5 things nobody told me before cataract surgery

I've been a quiet January, here on jennie's nails and tales, but only because I haven't been able to blog. Like, literally. As you've already probably guessed from the title of this post, I recently had my second cataract surgery and since then, I haven't been able to see anything closer than three feet away. I can't get fitted for reading glasses until 4 - 6 weeks after surgery, and in the interim, it's been quite the adjustment. 

However, even though it sucks to be unable to read, my distance vision is BANANAS. I literally feel like I should be inducted into the X-Men because my sight is akin to that of an eagle. Eagle Eye, will be my name! No wait, that sucks. Okay, I'll have to work on my name. My point is: I've suddenly found myself considering a career in law enforcement because I'm confident that I can spot a suspect from a helicopter without the aid of binoculars, therefore saving my county a crap ton of money by not needing to buy them anymore. The savings may be enough for them to come and pave my dirt road. Because binoculars are expensive, guys. Oh, how I dare to dream! Haha!

Potential career shifts aside, it's been amazeballs to see so clearly. Err...far away things, that is. Because as much as it's incredible to see all the way to British Columbia from my front porch, up close, I can see shapes, but nothing is in focus. The ripple effect of losing my close-up vision has spread much wider than I'd anticipated and since I believe in passing along information, I've put together a ridiculous list of five things that nobody told me before cataract surgery.

Let's get started. 

*bangs cataract gong*

1. Shaving becomes pretty much impossible.

In the best of circumstances (read: when I had the use of both eyes for close-up vision), I wasn't the greatest at shaving my legs. Inevitably, I'd look down at my knees one day and gasp in horror at one freakishly long leg hair that I'd clearly missed shaving for quite some time. But now, it's even worse. Because not only do I have to deal with my sloppy shaving technique, but now I can't actually see what I'm doing. And my legs are the easier part. What I hadn't anticipated at all, is how impossible it'd be to shave my armpits.

The first time I tried, post-op, I was bummed to see that...well...I couldn't actually see anything. I ran the razor over where I thought the hair was, thinking that I had to be close, but it was definitely like playing shave roulette. 

Did I get all the hair? Did I press too hard? Not hard enough? Do I need to switch up the angle of my shave to get ones that grow in sideways? And if so, which angle do I need to take? Have I gone low enough? High enough? Is all of the hair gone already? WHY IS THIS SO HARD?!

I ended up giving myself razor burn and STILL managed to miss a few hairs. 


I've since informed The Remix that he's to be on the lookout (zing!) for excessively long, stray, armpit hairs. Naturally, he's quite psyched about this new level of intimacy in our marriage.

2. All pads of paper are too small.

In our house, post-it notes are our go-to option for leaving each other messages.  Not that we leave many, because of texting, but we still occasionally jot something down. But now, in order to actually write or read a message, the 3x3 inch pads are laughably small. Heck, even a standard size pad of paper can only hold 3 - 5 words.


A note left from The Remix, two days post-op.

So unless we take the time to write one letter per post-it note, I'm sorry to say that my days of super fun, brightly coloured notes are over.

RIP, my small sticky wonders of delight. 

3. Romantic restaurants are the worst.

White tablecloths, extra forks, real butter, soft lighting that makes everyone look like they've acquired a natural Instagram filter: these are the things I love most about a romantic restaurant. Or, they were the things I loved most. That last one is now the worst thing ever. Like, could menu fonts be any smaller? Are there even words on them? I don't know anymore because it all looks like one giant, blank page of paper, which spirals me into a tornado of uncertainty.

Is this even a restaurant? We've never been here before, so who knows! And sure, the environment suggests a fine-dining experience, but what if we accidentally stumbled upon an illegal organ harvesting business and the menu is actually a list of which organ I'm prepared to sell?! Is that why nobody's coming back from the bathroom? IS THAT WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING?

Okay, so that may be a bit extreme, but the point still stands: between the tiny font and dim lighting, I can't read a menu. Luckily, The Remix can step in and read me the damn thing, but even when my food arrives, there's still a considerable amount of danger. I mean, I can see that there's a plate in front of me, but it's filled with blobs of fuzzy colour.  

