A cataract surgery journal: Part III

NOTE:  Part III deals with surgery on the left eye.  The right one had surgery on April 21 and is described in Part II.  The pre-surgery going back to the telling moment last January on Oahu is set out in Part I.  A Part IV is planned for late May and will summarize the entire experience with cataract surgery, its ups and downs.

May 3, Tuesday:  Two days before surgery on the left eye.  The surgically repaired right eye is doing fine after 11 days.  Take away the separate problem of a macular hole, and I would be overjoyed.   That eye’s vision is bright and clear.  The halos around lights disappeared several days ago and have not returned.  If it were not for the hole, I could read a newspaper without glasses.  That’s with only one good eye.  The right eye is scratchy every morning.  Maybe it’s dry.  A drop of Blink, the lubricant, helps immensely.  I have followed the eye-drop routine religiously.  One drop of Nevanac three times a day, one drop of Durezol twice a day.  The eye drops have become an irritating chore I put up with.  Since there is no macular hole in the left eye, I am expecting great results.  Dr. Pinkert, the optometrist, says there will be synergy in my overall vision, that the sum will be greater than the individual vision in either eye.  It occurs to me I have now taken cataract surgery too lightly.   My thoughts drift too easily toward the macular hole and a third surgery, not to mention the difficult recovery period.  Keeping your head down for one to three weeks sounds excruciating. . . . In late afternoon I received a call from Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center.  I’m to report for surgery Thursday morning at 8:30.

May 4, Wednesday:  One day before surgery.   I’m back in surgery mode.  I must take eye drops in my left eye for the first time, one drop each of Nevanac and Vigamox three times today and once in the morning before surgery.  I am still placing drops of a different combo in the right eye.  If you do not pay close attention the eye-dropping can get confusing.  I can have no food or water eight hours before surgery.  That means shutting off all intake about midnight.

May 5, Thursday:  D-Day.  Awoke shortly after 6, put in the eye drops and am ready to get the surgery over.  On the road shortly after 8 for an 8:30 appointment at the Eye Center.  I’m expecting great results but you never know. . . . It’s 10 o’clock and I’m home again with a bandage over the repaired left eye.  I can take it off at one o’clock and the moment of truth begins.  Will I be able to see better even with the macular hole in the cataract-repaired  right  eye?    Typing this is difficult.  The computer screen is  blurry.  A magnifying glass helps slightly.  The replacement lens is for distant vision, not up close.   The surgeon, Dr. Perkins said, “Everything went smoothly.”  I was much more relaxed for the second surgery as reflected by a systolic reading of 140 on the blood pressure monitor.  It was 160 last time before surgery.  Preparation again was the time consumer. Injecting the anesthesia via an IV in my right hand (and taking two deep breaths),, numbing the left eye, hooking up my left arm  to the BP monitor and attaching a clip to  an index finger to measure my pulse,. A heart monitor was set up with connections to little pasty sheets on my chest.  I was asked at least a half-dozen times which eye was to have surgery, even though a purple X was marked above the left eye.  I was wheeled into the surgery room on my gurney, flat on my  back and was soon looking up into a white gauze mask.  “You probably don’t want to see the surgery anyway,” a nurse said.  But I did see through the left eye, it seemed, as the surgery went on.  Lights, then blurriness, until the bandage was taped on.  Unlike the last surgery, Perkins  detailed each step: cutting a tiny slit, destroyed the old lens and flushing it out, inserting the new lens and it unfolded and was in place. That was it.  I was wheeled into another room. I  popped right to my feet from the gurney and sat down beside a nurse for pre-op instructions.  My blood pressure was measured again, this time 117/59, more like the reading I’m used to.  I was given some instructions, a can of apple juice and a Multi-Grain bar, and was back in the lobby by 10, waiting for Nebra to drive me home.  Just like last time, an hour and a half .at the Eye Center . . . 1:15, Pulled off bandage in front of bathroom mirror.  Foggy and distorted vision.  The mirror is not only a double image, but far off the mark and canted on an angle. .  . . 2:45,  Lunch with Nebra at Wildflower.   Double-vision gone but the fogginess remains. The eye is watering.   Brilliant, blinding sunlight when the sunglasses come off. . . . 3:30, Begin eye drops for the first time  in the repaired left eye.  The fog has lifted only a little bit.  Eye burns and still waters. . . . 10:30, While taking a long walk through the neighborhood, I realized how much my left-eye vision has improved in the last seven hours.   Very little haze now.   I do have the halos when peering at street lights, rainbow colors, just like with the right eye the first few days.  I assume these halos too will pass. . . .

May 6, Friday: Pre-op, Day 1 after surgery.  Kept an 11:30 appointment at the Eye Center.  I was surprised and elated by the eye test.  Even though a light fog exists from surgery yesterday, I was able to read through the 6th line.  “Fantastic,” said the technician who administered the test.  “That’s 20/30.  You could pass the driver’s test even without glasses.”   Before the surgery I had trouble even reading the big “E” atop the chart.  Later, I met with the optometrist, Dr. Muong  who echoed the technician’s glowing assessment about my progress.  If it weren’t for the right eye’s macular hole surgery ahead, I would be ecstatic.  I’m to see one of the Center’s  retina specialists, a Dr. Alam Suhail, on Wednesday, the 11th.  Muong assured with macular hole surgery, my vision will be no worse than now and maybe a lot better.  She also said the longest time I’d have to lay on my stomach after the surgery was five days.  Not the 1-3 weeks I’d read on the Internet.  The fogginess that I awoke with is now gone, vanishing sometime tonight, or about 36 hours after surgery .  . .  Just as my father had done years ago, reaching out of habit for his shirt pocket and the cigarettes he had long given up, I reached this morning for my glasses,  those same magnified reading glasses that are no longer of use to my surgically-repaired eyes.  My “new” eyes could not read the newspaper this morning.  I am caught for now in between, unable to easily read books or newspapers though my vision picks up the stop sign 50 yards down the street with no trouble.  It is irritating.  But I know I am not long from prescription reading glasses and a happier day.

May 15, Sunday:  10th day after surgery.  It is just after midnight, and minutes ago I had stepped out into the warm night to again marvel at my new eyes.  I can see distant objects as I likely did in my 30s.  From three blocks away I can differentiate a van from a coupe or a pickup passing along 7th Avenue.  At 100 yards in daylight I can see the palm fronds which line this residential street as never I had before.  It’s a long way now from the uncertainity of Day 2.  There was still the haziness that night when we went to a local theater production of Nine, and I wondered if surgery on the left eye had not gone well.  It seemed to be healing slower than the right one had.  And yet by the end of Day 3, just like the right one, the left eye lost its haze and the vision was very good.  And the halos were gone. Two days ago, on Thursday the 12th, I finished off the regimen of drops in the right eye.  I still have two weeks remaining in the left one, and a final 3-week exam at the Eye Center on the 26th.  All would be great if not for the macular hole in the right eye that will require a third surgery, on June 1, to fix its nagging little distortion.  But more about the hole in a separate article.   Now, even my up close vision is vastly improved.  I can read the 12-point type on my E-Reader.  The 10-point newspaper type is more difficult, and I often use a magnifying glass to facilitate it.  It is a very bright world out there in daylight, and I wear wrap-around sunglasses everytime I go out.  I think in time my eyes will adjust.

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