Faithfully – (Two trips, one post)

Okay, according to my last post, it wasn’t all vacations around here.  Well, this post isn’t going to support that statement very much because I haven’t written a thing since the LAST vacation and we’ve been on two since then, whoops.

The first one was back in April. I’ve been keeping flexible about time off due to some unknown timelines on something I’m working on, and when an opportunity to take some time off comes up, it could be fairly last-minute and if Tom can swing it too? We are outta here.

Where did we go? Well Cannon Beach of course! It was an extended long weekend really, five days, but five days in our favourite place is better than none. We lucked out weather-wise too, apart from the day we arrived (which was POURING) and the day we left, the weather was mostly mild and sunny.

Arrival day
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Due to the rather last-minute nature of our trip, we didn’t get the beachfront suite booked, rather the Ocean front room which doesn’t have the panoramic views, is a room not a suite and is set back from the original building. Not a deal breaker but boo. When we checked-in though, we asked if there were any cancellations. There weren’t, but they were able to give us a beachfront suite for a few days and then do an in-house move to our booked room the last couple of days. We SO took them up on it.

We did lots of walking on the beach of course. On one, we witnessed a marriage proposal (awwwwwww)and were the first to congratulate them as we walked by.

So happy they’re skipping
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We also made a friend I named Stomach due to his (typical) endless appetite. He found us every day and demanded chips. Took them right out of hand too.

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We’d see him arrive with a dramatic flourish…

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And do this until we came out…

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He could keep it up for ages.

The view from our second room was nice, but not AS nice and beacause it wasn’t a suite it meant no couch (a much much smaller loveseat) and no separate bedroom. Hardly slumming but we’re used to the space. I know. Wwaahhh.

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But yanno, it’s Cannon Beach… we were happy to be there.

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We then booked a fairly spontaneous trip to California in June. We stayed in Newport Coast as it was a big place with laundry and we knew we liked it. We hadn’t stayed there without the boys before, but it was nice to have the place to ourselves, we just closed off the extra bedroom and we each had a bathroom which was AWESOME. Close to Crystal cove too, which is very pretty.

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But first, we headed straight for In-N-Out. I guess the horse head wearing is a thing.

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One thing we now see, is how much more dramatic the waves are in Oregon. Every place we try to go back to always seems to pale in comparison to our beloved Cannon Beach. I spent a lot of time in California for the first few years Tom and I were a thing, so I will always be fond of it, but we’ve made so many new ones in Oregon.

What does make me sad though is the terrible amount of tar on the beaches in California too, mostly up in LA county. We saw (and unfortunately stepped on) tar in Manhattan and Hermosa beaches. We saw traces of it at Laguna Beach too though. I don’t recall ever seeing any up the coast in Oregon. Sad really. One thing for certain is when it comes to California, I’m an Orange County girl that’s for sure. I do love the Newport area and I have warm memories of a great getaway in Dana Point back when Tom and I were dating.

We had planned a couple of amusement park visits, Universal Studios where we had a BLAST!

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Then Disneyland (where we DIDN’T). I’d never had a bad experience there before, but the day we went, along with the ride closed for maintenance (Space Mountain) which we knew about, six major rides were shut down, so the other rides had very very long lines. The staff was rude, seriously rude and non-communicative. To top that off, it was grad time and we found out the hard way that all these classes were there on trips. Tons of teenagers without parents = loud and obnoxious in many of them. We left far earlier than intended as we just weren’t having fun. I barely took a photo there.

Still, one black mark on a nice trip.

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I’m glad we went, no regrets as it was fun and we had a good time away. If nothing else, it taught us to stick to the place we love and that’s where we’re going to go back to the minute we can swing it. See you soon Cannon Beach, I hope. Cannon Beach: to quote Steve Perry…”I’m forever yours, faithfully.”

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Belltown Ramble – our quick trip to Seattle

It seems like all I’m posting about here these days are the trips we take. Seriously it isn’t all vacation round these parts, I swear!

