Seeing Clearly

By

I got to watch the operation from outside the surgery room--it’s an outpatient procedure, done in a surgery center, and it literally takes about fifteen minutes. I watched through a window in the door. A monitor was angled toward me, and it showed what Dad was seeing through the microscope. I saw him cut a slice off of Frank’s cornea, then laser the eye below, then stick it back on.

I could hear Dad through the door, reassuring Frank and helping him breathe, and I could see Frank’s stomach going up and down as he squeezed the huggy bear they gave to patients to hold, first quickly, almost hyperventilating with panic, and then more slowly as he got used to the machines touching his eyes.

I’d never seen my dad at work before, and it was really cool to watch him change a human body that way. At my work, I just type in a computer, and here’s my dad, who I’ve known my whole life, competently, confidently, expertly cutting up an eyeball. I always knew that was what he did, but seeing him in action made me a combination of proud of him and sort of ashamed of my skill set. I don’t even type that fast, really.
The night after the surgery, Frank could already pretty much see--I’d assumed it would take a couple days, but he was walking around unassisted right away. His eyes weren’t even that red. It seemed like such a small thing, for such a big thing.

I’m proud of my dad and proud of Frank: something that even 50 years ago would’ve been a permanent problem was fixed, in just a couple of minutes. I’m watching him write right now without his glasses on.

But, of course, he’s still adjusting to the change. I mean, he’s basically worn glasses all his life. He claims that certain objects--notably quarters and DVD cases--look bigger now. And he has to wear these protective goggles at night so he doesn’t accidentally rub his corneal flaps open, and his eyes hurt if he doesn’t wear sunglasses most of the time, so he looks like one of those sunglasses inside dorks, and he hasn’t been allowed to shower yet, and the drops he has to put in every few hours have formed a semi-permanent-looking crust around his eyes. Still, though, it’s pretty amazing.
I worried that I wouldn’t like glasses-less Frank. I’ve always had a thing for dudes with glasses, and all the silly faux-intellectualism that carries with it. Those thick black frames that the cool kids wear these days are very cute.

Luckily I still like Frank without them. He has really pretty eyes, as stupid as that sounds. I mean, I’ve been dating the guy for four years, but I’ve never really seen his non-glassed face for an extended period of time. At the same time, it’s weird that he can see me, now, all the time. Before, when we were being, um, intimate, he couldn’t see more than an attractive, me-colored blur. I worry that the sharp edges won’t be nearly as attractive. There’s a reason that photographers smear vaseline on the lense, you know?

But we’ll figure it out. I’ll just have to trust that I am not repulsive, up-close. And it will be close: according to his last check-up, he now has 20/15 vision. After a few more weeks of crusty eyes and goggles, he should be back to better-than-normal.
His old glasses are stuck in the bag they gave us at the surgery center, and I can’t help but think about how panicked he would’ve been before not remembering where they were. I guess he doesn’t even really need to keep them. Maybe he can pop the lenses out and wear them that way every now and again, just to look cool.