My two worst fears are death by drowning and going blind.
When I was somewhere around 12 years old, (this is a guess as I honestly don’t recall my exact age) I went with a group of people to a public swimming pool. We were playing and horsing around a bit playing a game of tag where you had to hold one foot and move around by bouncing in the water on the other foot. For what ever reason I lost my footing and went under. No matter how I tried I could not regain my balance. Fear is real. You can taste it, it fills you with a dark dread. It can if allowed bring on panic which would prevent any ability to regain composure and safety. Yet, some how I did manage. Some how I was able to regain my balance and remove myself from the water. If I allow it, I can still feel that fear. I can still hear the sound of the water covering me as I went under again and then again. And no one in that mass of people noticed. No one seemed to care that I could have drowned right before them. Hence, a fear was born.
Sad thing is, I do love the relaxing feeling of floating. Drifting along with out a care in the world. As long as no one comes along and in an attempt to be funny turns the float over. I enjoy sitting and listening to the waves creating their own brand of music. I just keep my distance. So yes, I do avoid the first by staying away from places that would put me at risk. The last time we went to the beach, (several years ago) when I ventured out into the ocean, the water was no deeper than my ankles. When we went to the hotel pool, I was in the lazy river carefully cradled by that overly large inner tube. Because you can’t trust people not to play jokes because they don’t know your fear and they only want to have some fun.
My fear is so strong that years ago before my son was born we decided to go deep sea fishing. We joined a group of others on a chartered boat and headed out to sea. As soon as we left sight of land I became sick and remained sick until land came back in sight. I swore then I would never go back out on a boat. Partly for me, and partly for the others that may be on the boat so they don’t have to endure one as sick as I was.
I stay away because you know that even the most calm appearing water can have rip currents. You know there are things swimming under there that are not of the cute and cuddly variety. You know that all it would take is one miss step and you are history. I don’t feel as if I miss out because of the fear, there are other ways to relax. Vacation doesn’t have to be at the beach, the mountains have some great places to visit without rip currents, sharks or any of the other dangers of the sea.
My other greatest fear is going blind. I am a very visual person. I love color. I love the vast expanse of land that you can see from the top of a mountain. Watching as the mountains stretch away into the distance seeming to touch the sky. I love watching butterfly dance on a breeze, dipping and swaying among the many flowers. I love the sight of flowers wild or planted covering the ground. The explosion of color at the height of fall. I enjoy watching a good sporting event, a high school competition, a good movie, reading a well written book. To be able to sit and create something I envision or I have seen with my own hands. To be able to watch children at play, my family as they sit around visiting and giving each other a hard time because they can and its just the way we are. To watch the sun go down in a blaze of glory and to come up lighting the sky with its brilliance.
I love grabbing my cameras and capturing what I find. Attempting to catch something that I can hold onto for as long as possible. Something of the beauty around me, something out of the ordinary that may amaze the viewer. I do paint from time to time. Spreading color across the canvas creating something to give one pause as they try to figure out exactly what I was trying to say.
Today I went and had a long over due eye exam. I have worn glasses since I was in the first grade, glasses do not bother me. Glasses are merely a tool to help strengthen a weak part. The glasses that I’ve been using are worn out and held together by Elmer’s glue. Even though they are progressive bifocals it is impossible to see close up so I take them off to read, to see the computer monitor or just in general around the house. I wear them mainly to see when I drive and to not run into things outside. I was never happy with the cost of the glasses and that too kept me from going back, considering that I had them off more than on.
I get to the Doctor’s Office and fill out the forms, then sit back to wait. It wasn’t long before they take me for the first part of the exam. Having those little puffs of water fired into my eyes is not pleasant but wasn’t something that I couldn’t shrug off. I was then moved into a regular examination room to wait. I didn’t have to wait long before the doctor came in. A very nice, distinguished, older gentleman. He put the chart on the wall and asked what the smallest line was that I could read. I was not happy to tell him that it was the third line down, one of the bigger lines and I couldn’t see all of it. He moves the gadget used to determine what strength lens I would need and proceeded to flip and change and adjust. He then told me he wanted to dilate my eyes because of what that gadget was showing. My eyesight without glasses at reading distance was good. He showed me what I was seeing through the glasses and that was bad.
He handed me a tissue and asked me to lean back in the chair. He then proceeded to drop a solution into each eye that felt like molten lava. I’ve had my eyes dilated before, it didn’t hurt like this. I then moved out into the waiting area to take a seat as I had to wait for the drops to take effect. The doctor asked me a few odd sounding questions like, ‘did I have problems driving at night? Did I have problems reading road signs? Did I have problems when I drove, or did I drive from memory?’ When my vision became fuzzy I was again called into the room. Taking my seat in the examining chair the doctor walked up and told me to look at the big E on the wall. After looking into each eye he then picked up a different light and began looking into each eye again. I was literally blinded by the light. Lovely colored dots swam and danced about my field of vision. Once I was able to see past the spots the doctor took a seat and gave me the news. I have cataracts in both eyes. That was what is causing my vision problems. He then went into an explanation of how cataracts cause problems but I wasn’t fully listening. He had no idea he was possibly handing me one of my worst fears. I know that there is surgery that can take care of cataracts. But to me, having someone cut into my eyes is a fear kin to open heart surgery or having someone cut into your spine.
The kindly, nice, distinguished gentleman doctor then told me that I need to be rechecked in six months to see if my eyes are getting worse or sooner if my vision takes a bad turn. He told me that he could write a prescription for new glasses but they wouldn’t help me much. I told him that I needed them as my current glasses are coming apart. I didn’t want to be left in a bad position should they come apart and me not be able to get anywhere to have them patched. Thankfully I had recently discovered that as part of our insurance we get a discount on glasses. I found some relatively inexpensive frames and then sat as she marked where the bifocal was to go. I should have my new glasses in about a week.
So now I sit here, several hours after the diagnoses and wonder about the future. This has me more concerned than I was when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I don’t know that I’m really all that afraid yet- concerned yes- afraid? I’m not sure. I know that I’m asking all of my praying friends to say one for me, as I really do not wish to lose the ability to see the smile of a child, the field of wildflowers in bloom or the many other magnificent things of beauty this world has to offer. Oceans, lakes and rivers I can do without. Seeing, even poorly, is not.