2006 was a big year for me.
I had 2 medical procedures, one involving surgery, the other not.
I think both are important subjects to share with readers, and so will share my old stories for a new audience, beginning with the Cataract Surgery on my Left Eye, and a recent follow-up procedure done last Friday.
This story begins January 11, 2006:
EYE HAVE A DECISION TO MAKE
The other day I spent the moring with an Opthalmologist , and learned that my eyes have more issues than I knew.
At the start let me say that I'd love to hear from people who have had to deal with a decision like mine, and have gone through the surgery, and even people who have learned to use Contacts.
Here's the scoop:Cataracts: L= Moderate R= Mild Astigmatism: L is worse than R. Glare is bad in Left.
I could sit tight for another 6 months before doing something about the L, but why wait since it will just get worse..
The R will be ready for surgery in 1 to 2 years..
So I have 3 weeks to make a decision..
Over the last few days I've been reading relevant information about my conditions over at The Eye Center of MayoClinic.com..
The Doc explained to me that I have 3 options:
OPTION 1: Get Cataract Surgery on L, and leave Astigmatism alone.
This makes me less nearsighted, and I still would need Glasses.
Covered entirely by insurance.
OPTION 2: Cataract removed, and a "0" Prescription new Lens.
Astigmatism also removed.
Nearsightedness taken care of and distance vision fixed.
Contact in R until surgery is needed in a year or 2.
Cost after insurance = $525 which can be financed with or w/o interest.
OPTION 3: Cataract and Astigmatism removed:
"0" Prescription new Lens called "Restore Lens" that takes care of all near, far, and inbetween vision issues.
Contact on R until surgery is needed in a year or 2.
Cost after insurance = A lot more than Option 2 which can be financed with or w/o interest.
My surgery is scheduled for Feb. 23rd.
A word about the Lens Prescription:
The Doc can give me a prescription level of my choosing that drastically improves my vision up to even the "0".
After surgery I'll have usable vision in a week, or less, and be healed in 6 weeks.
BTW: I have a -7 prescription. My Doc, who is in his 30's, I think, has a -13!
Is THAT hilarious or what? ;-D
Wouldn't ya know it!
Guess what I got in the mail around the same time
A Jury Duty Summons!
For the very same day of my Cataract Surgery. ;-D
Conspiracy buffs might say there's somethin' fishy about this coming so soon after my Doc visit, and setting up of an appointment.
What say U?
Hee, hee. ;-D
At least I had all I needed to show proper cause for getting myself excused from Jury Duty. ;-D
By the end of January I had made my decision concerning my eye:
It is a decision some might question considering the Options I had to choose from.I hope my explanation helps anyone else with a similar decision as they sort throught their own choices.
I have decided to only do what is necessary to stablize my eyesight;
The cataract surgery and corrective lenses that are covered by insurance.
That is the 1st option I described earlier this month.
The Left Eye, now, the Right Eye, later.
I needed to sort out what is medically necessary from what is cosmetic and/or would be "nice" to have.
I have worn Glasses all my life, and as much as I would DEARLY love to do something to clear up completely my vision problems the cost just seems too high to risk my future on.
I carried too much debt once before, and went bankrupt.
I am just now creeping into the middle class and reaping modest rewards for my hard work...but to go into more consumer debt on a limited income is simply not wise.
I am just now beginning to rebuild my credit with 2 manageable lines of credit, and specific purchases, through Sears, and Dell.
I want to get a new TV, and Stereo, this year, and then I hope to pay it all off by the end of 2008, but taking on even the smaller of the financing for my eyes would not allow that, and my debt would double if I did the other.
As it is I would maybe have to buy a new pair of Glasses, if they can't just switch the lens in the pair I just bought 4 months ago, and just paid off.
I would have to pay off the new ones over a few months.
I want to finally slowly build my savings.
I got a raise this month to $10.53 an hour, and next summer that will go to $11.91.
Who would have thought that 3 years ago?
Sister Deputy offered to help me, but when I ask myself what would happen if my circumstances changed, or even if hers changed, then the decision is clear.
