Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Morning After the Night Before

At nine thirty this morning, I went to the hospital for my eye surgery.
After getting admitted, I was ushered into pre-op. There,I was under the careful ministrations of a nurse named Ann who put a series of drops in my eye to dilate it.
After about five minutes, they froze my eye. To do this, the nurse applied a gel under each eyelid, then taped it shut. Again, we waited about another five minutes, then I was escorted into the operating room. I lay down on the bad, and another drop was administered.
Then the doctor told me to open my eye wide. He put what looked like a sheet over my eye and stated unfolding it. It was actually like MacTac, with a sticky side that stuck to my face. This covered my good eye and shielded my face from the (I presume) saline that was washed across the other eye during surgery. But the sheet covered my whole face; the doctor still needed to expose my bad eye for the surgery. So he stuck blade through the covering and cut a hole for my eye.
Let me tell ya -- that was the most disconcerting part, being able to only see a knife blade as it wavered in the air seemingly millimetres above my eye, an eye whose eyelids were now fastened down and unable to blink!
A moment later, the surgery began. I didn't feel an incision, and there was a bright light shining in my eye so I couldn't see anything. But I soon felt a pressure in my eye and could feel something moving around in there. A machine had been inserted and it was grinding up my lens and sucking it out. There was an uncomfortable pressure; it didn't hurt per se, but I sure didn't like it any. It was a very bizarre sensation.
After a few minutes, the doctor pulled out the machine and had a look in my eye. He said that most of the lens was out, and he would go after the final scraps, which he did. Then he removed that tool and inserted another which inserted and unrolled my new lens. I could see it slide across in front of the lights and I could see it moving around and he adjusted it.
He removed that tool, and did something to close the small incision in my eye and then shut off the light.
"We're done," he said.
It took, I dunno, ten minutes?
It was almost instantly obvious that my vision was vastly improved. The view out of my right eye was no longer cloudy, but clear. It's unbelievable. What took my father 4 hours of surgery and weeks of recovery four decades ago, took me less than an hour in the hospital.
Afterwards, I stopped at a book store (a natural first stop after eye surgery). The eye was sore and somewhat uncomfortable, and as I type this 10 hours later, these symptoms occasionally return but only momentarily. The only disconcerting thing at this point is that my eye is still dilated, as I would have thought that it would have been back to normal or at least closer to normal at this point.

The big question now is exactly what sort of vision will I end up with, and clearly with my pupil so large, it's hard to make any judgements. Perhaps tomorrow I can give a better guess. I can say that colours are brighter, and details are sharper. I do see some halos, though, and I'm not sure yet if these are a result of the lens or the dilation of the pupil. That result will have to wait.
In the meantime, I can't get my eye wet, I can't lift heavy objects, I have to wear a an eye patch at night, and I have lots of eye drops to take.
But I can see. That's the main thing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Like Father, Like Son

I've inherited something from my father that I'd hope would skip a generation, but sadly it has not. Tomorrow, I have surgery to deal with the dreaded C-word.
No, thankfully not that C-word. I mean the other one: cataracts.
I'm pretty much blind in my right eye; the world it sees is one of indistinct blurs and overpowering glare.
My left eye (which also has a cataract that so far has not impaired its vision) is taking up all the work of providing details and textures. It's done such a good job so far that my total vision is hardly impaired at all, but my right is another story. In bright conditions, like a sunny day, it's useless.
I walked across a street downtown today and just for fun, I closed my good eye to see what I could see. It wasn't much. I couldn't even tell what colour the traffic light was.
So tomorrow I have surgery on my right. I'll be in the hospital about two hours; the procedure itself only takes about 15 minutes. This is a far cry from my father's day when the surgery took hours, and weeks were spent lying still and recovering. In my father's case, the operations on both his eyes were botched; he went blind in his right eye, and it was a miracle he could see anything out of his left eye. His glasses lens was a quadfocal and seemed to be made from a pound and a half of glass.
As you might imagine, thoughts of my father weigh heavily on me today.
Of course, today's surgical techniques are totally different. Tomorrow, they will cut a small incision in my eye and insert an instrument that will break up my cloudy lens. The same instrument will suck the bits of destroyed lens out of my eye.
At this point, I really will be blind in that eye.
A second instrument will be inserted that will deploy a new plastic lens. Hopefully the lens will seat properly and I will be able to see something afterward. It's hard to predict exactly what my vision will be like afterwords. The odds are that I will need glasses.
And later this year, the left eye will get done.
Chances are everything will go fine; there are no signs of anything else wrong my eyes, so the prognosis is good. I'll know more tomorrow after the surgery.
Tune in then. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.