When we do grab just a little time off, Cannon Beach is a wee bit too far away. Seattle though, we can pull off a few days there without too long of a drive. I’ve had a few people ask me why we go to Seattle, when we’re not hardcore shoppers. In fact, someone said recently they didn’t think the city was very pretty. I disagree completely. Sure there are parts of any city that aren’t ‘pretty’, Vancouver included, but there is a lot of beauty in Seattle and I love a city that embraces public art the way it does.

We’ve only seen part of the city, though we’ve spent plenty of time walking around it. We tend to stay around the Seattle Center area to stay away from the downtown core. An eclectic area to be certain, but reasonable walking distance to the waterfront along with Seattle Center and a couple of our favourite places to eat.

This past trip though, unlike the previous ones, the weather didn’t cooperate. It rained most of the time, but being hearty souls (despite Tom’s ice-cream face – inside joke) we still did plenty of hoofing around, just with caps and hoods on. My picture-taking was limited to pulling out my phone every now and then.

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We did get a few breaks in the drizzle though.

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And Tom made a new friend.

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One of the highlights for me though, was spotting these amazing glowing flowers outside of the Pacific Science Center through the window of the Sport restaurant. We made a bee-line for them after dinner and had a blast playing with them. They’re called ‘Sonic Bloom’, awesome right?

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Aaannnd we ate pizza at The Rock. Yeah chain food again, but we like it!

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We still keep hoping to run into our favourite busker, but the last few trips he’s not been around. Maybe we’ll see him when we get down again this Summer.

The best weather was going to happen on the last day we were there, so we’d planned on taking the ferry ride over to Bainbridge, but we made the mistake of not parking near where we had just checked out of and attempting to find parking near the ferries. The one garage we found had an attendant you had to hand your keys over to AND your car was hoisted up to the rafters in a crazy claustrophobic space. Considering we had all our luggage in the car, including some personal electronics, we waved the guy off and decided to take a pass on the ferry this time around.

Call us paranoid, I’m sure he was trustworthy and nice, but no.

If you’ve never been to Seattle, you must. Do it!

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The Sweet Escape ( Arch Cape Escape – part 3)

Thursday January 23rd brought another gorgeous WARM dry day. At low tide we headed north up the beach to see how far we could walk without running into a headland the low tide couldn’t surpass.

As we were leaving we caught a whiff of some wood smoke in the breeze, not strong, but familiar as to what it was. We couldn’t see any chimneys in the neighbourhood showing signs of any activity and didn’t think much more of it.

I wasn’t wearing boots, so to avoid one rather busy area of runoff we abandoned Sally’s Alley for another beach access point further down the road.

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It wasn’t until we got to the beach that we saw there was smoke coming from the hills up behind our house across highway 101.

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We heard sirens eventually, but at that point we didn’t know how serious the fire was. Still, our house was a stone’s throw from the highway and the fire not all that far from the highway, so we kept an eye on things.

The smoke started to drift down towards the water as the winds picked up and it formed a bit of a haze, different from the marine layer haze you can sometimes see over the ocean.

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We were lucky, the tide stayed out long enough for us to get down to Hug Point, a large headland we had heard about, but not seen. Back in the day, the beaches were the coastal roads (I cannot even imagine!) Hug point proved to be a challenge to get around, so a ‘road’ was created which hugged the point. Get it?

Now road is a bit of a generous term, because it had to have been a bumpy ride either in a horse and buggy or eventually a car. Not to mention the fact it is a rather narrow passageway with a rather unforgiving ocean on one side of it.

Here’s an interesting page with some historical pictures of hug point.

Now here’s Tom on it, in his invisible car.

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At this point the water still made its way up and around the access point and when I was up there, I was a wee bit freaked out about the water swirling around me, and me getting stuck so I snapped a quick shot of this historical roadway and skee-daddled off the rocks.

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See what I mean? Imagine driving on that?! Scary!

Beautiful though, as is the rest of the Oregon coast.

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And the area comes with its own little waterfall.

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We were having such a great time on this trip. Here’s a shot of Tom that perfectly illustrates exactly how much:

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And of course with a silly walk.

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We were treated to yet another AMAZING sunset from the deck of our lovely, lovely holiday home.

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Ahhh…

The next morning, it was apparent that the fire was still burning and fueled by some winds, it had in fact grown. We kept an eye and ear out, just in case the winds shifted and sent the fire in our direction, rather than up the hills as it had thus far. Everything started to smell like smoke including the house, Tom’s car and every stitch of clothing we had.

