On Wednesday, I turned! My friend Art supervised me. I started with some spindle work just to see how it felt to be at the lathe cutting wood. It felt completely natural. I have not lost any muscle memory, and I didn’t notice any obvious challenges from my limited depth perception until I used the bandsaw to prep a blank and then, hardest of all, the drill press. Matching the tip of the drill bit to a marked center point proved to be the most challenging task of the day. I was nervous at the bandsaw, but I’m always on high alert at the bandsaw, and the extra nerves calmed as soon as I got the teeth into the wood.
After the spindle work, I played with shaping and hollowing an end-grain vessel and then moved on to turning a new face-grain bowl. Using a gouge felt easy and familiar. Oddly, it was a square-end negative-rake scraper, one of the easiest tools ever to use, that felt the most awkward. I had to remain extra aware of where the points were at all times. It is one tool that I tend to look back at as I cut. When I use a gouge or other tools, I am looking at the far edge of the wood, not at the tool; I think that is why my limited depth perception did not bother me. On the inside of bowls, I am cutting by feel anyway.
One shortcoming I did notice: I do not see detail as well as I used to. This, I hope, will improve when I get some new glasses. The pair I have been wearing doesn’t sit quite right on my face because of the plastic guard I wear over my injured eye. In addition, the remaining lens (the left one popped out) is badly scratched right across the center of vision. I didn’t notice some small areas of tearout until I was well into sanding. I had to go back to cutting a couple of times to clean up both the exterior and the interior surfaces.
Here is my first monocular bowl!
My second milestone is that I am no longer wearing an eyepatch during the day. I still cover my eye at night, with both a gauze pad and my plastic shield, but while I am awake, my eye is naked! I cannot keep it open very wide for very long right now, but that will come. Using my forehead muscles as well as my eyelid muscles, I can open my eye maybe three-sixteenths of an inch—just enough to see through. It quickly droops to an eighth of an inch or less, but I am working those muscles, blinking and looking as much as I can. My lower eyelid looks pretty good, considering. The graft has taken, and the lid is looking more normal. I have not detected any movement in it yet.
I still have a ways to go with my recovery, but these recent milestones leave me optimistic. Recent photographs of my retina made me realize that my visualization of its healing has been backward. I had been picturing the black spot in my vision being eaten away or erased. Now I realize that the black spot reflects a bare patch where the cells were damaged, so I am picturing instead some new seed-cells taking root and beginning to grow. Help me grow my retina garden by picturing it too!