Giving Up

Okay, so for nine months I’ve suffered with double vision, all the time trying to maintain my spunk and do the best that I can with what I’ve had to work with.  Finally, I got a chance to have surgery to fix my eye muscles so that, at long last, I could have normal vision just like regular people.  The time ramping up to that surgery was filled with delays and unimaginable stress, but I finally reached “zero hour” on Monday.  I was so excited.  I came through the surgery fine…only to find myself with WORSE double vision than before!  The surgeon had indicated that I might still have “periods” of double vision, but had implied that I would also have periods of normal vision, too.  So I was heartbroken.  It wasn’t until afterward that he claimed that “Oh yes, this is completely normal.”

I didn’t cope well with this.  Not well at all.  To find myself having more difficulty functioning than before has been almost more than I can bear.  The tears show up at regular intervals and there’s nothing I can do about it.  My eyes look like someone poured Drano into them and feel like they’re full of glass shards.  And as I look around, searching for hope, I realize my sense of humor and my persistence have fled.  And I have nothing to hold onto. Nothing.

For those of you who have expressed caring (all four or five of you,) I did go to the doctor yesterday and he proclaimed that my healing is progressing well.  He explained that the eye muscles that were cut now need time to re-attach.  Right now they are being held with sutures.  He says that now my eyes are “over corrected,” but that they should eventually work their way back to normal vision…IN WEEKS!  From where I’m sitting, I don’t believe him.  No one ever warned me that there would be this long waiting period after the surgery for results.  I had so much hope that everything would be fixed.  What I NEVER expected was that I’d be in a worse situation than when I started.  A person can only take so much.

This blog used to be a life saver for me.  It was a place where I could vent, air my opinions and find support from my readers.  That didn’t work this time.  I feel like I’m totally alone out here.  I’ve been drained of my joy, my spirit, my sass and my sense of humor.  The idea of going back to writing my funny posts, my cloud patrols, my movie and TV reviews and my cockeyed views on life doesn’t move me at all.  I’m empty inside.

So, I’ve decided to walk away from “Star, Simplified.”  I thought I was making a difference, but now I realize I was just fooling myself.  And, until I can once more find some shred of hope in my life… I have nothing to say.

Take care of yourselves.


Hello all. Star’s friend Dee here.

I’ve been dragging my feet, waiting to be able to give you the “happily ever after” version of Star’s post eye surgery report. But, sadly, it’s not forthcoming.

The Big Day (Monday)

We got to the outpatient center yesterday right on schedule – 6:15 a.m. Not too tough for an early riser like Star, but yoiks – that’s early for a sleeper-inner like me!

There were some very enjoyable moments – especially when Star had all the nurses – and even the no-nonsense surgeon — in stitches (sorry – cheap medical profession pun) before she was anesthetized. I mean, she was ON!  Nurses on the other side of the room were looking for excuses to get in a little closer, trying to figure out why everyone was laughing right before this “poor patient” was getting ready to head for surgery. So I advise – hold on to that delightfully Star image for a while.

Two hours later. According to the doctor, who came out to the waiting room to give me the full report, the surgery went very well. According to the nurse, who gave me her full report in the post-op, Star did very well. She woke from the anesthesia right on schedule. We got her back into the car to go home right on schedule. So smooooth. Was this too good to be true?

As the icy gauze pads went on and the eye drops went in and the day wore on, it was becoming obvious that the signs of single vision that Star had been holding on to for all these months just weren’t there. In fact, she was becoming aware that not only did she still have double vision – but it was a different kind of double vision. Now, instead of having things doubling up side by side, things were starting to double up above and below. What was once two heads of me, side by side, became two heads of me, one on top of the other.

This was NOT good. Star was heartbroken, and I was Pollyanna and Annie rolled into one: “The sun’ll come out…tomorrow…”

The Day After (Tuesday)

But then this morning, “tomorrow” was here, and the sun was not.

The surgery has been done, but Star is still seeing everything double – except for hope…which she can’t see at all right now.

I think we all need to start seeing double hope for her right now—and holding onto that double dose for her during the next 2 days, then through her Thursday doctor appointment, and for whatever will be facing her after that.

She’s as down as I’ve ever seen her (and those of us who are faithful readers of her blog know how hard she’s tried to stay “up” through all this – and more!), and as tough as it is for a self-sufficient gal like her, I think she needs to hear from us all & really truly believe we care about her.

If you can take a moment to send Star some genuine thoughts/wishes/prayers (no empty aphorisms or cheerleader platitudes, please!), that would mean a lot right now.

My hope is that we’ll be getting an update from her real soon with much more promising news!


(tues. 4/19/2011)

Nine months ago I woke up with double vision.  As disconcerting as that was, I thought, “Well, I’ll get up and in a couple of hours it will be gone.”  A week later that changed to, “As soon as I see the eye doctor, it will be gone.”  And then a month later, it changed again to, “The endocrinologist will give me some medicine and then it will be gone.”  And I was wrong yet again.