For the sake of argument, let's say I ordered chicken. What if it's not cooked all the way? And what if there's an accidental onion in my salad and I eat it? I'll die, that's what. Well...only the undercooked chicken would kill me, physically, but on an emotional level, eating a raw onion is just as bad (because raw onions are the worst ever gag me). Without my close-up vision, I'm none the wiser to either hideous option, so the next time we splurge on a date night, I'm going to bring a portable reading light with me. Or maybe a miner's hat. That's still romantic, right? Haha!

4. Face maintenance is now a thing.

Since getting sick, I haven't worn makeup often and my skincare routine pretty much consists of my Clairsonic brush, toner, and moisturizer. I'd never really thought much about it before, but now that I've lost my face accessory aka my amazing cat eye glasses, suddenly, it was all:

OMG, my eyebrows could give a caveman a run for his money! When was the last time I plucked?!


What's with these under eye circles? Do I always look this tired?!

Not good, folks. Not good at all.

By happy coincidence, my brother-in-law gave me a Sephora gift certificate for Christmas, which I used to pick up a new eyeshadow palette. And the last time I was at my mum's, I took advantage of her crazy-magnified, light-up mirror and whipped my brows into shape. However, it's only been two weeks since my surgery and already, I loathe plucking my eyebrows. The hairs grow so darn fast! Plus, I can't even wear makeup for another two weeks and I'm already over it, despite the super fun eyeshadow palette I have yet to use. It just seems like so much work. But I'm too vain to do nothing, so I'm stuck up maintenance creek without a paddle. 

Not to mention that I'll need to invest in a crazy-magnified, light-up mirror for myself, because I can't very well be hitting up my mum's forever. And do you know how expensive those babies are? Let me tell you, they're grotesquely pricy. But I have little choice because if I can't see what I'm doing, I'll probably end up looking like this:

My hope is that by the time my healing period is over, I'll be at least 30% less grumpy about needing to put in some effort regarding my face. Because as of right now, I'm all:

5. My general life expectancy has been cut in half. Maybe even three-quarters.

The first time I went to the grocery store, post-surgery, I felt like a boss because I'd remembered to bring the reading glasses my mum had accidentally left on our coffee table (meaning I'd actually have an idea on what I was buying). But when I got home, I didn't have them in my purse. I figured they must have fallen out, and since I'm not used to carrying glasses, I hadn't noticed. My plan was to call The Remix and ask him to pick me up another pair, which meant that I'd only be up-close blind for three hours, but then I realized I couldn't. Like, honestly couldn't.


Because my phone was one big ole blurry blob of Can't Read The Screen.

Naturally, I immediately began to panic, frantically attempting to remember where the numbers were on the screen.

They go clockwise, don't they? Or is it line by line? What about the pound and star keys? Which side is each one on? WHAT IF I NEED TO HASHTAG SOMETHING? 

Scrolling through my contact list (if it even was my contact list) had a similar effect. I couldn't see squat.


The only way I could read my phone was putting it on the floor and then standing up. For a blissful moment, I was so relieved that I nearly collapsed. I could call The Remix. It'd be fine.

But then I realized that putting the phone on the floor and leering down at it from a higher vantage point was all well and good during a casual time, but in an emergency, like if I started to choke on a Pinterest-inspired, caramel-covered grape or if I were being murdered by a country psycho killer, what happens then? Trying to arrange my phone on the ground while experiencing extreme oxygen deprivation and/or asking a psycho killer to give me a second so I can call 9-1-1 isn't the greatest of options. I mean, a murderous intruder isn't going to *want* me to call the cops, and that delicious stupid grape won't care that I can't breathe. 

Laugh if you want, but the truth is, I'm accident prone, live in the country, and suffer from an incredibly overactive imagination (as I'm sure you can tell by now, haha!). An ambulance takes about twelve minutes to reach us and a lot can happen in twelve minutes, guys and gals. And by a lot, I'm essentially referring to my death. 

That is, unless I can get this phone: 

With a screen like that, I may just survive. Haha!


So there you go: my list of five things that nobody told me before cataract surgery. I know it's kind of a silly bummer-y list, but don't fret readers, for jennie has found a solution to these problems! If you or someone you know is heading for cataract surgery, one small care package could literally save their life. All you have to do is hit up a dollar store and buy a million pairs of reading glasses, all in different prescriptions.

