or the story of my Retina who decided to emancipate herself – essentially take a hike – and my post-op survival strategies.


Funny thing is, if there is such a thing as funny in eye surgery, is that it was very sudden and it did not hurt at all. This was my 8th eye surgery. The other times there was a time leading up to them, I was mentally prepared, I (sort of) knew what to expect. This time around my sight became weird from one day to the other.  And the day I went to see my eye doctor was the day that he did not let me go home and performed an emergency procedure to reattach my retina.

And I panicked. For one, because whenever you hear the word emergency it is human nature to immediately think of the worst. Also, because I had no idea what is going to happen to me. But most of all, because the now operated eye was the good one, the one I could rely on. And now I was left with “It will recover eventually” but without the ability to leave my home, or read, or write, watch TV or anything else.

So what DO you do when you cannot read? When it hurts to lift your eyes to look straight ahead? What do you do when every single hobby you have relies on that pair of eyes that now desert you?

First of all, I found that I was driving myself crazy with all the thoughts of what I couldn’t do anymore. I knew from expeience that doing something with my hands would switch my brain off. But what could I do? I could not see clearly, but I could still distinguish color, so I took out my Rubik’s cube collection.

My cube(oid) collection. One Christmas Mr.AP thought it would be a good idea to surprise me with one. How right he was!
After the first one slowly came the others. 4, 5, 7 sided ones. Then the shape-shifters. And all of them lots and lots of fun!

From that moment on I was cubing every minute I did not spend sleeping. I cubed with one type only. Then the other one. Then decided to do a back-to-back rally: solve the 2×2, then the 2x2x4 ones. Then when I felt adventurous I added in the rest: 3×3, 3×3 mirror, 4×4, 5×5 and 7×7 one after the other. MAN! Does time fly without you realizing!

The cubes took their toll wit all the use and abuse. But I got to tell you, the one that holds on the strongest is my original 3×3 from 1981! Not a scratch or wear in sight. From experience the original Rubik’s cubes are the best when it comes to quality. My 5×5 (top right corner) does show some wear, but nothing has come off. The 7×7 V-cube (top left and bottom right corners) on the other hand are coming apart. I am more forgiving with the little cheap imitation 3×3 (bottom left). I only got that as a thanks for supporting our organization gift. But still…

And then my fingers started to hurt from all the abuse. That was when I had this conversation with my brother who recommended I start listening to podcasts. I remembered how much I enjoyed RadioLab back in the day, so I searched for it and quickly became addicted (once more). The creators ask questions that are then  approached from a very digestible scientific perspective. For example, that it is not the chromosomes that will make us male or female. I mean, am I the only one out there that sort of missed this headline??

Anyway, what I realized is that doing something that moves (at least a part of) me, and something that challenges my brain will also switch off the huge buzzing panic button inside me. And once you are able to come out of panic-mode you are able to digest what is happening to you. You might not be thinking about the issue consciously, but deep down you allow your brain and your soul to come to terms with the situation. And when you do start thinking about the situation you will not draw unrealistic conclusions or expectations.

Honesty, Rubik’s cubes did not give back my vision in a miraculous way. But I was able to relax, take a step back and accept that things do take time. That sometimes it is OK to let others help me. That the world is not going to end if we order take-out. And that maybe, just maybe I can spend a couple of days without doing anything. And that was when I was able to tell my Retina, that she might have an opinion of her own, but GIRL you are still a part of me and you ain’t going nowhere GIRLFRIEND!

So where am I now? A month post-op I am able to say in a much better place. I am calm and kinder to myself. I am now able to read (at least a part of) my screen. I am able to type, and I can finally manage  to move around on my own. I went to the post office this morning, something I did not think I’d be able to do two weeks ago! The doctor was right, it takes time. And it will still take a couple of months for my eye to fully recover. And my Retina and I? Good news is we have solved our issues and she has decided to stick around some more.