Eye Follow-Up

Russ had an early morning appointment for the follow-up from his eye operations yesterday. Since he had both retinal and cornea procedures there were a lot of doctors interested in the outcome. No one was more interested than Russ and me.

We sat in the waiting in with a lot of other much older couples with one partner with a giant eye patch just like Russ’. Nurses would come out and call a name and they would go back to the examine rooms. One of Russ’ surgeon’s fellow came and got us from the waiting room. Russ sat down in the big eye exam chair in the dark room with a TV screen on the wall behind him with a giant letter “N” displayed on it. The fellow removed his patch and asked Russ to look at the mirror on the wall in front of him and tell her what letter was displayed on the screen behind him. This was the moment of truth. Could he see?

He looked in the mirror and said, “What screen?” I held my breath. The fellow realized that Russ was so tall in the giant chair that the angle of the mirror was off and he was looking at the ceiling. She adjusted the mirror and he immediately said, “N.”

“I can see.” It was exciting, he wasn’t made worse by the operation, but the N was huge. The the fellow changed the letters on the screen to be a little smaller. “Can you read those?”

Russ read out the three letters with no problem. “Z G T F H.” And again smaller, and again smaller. Until he got to what was the equivalent to 20/25 where he got four of the five letters right . He got 2 of the five in 20/20. Not only could he see, he could see better than he ever had in his whole life.

It was a joyous moment. The next fellow came in and did some more tests. Everything was going great. Then his retinal surgeon, Dr. Postal came in. He looked in Russ’s eye. Declared it a win. Lastly Terry Kim came in. It was not his day to work in the hospital clinic, but over at the Page Road facility, but he made the early morning trip especially to check on Russ. He declared he was better than they had ever expected.

This was a life changing operation. Russ pulled out his iPhone and read things without glasses. “I had no idea that the screen on this phone was so clear and look at these colors.” You don’t know how bad something is until you have something to compare it to.

Russ eye is still red and in recovery, but for the first day it is absolutely miraculous. The Drs gave each other a high five in the hallway. Nothing about operating on eyes is guaranteed, especially when you have to coordinate two different things. We are so incredibly grateful for their expertise, kindness and diligence.

I drove Russ home and he was amazed at things he had not really been able to see well that he was noticing for the first time now. Three years ago I redecorated the play room and when we walked in the house he said, “Wow, the playroom is really beautiful. I love the blues.” Neither of us had realized how grey his world had become.

I am so appreciative of all the messages of support and prayers we got yesterday. I am not discounting that there are bigger powers at work here.

We had to get him some glasses with juts plain glass in them to protect his eye from getting bumped. The only bad thing is now he can see so well he went right back to work on his computer in his office at home. I fear for his team now that he can see what everyone else is doing.


Not the Good Eye

Russ was born with one good eye and one non-working eye. Since that was all he ever knew his brain learned depth perception in ways different from those of us with two eyes. For the most part it was not an issue except for 3-d movies. As a child his mother guarded his good eye.

Then he married me and it was my turn to be the protector of the good eye. About ten years ago he had a serious eye problem in his bad eye and we weren’t that worried because what could happen? He was already blind in that eye. Recently his good eye has been getting worse.

He went to our good friend, world renowned Dr. Terry Kim and for months they discussed options. Russ tried to hide from me how bad his good eye was, but really there was no hiding from me. As his close vision got worse and worse he would hold his iPhone an inch from his face.

I begged him to schedule the surgery that was needed which now involved two surgeons of differing specialties, Dr. Postal and Dr. Kim. In the small world of Durham both doctors had daughters who were friends of Carter’s from school, so I ways happy to have that close connection.

Today was the surgery. I took Russ over to Duke eye hospital at 5:45, worried about the outcome of his only useful eye. Thank goodness for the wonderful medical team at Duke. Both Drs said the respective surgeries went well. When I was reunited with him in recovery he was in fine shape, except for the giant patch over the good eye.

I brought in a practically blind man and brought home a totally blind man. We won’t know how the repairs have worked until we go back first thing in the morning and they take the pirate patch off. Even then it will take a week or more for his vision to return.

So now I am nurse maid, email and text reader, driver and all things Russ needs. In a miraculous turn of events Russ’ previous useless blind eye, which does not have a lens is stepping up and working in a way never detected before. He is able to see a little light from it and can make out lights and darks in big swaths. It is not much, but it is much better for getting around the house.