Though the dry hot weather was great for us, not so great for the firemen from the surrounding counties who along with the forestry workers had their work cut out for them.

The helicopters with their bambi buckets were passing overhead steadily. On previous trips we’d seen practice maneuvers up near Astoria for, I imagine, just such an occasion.

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Here’s a news story from the fire.

And here’s some video I shot from the beach

See? A little too close for comfort!

The next day was our last full day at the beach and it was a dandy, despite the smoke which hung over the beach, it was warm and sunny, so warm that we didn’t even need a sweater. Even Tom (aka Mr. Frosty!)

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It seemed they’d made some real progress with the fire by nightfall, but you could still see the flames once it got dark (this was a zoom shot from our back yard up into the hills.)

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Sadly, all too quickly, it was time to leave.

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Though we’d been doing our laundry all week, we knew that we’d need to wash the smell of forest fire out of our clothes when we got home, but that was a small price to pay. We were really worried that this lovely house, and all the lovely houses around us could have been caught up in a fire. It looked like there would be no threat to them and the fire was contained and expected to extinguished in a week or so. We felt like we could say goodbye and not worry about the house anymore.

It didn’t mean we wanted to though. (Sadface)

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We will be back one of these days, oh yes we shall.

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The Sweet Escape ( Arch Cape Escape – part 2)

There is nothing like being at the ocean to soothe the spirit, at least as far as I’m concerned.

It was such a nice thought to know we had a whole week stretched out in front of us, in space enough to stretch out IN. We’d never rented a house before, and if we had anything to say about it, we would always rent a house. Sadly though, not practical, mostly because many of rental houses only rent by the week and we can’t always pull off a week away. Even if they did rent for a few days at time, it seems like the good ones (like ours was) get booked-up pretty far in advance, especially in your more typical beach seasons, unlike January.

The first morning, we had a leisurely breakfast then headed into Seaside to grab a few necessities from the grocery store and visit the antique store we’d found on previous trips. This place is a treasure trove for military stuff (for Chris) and run by a super nice couple. The store is fantastically organized too, not ramshackle as some are and the owner’s price things very fairly.

While I was waiting for the owner to finish up with another customer I spotted this framed article. The sticker placement was fortuitous, as I always call Tom’s antics behind me in photos as ‘Tom Bombs’.

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When we got back to the house we unloaded the booty and headed back out to take a walk on our beach. As our house is poised up high on the bluff, we strolled down to “Sally’s Alley” one of the local beach access pathways.

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We discovered pretty quickly that at high tide there wasn’t much of a beach, not like Cannon Beach for sure anyway. Though there was a strip of sand after a row of rocks between the ocean and the shore, the waves would randomly push the water right to the rock line. Fine if we were wearing boots, not so fine wearing sneakers. We quickly abandoned the idea of a walk there after making a run for the rocks more than a couple of times. No knock on the beach, because it was lovely, but we were used to being able to walk a beach no matter what the tide is.

We decided to take a drive down to Cannon Beach and do a little more shopping instead and then had dinner at The Lumberyard, one of our favourite restaurants in town. We were sad to discover though, that they had taken our beloved Chili-mac off the menu! The waitress informed us that yes, they’d done some retooling on the menu, but they had both the chili and the mac n’ cheese as separate dishes. We decided to order both and split them which turned out to be a LOT more food than the older appetizer but still delish.

We got back in time for what turned out to be a spectacular sunset. We pulled some chairs up on the deck and settled down to watch it.

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It did not disappoint.

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The weather continued to amaze us, other than a very short sprinkle the second day it was warm and each day seemed to get warmer.

We checked the tide tables and set out for a walk on our beach. We chose to go ‘left’ and found that it was probably the shorter of the two directions walking room-wise.

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We then spent a little relaxy time in the window seat (I told you we spent a lot of time there when inside!)

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But we were dying to say hello to our old friend Haystack Rock. We hopped back in the car and found parking in one of the day lots. It was strange to be driving to Cannon Beach, we are so used to just stepping out of our hotel and being right there. As much as I love the solitude and privacy of the house in Arch Cape, I’ll admit I missed being right IN Cannon Beach. Conflicted!