The 1st Option, the one that gives me new lens in 1st the Left Eye, then the Right one in a year, will give me a drastically better lens, and drastically better prescription for my Glasses.
I would still be Nearsighted, but not like now.
It does not take care of the Astigmatisms, but maybe 4 years from now taking care of those would be an option I could pay for.
I am going to talk to the Liason at the Eye Doc, and get my decision finalized.
I know my Sisters care about me, and want to help, but as much as I would like to have near perfect vision, and not wear glasses ever again, I'm not willing to risk paying a heavy price if life circumstances changed for the worse.
I will be off the job for a month, but the 1st 3 weeks I will get 75% of my regular pay thru work, and State Disability, and the 4th wek will be full vacation pay from work as I take my scheduled vacation.
Normally a person wears a patch for a few days, then their vision is sort of blurry for a week.
Most folks can go right back to work, but since I sit in front of a computer screen for 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, I wasn't willing to put my newly worked on eye thru that so soon.
I see the Doc for Post-Op the day after, and March 2nd, and since there is still an infinitesimal chance of a problem cropping up I'm staying out a bit longer.
Hopefully I'll be back at full visual strength by my Birthday on March 5th.
3/1 - Eye Survived Surgery Just Fine:
It has been a week since Cataract Surgery on my Left Eye, and my vision is making progress.
So what's the story of my Surgery, and it's aftermath?
It was a very interesting experience.
For 4 days before my Thursday Surgery I had to put drops in the eye, 4 times a day, to help sterilize it against infection.
The morning of the festivities, an hour before getting to the hospital, I was supposed to put drops in the eye to begin the process of Dilation.
Since No relatives were available to take me to the Hospital I rode the bus, and got there an hour early ( 1045am ) so as to use the Drops.
I know, I know... What a Genius! ;-D
Well, I got sidetracked by the only confusion of the day. ;-D
Seems the paperwork at the reception desk said I was still supposed to be getting one of the more expensive surgeries, and lenses, and so the Clerk asked me for $1000 up front!
Well, after 30 minutes of checking the records, and onsite supplies, and making phone calls, the confusion was settled, and it was determined that, yes, they DID have the correct surgery, and lense set up, and ready for my procedure.
Ok, NOW can I go put those drops in my eye, Nursey???
I then had to convince them that I received the OK from my Surgery Co-ordinator to take a Taxi home afterwards, but they didn't go along until they consulted the Anesthesiologist assigned to my procedure, and got HIM to ok it as well.
I spent some time filling out various bits of paperwork, including a form regarding wishes in case of complications resulting in my being unable to communicate.
Filling out such a paper tends to focus your mind on what's important... trust me.
Overall, everyone was helpful, and understanding, of my concerns, and questions, throught this confusing 1st hour.
Finally, about noon, I was let in to the Inner Santum.
Let's get this show on the road! ;-D
What IS a Cataract, anyway?
It is a "Clouding" of the lens in your eye.
The lens, made mostly of protein, and water, can become clouded so much as to prevent light and images from reaching the Retina.
90% of such cases are the result of natural aging, but the rest occur due to other factors.
I have been severely nearsighted all my life, and have worn glasses since I was 5 years old.
The procedure I underwent gave me a lens that, coupled with a new prescription for glasses, will increase my vision by half in that eye ( the same with the right eye when that is done in 2 years ).
I did NOT get an Astigmatism removed, however, since that was not covered by my Insurance and I would have had to pay anywhere from $750 to $2800 per eye, and I wasn't willing to finance that ( anything could happen in the next few years, and then where would I be? ).
So there I was in the prep-room, being asked to lay on a nice, comfy, gurney while cute, talkative, Nursey's hooked me up to various monitors, and dropped a dozen more drops in my eye over the next hour.
I entertained them with stories about my job, and about the prank I played on the Doc, and Nurses, who did my recent Colonoscopy.
The Anesthesiologist appeared, and explained to me that I was NOT going to be completely knocked out.
You see, it seems they needed me to be aware so as to follow any instructions the Doc may have regarding movement of my eyeball.
