Without coke-bottle level correction, I’ve never had a clear vision in my life.
My parents realized that I needed glasses when I was about six years old because my kindergarten teacher (I was held back a year) noticed me squinting. When the eye doctor told my parents I had a “lazy” left eye, my dad painted my right eyeglass lens with frosted white nail polish (bling for my imminent first communion) to help the process along.
Suffice to say, I was not blessed with great eyesight. And today, I’m feeling enormous gratitude because of it.
Let me explain.
As we tend to do with our frailties, I adapted, rolling with being called “four-eyes” on the playground until I excitedly got my first contact lenses for my sixteenth birthday, and never looked back. Until my fifties, that is, when I started needing readers and then, more recently, when I noticed that my left eye was blurrier than ever. I assumed a prescription adjustment would fix the problem and was a little shocked when the eye doctor said, “You need cataract surgery.”
“What?” This was something I still felt a bit young for. The doc agreed, explaining that it sometimes emerges in younger people with extremely poor vision.
I get that cataract surgery is not a big-deal kind of procedure (although I’m of the mind that anytime someone cuts into your body, it’s kind of a big deal) and is a hugely successful, low-risk event for nearly everyone. But it hit me in a weird, my-body-has-failed-me kind of way. For a few days, that is, until I chose a different thought.
Specifically, I started practicing these affirmations:
“I get to have my eyesight corrected.”
“I am fortunate enough to be able to have this surgery that will probably give me clear sight.”
“I’m grateful, lucky, and excited to be able to fix this problem with very low risk.”
And the practice worked. When the day of surgery arrived, I jumped out of bed, excited for what was ahead. As I lay in the pre-op room, IV in my arm, covered in a warm blanket, I marveled at how smooth-running everything seemed. Nurses, doctors, anesthesiologists buzzing around, plugged in and focused, there to care for me and a handful of others in the queue. I thought a lot about the warm blanket for some reason, maybe because I heard the nurse share with another patient that she could have as many as she wanted, that they had tons of them. How many hospitals around the globe would give anything to have tons of anything?
Then, when the surgeon breezed in with his big white smile to say good morning and ask, “which eye are we doing today?”, cross checking with my chart. “Left,” I answered. “Correct!” He said, marking my left eyebrow with a black sharpie.
And when they pushed in the sedative and everything started feeling super groovy as I was rolled into the operating room:
More gratitude. I was safe, cared for, lucky.
I felt pushing, a bit of pressure, saw lots of color (prism effect, I imagine), felt no discomfort whatsoever. And then, after no more than eight minutes passed, the colors seemed much clearer. “You’re all set,” the surgeon said.
I was done. Just like that.
Back to the nurses in the recovery room. Crackers, apple juice, more care.
Still a little sedated, I donned the oversized shades they handed me before my husband lovingly guided me out into the sunshine. Everything looked clear, sharp, AMAZING.
You guessed it. MORE GRATITUDE.
But what does any of this have to do with fear, communication, leadership, team-building?
If you know me, you’ve heard me drone on about how everything starts with the thoughts we choose, with the mindset we adopt, with how and where we decide to direct our focus and energy.
Whether it’s communicating with your team, developing leadership skills, or the way you interact with strangers (or healthcare professionals) the core concept is the same:
If you start with curiosity, openness, a will to learn something new, to fail forward, to uplevel your understanding of someone else’s experience, you can change the way you experience any and every setback.
Staying rooted in gratitude is a good start, even when at first glance you perceive a challenge. Deeper exploration will uncover precious information that will guide you forward. If you make that choice.
Like going blurry in one eye.
Bumming out about it at first.
Then deciding it was a golden opportunity.
You have to admit, the poetry is impossible to ignore.
Medicine imitates life? Let’s go with that.
If you think I can help you and/or your team gain clarity around their path(s), shoot me a message here.
Quick, before Marvel calls 😉–I’m getting the other eye done in December.