I think Haystack Rock missed us as much as we missed it. Well, I’d like to think so anyway.

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We had dinner at our fave pizza place in town (though we now know why most of the time people do take-out) and took our left-overs home for the next day’s lunch. Yum.

As we were down for a much longer trip than our typical longish weekend, we didn’t feel as strong a need to spend every second near the beach. Bonus for me as I love to visit the town of Wheeler and poke through the antique stores there. There are two of them, one more an antique mall and the other, ohhhhh the other! Old Wheeler Antiques is a marvel. It is full of the most spectacular Art Deco accoutrement known to man.

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All I know is, if we win the lottery I am backing up a U-Haul to this store and buying everything in sight.

Then Tom found this bar and I think I fell in love. I weeped a little inside to leave this behind.

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Sigh.

The clouds and light were so funky at that point I walked down to the water’s edge and ventured out onto the dock. Only so far though because I am NOT fond of floating docks. I shuffled my way down and hugged a pole while Tom walked to the end. Ah I wish I was that brave! There is only so much I will do for a good picture yanno?

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Of course, no trip down south will be complete without a trip to Tillamook.

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I mean ICE CREAM!

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Sadly, they still don’t have bubblegum (damn them for retiring that flavour!) and didn’t have my other fave, but yanno, I made do. ;)

Then we looked for cows. I LOVE cows.

You can tell right?

As I turned back I realized I had been so enchanted with the cows, I had walked through quite a bit of mud. Then Tom pointed out that it was, in fact, something other than just mud.

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Um, so we stopped at a patch of grass where I did my imitation of a dog after doing its business (wipe, kick, wipe, kick) and we made a stop at the grocery store…

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Bahahahaha!!

On the way back ‘home’ we were treated with yet another gorgeous sunset. We caught the tail end of it, as we were passing these cool rocks I’d wanted to photograph in the past. It was too late to set ourselves up in the perfect spot, but beautiful just the same.

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Gotta run! Part 3 next time.

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The Sweet Escape ( Arch Cape Escape – part 1)

I’m going to have to write this post in pieces or I will seriously never get it done!

We started formulating the idea of a January trip to Oregon towards the end of 2013. It seemed the ideal time, when most people aren’t taking time off work. Also, we’d never actually been to Oregon during “storm watching season” aka “the weather sucks, so lets spin that to a positive season.” Ha.  We’ve seen our share of sudden weather changes in the past, so a dramatic storm would make for some interesting times. We were all for it.

We planned a week’s adventure, and looked at our various options for accommodations. We’re very loyal to the SurfSand resort, but a weeks stay would either require a shit-ton of luggage, or somewhere with a washer-dryer. Factoring in the likelihood of getting soaked walking on the beach in the winter, we opted for a rental home. Tom did a lot of research and found a place in Arch Cape, just a little further down the road from Cannon Beach.

Yeah it wasn’t in the town, but that had its positives and negatives. On the positive side fewer people on the beach, almost a private beach in fact, on the negative side, if we wanted to go to Cannon Beach we’d have to drive. Put into perspective a ten minute drive to town was nothing and we’d have an entire beachfront house at our disposal for less than it would cost for a beachfront suite.

We drove to Everett on the Friday after work and spent the night. We’d done it before and it certainly broke up the drive down, not to mention shortened the time waiting to cross the border.

Still, the next morning we took our time, had breakfast then started on the journey to Oregon. After a few stops for necessities, you know, like wine… we made it down to Arch Cape as it was getting dark. The property manager had emailed us the address and directions to the house, along with the code to access the lockbox where the house key was, but when we arrived the house was in total darkness. Due to the incredible privacy of the house (and the accompanying shrubbery) we couldn’t even use the street lights to help us find our way down the path. Thank goodness for flashlight apps on cellphones! After a bit of fumbling we were in the house and quickly unloading the car.

We made out way out to the yard just in time to catch the remaining light after sunset and get an idea of what our view was going to be for the next beach. We were NOT disappointed in the least.

