|Eye Surgery and Control|
Last week, I had the first of two surgeries to remove cataracts from my eyes and to do lens implants. (And yes, I am 'way, 'way too young for cataracts!)
I'd put the process off as long as I could, which wasn't good, but what was good about my delaying was not only that I was really ready for the surgery. The truth is that I was all but begging my doctor for the surgery, but in addition, the technology has advanced so rapidly even in the past two years that my doctor was able to predict some really amazing and outstanding outcomes for me. Already, with only my left eye "done", I'm seeing better, and I have high hopes for what I can see after the procedure on my right eye next Thursday.
In my pre-op appointment, I disclosed to the opthamologist that I'm also having another major oral surgery in the fall, and he responded that he would add another stitch during surgery to secure the lens.
As I was waking up from what the anesthesiologist called an IV Margarita, I woke up to the incredible experience of being able to see all kinds of lights and movement as the doctor did his surgery. Even in my altered state of consciousness, however, I remembered that extra stitch the doctor had promised, and so I reminded him of it. Just in case he'd forgotten.
"I work with an operation plan for each surgery," he assured me calmly, "and I wrote it down that I would do this extra stitch." (I hadn't seen him write it down, and so I guess I thought he needed my help in remembering.)
There was not a note of irritation or disdain in this simple statement of fact, but as I lay there under the expertise of one of the best eye surgeons in the city, I had to laugh at myself. Later, when I apologized to him, he said, "You were just staying on top of things."
When I told this to a friend, she suggested that the doctor might have thought that I needed to stay in control of things. That may or may not be true. I thought I was helping him remember. After all, he has a ton of patients and I am only one of them.
Underneath whatever else might have been doing on, however, was fear that I didn't really want to admit. I had fear about someone's messing with my eyes and fear that the horrible things the nurse read to me before the surgery might happen to me. I had fears that I might be the one person for whom this surgery didn't work and I would have impaired vision for the rest of my life. I had fears left over from childhood about my vision and fears I'd inherited from my mother when she found out I needed glasses when I was four years old.
When it's all said and done, the need to control is about fear, isn't it?
At the end of the day, control issues mask the fear of being out of control, don't they? And isn't it true that the more we humans try to control outer realities, the more we are announcing to the world that we are not able to control something within our own lives?
I'm not quite as fearful of this next surgery as I was the one last week. It helps to know about the procedure and what to expect, and it's helping a lot that my vision is improving daily.
It also helps to know that I've surrendered control to an expert with a long history of success in helping people see. I'm glad he learned, along the way, to write out his plan so that he could assure people like me that he's got it all under control.
What scares you?
In what settings do you try to stay in control? And when you do that, what's your fear?
When you wield control over others, are they as nice to you as Dr. Arnouldt was to me? Or does your control of others hook something in them?
And to whom are you willing to give up control?
I keep thinking about how many times it was that Jesus said, "Fear not."
Grace to you-- and courage!
(I had another big lesson about this eye surgery and empathy at the drugstore, trying to buy reading glasses. I wrote about it in my Growing Edges column which will appear in the San Angelo Standard Times this coming Saturday, August 22. You can access it from this website on that day. I'd like to hear about your wake-up calls, too. What has made you more sensitive to the impairments of others?)
written by Jon Mark, August 27, 2009