First, thanks for the comments you left on my previous post, in which I announced my upcoming cataract surgery. I had great fun reading your thoughts, prayers, and detailed accounts of your own, similar surgeries. My experience went something like this:
My dear friend David Deutsch drove me to the hospital. He also stayed in or near the hospital until I was released 5 hours later. Obviously David is a saint.
All of the hospital nurses were pleasant, except for the one who lead me to a semi-private room, and ordered me to strip. “Put all of your clothes and any jewelry in this bag,” she barked as she handed me a large plastic bag. “Then put on this hospital gown, and get into bed.” I did as I was told.
Groaning all the while, the nurse bent down and stuffed the bag that contained my pants, shoes, shirt, and feather boa onto a rack beneath the bed. Then, with a painful roar that suggested a bad back (or hip; or knees), she pulled herself upright, and asked if I needed anything. “Could I have my cell phone?” I inquired. “Where is it?” she asked. “It’s in the bottom of the bag you just put under the bed,” I replied.
When the nurse exited the room, I was left alone with only a Twitter feed, a variety of nervous thoughts, and some audible hunger pangs. Food and water are not permitted after midnight prior to cataract surgery.
My anxiety was broken, just briefly, when a nurse down the hall suddenly belted out “Julie, Julie, Julie do you love me? Julie, Julie, Julie do you care?” “Hey!” I shouted. “I know that Bobby Sherman song!” The singing nurse popped into my room. “You must be the same age as me,” she said. “Yes,” I confirmed. “I’m twenty-seven.”
Then came the IV that sadly pumped only saline solution into my bloodstream. I wanted the “twilight” anesthesia that so many of you told me you’d received prior to your own cataract surgery.
Next, a parade of nurses instilled a parade of numbing and dilating eye drops into my left eye. I received 22 drops over the course of just 5 minutes. Yes, I counted.
And then I was wheeled, on my bed, through a series of broad corridors. “You’re next in line for surgery,” said my athletic bed-pusher. Hurray!
The surgeon, of course, was my ophthalmologist. She asked me how I was feeling. “Nervous but excited,” I said. Her assistant drew a purple arrow on my forehead that pointed to my left eye. I guess you can’t be too careful in a hospital. “Will you administer the ‘twilight’ anesthesia?” I asked. To my horror, she said “No.” Instead, she would give me a mild, intravenous sedative just to calm my nerves. I’d have to be fully awake, she said, so that I could look up or down as directed during the procedure.
The procedure lasted longer than I’d expected — about 30 minutes. During this time, I saw the kaleidoscope of colors that Nora MacDowell and other readers described. But I also felt pressure against my eye. So much pressure, in fact, that at one point I had to clench my fingers and toes just to endure it.
And here’s the miraculous thing. When the light show ended, I could actually see with my left eye — the very eye that was legally blind for 2 years! Even with a big, clear plastic guard taped over the eye, I could see the florescent lights in the ceiling, and the grid pattern on the plastic that covered the lights. The surgery was a success!
A nurse escorted me to the recovery room. There, David greeted me with a much-needed turkey sandwich. (Did I mentioned that David is a saint?) The nurse reviewed my after-care, which, for the next 3-4 weeks, includes no heavy lifting, bending at the waist, or strenuous exercise. It also includes lots of eye drops to avoid infection.
Am I a happy camper? You better believe it. Thanks to a good surgeon, a toric lens, insurance through the ACA, and some financial help from the Silver Fox, I can see clearly now. From the left eye, anyway. The right eye, which isn’t as bad as my left eye, will be remedied in a few weeks.
Cataract surgery is a scream, my friends. If you need it, just…do it!