Saturday, December 24, 2022

Was Blind But Now I See

Happy holidays, all (and Merry Christmas, some!). As some of you know, I had eye surgery earlier this week. Not LASIK, but the considerably more exotic corneal cross-linking. This was actually the third time I was scheduled to have the procedure. The first time, which I believe was the summer of 2019, was scrubbed due to insurance issues; the second time, which was slated for this past summer, I got COVID a week before the operation. That's frustrating for more than the normal reasons -- cross-linking doesn't improve your vision, it just stops further deterioration, so any vision loss I've experienced from the initial date to now is likely permanent.

But let's not dwell on that. The procedure itself was not really what I was anticipating: it was (as one tech very accurately put it) 90% putting in eye drops. Seriously: that was the overwhelming majority of the 90 minutes I spent lying on the operating table -- getting eye drops placed in my eye over two minute increments. For about half of it, I also stared into a UV light while getting still more eye drops. The miracles of science. I was anticipating more in the way of scraping or needles or lasers, but other than one period where they scraped a layer of cells off the top of my cornea (don't worry, some of those eye drops were the numbing kind), there really wasn't any of that.

The recovery has been a bit more of a slog. One consequence of the surgery is that I can't wear a contact in the affected eye for a week before and a month after the procedure. With my contacts in, I have close to 20/20 vision; without them in, I'm legally blind. So the upshot is I'm blind in my right eye until mid-January (including the first two weeks of teaching).

There's also the pain. After the surgery I was prescribed percocet, which should have let me know they weren't messing around, but for whatever reason I was underselling the pain side of the recovery period. The first day once the numbing drops wore off was pretty rough -- my eye had that stinging sensation like when you stare into a bright light for too long (another helpful tech reminded me that "you kinda did"), but it wasn't really fading. The pain came in waves, abating before it would come back, and as time has progressed the severity of the pain has decreased while the length of time between waves has increased. I'm hopeful that by today I'm out the other side, and the major side effect I'll still need to deal with is the aforementioned half-blindness.

In other news, the winter storm that hit Portland (and I gather everywhere else in America) froze a pipe and knocked out water to our kitchen faucet. More annoying than anything else, but it was the first "crisis" our house has really experienced since we bought it, so a good learning experience for us. Jill spent most of yesterday trying to get a plumber to come out before "frozen pipe" turned into "burst pipe". It took a long time -- everyone was booked until at least Tuesday -- but we finally got a guy who came out, found where the freeze was, and thawed it out. The whole experience really was more stressful because of the confluence of events (holiday season making it hard to find people, I'm half out of commission because of the surgery), but we got through it. Yay us!

Monday, December 19, 2022

A Tale of Two McCarthys

Abdul El-Sayed has an article in TNR about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' latest endeavor to stake out anti-vaxx turf, promising a full-scale legal investigation into "any and all wrongdoing in Florida with respect to Covid-19 vaccines." El-Sayed dubs DeSantis' strategy "vaccine McCarthyism", which is a term I appreciate. After all, is not today's GOP little more than equal shares of Joseph and Jenny McCarthy?

I tend to think that anti-vaxx politics are a trap for the GOP. Yes, anti-vaxx views are passionately held by the conspiratorial Republican base, which means that under the God-given rules of media fairness we must treat that position with the utmost seriousness. But anti-vaxx politics remain broadly unpopular even with Republicans, to say nothing of independents (or Democrats). Much like (either) McCarthy, opposing vaccines may gain DeSantis press and clout for a little while, but it's likely to make him an irrelevant laughingstock in the long term.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

A Holiday Greetings Flowchart

How do I handle holiday greetings as a Jew? Here's the order of operations:

  • If you say "happy holidays" to me and I don't know you or what you celebrate, then I say "happy holidays" to you in return.
  • If I know you're Jewish, I say "happy Chanukah."
  • If you wish me "Merry Christmas" and you don't know I'm Jewish, then I say "happy holidays."
  • If you wish me "Merry Christmas" and you do know I'm Jewish, or if you say "merry Christmas" in any way that suggests that doing so is your way of striking back against PC liberal elites, then I say "happy Chanukah."
  • Finally, if I know you celebrate Christmas but you nonetheless wish me "happy Chanukah" because you know that's what I celebrate, then I will wish you a "merry Christmas" in return as that's what you celebrate.
Feel free to use this in your own interactions. 

And from me to you: happy holidays to all, happy Chanukah for those for whom it applies, and merry Christmas to those who've earned it!