Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cataract Surgery

One down and one to go.  The cataract in my left eye was removed thursday.  And there are freebe's....  I get to keep the dark glasses and the green shopping bag.... who could ask for anything more?

The process began two days earlier when I had to have one drop of 3 different super duper eye drops dropped in my left eye three times a day and again on the morning of the surgery.  First I had to recovery from the "sticker shock". The gal at the clinic told us the drops would be "pricey", not that I'd have to rob a bank to come up with the cash. "Pricey" indeed!!

 The drops were no big deal, my eyes are not sensitive... my hubby on the other hand has very sensitive eyes,  Eons ago when we were first married he had an eye infection that required drops, I had to sit on his chest and force his eye open to get the drops in.... I may have even smacked him a time or two and told him to stop acting like a baby. Apparently he has harbored a grudge all these years as he appears to be getting a smidgeon of satisfaction from administering the drops.  He insists that isn't the case but once my vision clears I'm pretty sure I detect a bit of a sadistic smile.

Both daughters went with me on the big day. We arrived at the clinic 3 minutes early... I point this out because the girls are almost always late... and I do not like to be late.  I signed in and we had just sat down when they called me in.  The first stop was a little room with a stool in the center and two chairs off to the side. Heather and Patty were instructed to sit in the chairs and this funny old lady wearing a blue smock and paper hair cover on her head instructed me to sit on the stool and handed me a pen and clip board.  She asked for my picture ID, my medicare card and my co-pay.  I said I didn't have a co-pay so she said "oh, you have a supplemental insurance?"  I said "no" to which she said, "then you have co-pay" I said "no, I don't have a co-pay".  We went back and forth like this several times... Apparently I was more apprehensive than I realized and my brain had gone numb..... I was equating "co-pay" with insurance and not the amount I owed. Finally one of the daughters. probably Heather said "Mom she means the amount you owe"  and I sheepishly handed over  my debit card.

The funny lady then said I would be given both "tropical and intravenous medication" Huh? I churned this around in my numb brain and asked "what does that mean?" To which she replied "they will give you "tropical" eye drops and insert a needle in your arm." I was thinking pineapples and coconuts when she began handing me, in rapid fire, papers to be signed, ... she said I had copies in my packet and should have read them over ... okay, I think I did. She was slapping down those papers and grabbing them back so fast I could hardly keep up. There has to be a reason for this,  maybe the office staff has instigated a contest to see who can get the most papers signed in the least amount of time... and this lady is determined to win. Every time I tried to hand back the clip board she would hand me more papers, I'm still pondering  the "tropical" eye drops and my friend Moe comes to mind ( she lives in Hawaii and most likely is familiar with "tropical" eye drops, I'll ask her later)   I detected slight snickers from the peanut gallery behind me.  Finally we were done and she left the room with my Id, medicare card and debit card.  Patty burst out laughing and says "not tropical  Mom, she means topical".  Both daughters were amused with the furious document signing and duly impressed with my speed writing... I would do really well at a book signing.