Yes, you read that right: dollar stores sell reading glasses! For the low, low price of $1.25 a pair, I was able to pick up four different pairs of glasses and through trial and error, I've discovered that I need +3.25 to do my nails (and shave), +2 to read my phone/iPad/Kindle, and +1.25 for the computer. It was like some kind of vision-related miracle!!

And you know what? I absolutely feel more relaxed in my home now. Because if I do end up pressing too hard while shaving and severing a major artery, or I decide to make mini oreo truffles, or if a stranger appears at my door with questionable intensions, at least I'll be able to call for help. 

So heed my warning people and buy glasses before your surgery. Buy ALL the glasses. It's the only way you'll look be able to look good, enjoy a romantic dinner, and otherwise stay alive. Haha!

(ps. If you live in Southern Ontario, shoot me an email if you're in need of an amazing ophthalmologist. My doc is the BEST and so are his staff, so I'd be delighted to pass his name along!) 


meet the flock(ers)!

I've been writing seriously for about five years and in that time, I've never had a dedicated space for my work. Instead, I've just wandered around whatever house we've been in, using a laptop and whichever room had the best light. And that worked fine, until we moved into our current house, which is entirely open concept. Because of that, I've found that during the colder months (half a year, up here) instead of mixing it up and heading outside, I'd spend my whole day in the living room. Day after day after day, in the same space. After two years of this, let's just say I wasn't the happiest of campers (read: I started to go a bit nuts).

This fall, with winter rapidly approaching, I asked The Remix how he felt about me taking over our back room, which we'd primarily used as an overflow furniture/storage room. It has a strange, angled wall, and was painted a very dark grey, but I figured that if I could get a desk in there, it'd give me somewhere to be that wasn't the same space I lived the rest of my life and then I wouldn't act like a crazy cat, running around in random sprints and then perching myself on the back of the couch for an intense grooming session (note: this never actually happened, but I came close a few times, haha!).

Because The Remix is so awesome, he agreed. And so, we got to work moving everything out and then planning the next steps.

Well, it's been about two months since the project started and I'm delighted to say that my office is pretty much how I want it now. I have some of the standard office-fare, with books by authors I love, storage for all my notebooks and writing supplies, my computer desk and, of course, some kick-ass decorative pieces. 

So since the New Year is an opportunity for a fresh start, I thought I'd share my new work space! I've filled it with fun things that inspire me, although they may not be exactly what you'd imagine when you think inspirational writing decor. Haha!

Let the tour begin!

*bangs gong*

My office now takes up half of the former storage room, which I painted a very light grey, to make use of the awesome amount of natural light that comes pouring in from the double-glass doors (which you can see at the end of the post, where there's a picture from another angle). I adore my teal desk and random script carpet, plus by facing the glass doors, I always have something pretty to look at. 

To make my office tour more interesting, I gave some of my favourite items a number in the above photo, and then took close-up shots of each one, where I explain why said item is so awesome. First up, there's Bella (the possibly vampiric squirrel). 


#1 - Bella (the possibly vampiric squirrel)

You know how sometimes, you're out shopping for a very specific item (like a new colander) and then a sparkly and ridiculous object catches your eye and you're like Who cares about that other thing that I actually need, if I don't get this magnificent creature I WILL DIE 

No? Just me?

Well that's how Bella (the possibly vampiric squirrel) came to live on my desk. She's so pretty, but definitely has an eat-your-face-side. I've never seen it, per say, but every so often, I catch her looking at me and I'm all did she just bare her teeth?!

(That's why I say she's possibly vampiric. If she ever animates and attacks me, believe me, you'll be the first to know. For now, it's still only a possibility.)

#2 - Punny Mug

The Remix surprised me with this mug, and although it's too small for tea, because I require VERY LARGE mugs of tea, it's perfect for all of my whiteboard markers and pens. I kick it old-school with my plotting, so I use a giant whiteboard, a cork board, another (smaller) whiteboard, and various print outs to stay organized. My story lines are colour coded, on the giant whiteboard, so I have a visual where certain plot points are mentioned, along with charting character development, and timeline cues. And let me say, I seriously don't know how I got along pre-giant whiteboard. It literally changed my pantsting game.