Not being able to read is the worse part of this whole thing. Russ generally reads six to eight hours every night. So with no work to do, and nothing to read he insisted he needed to at least get his steps today. He got on the treadmill and did his 12,000 steps. I called him blind man walking.

I am ever so thankful for the friends who have helped us out. I did not say much about this before it happened, but this past week I finally had to let some people know. Thanks to Christy and Paige who dropped off food for us. I know it may seem like bringing coals to New Castle, but I really appreciated not having to cook on top of reading texts and emails.

The true test was I had to be Russ’ tech support and fix somethings on his iPad. He was ready to give up on me being able to fix his issues, but eventually I got it, of course with his coaching.

So I ask for your prayers for Russ’ continued recovery and the return of the sight in his good eye. And don’t send him any texts that say something bad about me since I will be reading them to him for a while.


Not Original, But A Good Start

I opened my Costco Connection Magazine to this story today. If only Acme Supermarket had a magazine in 1991 then this might have been me and Russ. I am very happy for this couple, Brian and Veronica, who got engaged in the Costco Parking lot. I am happy to verify that 26 years after getting engaged in a supermarket parking lot in Cinnaminson, NJ we are still going strong.

We did not have the added pressure of a shared Costco membership, but we did have a shared employer who my father was certain would fire both of us for daring to mix engineering with sales.

It is not where you start that determines the success of a marriage, but how you deal with the day to day stuff. What could be more mundane than doing the grocery shopping. The fact that Russ asked me to marry him in the parking lot, before we went to and decided chicken or fish, was a sign that he would carry the burden of the chores with me. And he has done more than his share everyday.

Although he was raised in a “dinner was on the table when Dad got home from work,” kind of house he never has held that there were women’s roles and men’s roles in our own house. It shows that equality is something that can happen without lots of pain.

Only once did I ever have to have an equality type talk with Russ and it was only out of blindness did it need to happen. When we first were married and had two houses one in New Jersey and one in Washington, DC. The Washington House was always immaculate because I had a house keeper. The New Jersey house was not, because Russ has terrible eye sight and could not see cat hair. So one weekend, after I had worked all week and arrived in New Jersey I had to clean that house because my eye sight was perfect. After a few hours of cleaning I broke down crying that I couldn’t keep two houses and travel all week working. Russ got a house keeper that week and made sure I never had to do everything.

I am sure the crying had a lot to do with it, but I think that starting out in the parking lot of the Acme, not a more mundane name for a store could ever be found, is the real tip off that he would shoulder more than half the burden.


Christmas Coupon

When you are a kid and give your parents Christmas present coupons for things like walking the dog, mowing the lawn and hugs you secretly hope they will not redeem them. It is the worst kind of kid gift. This year I gave my mother a coupon kind of gift, a king sized quilt where she got to pick out the materials. When Your Mom is 80 there is no waiting around to redeem her coupon.

We went to pick out the fabric she wanted the first day we could drive after the big snow storm. I had some ideas about the kind of pattern I wanted but I let my mother make the ultimate decision. So I got to work making the squares with her fabrics. I had set a deadline of finishing the quilt top in January which was ambitious since it is a big California King.

Realizing that I had a lot to do this coming week I decided I needed to finish the quilt this weekend so I could take it to my longarm quilter on Monday. I worked diligently all day yesterday. I was sure I had just a little left to do today. I was wrong. It took me all day today to finish it up, but I made it.

It helps that I binged watched a good series on Amazon called Good Girls Revolt about women who worked at a news magazine in 1969. After that I watched a Kate Winslet movie called The Dressmaker. Both shows had strong women standing up for themselves and seemed very timely given what’s been going on in the country lately.

The more the women got what they were fighting for the faster I pushed the sewing machine pedal. If it weren’t my choice to sew these quilts I might seem very old fashioned. Instead I consider my self lucky that my husband affords me the time and money to make these creations. Even when it is at his loss because I had no time to do anything else this weekend and he ate leftovers for every meal.

I hope my mother is happy with the finished product once I get it quilted and do the binding on the edge. This is one Christmas coupon that I am happy to redeem quickly.


Time to Start Some Thyme

I was looking at the bare dirt of my front garden this week. The place where I usually transplant Thyme to was devoid of anything living. Just a few brown twigs of my once robust thyme plants remained. I love cooking with Thyme, especially fresh, but sadly my plants only last about seven or eight months and then they are gone. This leaves me with a few months of no home grown fresh Thyme.