Funny lady returns minus my cards and says they will return them to my daughters later. She hands me one of the paper gauzy head covers and tells me to follow her. The girls are sent back to the waiting room.  I trot along behind funny lady stuffing my hair in the paper thingy.  The elastic is very loose and it keeps drooping over my eyes. I am turned over to a nurse in the surgical waiting room.  It's a large room with 6 or 7 chairs spaced a few feet apart along the walls, two are occupied. I am led to one and  instructed to take a seat.  I peek out from under my cap,  the man on my left  has his eyes closed, so does the woman across from me.  I soon learn why.  There is a person lying on a gurney behind a curtain, after a while the gurney is wheeled off and a new one is put in it's place. I see the lady across from me disappear behind the curtain.  The nurse comes over and asks me "which eye?" I say "left", she pushes up my cap and places a red sticker on my forehead above my left eye then she goes over to the man.  The elastic in the cap is loosey goosey and keeps sliding down, I keep pushing it up so the can see my sticker.  I've heard those horror stories... I don't want them to operate on the wrong eye.   The nurse returns, instructs me to put my head back and look at the ceiling so she can administer eye drops.... she hands me a tissue and begins dropping, I lost count at 6 or  7. I'm to busy trying to keep the drops from going in my ear. She tells me to keep my eyes closed and she will return.  Several minutes later she's back with yet more drops.  We do the dropping and mopping routine once again.... I think the count is now 14.  While she is dropping... again really fast... I struggle to keep the eye open (my hubby could NEVER do this)   I blinked and felt a drop on my eye lid so I said "I don't think that one went in". "Yip, it did, it's yellow and I can see it in the eye".  I have my doubts.  "Keep your eyes closed and I will be back" she says.  Sometime later she returned with a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope, checks my blood pressure, heart and lungs. I pass with flying colors. She then says she is going to insert a needle in my arm, she looks at the veins in my left arm and ties it off with rubber tubing.  She says my veins are really small, I tell her the veins in my right arm are better but she sees one she thinks  will do... she gets the needle in but the tube won't feed in. She decides to try the right arm..... "much better" she says and she apologizes for sticking me twice.  NOTE TO SELF: Be more assertive,  insist they use the right arm next time.
I am left to sit for a few more minutes, I'd say about a half hour has gone by so far.... time flies when you're having fun.

The big moment has arrived, it is my turn on the gurney.  I am instructed to lie on my back with my head in the donut shaped thing at the top.  The nurse places a pillow under my knees and covers me with a warm blanket, I like that. I've been up since 5 AM and am ready for a nap.  She asks me to open my eyes for yet more drops "Holy cow, how many drops have I had?"  "16" she says and adds 3 more, the last of which is quite thick and will numb my eye ball. She starts the medication in my arm and they wheel me off to the operating room.  She puts a blood pressure cuff on my left arm and straps down my arms. The doctor comes in, asks me how I'm doing, I say "fine" and he tells me to look at the light. I can't feel a thing but I can see all kinds of psychedelic lights, pretty cool, like a kaleidoscope.  In no time at all they are wheeling me back to the waiting room.  It is a completely pain free procedure, the most discomfort I had was from the blood pressure cuff, even the needle sticks didn't hurt.

It seems like they got me up right away but it was probably 10 minutes or so. The nurse helped me sit up and asked me if I wanted "apple juice, orange juice or coffee" All sounded yucky so I asked for water.  She had me get off the gurney and walk over to a chair.  She had me sign something, I think it was a receipt for my co-pay... or the title to our house... she gave me a cool pair of dark eye glasses (see photo above) and wheeled me out to my daughters.  I wanted to walk out to the car but she insisted I stay in the chair, which would have been nice but she didn't put the foot rest down. I had to hold my feet up, not an easy feat as she was moving really fast... speed seems to be important to these people.

All done, that wasn't so bad.  I was there for less than 2 hours.

We took Patty back to her house.. uh oh,  she forgot her keys and was locked out. Eugene would be home in a couple hours so we decided to go to lunch,  I was starving, all I had for breakfast was 4 or 5 Ritz crackers and diet coke... Cracker Barrel is close by and sounded good to me.  I couldn't see the menu but I knew what I wanted,,, ham and beans with corn muffins. After lunch we dropped Patty off and headed home.  I thought I felt normal but later Heather told me I was moving and talking really slow.

 Later that afternoon we walked over to the Farmer's Market and bought tomatoes, cheese bread, carmel apple strudel and half a peach pie.  My eye was still very dilated so I was wearing the dark glasses.  We stopped at a table where a lady Heather knows was selling beaded jewelry. Heather explained I was wearing the cool shades because I just had cataract surgery, the lady said she'd had the same surgery a year before. I asked her how soon she noticed an improvement in her vision and she said immediately after surgery.  Not so for me.... my vision was still very blurry and my eye was totally dilated.  It remained that way all evening.  The literature said it might takes a few days for the blurriness to go away, so I decided not to panic.  I went to bed around 10:30 and went right to sleep.

