It’s been an interesting week. We have a Cuban couple staying at our house and we’ve been doing our best to surmount the language barrier. In addition, I’ve had to contemplate the loss of vision in my right eye.
The two things aren’t related, of course. The Cuban couple, Jose Angel and Lucrecia, we met during our trip to Havana last year. It’s been great returning the hospitality they showed us. It’s also been a challenge. We know almost no Spanish; Jose knows just enough to facilitate a number of amusing misunderstandings. But somehow smiles and gestures and the occasional touch can work wonders. Like all the Cubans we met during our time there, they are really wonderful people.
Too bad about the eye problem. Somehow I picked up an infection just before they arrived. The symptoms were pain, sensitivity to light, itching, tearing up — and finally one morning, a cloudy pall that made everything barely visible, as though viewed through a haze of smoke. That’s when I abandoned stoicism and headed to the emergency-care clinic.
I know what you’re thinking: Conjunctivitis. Pinkeye. And I guess they are the same thing, but the doctor explained it’s a bacterial form, not viral, and is therefore easier to treat. He gave me some antibiotic eye drops and said things should improve after awhile. He offered no guarantees that the fog in my right cornea might also dissipate.
And it didn’t. Not for a couple of days. So while I’ve been trying to play the amiable host and smiling a lot, I’ve had this dread thought in the back of my mind: What if it never improves? Is there an eye-patch in my future? Believe me, when one eye’s good and the other isn’t, you almost need one. For the last couple of days, it’s been maddening and scary as hell.
But today, finally, I took the dog for a walk and noted a slight improvement. I could close my good eye and make out certain letters I couldn’t before, could see the texture of bark and grass and concrete. It’s still tough to read this computer screen, but there is reason for optimism. I’m taking those eye drops in a religious manner and washing my hands every 15 minutes and hoping for the best.
Our guests have been good about it, always asking if I’m feeling better and offering encouragement. They seem happy to be here, as opposed to horrified by the possibility of contagion. I’m glad of that. They don’t get to America all that often, and I’d like them to take only good memories back with them.
In any case, this is one of those “count your blessings” posts. Really, the biggest blessing of all is the fact you can usually take for granted all the things that matter most. Good vision is right up there good food, and good friends, and sunlight and sleep. While I could do without the scare, it’s probably good to reflect now and then on what really counts.