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Needle in my Eye

Cartoon illustration of a bearded man in a hat sticking his tongue out as he uses a jackhammer to drill into the ground. A sign in front of him reads "Man at work." Sketch by Earle Levenstein.

No; I'm not making this up.

Creepy? You better believe it.

Matter of fact, I had my injection just this past Monday.

Backstory: macular degeneration on the move in my already damaged left eye; treatment to arrest or at least slow the deterioration strongly recommended.

Sort of like saying, "the sky is falling and it would be a good idea to duck." Of course, it's up to you.


As usual for me, my anticipation, imagination, a string of What-ifs?, horror stories, cinematic drama, with me strapped in a chair; the needle, looming and enormous; a pneumatic drill; my eye open wide; blood; screaming; repeat, repeat, until morning.

My basic problem: I had no idea of the procedure, any part of it, from beginning to end. Why? I was conditioned from my chaotic childhood onward: never ask questions; the less you know the better; why would you want to find out? Are you nuts? Ask? Fageddaboutit. Ignorance might not be bliss, but it's a helluva lot better than what's on the way.

Never. I don't want to know.

Despite being urged again and again: Ask, don't guess. You need to know. You're in charge. How can you make a decision without getting the full story? You've got to be kidding.

No. I'm not.

It's amazing, how I've resisted, to the point where I don't ask pretty much anything. Only exception that comes to mind: flight schedules. Departure time. A certainty. No maybes. Miss a flight? Are you nuts?

So I arrive at the airport for a domestic flight at least two hours in advance. International: three hours in advance.

No discussion.

Salvation for me along the way, was the reassuring side of that same imagination; invention. An alternate reality. An imaginary tomorrow. Lots better than what's in store.

Why not?

So I created an operating room: a movie-version. A slick place, with me on a stretcher, wheeled in, totally out of it. General anesthesia of course; I mean, surgery? Needle in my eye? Have to be totally out, right? I don't know a thing; masked people do whatever they do; then wheel me out. I get dressed, go home.




Different story.

My ophthalmologist's examination room: the chair's tilted back; it's like the good old days, stretched out in the barber's chair, ready for my shave. My ophthalmologist's leaning over me, my eye's wide open; I'm following instructions looking way up to the right. I feel some liquid entering, a little pressure; I'm asked if I feel anything; I answer no; there's a little more pressure on my eye, with fingers blocking my view of the needle. Then there's some liquid, some pressure, then wiping; all done.

Sit back up. Reassured that I'd have little if any discomfort.

True; no problem.

Next appointment in five weeks.

Examination: another injection if necessary.

Then another five weeks, and so on, stretching the time between examinations gradually, ad infinitum.

How long? Only the Shadow knows.

And me.

I know exactly what's going to happen.

Every five weeks.

Didn't even have to ask.

Exception to my rule.

Habit? I wouldn't go that far.

Uncharted territory.

Have to feel my way into it.

Play it by ear.



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