really active ministries do tend to be these types of churches.

What matters, really? Certainly making a decision about attending church based on its inoffensive use of A/V equipment doesn’t seem to make me a good Christian. Whatever that means.

Lots of big questions raised here for me. No answers yet. I do believe we will find a church where we feel welcome, where we feel the warmth, where we can make a home and feel community. I don’t know what it looks like yet. I don’t know how long I’m going to look. But I do know that church fills my little buddy D with love — he has always really liked church, since he was a little baby snatching the Communion host out of the priest’s hands.

The best part so far is the traditional post-church Sunday breakfast. IMG_3832