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The house, decorated in your typical beachy shabby-chic, was fabulous. It was HUGE for just the two of us, we closed off the one side of the house with the two extra bedrooms and didn’t bother turning the heat on in there. The kicker though was the window-seat. I would spend pretty much any moment we were inside, where there was still enough light for a view, sitting in that window-seat. It was a VERY smart thing for the owner to install.

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Wouldn’t you be spending as much time in there as possible? I would be there right now if I could be!

Just to the right of the nook was the sliding door to the deck. We would have spent more time sitting out there but the chairs were rarely dry enough and face it, Tom is Mr. Frosty.

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Now, here’s where it gets weird. We fully expected it to be crazy cold and stormy the entire time we were down there, but, other than the first day where we had a sprinkle, it was dry the entire time. Sunny and WARM. In JANUARY!
The moisture on the chairs was due to dew (heh) for the most part. If we’d put them further out in the sun they would have dried.

Again.

Sunny! Warm! In January!

More later.

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Keep Your Eyes on the Hole

When I heard I would need a laser peripheral iridotomy and was informed of the potential complications of the surgery vs. the whole gross iris sucking thing that could happen if I didn’t get it done, I did the standard:

omgwhatthehellletmeseewhatothershadhappentothem  Google  search.

That, my friends, is almost always a mistake. Why? Because most of the people who post about their experiences with surgeries, or medications , or whatever, only post when they are negative. Considering  surgeries happen every day, or medication is taken by millions of people who don’t have problems, the successfully treated masses are, in fact, silent. Not to downplay the negative experiences of some people, I know it happens unfortunately, but to show the other side of the coin.

The morning of my surgery I was nervous, I mean it was my eyes. Poke the rest of me sure, but *shudder* not my squishy eyeballs and not when I’m awake. I had this terrible fear that I would leap away from the laser like I do the air-puff thingie they use for glaucoma screening.

I checked-in and waited until they called my name. First-up was a baseline check of my eye pressure, followed by some eye drops that would narrow my pupil and thin out the iris to make it easier for the laser to penetrate. I was advised that it might give me a bit of a headache and they offered me Tylenol should I need it.  I did feel a slight pain in my forehead, but as a sufferer of both migraines and sinus headaches it was NOTHING.  I did have fun watching my pupil get smaller and smaller though. I was checking it now and then through my phone’s reverse camera after I was sent back in the waiting room for the drops to do their thing.

Eventually they called my name again, and this time putting numbing drops in my eyes and sending me into the treatment room to wait for the doctor.  As I sat there I felt my heart start to beat a wee bit faster, particularly when I looked at the laser and saw the handles on the table. You need grips!?!

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That is when I took this (very unflattering, but highly accurate reflection of all my feels)

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The doctor  soon came in and asked me how long it had been since they’d put the numbing drops in my eyes. In all honesty, I had no idea so I told him maybe 5 minutes before that. Just in case, he put some more in and then had me sit down at the machine with my chin and forehead resting on the supports.

He sat at the other side and peered at me through the scope. He put some gel stuff on my eye and then held a small glass lens thing to my eye (which I’ve read is to focus the laser and it helps to prevent the eye’s blinking getting in the way.) He then adjusted a few things, told me that I shouldn’t feel any pain, but may feel some sensation and then asked me not to move.

Now I tell ya, I took that literally… and those grips? Oh yeah baby I was holding on for dear life, terrified of moving.

When the laser started doing its thing, I did feel a sensation. It was a snapping feeling, it reminded me of a slight flicking of a rubber band. Not painful really, just a little stingy and weird. Certainly nothing to cry about.  After he was done with one eye, I felt some pressure as he pressed the lens to my iris. I’ve read that is to control/prevent any bleeding. He then moved over to the next eyes, repeating all the peering and adjusting. That one seemed to take him a wee bit longer for some reason, but in the end it was  less than  10 minutes start to finish for both. 

I was sent out to the waiting room for 45 minutes, so they could check the pressure in my eyes after surgery. One of the risks is that surgery *can* cause the pressure to go up in one or both eyes, but often only temporarily.