 #3 - Himalayan Salt Lamp and Scented Candle

Ambiance is where it's at, so a candle and/or a cool lamp are kind of a must, for me. Luckily, my desk has room for both, so I always have some pretty light. Also, salt lamps are supposed to help disperse negative ions, clean the air, reduce allergens, and improve overall mood. There's quite a bit of science behind these rock lamps and, to be honest, I haven't done a lot of reading up on them, but it's super pretty, which was enough for me. Haha! And my scented candle of choice is vanilla lime--a delicious mix of warm and perky, which keeps me going during longer writing sessions.

#4 - Light-up Moustache Sign

I never knew I needed a vintage-looking, light-up moustache sign, but now that I have one, I can't believe I got by for so long without it! A Christmas gift from my in-laws, it adds that certain je ne sais quoi to my office. It also makes me feel a bit like I'm working at a carnival-slash-travelling-circus, which isn't the worst thing. Cotton candy, anyone? Haha!

#5 - The Best Push Pins Ever

A few months back, I was having THE WORST writer's block for a new WIP, so I went to the dollar store to buy a lot of candy. Because obviously. And that's when I found these googly eye push pins. When I got home, I put them on the faces of the main characters in the WIP and now, when I'm staring at them, wondering what they'll do next, I can't help but laugh. It's a nice reminder that writing's supposed to be fun, even when it's hard.

#6 - Meet the Flock(ers)!

About a month before Christmas, I got a text from my mum, with a picture of this painting. I think you need this, is what she wrote below. And doesn't she know me well because I basically screamed back, YES PLEASEEEEEEEE. Now, it ended up being about two hundred percent larger than I thought but who the heck cares? Just look at those hilarious, ostrich faces!! And there are glued on gems, to boot! Like, are you kidding me, bird painting? YOU RULE!!

It took some time to figure out their names, but decisions like that can't be rushed. Haha! I love how each gal has her own expression, and now, when I do my informal office polls, there are six votes: Pickle, Pepi (our dogs), Bella (the possibly vampiric squirrel), and the Flock(ers). Sure, sometimes it makes for a tie, but that's cool. I'm no dictator. Everyone's opinion is welcome! Haha!

#7 - My Amazing Tassel Garland from Studio Mucci

For those who don't know, Studio Mucci makes some of the funnest, reusable party supplies ever. Well, aside from the piƱata. Once you crack one of those, it's pretty much done. Ha! The tassels come in two lengths and a huge variety of colours, which are always being switched up to include new combinations. Studio Mucci's also delighted to create custom orders. 

I just love how the garlands look like tiny cheerleader pompoms, and every writer needs at least one cheerleader, so the garland is totally writer-office appropriate. In fact, I even ordered another one, with slightly different colours, during their New Year's sale and I can't wait for it to arrive, to frame the other side of my bookcases! Yay for cheerleader garlands!!

#8 - More Sparkles

Working towards becoming a published author is QUITE the epic dream, so when I spotted this picture at a discount, home furnishings store, I just had to have it. And, of course, the fact that it's entirely made of silver glitter also may have also had something to do with it. Haha! It sits on top of my bookcase, where the afternoon light hits it, spreading sparkle happiness amongst each office wall. Love, love, love!

#9 - Wise Words

I loved Parks and Recreation, and in particular, the character of Ron Swanson, who said many insightful things. Like this quote, which reminds me that although multitasking is all fine and well, if I spread myself too thin, I cheat myself. You're a wise man, Mr. Swanson. A wise man, indeed.

So there you have it: a tour of my new office! I freaking adore having a dedicated space for writing! As you can see, I wasn't joking when I said I have a big-ass white board. It takes up an entire wall! I like to think of it as an old-school Scrivener. Haha!

Do you have a space just for writing, or to do some other kind of creative venture? Have you found that it makes a difference? I can't believe how much faster I can get into the day's work now. It's like my brain recognizes that when I'm in here, it's time to get to it. I'm so happy that The Remix was cool with the idea, because I'm never giving it up. Never, ever, everrrrrr. Haha!