I suppose I need to explain myself because I’ve been away from the Iris of Time for what seems an eternity. First of all, let me say that I’ve always had difficulty writing during periods of adversity. Not all authors have this problem. Dostoevsky seemed to thrive off his problems, some of which were devastating, e.g., the loss of a child. I’ve not had anything so dramatic happen. Nevertheless, I have had my own problems and those of the elderly can throw us into a different if not strange psychic state. A couple of years ago, my doctor, even though I quit smoking forty years ago, thought I might have COPD, which is a progressive illness, and if something doesn’t get you first, eventually leads to death. Before that time, I had never thought of death so personally, of it standing outside my door waiting for an opportunity to step over the threshold and harvest my soul. I’d thought a lot about death through the decades, being prompted to by several writers, including Carlos Castaneda, among others, but nothing ever quite so personal as this. Imagining that I could very well have a terminal illness was a psychic shock a that threw me into a period of grief, from which I soon recovered when I learned that I probably just have a slight case of asthma that I can quite easily control by inhaling a couple of puffs from a non-steroidal inhaler a couple of times a day.
But this didn’t happen recently. As I’ve mentioned before, I started having flashes at the edge of my vision, and I went in on emergency to see if I had a detached retina. Really scared me because I don’t want to go blind either. Turns out it was a much less serious eye condition common in the elderly. I’m seventy-one, and my eye was just fine. But I did have an eye condition that I’d had for several years, one that I’d been putting off having treated. I had cataracts in both eyes. So at the time I had the problem with flashing lights I also was scheduled for surgery on both eyes, one four months later, the other five months. So on July 18th, I had surgery on my left eye, and on August 15th, I had surgery on my right eye.
I found both surgeries traumatic. I go to the VA clinic in San Francisco, and my doctor was young, male, and didn’t seem to be as professional as I’d hoped. During the first surgery, the anesthesiologist gave me a light anesthetic, so I heard everything that was going on. Seems that my doctor was being supervised while he took out my old lens with the cataract and replaced it with a new artificial one. It also seemed that he had considerable difficulty getting the my own lens out and even more trouble getting the new one in. The supervising doctor was constantly correcting him, and trying to give him directions on the correct procedure, which he never seemed to quit get right. Finally, in both cases, the supervising doctor had to take over.
This upset me greatly during the surgery, and during the night when I experienced more pain than I thought would be involved, I became upset and couldn’t sleep. The next morning when I went in for my post-op, my doctor didn’t make it. Another doctor took what seemed to me to be a half-assed look at me, assured me that everything was fine, and sent me on my way. I wondered if my doctor was so embarrasses at his performance during my surgery that he didn’t have the courage to face me.
A week later when I had a followup, I confronted my doctor with what had happened during my surgery, and with the fact that he didn’t seem to have a clue about what he was doing. He assured me that he did know what he was doing, had performed cataract surgery many time, and explained to me that the VA hospital is a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of San Francisco Medical Center and that they are constantly being taught and developing new procedures. He assured me that even though they had run into some difficulties, and my surgery took a little longer than normal, at no time was my eye in danger. I believed him and was relieved.
I did however have some difficulties with the eye. I developed a foggy area over the center of my eye and had considerable difficult reading with it. He thought it could be caused by swelling, and if so, it would go away as the eye healed. Yet, my problem seemed to be unusual, and I was concerned that I might not be able to read with it.
Two weeks later, I had another appointment with my doctor as a pre-op for surgery on my right eye the following week. My left eye had improved but still wasn’t perfect. We decided to proceed with surgery on the right eye. That surgery went smoother. I heard no worrisome conversation about the progress of the surgery, and it was over in record time, or so it seemed to me.
I had planned to take the shuttle bus from the VA clinc back to Healdsburg where I live the afternoon following my surgery. Following the previous surgery I had stayed at the VA Medical Center at what they call the Hoptel, the hospital hotel, that they provide for patients who need to stay over night. I’d had a bad experience in it, couldn’t sleep because my room mate in the double occupancy room was a world-class snorer. However, the nursing staff in post-op wouldn’t let me take the shuttle. They had a directive against it, and they really put their foot down. We had quite an argument over it. I wanted to get home because I was on a special diet because of my CFS, and they couldn’t provide the food I needed. So I missed my shuttle at two o’clock. After waiting another four hours, they let me take the shuttle back to Healdsburg at 6 o’clock.
The shuttle turned out to not be a bus. It was a small van with only a few people and a substitute driver, a Hispanic man who I swear was a complete and total lunatic behind the wheel. He zipped around the turns and curves getting out of San Francisco, and I started developing motion sickness. I told myself that I’d be fine once we got on the freeway. However, the driver couldn’t keep his foot off the gas and break. He’d hit the gas and immediately hit the break. We were continually shoved back in our seats and then thrown forward, all the while swerving to change lanes. I got deathly ill, or at least it felt that way. I was on the verge of passing out. I got out of my seat, told the bus diver that I was too ill to continue, and he got off the freeway and pulled into a shopping center, where they got me out of the van and I sat down on the sidewalk. The bus driver wouldn’t leave me alone. He was very concerned about me, but didn’t have a clue as to what to do. He asked me if I want him to call 911. I didn’t know. He kept asking me. Finally, since I wasn’t improving, I said yes. But he didn’t. He asked me again. I said yes again. So he got on his cell phone and called his supervisor. He was more concerned about his job than he was me. They finally got in touch with the medical staff in post-op, and the nurse talked to me. By then I was beginning to feel better. I ended up staying in a Safeway grocery where they had taken me. I knew I couldn’t get back in the van with that lunatic driving, so I called my son with whom I live, and he drove down and picked me up and took me home. This ended an extremely trying episode.