45 minutes later I was back over to the reception area and they checked the pressure. She checked it twice and then asked me to sit down again and wait for the doctor. I guessed from all that, that I had an increased pressure. When I saw the doctor again, he said that I did indeed have elevated pressure in my left eye, but that it wasn’t bad enough for him to even have to put me on medication. He strongly felt that it would go down on its own, but wanted me to come in the following week to verify that.

After surgery Tom and I went out for breakfast. My eyes were still blurry from all the drops and the goo that was used for the lens on my eye and I was feeling a bit of glare from the left side because the sun was slanting in the window, but otherwise I was just fine and dandy, just a little light sensitivity and some very mild pain in the eye. I didn’t take any OTC pain meds or anything.

I spent some time staring in the mirror trying to spot the iridotomy holes at the top of my iris as that was where I had read they were put, until I noticed the holes were at the 3 and 9 positions of my iris. After I realized that, I did a bit of online research, and found that is the newer approach to help to avoid the post-surgical glare (light leak through the new tiny “pupil”) that can happen to some people.

The holes are tiny and if you didn’t know where to look, you’d never notice them.

I took a crazy-eyed “before” picture just for that reason:

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Aaaand the slight blurry (I couldn’t see very well) and bloodshot eyed “after” photo.

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See it?

Side-by-side:

before and after laser peripheral iridotomy

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See? Barely noticeable.

A week later I was back for my check-up. The pressure had returned to normal and the holes he said “looked fantastic.” Whoohoo!

Since then? No problems and now I don’t need to worry about angle closure glaucoma, unless of course the holes decide to close up.

I’m back for a final check-up in March, I’m guessing to see that the holes are still holding their own and not closing up. Maybe once they’ve reached that point they’re not likely to do so.

So, for anyone out there who may be scared about getting this done, and reading all those negative posts… here’s one to tell you, from a person who was terrified of eyeball surgery, that my experience wasn’t that bad at all.

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A Change Would Do You Good

Well 2013 brought with it a lot of changes and a few firsts…

  1. One kid moved out, the other… remains *side eyes*
  2. Blackberry out, iPhone in and never looked back. I am now an iDrone.
  3. I went from being an unemployed bum to an employed bum (hey working doesn’t mean I have to be energetic outside of work hours right?) It’s for a great company too, so booyah!
  4. I grew back my commuter legs, all those years of mostly transit softened me, but a couple of weeks out with the crazy Vancouver drivers and I was back baby!
  5. I started the year with low energy, forgetfulness, all wobbly, numb and twitchy to mostly normal thanks to B12 megadosing (seriously folks GET YOUR B12 checked.)
  6. This here girl graduated from her first post-secondary program ever. I feel all edumacated.
  7. Tom and I went from being, well frankly, lazy couch potatoes to regular walkers just about every day we have off.
  8. We went on a couple of spontaneous trips, and by spontaneous I mean not planned for months which is kind of different for us.  Even better, each trip we had awesome weather! Grabbing the gusto people!
  9. We got to see Tom’s family, and I  finally met Sue who’d I only met through electronic means up until that point. I added another State to my States I’ve visited list to boot.
  10. I became a convertible driver, though I’ve yet to put the top down cos…brrrr.
  11. I stopped drinking diet coke and thought I’d miss it, but I don’t. Water, coffee and the odd glass of wine are pretty much all I’ll imbibe now.
  12. I won a camera for my photography (a first!), and I got another (mirrorless!) one for an early birthday present. My name is Belinda, and I am a camera addict.
  13. I voluntarily went on a ferris wheel-ish type thing (enclosed mind you)
  14. We got off the ferry and into the towns on Bainbridge Island and Bremerton. At least now the mystery is gone.
  15. I read an owners manual. Gasp!
  16. SouthLAnd ended despite our best efforts and begging. Waaaa!
  17. We mainlined the entire series of Homicide: Life on the Street and OH MY GOD how did I not watch that when it was on the air? At least with The Wire I had the excuse of no HBO.
  18. I found out I need to get my eyes drilled and it’s happening in like 8 days *whine whine*

There are more I’m sure, but my aging brain can only bring back so many memories for this post.

So to you, my loyal reader (I know hardly anyone ever reads this thing) I wish a  Hap-hap-happy New Year!

I leave you with, as is tradition… our year in pictures.

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