Several years ago, while building our current house, Ed got a piece of trash in one of his eyes. His injury required a visit to the eye doctor. While there, Ed learned he had cataracts which would need to be removed–a piece of information he tactfully neglected to share with me! That happened over seven years ago.
Over the past couple of years, I began to notice a decline in Ed’s eyesight. He no longer noticed things beside the road, the way he once did, and he began to wear his reading glasses for things other than reading. Ed eventually told me he had cataracts.
Getting Ed to a doctor, is somewhat like pulling teeth, but Ed finally scheduled an appointment with an ophthalmologist about a month ago–right before the doctor was leaving for an extended vacation! Cataract surgery, for the worst of the two eyes, was scheduled for the doctor’s first week back from vacation. The day finally arrived, last Thursday, August 22.
Ed works at a small, local hospital, and elected to have his surgery performed at the hospital where he works. There’s nothing like having a little surgery among friends! Ed knows everyone, so we felt right at home.
Ed and I were required to arrive for the surgery at 8:30 in the morning (I was required to drive him home afterward). Of course, the OR was hopping when we arrived! One lady was already being wheeled into the OR, while another man was being prepped to follow her. Ed and I took a seat in the waiting room, but we didn’t stay there long.
Soon it was Ed’s turn, and they led us back to the little ‘prep room’. Ed’s nurse, Sandra, happens to be an old acquaintance of ours. In fact, her dad was once our pastor. Like I said, there’s nothing like having surgery among friends. Sandra began putting all kinds of drops into Ed’s eye. Some of the drops burned, and she referred to those drops as “fire water”. Then, with a black Sharpie, she wrote the word, “Yes” over the eye that was to be operated on. Ed and I had a big laugh over that! Soon, Sandra also brought Ed some Valium to take.
Ed never takes any kind of medication, except his required blood pressure & cholesterol medications, so within twenty minutes, it became obvious that Ed was ‘under the influence’! From the prep room, we were moved to the ‘holding room’, to wait for Ed’s surgery. By this time, Ed’s eye was completely dilated and he looked quite strange–with one blue eye, one black eye, and the word “yes” written on his forehead! His speech was definitely slurred.
Ed was asked to lie down on a strange-looking bed, and an IV was started. The top part of the bed was narrow–just barely large enough to hold a small pillow. I suppose this was to allow the doctor better access to Ed’s eye. For surgery, Ed wasn’t required to remove any clothing, except his shoes. He was required to wear one of those funny surgical hats though. The hat just added further to Ed’s strange look!
After a while, two guys came for Ed. They put more drops in his eye, then quickly followed the drops with some salve. They explained that both of these medications were to numb his eye for the surgery. Both Ed and I were relieved to learn that the paralyzing shot in the eye is no longer required before cataract surgery! Thank goodness! 🙂 They don’t even put patients to sleep for cataract surgery, instead they give them some medication which makes them drowsy, but leaves them awake. The patient has to be able to follow the doctor’s instructions during surgery.
We learned the surgery is performed under a microscope. The doctor makes a small incision to remove the old lens. After breaking the lens into pieces , the doctor removes the lens through the tiny incision. A new lens, folded to make it fit through the small incision, is then inserted. Once in place, the lens unfolds, and, over a few weeks, will eventually grow to the eye.
Meanwhile, I was told to stay and wait in the ‘holding room’ while Ed went to have his surgery. I sat on the couch, read a book, and kept a watchful eye on the clock. Ed was only gone a total of eighteen minutes! I barely had time to read one chapter of my book, before Ed was back from surgery!
About fifteen minutes later, the IV was removed and Ed was released into my care–sporting a large, brand new pair of dark sunglasses! Let me just stop here and say–at this point, Ed was feeling absolutely no pain! I don’t think he was feeling much of anything at all! By the time we left, we’d only been at the hospital just over two hours. Many doctor appointments last longer than that!
At home, Ed had a funny little ‘swagger’ to his walk, as he exited the car, and he still had a slow slur to his speech. Following a very late breakfast, Ed retired to his favorite recliner and ‘went out like a light’! It was much later in the day before the drugs finally wore off. Ed has absolutely no recollection of anything that took place during surgery, or immediately after. He says the last thing he remembers is having his eye washed out, then the next thing he remembers is riding out of the hospital in a wheelchair, on his way to the car!
Ed’s had virtually no pain since his surgery. On the day after the surgery, he said his eye just felt irritated, like it had something in it. Those must be some good drops used to dilate the eye for surgery, because they didn’t wear off until forty-eight hours later! Once the pupil closed, Ed discovered how wonderful it is to be able to see clearly again!
Ed has to put drops in his eye for three weeks, and avoid certain activities that might cause extra pressure in his eye. (Excessive lifting and bending could cause the lens implant to pop out of place.) After three weeks, the new lens will have grown to the eye, and Ed can resume normal activities. By then, it will be time to remove Ed’s second cataract, and part two of Ed & Kathy’s Excellent Surgical Adventure will begin!