That night I experienced quite a lot of pain in my eye. It wasn’t excruciating, but I also had lights flashing. In total darkness, I saw strange lights that moved around like clouds in a storm. All this activity caused me to worry that something bad had gone wrong with my eye. If I’d stayed at the Medical Center instead of coming home, I would have gone to emergency. As it was, it would have been too disruptive waking my son up in the middle of the night and driving for hours there and back again, especially when I had to go to post-op the next morning anyway.
I turned on the light. They had a patch over my right eye, and I wasn’t supposed to remove it, so I just raised it off my eye and pulled the side of it open enough that I could tell if I could see out of it. And yes, I could, but I could also see large floaters and strange things hanging down over it.
I toughed out the night, and the next morning my son took me down to the VA Medical Center for my post-op. I had never fully recovered from the vertigo, and I certainly didn’t want to get back on the shuttle bus. My post op went great. My doctor said that the surgery had gone very well, and that my eye looked fine. All the flashing lights were not unusual. The pain was to be expected. I left him feeling much better about my eye. I did seem to see very well through it, and the floaters weren’t as bad as I thought. I did develop a cloud over the center of it, as I had with the other eye, that made it difficult to read. I now had that cloud over both eyes, although the left one seemed to be improving.
In the two months since my second surgery, my eyes have gradually improved. The cloud over each eye went away. My doctor said they were probably caused by swelling in the retina and that they would probably go away completely. This is indeed the case. My eyes are now in excellent condition. I now have what is probably the best vision I’ve had in my entire life. I do however need reading glasses. They corrected the astigmatism in both eyes. They couldn’t get the left eye perfect but it’s close enough that I don’t need glasses for distant vision. I had both lenses set for distance vision and I planned to use reading glasses for close up. I did that because I have so many floaters in both eyes, and they are so large that I need both eyes performing as well as possible for reading. I’ve always had floaters, and didn’t want to take a chance that one eye would be adequate for reading. I read constantly, read and write, so I need both eyes functioning at optimal performance at all times.
My point is that I’ve been under a lot of stress wondering if I was going to have eyesight good enough to continue my reading and writing. I had a great fear of being partially blind. Turns out I’m fine. I’m just a really difficult patient.
But all this emotional and physical trauma put me in a psychic state that wasn’t conducive to writing. I drifted away from my Active Imagination sessions. I edited some of my vampire novel that I’m writing almost exclusively during Active Imagination, and I lost contact with it. I’ve edited it sporadically and written new material using AI only occasionally. I’ve wanted to flesh out some chapters a little but couldn’t get into the full story enough to actually accomplish this. I’ve allowed myself to drift away from it but with full intention of returning to it soon. I’m actually in a pretty good frame of mind right now.
I have been doing a little writing on another subject that I should probably tell you about. I’m not sure where I read it, but I believe that Jung said something to the effect there was sex in the psyche and that you run onto it there. Well, I’ve found that to be true. My sexual fantasies have been rather robust ever since I started AI. This is not something I like to talk about, but I believe it’s instructive, so I’ll illuminate a little. Going into the psyche with such a focus and with the understanding of Jung’s writings, opened me up psychically and made what goes on with my imagination not only much more productive, but also more real. I’m not sure “real” is the right word. My fantasies are much more robust. Sexual fantasies have always been a big turnon for me, and having a tool like Active Imagination has made them much more, should I say, arousing but also real seeming. So much so that I decided to write a little erotica.
I’ve never been a fan of erotica. But I do have a set of fantasies that work for me, and I decided to write them up as short stories. These fantasies have persisted over decades, and although they have morphed a little, the situations have basically stayed the same. Some of these fantasies have originated in actual experiences, but their absolute origin seems to have been something that was originally a part of my fantasy world, something pulled from my psyche. If the movie A Dangerous Method has any truth to it, Jung and one of his patients got involved in an illicit love affair and acted out some of their fantasies involving what I suppose is called BSDM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism). That sort of thing has never interested me, so my erotic stories are about sex and not about domination, spanking, or other forms of physical or emotional abuse. They aren’t bizarre or unusual and are rather common, actually. Anyway, I’ve written a little erotica, which I’m ashamed of but never the less published under a pseudonym. And no, I’m not going to tell you how to find it. Just know that it’s out there.
Anyway, I hope to get back to my vampire novel, which I’ve written almost exclusively using Active Imagination, soon. I haven’t lost interest in it, and I’m actually almostly finished with it. I’ll have complete details on it when I do finish. Don’t hold your breath.
I’m in a much better frame of mind now, and I hope to resume my Active Imagination sessions soon.