it’s Marrrrrrrrrrch, as we pirates like to say
Before I start this tale o’ the salty sea, I want to emphasize that this
happened more than 16 years ago. To tell it on the heels of my recent
mishaps could lead one to believe that I’m accident prone, if not a
shameless attention seeker.
Alright. I admit that there’s plenty of empirical evidence that I am
in fact either or both of those things just mentioned. Let’s concen-
trate on the 16+ year gap and leave it at that.
In December of ’94 I broke up with a woman who needed constant
turmoil to affirm our relationship. This was the polar opposite of
the way I’d been raised. My family was serene to a fault. So to break
away from the fabricated chaos, I bought a kayak and took to the
ocean. Problem was, it was a river kayak. I spent a few hours prac-
ticing on a lake and somehow decided I was seaworthy.
I wasn’t. A wave tumped me and the Coast Guard fished me out 30
minutes later — just before dark, just before a fogbank rolled in. The
oddest thoughts pass through one’s mind at that time, such as “if an
evangelist cures a crippled person, does he/she have to return his/her
handicapped parking plates?” At one point I looked at my watch and
said, to no one in particular, “Hey, it really is waterproof.”
An IV (my first), an ambulance jaunt, a few hours in ER to stop being
quite so hypothermic, some dry clothes, and I was good to go, slightly
older but no wiser.
I share this to establish a pattern that the kayak hated me from the git.
I believe it was because I called it a glorified piece of Tupperware (TM).
Several months later I was securing it in my van with a 3′ bungee cord.
The cord snapped back and the metal end whacked me in the right eye.
I assumed a fetal position for 20 minutes, waiting for rods, cones and
pupil juice to ooze out.
When they failed to appear, I put some ice on it and went about my day.
The next morning at breakfast I saw my first floaters. These are dead
cells that mill aimlessly in your eye after an injury. Mine looked like
a swarm of gnats swirling just in front of me. I kept swatting at them
until the people sitting around me started giving me “WTF?” glances.
Apparently that sort of behaviour is not cool in Inverness, California.
At least not in its bakery/coffee shop.
A few days later my eye started to hurt. An opthalmologist took one
look and said “oh, dear”. A third of my retina had torn loose like “cheap
wallpaper”, he said next. He immediately did laser surgery, which was
similar to the scene in “2001″ where Dave goes hurtling through space.
The rest of it wasn’t nearly as much fun. When I went back for a check
up a few weeks later, he said “oh, dear” again and referred me to another
specialist. This chap put a propane bubble in my eye to help the retina
heal. He told me to limit my carnal activities to “old man sex”. I didn’t
know if he meant to have sex like an old man, or with an old man, so I
joined AARP to cover both contingencies.
A third specialist replaced my damaged lens with an artificial one. I
came to just as he was finishing up. I could feel the tug on my eyeball
as he sewed me up. Minimum pain, maximum weirdness. After a follow
up visit, his nurse gave me a card with some numbers on it. “It’s your
lens model, in case there’s a recall,” she explained.
All that craziness left me with 20/400 vision in that eye. I’m half legally
blind. If I don’t wear an eyepatch, I have double vision. That’s fine if I’m
looking at Jude or pizza, not fine if I’m driving or watching TV. Last fall I
got a corrective contact lens that helps a lot, but I can’t put it in now be-
cause of my hand injury. I don’t use it much at home, anyway.
So it’s back to the pirate look. I’m amazed by how many kids have asked me
if that is indeed my profession. I also like the ones who ask what happened
to me. My favourite was a little boy was said “Hey, what’s wrong with you?”
Another lad asked me in, of all places, a Popeye’s Chicken place. I told him
I got whacked with a bungee cord and his grandparents exclaimed “See?
We told you that happens!”
It’s just cold enough here to change the rain we’d been promised into snow.
But I’m not going to let that spoil the start of the month that brings us spring.
Let’s keep our heads up for this last lap of winter. To help, here’s some pics I
took once flying into Seattle.