The Exploding Eye
A detached retina consists of a nightmare that does not go away when you fully awaken. Half of one's vision turns into a big black bobble, looming in (in my case) from the lower right-hand side of my right eye.

These things mostly happen on weekends, as you know, but the eye-gods were on our side this Tuesday, and since I live not so far from my eye doctor's office, I got in my car and keeping one eye on my retina and my other on the road, I drove directly to his office without passing Go (or Goa) and was, within a half an hour, without the usual appointment, in his examination chair. Within another hour, he had me in the hands of a nearby retina specialist, Dr. Ojo, a rather nervous man, humming as he examined me, as I recall, "Please please me."

I think we should pause here and give tribute to an army of unsung heroes: that is, those of us geezers who find ourselves sitting in an uncomfortable chair in a darkened room as a doctor prepares to stick a ten- or fifteen-inch horse-needle directly into one of our orbs. An even more special tribute, perhaps a medal of honor, should be awarded to those of us who make the choice not to bolt, nor shriek, nor beg for mercy, nor simply have a heart-attack and pass on ... but who sit gamely on, idiotically, bathed in sweat and terror as the moment comes when...

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Something that twenty years ago would have put us in the hospital for a week is now replaced with four hours in room 3-A with an eye-stick, followed by a twenty-minute stapling routine (complete with Bondo), with, as a final gift, a bubble.

Now I have always been fond of bubbles. My older brother was for some unexplained reason given the nickname "Bubbles" until he suddenly and vehemently renounced it when he turned fourteen. In addition, in the late 1940s, the synonym for all that was lascivious in our North Florida world appeared at the Windmill Club over on Blanding Blvd., a lady who danced in the near-dark, accompanied by a ragtag band and a groaning soap-machine. She was known by the name of "Bubbles LaMone" (or "LaMoan" --- accounts differ). Other naughty pleasures which I will not bore you with at this time also transpired in the bathtub at home filled with warm water into which a package of pink powder had been dumped which turned it into a "bubble bath."

Dr. Ojo gave me a large bubble inside my eyeball which was to stay around for six or seven weeks. It was injected into my eye (and into my life) to float there and hold the errant retina in place until it could re-solder itself to the roof of my mouth or whatever it is that retinas attach themselves to nowadays.

Because the eye is upside down, I mean, because you and I see the world as inverted, this new addition to my life and vision floated up but appeared to be down: just around groin level or, worse, at the exact level where one holds a book or tries to see the computer keyboard.

It was quite colorful, this (what the Spanish call) burbuja. It was a luminous blue-gray-green-black with occasional undertones of red. "Wow," I said as Dr. Ojo completed sticking it in my eye. "That's beautiful," I said. "Is this laughing gas or what?"

It wasn't laughing gas or what, but it was quite lovely. I mean, if you had to have a bubble stuck in your eye, it was better this colorful one than one that was just black or red or white or green. At times, it looked beguilingly like the moon in total eclipse, or the morning sun, rising from the floor of the sea.

Or, depending on my mood, I could see it as the planet Uranus viewed through a powerful telescope. Later on, as it diminished (the gas is slowly adsorbed into the system) it looked less like Uranus and more like one of the planets of Jupiter. In its last stages, it shrunk to the size of a billiard-ball, then a ball-bearing, until, at last, it was no more than a blue-black BB bopping about at the edge of my vision every time I looked around.

Dr. Ojo advised me not to go on any airlines while the bubble was in place, telling me nonchalantly that my eye would explode if I did so. I asked him if it was OK to travel back and forth to his offices in a submarine. He allowed that there would be no danger of an exploding eye underwater but that his office had, unfortunately, no docking space for submarines, even yellow ones.

--- Carlos Amantea
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