The next morning I woke up around 6.  My vision was still a little blurry but the colors of literally everything was amazing.... really vivid bright colors, WOW, my friend Gilly said the colors would be amazing and she was right. It was like I had been viewing the world through a layer of gauze, I had no idea what I've been missing. I had the best time looking though all my polymer clay jewelry, the colors are  so different from what I originally saw.... some are quite surprising.

  Later that day I returned to the clinic for a post surgery check up.  Turns out I had a particularly thick stubborn cataract.  Here's how the Dr explained it to me. There is a very thin capsule in the eye to which they attach the lens. The capsule is very delicate and is as thin as a soap bubble. When they removed the cataract it left a "sticky goo" (a new medical term) on the capsule. It cannot be removed with an instrument without damaging the capsule so once my eye has healed... in about three months... they will go back in with a laser and removed the "sticky goo".  It most likely will be the same with the other eye.  In the mean time my vision will be a little blurry.

The prescription in my old glasses no longer works. Long distance I can see pretty well, close up not so good.  I have a cheap pair of reading glasses from Walmart that helps, I will use those until I have the laser procedure.

That's it for now, my adventure continues.  If anyone is contemplating cataract surgery and has any questions please feel free to ask.


  1. Oh BJ!! Honestly, I read this post to DH and we both were cracking up, thanks for the jokes. It was particularly interesting about the "speed" problem those people have, you poor thing. I bet you are not looking forward to the sticky goo removal process, but I am SO HAPPY that you're seeing new colors. Awesome! Prayers coming your way. I can't believe you actually made the trip to the Farmers Market that afternoon, you're sure a go-go girl. :)

    Big hugs and lots of love, Jackie

  2. So glad to hear everything went so had me cracking up too...although I think I would have been pretty put off by the 'speed rudeness'...guess that's how they make the big bucks...get em in and out fast! :))

  3. Very glad to hear all went well! And thank you for the laugh this morning! I love your sense of humor! I'll be thinking of you as you undergo the next eye surgery.

  4. So glad that things went well. Your humor is wonderful. May the other 50% be easier now that you know the "drill" and have you seeing more color with BOTH eyes. Prayers for a quick heal.

  5. I think the sticky goo is from the tropical eye drops. They ordered them from me and I had extra sticky pineapple juice put in... just for you! Hard to get those tropical eye drops, yanno. Poor Beej, I can't even begin to thing what you'll come up with now that you can see! I'm glad you came through this ok. :D xoxoxoxoxo

  6. Your blog post is so funny BJ. Especially the part about the Tropical eye drops and the papers flying. I'll bet you can't wait until you get the second eye done. Happy Claying!

  7. Very interesting as I had mine done very recently. Ditto on the drops-it's like waterboarding. The speed is because of the very little they pay (insurance and medicare) for the procedures-I couldn't believe it. They need to process you fast to make a decent living. Speedy but wonderful care in my case, and I didn't want to hang around anymore than necessary. Each done in one hour or less, 20/20 immediately. I was driving and flying my r/c airplanes the same day. Hope your next one is easier. It's great to see so good! Hugs, Boni

  8. We must have the same veins. I always tell the nurse to go with the right arm and they never listen! Anyway, I'm glad to hear that the surgery wasn't so bad!

  9. Thanks for all the well wishes. Over all it was a very good experience. I'm sure my vision will get better and even if it doesn't I can see better than I could before. The color change is hard to explain. it's almost like going from black and white to technicolor, truly amazing.

    I agree Boni, the cost is very reasonable for restoring something as important as sight... I'll know to move a little faster next time... don't want them getting out the cattle prod.

    Well Miss Sarah I guess you inherited my "skinny" veins.... sorry about that. I'll leave you something extra in my will to make up for it. I know, how about my doll collection?

  10. Thank you for this post. My husband goes July 22 for his first eye which we were told is very bad.

  11. Glad I could help Anonynous, please let me know how it goes.