From a true surgical scaredy-cat “chicken”…
I’ve been told for several years (at least five) that I had cataracts and needed to get them taken care of.
I ignored those suggestions. I wasn’t ready. They weren’t that bad. But most importantly, the idea of operating on my eyes absolutely terrified me. Totally.
I’ve been very fortunate not to have had but a few surgeries in my life. Tonsils and adenoids when I was only 6, and I barely remember. Wisdom teeth out when I was 25. Several laparoscopies in my thirties when I was trying to conceive. A C-Section to have my daughter. And a broken wrist repair about 6 years ago.
For someone my age, that’s really not many. As those of you who follow this blog know, my husband has lost count of all the surgeries he’s had, including cataract removal in one diseased eye and a partial cornea transplant.
But still…I wasn’t having any part of eye surgery until absolutely necessary. And that was that!
A few years ago I even switched eye doctors to another group I liked more than where I’d been going, and as much as I really really liked this new doctor I was still totally hesitant, and told him so.
But unlike the other doctors I’d seen he told me that while the cataracts were ready to be removed, he totally understood how I felt. And when I replied that when the time came, I’d only want him to do it, his answer confirmed that he’d be the one. “I can promise you when you’re ready, if I’m still upright, I’ll do it, and you’ll be pleased!”
Actually it took me three more years to come to that conclusion. After Ben was diagnosed with the beginning stages of glaucoma.
And I knew I had to go ahead and take care of my eyesight now. Although he’s having no problems with his vision other than the glare from LED headlights at night, which are not good for anyone, I decided I needed to go ahead and get the surgery.
Plus I was starting to notice words on the computer were getting harder to read and a little fuzzy, even with my contacts. A lot of my friends were encouraging (sometimes lovingly nagging) me to do it as well.
So I reluctantly told my eye doctor at my regular annual visit I was going to do it. He told me that was a great decision, and I’d definitely be happy afterwards. So we made the pre-cataract 3-hour appointment for the end of August.
I stopped wearing my contacts August 1 because my eyes needed to adjust back to their normal shape, since contacts change the shape of your cornea somewhat. And I’d been wearing contacts for 50 years, so I’m sure mine were totally out of normal shape.
Adjusting from contacts to glasses wasn’t the easiest thing. The first two days even through the first couple of weeks were difficult. Wearing them walking down steps was tricky because they tended to distort my vision either concave or convex, and for someone like me who has vertigo off and on, it was somewhat of a challenge.
But I survived that appointment, even though I had to watch a video about the procedure, which I really didn’t want to know. Making the actual surgical appointments afterward even stressed me out! Then I had to have a retina clearance from their retina specialist prior to surgery. Since dilating my eyes takes some 12+ hours to wear off, I had to make a deal that unless they couldn’t get good pictures of my retina they wouldn’t dilate me. I won that bet!
And of course I got more apprehensive the closer surgery day got. The day before I had to start using special drops in the surgical eye, and I was nervous even putting them in, knowing why I was doing it. (I did say I was a “chicken.”) We went to bed early that Sunday night since we had to be at the surgery center at 6:30 AM.
I didn’t sleep well at all, and was obviously scared to death. I had to put a dilating drop in that eye an hour before I had to be there, and within 15 minutes it took effect. As Ben drove all I could see were colored lights that resembled fireworks. Why did I agree to this?
I was more scared as we walked into the surgery center, which was already filled with people waiting their turn. I couldn’t even bring myself to talk I was so nervous. And when they called me back I’m surprised I could even walk in a straight line.
As soon as I got back to the pre-op area I was immediately told to get on the gurney and they started hooking up the blood pressure cuff, oxygen reader, EKG patches, and even an oxygen cannula. My blood pressure was up to 157 over something, and I had to explain it was stress. I’m normally around 113.
So far so good.
Until it was time for the IV. My seriously huge phobia. And even though I cautioned the nurse putting it in, it didn’t help. Usually once the needle is in I’m fine, but this time…evidently she did something wrong and kept playing with needle, telling me she had to “fix” it. I thought she’d never stop. (And yes it’s in my chart that she won’t do the next one!) Fortunately the anesthesiologist had already given me something to calm me down and luckily I wasn’t my normal “witchy” self which I’d normally have been.
It seemed like forever that I had to wait, laying there with my mind going in too many directions. Then it was my turn, and I was quickly wheeled into the OR. I remember seeing a large machine lowered over my eye and a metal bar placed in front of me, and the next thing I knew, I was seeing balls of colors swimming around in front of me. I didn’t feel a thing. And then the next thing I knew, the machine was gone, and I was back in the holding area; tired but surviving, and ready to get that IV out!
My doctor came in and told me I did great; the anesthesiologist was there and agreed, and as soon as I was (sort of) awake I was in a chair being wheeled out with my instructions and ready to go home.
I barely remember the ride home, but I do recall actually being able to read well enough to read a few text messages. Then we were back home where I slept for several hours, ate a little something, and went back to sleep.
I have to say the experience, except for the IV, wasn’t nearly what I’d feared. Plus the anesthesia didn’t get out of my system til the next afternoon so I did get a lot of rest, which I probably needed. (Anesthesia does that to me.)
What’s really great is that now, with only one eye done, I’m able to work on the computer without glasses! Before the surgery I was having trouble reading some of my leases and spreadsheets WITH my glasses. Colors are brighter and more vibrant, and since I make jewelry as one of my hobbies, that’s a really big deal!
I will say, for me though, one of the most difficult parts right now is that I can’t wear makeup for at least a week, and that’s tough! Thank goodness I work remotely! (And if my husband says one more time “just put on blusher and lipstick and you’ll be fine” I won’t be responsible for the outcome!)
So let me say now to any of you contemplating cataract surgery, find a doctor you totally trust, and go for it! For those of you who know me personally, you know that’s something I’d never say unless I truly meant it.
I’m even looking forward to the next eye being done so my vision will be even again, and I don’t feel like I’m halfway still looking through fog.
It’s not bad. At all. I’m glad I finally did it. Just like everyone said I would be!
I just didn’t want to believe them,