A Change In Vision

Kage Baker had (usually) black eyes. They went oddly and dramatically with her paper-pale skin, freckles and red hair – but she had her father’s eyes, and he was mostly North Eastern Native American.

Mrs. Baker occasionally sighed regretfully that none of her many children had inherited her own, blazing blue eyes – but two granddaughter and a grandson did. A couple of her children did boast hazel eyes; and in fact Kage’s own eyes would sometimes shift to a russet red or a moss green. Most of the time, though, they were a hot bright black like obsidian. And they worked  all her life, for which she was extremely grateful – she spent 50 years watching me stumble around in a blur.

Mine are dark brown with grey rings round the iris. They’ve been largely decorative most of my life: except for the tumour that had to be excised from under my left orbit when I was two (My mother was 6 months pregnant with me when her wedding ceremony in Nevada was interrupted by a festive atomic bomb test …) She had a fashionable detestation of spectacles, though, and I was 11 before my habit of memorizing the eye chart was found out – to my mother’s horror, as it meant I would need – shudder! – GLASSES.  But the miracle of the optician’s art has kept me from walking into walls and door jams ever since.

A month ago, my left eye began to ache. It felt like there was ground glass lining the eye socket; and there began a swift decay of what poor vision my left eye still possessed. Migraines have gotten insanely frequent – right now, they are daily, and yestreday I hit a personal record of three in one day. Maybe that actually counts as one long migraine with peaks; all I know is, I spent the day peering through a wall of mirrored thorns and cursing at the pain …

Anyway, I saw an ophthalmologist a few days ago. Good news: I do not have glaucoma (the first diagnostic guess was closed-angle glaucoma, which causes quick blindness). Bad news: my ordinary age-related cataract is spreading at an unusual rate in the left eye. Now, cataracts do not hurt – but they can also cause a degenerative drying out of the eye, which, I am told, can cause mild discomfort.

Or it can feel like your eye socket is lined with ground glass, and give you daily migraines.

It can also make you hyper-sensitive to bright light. I’m using artificial tears 4 times a day; which are kind of refreshing in the heat, especially when they run down my face, but only a mild anodyne. And, of course, I can’t see for shit out of that eye. At the moment, though I am emphatically not going blind (technically), I am essentially one-eyed. I think I’m going to be wearing an eye patch, to keep the light off my damned left eye, while my physicians and I discuss removing the cataract. I will wear it in honour of Kage, of course.

Until I get the bright light problem, and the pain problem, and the dry eye problem all under  control – which will hopefully take only a few more days – I am taking a hiatus. Typing is almost impossible. Reading is screwed up, too, though if I shut one eye and turn up the font on my Kindle to Dick and Jane proportions, it works for a while.

Don’t worry, Dear Readers. I’ll check here and leave brief notes frequently; and hopefully inside a week or so I will have found a way to type comfortably and quickly once again. And if my eye patch is cool enough, I’ll post a photo.

One way or another, I’ll see you all soon.



About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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8 Responses to A Change In Vision

  1. Luisa Puig says:

    Oh golly, can’t read nor write comfortably? That’s awful for you. Hope you can still knit without impairment. FWIW, back in the old days, my Mother and Grandmother used to each knit accurately while watching TV in the evenings. No dropped stitches or any flubs at all. They could even knit while in a darkened movie theater. So I hope you have amusement in that activity while you wait for the doctors to figure out when and how to deal with the cataract.

    Also I hope of interest to you, Mumzy said that after her own cloudly lenses were replaced by surgery, her vision was a perfect 20/20 for the first time in her life! So there may be at least a one-eyed improvement for you (at least I hope so).

    Best wishes and looking forward to seeing you here in print when you are able to write again.

    Until then, prayers for healing and a strong charm to keep away the nasty migraines.


    • Dina says:

      Oh m’dear, I grok the migraines. Had a duzy Tue-Thurs morn, the looking for an ice pick to lessen the pressure, Linda Blair full force up from the hips, that leave muscles bruised, lightening strike piercing pain to light and sound kinda 56 hours worth. Ear plugs, eye masks, ice packs to the back of the neck plus all the meds that work for you. And of course someone who loves you enough to hide the ice picks, (I joke about it, truly. But sometimes it keeps them busy hiding it and leave you alone in blessed quiet & darkness.)
      Be Well & may the doctors get a wiggle on to get your surgery done. So many have told me what a blessing it was, great new vision. Blessings coming to you for rapid Healing.


    • Kate says:

      Knitting! That’s the answer for when even the expandable Kindle can’t provide me with a font I can see! Your inestimable Mother and Grandam were right: after a certain point of obsession, knitting becomes something one can do in darkened theatres and while watching TV – thank goodness! I can work on tea towels or something straight back and forth, while I watch as much of the news and the Conventions as I can stand.


  2. mizkizzle says:

    Be well. I understand your mind going straight to closed-angle glaucoma instead of thinking, hum, maybe it’s the cataract growing really, really fast, like one of those little capsules that you put in water and a sponge dinosaur pops out. I tend think Oh, shit! It’s a brain tumor! whenever I have a bad headache.
    Your cataract can be removed, easily and painlessly, and you’ll get a neat new intraocular lens that will put you one step closer to being a cyborg. Hooray! The only thing to be aware of is that sometimes, after cataract surgery, one’s vision can become blurry again due to scar tissue growing where it shouldn’t. When that happens they can blast it with a laser and correct the problem, quickly and painlessly. You can even drive yourself home afterwards, it’s that easy.
    Wearing a eye patch is a good idea. Eye patches are cool.


    • Kate says:

      To tell the truth, a brain tumour was my first guess – but, as you say, it always is when a headache gets bad enough. And it’s what ultimately killed Kage, after all … the closed angle claucoma was the guess of my paniced internist; which is whty he sent me to a specialist, intelligently. I apparently have totally normal eye pressure, and really weird cataracts. But I don’t care! Now they have to remove them and all will be (eventually) well! I’m not worried at all – just impatient.


  3. Becky says:

    Arrrgg, Me Matey! I be happy to here there be a solution.

    Dave says when he had his done, they corrected his vision with a new lens and now, suddenly, the world is a much more colorful place. He didn’t realize how the cataract had made things more yellow than they should be.


    • Kate says:

      Yeah, the yellowing has been bothering me – but, oddly, opthalmologists don’t consider that a necessity for cataract removal. Migraines and the world repidly going dark, though, get their attention. I’m just impatient to have this done; I can feel today’s migraine beginning, and this is a SUPER FREAKING DRAG!!! Ahem. I’m going to go drink strong coffee for the caffiene and try snorting feverfew …


  4. Lynn says:

    It’s been a week and a half since you last wrote. Have the doctors come up with a plan? I know we’re all sending smoke to our various gods for your recovery.

    My dad also mentioned the improvement in his eyesight and how colors were brighter again after his cataract operations. As a commercial artist that was the first thing he noticed; all his colors shifted yellow and that really annoyed him.


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