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Friday, February 26, 2016

Neha's Z Lasik Surgery and Life's Turning Points

There are some moments in time that will remain etched in our memories forever. In all likelihood, these are also the moments that had a major impact on our day to day lives and for ease of understanding, I’m going to term them as ‘turning points’.

It’s easy to recall some of my turning points, graduation day, followed by my marriage. Then the birth of my only child, a daughter called Neha, my first book launch and just last Wednesday, the day I watched Neha undergo ‘Z Lasik’ surgery.

                Image Source- The Irish Times

Having taken the decision to go in for ‘Z (Zeimer) Lasik surgery’ was only the first step to watching a whole new way of life and living unfold. Day 4 and we can already see it in operation, there’s no need for her to wear contacts or glasses and she can now read things from a distance that was unimaginable just days ago.

And from what were given to understand, this quality of vision is there to stay forever, the only caveat being that the few prescribed ‘dos and don’ts’ are accurately followed through.

So what is Z-Lasik? As recently as ten years ago, laser eye surgery routinely resulted in days of dull pain, sensitivity to light, potentially blurry night vision and the need to wear some protection by way of eye patches or something like that.

However, the Z-Lasik technique can deliver a correction with relatively few side effects, once the first couple of hours of pain can be tolerated and the patient has had the opportunity to get a few hours of sleep and rest for a day in a dimly lit, cool and comfortable room.

A sophisticated procedure which has been hailed as the most advanced innovation in ‘bladeless surgery’, it involves the use of a high-frequency laser to correct a variety of refractive eye problems, including myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism and presbyopia among other eye diseases.

After a thorough investigation, the patient is carefully chosen for the surgery which usually takes 60 to 90 minutes.

As explained by a renowned eye surgeon in simple language, “When you’re short-sighted, the light gets bent inwards too much by your cornea. So the treatment aims to reduce the curve of the cornea by flattening it.

"Quite simply, we polish the top off. With every pulse, lasers can remove one quarter of a millionth of a metre of tissue, pain-free.”

Before the corrective lasering can begin, the surgeon must create a window in the eye. Better still, with the Ziemer, a so-called ‘blade-free’ laser which has the added advantage of cutting a thinner flap, patients with only a mild prescription can be treated with greater precision.

I was allowed to watch the surgery as well as click photographs through a glass partition and will try and describe what I saw as accurately as possible. A clamp designed to keep Neha’s eyes open during the operation was lowered on to her face, and I’m sure that it couldn’t have been easy for her to deal with.
Despite the fact that she was given anesthesia before the surgery, there was a distinct element of pain felt during the procedure. The actual laser part of the surgery was something that I focused on as closely as I could and must honestly say that it was very difficult with the thunderous sound of my heartbeats threatening to deafen me!

The surgical team inside seemed to be completely in command and in fact, one of the assistants pointed out a television screen towards the top of the room from where I could watch the entire procedure that was magnified. One eye over, the second eye was done shortly after.

Immediately after the surgery, a specially designed pair of goggles was put onto her eyes and we went home. All through the drive (just 15 minutes) I was very aware of the fact that Neha was in pain and could not bear any kind of light at all, lying back with her eyes completely closed.

Fortunately, a pain killer had been provided to her for just such a possibility and with that inside her, followed by an afternoon’s rest, things seemed so much better. What I particularly liked was the fact that on the third day, she could actually read lines from an A4 sized sheet of paper from almost 6-7 feet away.

If anything could sound better than that, it’s the qualitative difference that has come about in her day to day life. There’s no need to hunt for and put on that daily set of contacts, and certainly no likelihood of spectacles hereafter.
As for me, I will close by coming back to where I began. “There are some tuning points in life....”

NB- This piece was originally written by me for my column My Take in Muscat Daily

Friday, February 12, 2016

Darcy's, my favourite cafe in Muscat and a memorable incident

We all have a place that we love to head towards time and again. A place where we can just sit  and have a chat with friends over a cup of tea, coffee or enjoy a quick meal. Or if you will, sit out in the sun , basking in the warmth of the venue, but even more, the sheer pleasure of being in a place where each member of the staff is keenly attuned to your requirements and greets you like a long lost friend the minute they catch sight of you.

I've got exactly one such place and its probably where I spend the most amount of time, outside my own home. This charming little cafe is called 'Darcys' and its located at Madinat Qaboos MQ) in Muscat.

      Darcy's, MQ, Muscat
While I'm fairly engrossed in my book, magazine or newspaper if I'm alone here, or chatting animatedly with friends or family in other situations, I  do take a look around and nod at a familiar face every now and then. Most of the customers are regulars just like me and over a period one gets to know them somewhat too.

But then there are the other faces that seem somewhat out of place and that is exactly the reason why they stay in the mind. Every other time that I'm there, I see a 35' ish local man, who has a slight limp- and if one looks at him closely, doesn't seem to be entirely normal. Now I don't know why that is so, but one generally avoids making eye contact with him, for fear of...? I really don't have the answer here, but am just sharing my  thoughts. And believe me, I'm not the only one there who does this, its probably the majority of others present too.As for the staff, I've noticed that they sat him in a quiet corner where hes served a cup of tea and a small bite and after a short respite, he's off and on his way..

But last weekend saw a departure from the norm. My husband and myself were sitting outside and having our scones and tea and this man walked out.It was evident that he'd finished and was leaving. But here's the real surprise. Just as he reached the small gate which serves as the exit and entry point, he stopped, looked directly at us and waved goodbye. I too waved back instinctively.

I really don't know what it was about that simple gesture, but it touched me a great deal. For all the times, I'd thought of him as 'not exactly normal" he'd been seeing and focusing on me as a person who he'd learnt to recognise. Then one day, he actually reacted and how!

I find myself thinking of him every now and then. And have made up my mind that I will have a real conversation with him when I see him next.

Just one more reason to head back to Darcy's ...

(N B -This post was originally written for my column My Take in Muscat Daily.)