I usually buy plants from the nursery and no matter how many I buy I never seem to have as much Thyme as I want. It is disappointing since the plants are not cheap. Last year I planted about ten and they hardly covered much space to be good ground cover in the garden and I was not helping the situation by harvesting handfuls of the tender stalks and leaves to use in my cooking.

Upon looking at my Thyme area I decided I need to blanket the garden with Thyme this year. The only economical way to do this is to grow my plants from seeds myself. This is a project I have undertaken for various vegetables over the years and I usually decided that it is mor trouble than its worth, or I find I had started my seedlings too late and am disappointed in the lateness of my harvest.

Well, not this year. I ordered 500 seeds on Friday and they will be here Monday. I am bound and determined to grow my own Thyme crop this year. Given that my sends cost $4 with shipping and my plants usually cost $3.29 a piece I should be saving money. As long as I get more then two plants out of the 500 seeds I will be ahead.

The germinating is the easy part. It is the thinning of the seedlings and getting plants big enough to go outside along with the hardening off, otherwise known as acclimating the plants to the outdoors that is difficult. I am not going to be too ambitious and start lots of things from seeds. If I can master Thyme I will be happy.


Presidential Divorce?

I am wondering what would happen if the spouse of the President ever wanted a divorce? I am sure there have been plenty of times throughout history that either the First Lady or the President wanted out of the relationship. Being residents of the White House can not be easy on a marriage.

This week’s events seem to show some serious cracks in the marital life of our current POTUS and FLOTUS. I have been trying to limit my exposure to 45 because I find he is not good for my eating habits, so I missed the story about Stormy Daniels, the porn star who allegedly was paid $130,000 right before DJT entered the presidential race to keep quite about their supposed year long sexual relationship in 2006. The Donald having an affair is not news. Just look at his marital status history.

But this latest public reporting of the paper trail of paying off this porn star could have gotten to the current Mrs. since she canceled her planned trip to Davos, Switzerland and instead made a quick getaway to Palm Beach. And DJT’s wooden, read off the TelePrompTer, lack luster speech to the high and mighty at Davos made me think he had his heart on other matters, like how he was going to patch this mess up with the current Mrs.

Just attending Davos seemed like the invite DJT would always have coveted, but never would be invited because in the big world of real successful people he was a nobody. Only by tricking poor coal miners to believe he could save their jobs was he able to gain an invitation to the prestigious conference. Then Melania threw a big bucket of ice water on his potential moment of glory among the elite he always wanted to be, by refusing to go with him.

Sorry that having your way with porn stars might be ruining a life long dream come true, but you know that things will always catch up with you, when you least want them too. As for the current Mrs. You should know that if he cheats with you he will cheat on you. You are not so special that he will change. But you don’t have to endure him. Just because no President has never gotten a divorce before doesn’t mean it can’t happen. We also have never had a president who has had three living wives before either. We all knew what we were getting, especially you, Mrs. DJT.


Wanna Meet Vivian?

Are you a Fan of Vivian Howard, Star of the PBS series A Chef’s Life? Have you wanted to go eat at her Kingston restaurant Chef and the Farmer, but not been able to get a reservation? Well, I have an opportunity for you to not only eat her food, but also meet her right here in the triangle.

Thursday, March 22 Vivian is staring at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina’s Chef’s Feast dinner at Fearrington Inn. She cooks, she talks, and trust me she is as nice in person and her food is as delicious and she donates a special one of a kind experience that you can try and win in the auction.

Colin Bedford, the award winning Chef of the Fearrington Inn is also one of the participating chefs. If you have never eaten at the Fearrington Inn this is the best of all worlds, getting two of the best chefs in the south cooking the same meal. If you have been to Fearrington then you know this is going to be nirvana.

Wait, you don’t just get two chef’s, there’s more. Durham’s own John May, currently chef at Piedmont, but formally of Chef and the Farmer is reuniting with his former boss Vivian for this special night. As well as Phoebe Lawless, award winning baker and chef will round out the dream team of chef’s making your dinner this night.

All of these talented artists in food do it for their love of feeding you to help feed our hungry neighbors. For the price of a ticket you can listen to the chef’s talk about what they make while you eat it. At the end of the dinner I will be the auctioneer for the one of a kind culinary experience donated by each of the chefs.

Seating is very limited. There are some tickets available at https://chefsfeastfearringtonvillage.eventbrite.com/. I also have one table in the station chef sponsorship category left for $3,000 for a table of 8. Trust me it promises to be an evening you won’t forget. If you have any questions feel free to ask me, but don’t wait long. I can’t get you in once the tickets Re gone.