Friday, March 19, 2010


Today, I drove to Saginaw to see my ocularist and friend Mike Bain. I can't take my prosthesis in and out anymore, since I got the articulated peg, and it needed to be removed and cleaned and adjusted a little bit. In spite of the long drive, I always look forward to seeing Mike, who has painstakingly handcrafted two prosthetic eyes for me. He has done this with great skill and tremendous care and thoughtfulness, and I have written about Mike and my prosthesis several times on this blog.

I can't overstate the importance of my close and trusting relationship with Mike or the complexity of my relationship with him, and I am sure that this is the case with all of us who have lost a body part and had to have an artificial one made in its place. This artificial part has to function to some degree; it has to be modified, improved, fixed and changed as time and the rest of the body, the natural part, evolves; it has to look as natural as possible to the casual observer (though I now realize that no prostheses really fool anybody past a cursory glance no matter how good they are); and maybe most importantly, it has to in some way compensate for the lost part to the person who owns it. This last point may be the most important one and the one least understood by others: we have to be comfortable with this new piece of anatomy and getting it to that point has to be a real challenge for the prosthesis maker. They do something that no one else can: they help us feel whole again.

As always, we chat for awhile, sitting in one of the examining rooms that Mike operates out of at the eye clinic. We talk about work, and family, and tease each other about our political differences. We always laugh a lot, though I have cried, too, more than once. When he works on my eye, he is gentle and considerate. There is an intimacy between us, and a comfort level-the kind that comes from going through something horrible together that turns out to be ok. There is a sense that he got on the lifeboat with me as the Titanic of my old life broke in half and sank.

He always tells me I am beautiful, and I always believe him.

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