Goodbye Grumblings

Find the good

Why am I grumbling about new and improved vision?

It’s been 11 months since I started seeing better after having cataract surgery. The surgery was on my right eye, the one my ophthalmologists always dismissed.

“You only have the one good eye,” they’d remind themselves as they looked over my chart.

“Well, I’d rather have it than nothing,” I’d say. I valued that eye, even with its limited vision. I always thought that if my better left eye stopped working, at least I’d have colour and movement with this one, and a blurry idea of shape.

Even after 11 months of new vision, I’m still fascinated.

After the cataract surgery, my vision in that eye was incredibly clearer. I’ve never relied on that eye for anything more than peripheral movement. If I catch something, it’s always a surprise. But immediately after the surgery I could see edges of things instead of a blur. Sometimes I close one eye and then the other to marvel at the difference between the two eyes. Blurry. Not blurry. No edges. Edges. Christmas lights were really neat this year. Blobs with one eye, points of light with rays with the other. A combination of the two if I looked with both eyes!

New family joke when one of us doesn’t notice something: “No edges?” someone will ask, smirking.

This newly useful right eye means I can get up in the middle of the night without putting my glasses on and find my water glass in the dark – even if it’s one of the clear glass ones!

This new clarity is a preview of what my vision will be after the cataract is removed from the other eye: edges everywhere, driving without glasses, non-prescription sunglasses. It’s far more vision than I’ve ever had without help. I’ll need only a light pair of reading glasses for seeing things up close.

All my life, all I’ve been able to see without glasses is up-close things.  

I was always the person with the thickest glasses.

Anything further than a handspan from my face was blurry. But at the same time, I knew I could read anything if I held it right up close to my eye. It amused me in recent years to be the one who could read the fine print on pill bottles for Husband, whose perfect eyesight had fallen victim to middle age and years of computer use. All I had to do was look over my glasses with my good eye and hold the box or bottle an inch from my eye.

When I understood after last March’s surgery that I’ll give up that extreme close-up vision once both eyes are done, Grumblings surfaced. I was either marvelling at the edges or I was out of sorts. I had this new vision to play with, but I was unhappy about giving up that close vision. I’ve been thinking of this off and on, wondering what was at the root of it, for almost a year now.

I am grateful for the technology that lets me see edges. The fact that a doctor can go in and correct a problem in my eyes is amazing to me. I love my new vision, and am excited to have it in both eyes.

The small lump of sadness in my throat won’t stop me. I will have the second surgery as soon as I can. And if I look over my glasses to see a crochet stitch or read small print on my phone and think, eventually I won’t be able to do that, maybe it’s because I’m hoping to get used to the idea. And maybe it’s working. This is a small loss, one easily solved with reading glasses. It comes with a big improvement, one that must be almost incomprehensible to someone who has always been able to see.

It feels childish and change-resistant to struggle with this, to want all the vision.

And yet, if I were speaking to a friend, I’d tell her to acknowledge the emotion, not judge it.

Well, fine. I acknowledge that Grumblings doesn’t like this change. But why?

If I’m no longer the person with the worst vision in the room, who am I? Just another person who has misplaced her reading glasses.

I have come across other people with very thick glasses occasionally. We get into an odd sort of almost-competition about whose eyes are worse. In Grade 3, the only other girl in the school with glasses and I became best friends, and I’m grateful for pleasant memories of lying on the floor in a patch of sunshine reading Enid Blyton books, both our faces right up close to the pages.

It caught me by surprise to realize that my poor vision was such a large part of my identity. Having people exclaim about the thickness of my glasses, try to see the contact lenses in my eyes, ask me what I could see when I wasn’t wearing my glasses all these things gave me a certain amount of attention as I grew up. I didn’t want to be in the limelight, but a little bit of attention was exciting, even if I was glad when it was over.

My handicap has been part of my identity for five decades. Now it’s time to let go of that piece of myself. As I prepare to have the other eye corrected, I’m ready to stop dancing around the feelings.

Hey, Sadness and Fear, come on over for a hug! I’m not judging you, but let’s leave Grumblings out of this. I know you, and we don’t need to grumble. I can say, “I’m scared and I’m sad” and then move on anyway. Let’s sit for a while and just be together. I’m sure we’ll all feel better after a few minutes.

I think I can already feel the lump in my throat easing.

I am immensely grateful for this blog, which gives me an opportunity and a responsibility to write out my thoughts. This one took 15 drafts before I was able to sift through the details (all fascinating, I assure you) and find the point. If you’re reading this, thank you!

I’d love to hear about your experience of identity shift. Was it joyful? Difficult? Both? Share in the comments or send me an email at susan at


About GrumblingSusan

Word lover. Story addict. Daydreamer. Optimist. Ottawan. Treehugger. Scouter.

8 Replies

  1. Graeme

    Susan, well written! Hope your other cataract surgery goes without a hitch.

    1. GrumblingSusan

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Check-up delayed now, as doc’s office is closed temporarily.

  2. Bradlee Zrudlo

    Hi Susan! What a beautiful exploration of your feelings and your identity. Thank you for sharing! xoxoxo

    1. GrumblingSusan

      Hi Bradlee, thanks for reading and for your kind comment. xox!

  3. Lorie Boucher

    I really enjoyed this, Susan. It’s very interesting to me what elements of ourselves feel central to our identities and others, peripheral. I don’t have a similar story of a shift like that, but the notion is very relatable all the same. Great writing! Thanks for sharing it.

    1. GrumblingSusan

      Thanks for reading, Lorie and for your lovely comment. I find it fascinating too.

  4. Auntie Gwen

    This story reminds me of your mother peering over her glasses to read something up close! I have always done the same thing too, only I raise my glasses like your grandfather Doyle did , I raise mine to the top of my head and he would let his glasses rest on his forehead….I’m so happy reading about your sight changing and actually getting better! Now you have a new identity…its sort of like going through menopause, we come out of that a different person too! Oh well, I ramble on! Love you! Hugs!

    1. GrumblingSusan

      Thanks for reading and telling me the little story, Auntie, and for bringing a picture of Mom reading over her glasses with that mischievous smile she had sometimes to my mind. I often put my glasses up on my head these days. Funny to think I’m doing the same thing Grandpa and you are doing. It’s been a couple of years of identity morphing. xox Love back to you!

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