Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Cataracts Find the Baby Boomers
Yes, I like to write about things, even when I can't see really well. I had cataracts surgery yesterday afternoon and actually took this picture of myself by myself earlier today. I can't say how things will go for you, but I came home with this clear plastic eye patch. I wore it until I went for my "after surgery check-up" today and now I only need to wear it at night. It's so you won't rub your eye when you are asleep. I also found out they don't put any stitches in there: old lens out, new lens in, and you wait for it to heal in place. I couldn't do any bending yesterday and had drops to put in my eye every 3 hours, waiting between types of drops so one doesn't cancel out the other. I also got cautioned not do do any gardening or other things that might get dirt in my eye - I am going to interpret that to mean it would also be a bad idea to do any housecleaning! Apparently that rule goes on for quite awhile.
Did you know they have some new lenses they can use for cataract surgery that are supposed to allow you to have both distance and close up vision? I didn't know that, so it really baffled me when they gave me a choice of what kind of vision I wanted to have. I thought it over for several days and finally asked for my vision to stay about the same as it is/was - near sighted. I try not to think whether that was a wise choice or not. It's what I am used to and if I didn't like something different, how would I know? I remember when I used to wear contacts to correct my nearsightedness and I got to that stage where your eyes can no longer adjust to close up objects. I hated not being able to read a book, magazine, or my watch! I didn't want to go back to that problem.
Now about the day of surgery. They schedule you so you have to get there really early and wait for about two hours while seated in some really uncomfortable chairs. They were really uncomfortable. I came home thinking I needed an immediate visit to my chiropractor. Then you finally get called into the back area where they take your temperature and your blood pressure and read your oxygen level. It totally surprised me that my blood pressure reading was the lowest I have ever gotten - a good bit below 120/80. If I'd had a pen and piece of paper, I would have written it down to save it with records of other memorable events in my life! They also put drops in your eye and get it extremely dilated. So much so that it is still dilated more than 24 hours later.
I had no idea I was going to get any anesthesia so that was a surprise... and also a worry because I was scheduled to arrive at 12:45 p.m. and it was now 2 hours after that I had been told not to eat or drink anything after midnight. People normally can't get a needle in my vein and that's after they tell me to drink as much water as I can tolerate. But this nurse must have been Wonder Women because she manage to get a vein on the first try. Then I got paper booties for my feet and my hair tucked in a paper bonnet and a blanket to cover up with. My husband got to come to the back section with me for awhile and he was glad to get out of the uncomfortable chairs that they have up front. Again, we played the waiting game, wondering if there were two people ahead of me and if there were two operations going on at once or only one. The doctor came in. I had only seen him once before and he never introduces himself, so you always hope it's actually the surgeon and not some imposter, epecially because this time he had on surgical garb making it close to impossible to tell if he was the same person. He asked if I would like him to say a prayer before I went back for surgery and I said yes, so he did. At the time I thought that was nice, but it could make you worried if you thought about it a lot. The anesthesiologist also came to talk with me. He said whatever I was given would relax me and make me forget what went on. Well, part two didn't work so you get to hear about it! (...and yes, you do stay awake for the surgery. Right before surgery began, I was totally covered in surgical drapes except for the eye they were working on, so I didn't see much other than lights once the surgery started.
Finally, it was my turn and after all the waiting, you are sort of glad it's your turn. The anesthesiologist and operating room nurse were joking about her bad "driving" of the table as they pushed me back to the operating room. I reached through my bed both times to help to push the door open - No doors are to be shut on me! I got instructions right before surgery that included if I could feel anything to say "Ouch" and they would numb my eye more or if I had to sneeze or cough to say "Wait." I was told that I would see bright light and then some colors as the old lens was removed. They discussed whether to call the time of surgery 3:05 or 3:04 p.m., the actual time on the clock. The oxygen prongs were put there for my nose. Then came the most uncomfortable part which was having my eye taped open for the surgery - only to be exceeded by having the tape peeled off at the end "Ouch!" but the operation was over so too late for numbing drops and they wouldn't have put them on the skin around my eye anyway.
Then you get your aftercare instructions, and a packet of crackers, and something to drink. I had a glass of water and two cans of apple juice. It's the upper 90s these days, not a good time to go without drinking. My husband got sent to bring the car close to the door and the lady who went over the instructions with us walked me out while holding on to my arm. I knew if I fell, very likely she would come down with me, but I stayed on my feet so it wasn't an issue. They will tell you to bring sunglasses to wear on the ride home, but if you have those glasses inserts, bring those too. I doubled up making the bright light seem more tolerable.
So, in about a month I go back to have surgery on the other eye. It's nice to know what to expect the second time around. My husband and I plan to bring extra pillows to sit on in those uncomfortable waiting room chairs and by now I think I may be able to recognize my surgeon!