"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A short detour about eye surgery

This is not the kind of material I usually post about, but several people have been all a-twitter about my cataract surgery, mostly because the procedure looms large in their future. On Facebook, I keep telling everyone that it went fine, all's well, healing nicely, yadda-yadda. I thought I'd spend one little post giving you the details.

First of all, I want to thank the doctor for making my surgery appointment at 10:30 in the morning. I didn't have to show up until the civilized hour of 9:30 instead of having to get to the center at some ungodly time when I would be cranky from loss of sleep. The only bad thing was, I was not supposed to eat or drink anything (yes, that means water, too) after midnight, so I was fairly peckish by the time they took me back to the pre-op/recovery room.

I was given the bed at the very end of the room and I expected to put on a gown. Imagine my surprise when they let me keep all my clothes on. I could have even kept my shoes on, but I opted to take those off, so they slipped some booties on my feet to keep them warm. I laid down and was covered with a blanket. Then the nurse went to work on me.

She began with the blood pressure. She left the cuff on my arm, as well as the clamp on my finger that registered my pulse. Then she went to the other arm to put in the IV.

I'm always a little nervous about IVs. I have one vein in my left arm that takes a needle well, but it is deep. I was relieved when I felt her testing my hand instead. My veins there are fabulous. I felt the sting of the needle and relaxed a little -- until she started wiggling it around. She was the kind of woman who talked to herself as she worked, so I kept feeling pinching and stinging and wiggling (I was NOT going to watch this) while she mumbled about backing this out and hoping it held and needing to play with this a little.

I informed her there was to be no playing in my blood vessels, but she said she just had to, then stopped. Then she said something disconcerting.

"Oh, I've made quite a mess here. Are you on an aspirin regimen? You're quite a bleeder."

Now I really didn't want to look. I could feel her mopping my hand up before she taped everything off, between my fingers and wiping my palm. She even put a cloth under my hand, so she must have soaked the sheet, too.

I've now described the worst part of the procedure.

My friend had cataract surgery and said she slept through the whole thing, but when the anesthesiologist came to talk to me, she said they wanted me awake so I could respond to the doctor's orders, although I would be very relaxed from the meds she was going to give me. I admit, the thought of being awake while someone came at my eye made me nervous, but I decided it was too late now. Besides, I was tired of seeing through a fog.

Now I just waited to be wheeled in to the OR. And waited. And waited. Everyone kept stopping by to tell me it would be just a few minutes more. I was mostly comfortable, except that my nose was itching and I couldn't raise either hand to scratch it, one having a blood pressure cuff that made it impossible to bend, and the other having a needle that I didn't want to see. I was also getting hungrier by the minute.

When they finally came at noon to take me, I informed them that I could eat a saddle at this point. The nurse laughed, then tied my hands to the bed. Apparently, the doctor didn't need my assistance and wanted to make certain I didn't try to hand him anything. Then the nurse informed me that they were late getting to me because there was an emergency with the last patient.

Shades of Robin Cook's Coma -- you know my little mystery-driven mind went crazy with that piece of news!

I don't remember the journey to the OR, but I remember seeing a bunch of bright lights. I was either going to have an operation or be interrogated. The anesthesiologist was there again. Her name was Marmalayo (not sure of the spelling), so I kept singing "Lady Marmalade" in my head. At least, I hope it was in my head and not aloud. She said she was going to sedate me, then I felt a little, slow, sting as the medicine went through my vein.

The rest of it feels like an Alfred Hitchcock-directed Salvador Dali hallucination sequence. I could feel the clamp that pulled my lids away from my eye (pretty sure I complained about this), then I remember a light that had three geometric shapes in the middle that moved and changed colors and went from flat to 3D to flat. At one point, the doctor asked me to look at a light, so I did. He said, "Good." The clamps were removed and I took a short nap.

I woke up as they pushed my bed back to its corner. They sat me up and gave me water, then gave me about 15 minutes to make certain I was going to be fine. Then they walked me out to Dale, who walked me to the car and I slept all the way home -- after first directing Dale to drive to the nearest Corner Bakery and get me some of their mac 'n' cheese with bacon and tomato.

Once we were home, I ate and slept. Then I slept some more. Then I went to bed.

The first day my vision was okay but not great. The second day it was better. Now I can see perfectly, both near and far. I paid extra for the Restor lens so I won't need glasses. It was wildly expensive, but I figure the left eye won't be due for surgery for at least a year, so I can pay off one eye before operating on the other.

It's now been four days and I can see far away and read closeup. People who've had this surgery talk about how much brighter the colors are. I don't see that so much, but I am thrilled to see crisp, clear images again.

So that's how it went, for those of you who were interested. Now I'm done. Let's talk about something else. Anything else.

What's your favorite fashion era, and why?

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