As many of you know by now, the double vision led to the discovery that I had Graves’ Disease and its trusty, sometimes companion, Graves’ Eye Disease.  Through medication the Graves’ was quickly gotten under control.  The eye disease – not so fast.  When I was finally sent to an eye surgeon, I was met with the news that yes, it could be helped by surgery, but not until the disease had “run its course.”  That was more months ago than I care to count.

Meanwhile the double vision has changed my life in so many negative ways.  It has made every single thing I do more difficult, from driving to reading to walking down the stairs.  It has affected my self-esteem drastically.  I feel like one of my eyes looks a bit “off” and it has made me self-conscious.  I don’t look people in the eyes like I used to.  Going outside without sunglasses is out of the question because the brightness of all the many images I see tends to make me dizzy.  And when I drive, I have to wear sunglasses with one eye blacked out or I wouldn’t be able to manage at all.  My depth perception has been severely compromised, causing me to bump into things a lot.  And, athough I’ve been determined that I won’t let it affect my friendships, I do find myself staying closer to home more often.

I was scheduled for surgery March 21st and the week before, I ruptured a disc in my back which compressed my sciatic nerve, leaving me hardly able to walk, and I had to cancel.  It broke my heart.

So, here I am again, scheduled for surgery Monday morning.  I have to be at the surgical center at 6:30 a.m. so it will still be dark outside.  Probably by 10:00 a.m. they’ll be sending me home again. It’s odd to think that such a monumental thing in my life will be determined in such a short time.

To say that I’m praying for a complete success is the understatement of the world.  The doctor said that 90% of the time the surgery works perfectly the first time.  For the other 10%, a second operation is required to “tweak things.”  I believe that God is going to see me through this and everything will turn out exactly the way we’re hoping.  And, no matter how red and ugly my eyes look afterward, no matter how much they itch and hurt, as long as I see things normally, I won’t complain.  In fact, I’ll probably be literally dancing with joy!

This IS a big deal.  The surgeon will be cutting my eye muscles, repositioning them and then sewing them back up.  Anything can happen.  And then there’s the anesthesia, which always carries risks.  But I’m not concentrating on those things.  The way I look at it, if I don’t wake up, I’ll never know, so why stress about it?

As for my next post, I’ll play that by ear.  According to my schedule, it should appear Tuesday, but that would mean writing it Monday and I doubt that will happen.  So, please bear with me.  My dear friend, Dee, will be taking me, bringing me back home, and staying a bit to be sure I’m okay.  I’d love to get her to write a “guest post” updating you all, but that will be up to her.  She’s already going over and beyond what I deserve.  So, if I’m a day or so later than usual, you’ll know what’s happening.  I ask for your patience and that you not forget me.  And, if you have a spare prayer or two you could throw my way, I’d be mighty grateful.  Wish me luck.








I remember when my Grandma died.
I grieved like I’d never stop.
But I don’t think I realized, even then,
just what a void she was leaving in my life.
That came later,
in those times when I would have given anything
to have someone on my side.
She always was, you know.
I could be as wrong as I could be,
but I wouldn’t hear it from Grandma, oh no!
She was for me, no matter what.
She couldn’t help herself.
She just loved me that much.
At the time, I never realized
what a uniquely precious gift that was.
But I do now.
Every time I smell the scent of peonies,
I think of her in her brightly flowered silk dresses.
I remember my small hand
in her rough, work-hardened one
as we’d head down the sidewalk to church,
the summer sun beating down on our heads.
I always felt so proud to be with her.
I remember how she’d let me do
all the things other grown-ups forbade –
like jumping on the bed, “cooking” in the kitchen,
and staying up way past my bedtime.
I realize now that when I lost her,
I lost one of the best friends I’d ever have.
One thing does comfort me, though.
It’s said that if even one person remembers you,
then you’ll live on forever.
Well, I do, Grandma.
Believe me, I do,
and I always will.

As I move closer to my surgery date, I’ve tried very hard to immerse myself in distractions.  Since I’ve always been the kind of person who can live in my imagination,  I just needed the inspiration.  So, first I purchased Season One of HBO’s “True Blood,” the southern Vampire series featuring waitress Sookie Stackhouse.  Once I got into it, I spent many happy weekends following the story.  The idea behind it is that it’s set in a time when a synthetic blood has been developed that can slake the vampire cravings.  Thus vampires are free to walk among humans.  There are a lot of funny tongue-in-cheek references to vampire rights in congress and vampire support groups.  But the primary story line involves Sookie, who falls in love with an ancient vampire, Bill, who’s trying very hard to mainstream, i.e., not drink human blood.  This whole thing was so involving that when I finished the last episode, I immediately ordered Season Two.

