Why Wiggling Your Toes Lowers Stress

I was lying on the theatre table all draped in green sheets, about to have cataract surgery with only local anesthetic drops to numb my left eye.  Stressed – yes you could say that.  Body in high alert – no real idea how this is going to feel or affect my vision – friends (?) told me of a relative who apparently moved too much during the procedure and was blind afterwards.  Mmmm..’ thanks friend.. just not exactly what I wanted to hear.’  But it sure did make me want to stay still.

The light was the worst – ‘Look at the light’ my surgeon said… but that in itself was painful and blinding me.

So I started wiggling my toes.

“She’s in pain she is moving:” I heard the anaesthetist say – “No no.. I am just wriggling my toes. I don’t have pain, its a trick my sister taught me.  She said you can’t hold your breath and wiggle your toes – you have to breathe and putting your attention on your toes takes the focus off being nervous.”


She was right.  It works.  I relaxed into the light and the discomfort and the not knowingness of what was happening.  In hindsight I could have watched a YouTube of the procedure before but perhaps it was better not to know!

There is nothing like an eye operation to place you squarely in the present moment!

Knowing that the outcome was largely up to me, I took care to choose a good surgeoun from the outset. Then considered my attitude about it all.  Trust – a big factor.  I am convinced that I have much more to do here on this earth, so being blinded in one eye wouldn’t really fit into my grand plan!

The preparations were easy really – remembering to breathe and being unconcerned as the pre-op drops enlarged my left pupil to almost fill the iris.

Now as I sit in retrospect in the waiting room … waiting to feel enoigh ooomph to head out into the intensity of the Mumbai traffic I realise as I write this that already only half and hour has passed and my left eyesight is already better.

Finally I choose to leave – today I am fortunate – I find a taxi quite quickly and he is a good driver and one who doesn’t even begin to quibble about whether or not to use the meter.  I sit back in the heat of the day .. choosing to keep the window somewhat up so as not to sit in the wind – and wait out the drive back to my friend’s house one hour away.

Mumbai traffic

Thanks to Sahaja my sister for the wiggling the toes trick, thanks to Leena Doshi the surgeon for her steady hands and thanks to Maya Shahani my dear friend for her hospitality when I really needed it.

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