Cataract Surgery – Seeing Is Believing

Thursday morning:- Finally the day arrived for my cataract surgery. My appointment was for 9:40 AM and I was to arrive 2 hours prior to that. I endured the routine of eye drops 3 times a day prior to surgery and went to bed early in order to rise up at the ungodly hour of 6:30 AM the day of.

We arrived at Welland Hospital in plenty of time, checked in and my name was soon called by a nurse for prep. She took my blood pressure (understood), asked again about my medical history (a little too much, in my opinion, but I understood some things), confirmed which eye was being done, applied the typical hospital wrist band (being tagged in case of escape) and (although forewarned) she applied some gel to my left eye. This was awful. It was gooey, sticky and felt like my eye was full of JELLO but I couldn’t remove it. Then, to my greatest surprise and while my eye is gelled closedshe handed me a blue pen and asked me to initial my left hand. Having never heard of this I was now full of smart-ass remarks. Along with the wrist tag and the initials on my arm, where in hell could I possibly go!!! I was a marked woman. My giggles were being suppressed – this was a bit overkill in confirming which eye (I assumed this is what the initials were for). Being left-handed it was a bit wonky using my right hand, but I got it done.

She then began to put in the shunt for the anesthetist and having extremely thin skin, this broad was starting to get on my nerves. It really takes a good surgical nurse to put shunts in my hand, and this one needed a few more days of training. She finally managed after hearing a few little yelps from me. She didn’t even have an “I’m sorry”, but just “I’m almost there”.

I was then advised to return to the waiting room, keep my eyes closed for about 10 minutes and wait to be called for my time. As I joined the others I wanted to laugh out loud – there sat a room full of mostly senior women, along with 1 man, all dressed in two blue hospital gowns (one going front to back and the second going back to front), blue hair nets, blue jeans, holding their personal blue medical binders, wrist bracelets, heads down and eyes closed. I claimed my chair in what I felt was now some sort of Twilight Zone, and joined the rest of the schmucks about to hopefully have better sight. God, this had better be worth this humiliation.

As Nat was still sitting with me and the room was filling up with one-eyed blue people, he left for the main lobby where he could sit, play  his music and wait for me to return to the recovery room. Within a half hour my name was finally called and I was soon wheelchair bound down the hall to the surgical room.

The nurse faced me towards the end of the hall, and to the left was a male patient waiting to be taken in for his surgery. They had covered me in blankets around my shoulders, along my legs and even placed a warm blanket for my lap. It really wasn’t that cold folks!! As I was sitting there, I could hear the voice of another patient I had struck up a conversation with coming from behind me. She was having her surgery done by another Opthomologist and was now waiting in line, like moi, but for the life of me I couldn’t turn around and wish her luck – I was being smothered in blankets and an oxygen tank behind me. If I cranked my neck anymore I’d be wheeled to a whole other department for a neck injury!!

Suddenly the gentleman in front of me was wheeled into the surgical room. Not long after they closed the door, I heard strange noises emenating from the room – a little whirling, a little light show and even a voice once or twice. What in hell was I in for!!! If I was quick I could toss the blankets and make a run for it – but alas, remembering I was a marked woman I wouldn’t get far.

Within 10 minutes the surgical door swung open and this gentleman was wheeled out none the worse for wear except wearing his plastic eye patch taped across his left eye. He had to wait to be wheeled back to the recovery room by a nurse. I soon had the anesthetist introduce himself, check my blue medical binder and tell me it would only be a couple of minutes now. I sat and watched parts of the room as they cleaned things up, put things back in order and donned new masked. I also had Dr. Phirbai come out and take a look at my eye.

As I could walk, in I went looking all around and getting a good look at everything around me. I was told to hop up on this flat surgical table with a little head rest at one end. As I lay there, now covered in that warm blanket, another anesthetist prepped things and I was soon looking down the front of a medium-sized round spongy thing with a tube puffing oxygen right into my face. Okay, that feels kind of weird, but I knew what it was there for. I was then looking straight up into Dr. Phirbai’s face as he strapped my head down with a piece of tape to the table. No escaping chance now – I was taped in!!

I soon knew what the gel was for and really didn’t feel like any anesthetic was being used, but I was relaxed and some clear plastic was placed over my eye and I was instructed to watch the little balls. The time was nigh – it was being done.

For the next 10 minutes (or whatever) I enjoyed a psychedelic light show in my left eye. The little white balls moved around, a couple went hither, one went yon. Then there were some circles of dark light that became background images, along with a few other array of images and colours. Within a second or two I felt a little pressure on my eye, and then my head was being released from the tape and I was told I was done. A little tipsy getting down from that bloody high surgical table, I returned to the wheelchair and away I was whisked to the recovery room, with eye patch in place and ready to greet my loving husband.

When I arrived in the recovery room, the usual vitals were taken to be sure I still had a pulse and they soon handed me a small cup of apple juice and the world’s smallest muffin. As Nat soon found where I was it was within a few minutes I was released and allowed to go home. Now close to lunch time I was a marked hungry woman. Give me food, dear.

When we arrived home the first thing that was removed was the wrist band and the initials, leaving me with a white face cloth now coloured blue. We made lunch, sat for an hour and then had to return to Welland General for 3:30 PM to have the Doc remove the eye patch and make sure everything went well. Walking down the hall to the Doc’s office we were greeted with a line-up of chairs holding patients with the same thing in mind – see the Doc and having their patches removed. God, there must have been about 25 or more. We found a seat, soon struck up a great conversation with another couple from Port Colborne and had a great laugh. The husband also worked at GM so he and Nat did a bit of reminiscing. I was lucky in that I was the third person to be called once Dr. Phirbai arrived (apparently, he’s notorious for being late). I was only in for a minute, as he removed my patch, looked through his eye machine and gave me the all clear. I was now homeward bound to continue that tedious task of eye drops, ointment, more eye drops and wearing that patch at night. After all of the sights and sounds I saw and heard, I guess I can at least handle an eye drop or two.

Whoever said cataract surgery was easy, doesn’t live in my body and have a right hand that looks like someone put it through a wringer-washing machine (only the old folks will know what that is). I’m still a marked woman for a t least a couple more weeks  Ah, but I Can See Clearly Now.

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