While I was waiting for Season Two to come, I decided to get Season One of “The Walking Dead,” which is AMC’s critically acclaimed series of humans trying to survive a zombie epidemic of apocalyptic proportions.  It begins with a police officer waking from a coma in a hospital which is trashed and deserted.  As he wanders out, he sees nothing but dead bodies everywhere.  It isn’t until he sees a zombie girl, (or half of a zombie girl, anyway,) pulling what’s left of her body across a park, that the nightmare starts to become real to him.  He finally meets up with a group of survivors and the main story is about what these people do to survive, without any means of communication and not even knowing if there are other survivors left in the world.  It is a good show, but definitely not as “fun” as “True Blood.

So, when I finished the last episode of it, I naturally found myself thinking about both stories and the situations they depict.  In my musings, I imagined someone asking me, “Which would you date, if you had to date one or the other – a zombie or a vampire?  At first the answer seemed obvious, but I decided to try to be as objective as possible. Here are my pros and cons.

VAMPIRESPros – (1) They actually have personalities, ranging from charming to terrifying. (2) Most are physically attractive.  (3) Their blood, “V” is like a super-drug for humans.  (4) They sleep all day, giving you time to do what you need to do.  Cons (1) When the fangs click into place, it’s not a good look (at least, not to me.)  (2) They never get sleepy at night so they could tend to wear you out after a while.  (3) They have the ability to mesmerize you, thus robbing you of free will.  You’d probably never win an argument with one.  (4) There’s the whole sleeping-in-a-coffin thing.  (5) They could suck you dry and leave you dead in a New York minute.  (Definitely something to think about!)


ZOMBIES:  Pros(1) They’d never bore you with needless chit-chat.  They do well to make grunting noises!  (2) They’re not obsessed with their appearance.  You’ll never have to wait while they fix their hair. (3) They are persistent.  Zombies aren’t quitters.  If they want you, they’ll just keep coming for you, no matter what.  (4) They’re not picky eaters.  They’re only interested in eating one thing.  Cons (1) The one thing they’re interested in eating is YOUR BRAIN! (I don’t know about you, but for me that’s a real downer in the dating world.) (2) They are totally boring. Any shred of personality they might have once had, is gone.  (3) Their body parts tend to come off.  I mean, it’s one thing to hold someone’s hand, but if that’s the only thing you’re holding, well!  Yuk. (4) The smell.  Putrefaction is seldom sexy, no matter how good a face you try to put on it.

So, there are the facts.  And no matter how fair I tried to be, zombies are a hard sell in the world of sexual attraction and companionship.  Consequently,  I have to declare vampires the winner of this “who-would-you-date” contest.  So now that I’ve solved yet another Huge Life Dilemma, I think I’ll go cuddle up in my recliner and begin Season Two of “True Blood.”  Woo hoo!  See ya later!




Incident Report

Wow!  A very weird thing happened to me this weekend!  I had to run to the mall and ended up parking pretty far out from the entrance.  I couldn’t have been in the stores more than maybe an hour because the sciatica in my leg has left it a little weak and I haven’t been able to bring it back to normal yet, so it was aching a bit.

Anyway, I carried my packages out and put them in the back hatch and got in.  The minute I sat down, I sensed something was wrong.  And then I saw it – the radio was missing!  OMG!  And then as I looked around, I noticed that the steering wheel, the brake pedal and accelerator pedals were gone as well!  What kind of guys had done this?  A traveling hock shop?  I looked around to see if anyone was watching but saw nothing suspicious.

I don’t know how long I sat there in shock before I realized that I needed to call 911.  While I waited for the police, I began to realize what a hassle this was going to be.  I mean, I would have to have to car towed and then rent a car while it was repaired.  I would have to deal with the insurance company.  It was just the kind of stress I don’t need right now.

About twenty minutes later, a policeman tapped on my window.  I rolled it down, and before he could say anything, I blurted out my whole story, illustrating all the things I was missing.

When I finished, the officer, who seemed very unaffected by the whole thing, said, “Ma’am, I don’t know how to tell you this…”

“Tell me what?” I asked, wondering how things could get any worse.

“Well, you see,” he said, “you’re sitting in the back seat!”


(Okay, okay, stop groaning!  You know if I had run this on April 1st, you would have seen it coming a mile away.)

One thing many of my fellow baby boomers and I have in common is that we’re often taken by surprise by the fact that we are now “the older generation.”  Sometime through the years, time got away from us and all of our experiences are indelibly inscribed on our faces and bodies.  Now and then when I look in the mirror, I want to weep because the woman there is nothing like “the Young Me” who lives inside.

So, when I came across these before-and-after pictures of some TV and movie stars of my past, they gave me great comfort.  We are not alone.  I think you’ll enjoy these.

I have two final thoughts.  First of all, I think most of these people are two to three years older than their stated ages here.  And second, I would have to give the prize for “Not-Bad-For-An-Older-Guy” to Mike Farrell.  He has held up quite well.

I should be so lucky!