It’s a cliche, I know, but you’ll read why in a minute.
Earlier this week I had a little scare. I was sitting quietly reading (okay, I was browsing through a new Northern Tool and Equipment catalog), when without warning something looking a little like smoke appeared. When I tried to look directly at it, it moved and there was a flash. Then I thought it better resembled a large piece of dark colored lint floating by, so I grabbed for it, but my hand went right through it. I grabbed at it again and nothing. I starting waving my hand back and forth to disperse it, or catch it, but nothing.
By now my wife, Patrice, asked me what was going on. I didn’t answer her. I kept grasping at the air. She asked again, this time a little more emphatically, “What’s wrong? Talk to me.”
I couldn’t think of what to tell her, but then I asked, “Do you see some smoke or lint or something about where my hand is?”
She told me there was nothing there, “Are you alright? Should I call 911?” Apparently, she thought I was having a stroke.
I closed my right eye, and the smoke disappeared. When I opened my right eye there it was again! I only then realized I had a “floater.” Quite soon, the flashing increased and more floaters started to appear, except these were very tiny ones that looked like bubbles.
Floaters generally occur as one gets older, and are more common with those who are nearsighted – yep, that’s me. Typically they, “appear when tiny pieces of the eye’s gel-like vitreous break loose within the inner back portion of the eye.” Usually this is simply an annoyance, but when accompanied with flashing it can indicate a retinal tear or detachment. “Immediate” medical attention is recommended with those symptoms.
The next morning I was able to get an appointment and had an exam in the afternoon. My doctor assured me that aside from the floaters my eyes were healthy. Still, I now have somewhat diminished vision in my right eye, especially, I discovered, at night.
We were driving Patrice’s folks home from dinner on a dark and rainy evening tonight. Ahead, I saw a shadow moving back and forth across the road. I asked everyone in the car with me, “Do you see anyone in the road ahead?” I slowed down, looking hard, but neither Patrice or her parents saw anything. Of course, Patrice is night blind and her folks are in their Eighties (which is why I’m the driver).
I turned on the high beams, but in the rain it didn’t help. Finally, Patrice said she thought she could see white shorts on someone ahead. I could too. We caught up to him, skateboarding down the middle of the road, being pulled by a large black dog running furiously. The skateboarder was wearing black boots, white running shorts over sweat pants, and a dark hooded sweatshirt.
I honked furiously at him, and his dog turned a corner pulling him down a side street like a skier slaloming behind a speedboat . I was seriously not amused at such a stupid stunt.
Ironically, because I was worried about my vision, I was concentrating on the wet road ahead, and only because of that did I see him. Otherwise, I might have run him and his pooch over.
As if that wasn’t enough, after we dropped off the folks and headed home on Parker Road (Rich will appreciate this since he’s been on it – a multiple lane roadway with heavy traffic) a man in dreadlocks, wearing blue jeans and a dark colored jacket jay-walked out in front of us. I braked hard, and once again, laid on the horn, but he seemed oblivious and simply sauntered across the remaining four lanes of southbound traffic, all while not looking up, or to one side or the other. How all the other cars managed to miss him is a mystery. But then, perhaps he was just a floater, and not really there – that’s as good an explanation as any.