The Doc appeared to go over with me the procedure, and assure me one more time that the confusion of earlier was cleared up.
Cataract Surgery is what they call an Outpatient Procedure. this means I am free to leave a couple of hours after the fun.
My eye was numbed with Anesthesia, and I truly did NOT feel anything more than a little bit of pressure at certain points in the procedure.
Finally I was ready to be wheeled into surgery.
As the attendant drove me away I waved at the pretty Nursey's and, smiling, said "Eye'll see ya on the Flip Side, Ladies!"
In addition to the devises needed for the extraction, and insertion, there was a tray with my lens on it.
And, no, I did NOT look up at the the Doc, smile and, in the best Ronald Reagan Tradition, say, " Hey, Doc, I hope you are a REPUBLICAN!" ;-D
I mean, who gives a hoot?
The guy has been competent, professional, and upfront with me ever since I 1st appeared in his office, and THAT is all that matters when your eyesight, or even your life, is on the line.
It's a simple operation:
A tiny incision was made in the eye.
Through the incision the Doc inserted an Ultrasonic Probe.
The probe is about the size of a pen tip [ fine, or medium? I didn't ask ;-D ]
The Probe broke the cloudy lens into pieces, and then vacuumed those tiny pieces out of my eye, in a process called, in its entirety, Phacoemulsification ( Phaco to its friends ).
Once the capsule was emptied of the clouded lens the new, artificial, one was implanted after having been, I presume, given its marching orders regarding how it would be doing the work of the old, dearly departed, natural one.
The experience of being aware of the festivities was a curious one of being "involved".
I saw this extremely bright light above my head, and occasional dark objects as the Doc inserted the probe, removed the old lens, and inserted the new.
The Doc told me what he was doing at each step, and told me when he needed me to refocus my eye on the center of the light.
The procedure itself took an hour, though it felt like far less to me.
The next thing I knew I was in the Recovery Room, with a patch over my eye, and without knowing how I got there after the procedure.
A new pretty Nursey asked me if I wanted anything to drink.
My request for Scotch resulted in nothing but a laugh, and an admonishment that all they had were diet sodas, and fruit juices.
I settled for a Sprite, and a small pack of cookies. ;-D
I spent an hour resting before the Taxi was called.
I felt I could have taken the bus home, if I was careful, but it was not allowed, so I was resigned to the upcoming lightening of my wallet.
My Taxi driver was a chatty, friendly, Muslim chap, who looked at me and asked me how I got hurt.
After getting a chuckle when I told him "You should see the OTHER guy!" he was very interested when i told him the truth.
The 25 minute ride was a study in how to do one's part for Cross-Cultural Relations.
You see, the man, whose name was Ali, had a Talk Show blaring from his radio.
We bonded over our common enjoyment of Tom Leykis. ;-D
My ride cost $37, and I gave the driver a $3 tip.
I spent the rest of the day relaxing at home, and watching a movie, and checking my e-mail thru my one good eye.
In the morning I took the bus to a follow-up appointment with my Doc.
On the 1st bus the Driver looked at me, and I smiled, and said, "You think I look like hell? You should see the BUS!"
She laughed, and the passengers laughed, and the same line was a hit on the 2nd bus as well.
Too bad I would lose the patch, except for while I slept, after my visit with the Doc. ;-D
Imagine the possibilities if I went to The Yard House, or the popular hang out, The Gypsy Den, and some friendly young thing got curious. ;-D
Anyway, the Doc gave me little bottles for 3 types of eye drops, and a sheet of instructions for the next month.
I can still use my old glasses, and will get a new prescription made on the 24th ( Frame and Lens covered by insurance ).
The doc was pleased with my 1st eye tests, but told me I could experience a temprary drop in vision as it fluctuates during hte 1st week.
Based on the instructions I was given it's best that I did arrainge to tak time off from work.
I work in front of a computer 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, and aside from the stress put on the eye, I would not have time, during breaks, to put in the eye drops all the times I need to.
During the 1st 7 days after the surgery my instructions are as follows:
1. Don't rub the eye.
2. Wear the eye patch when I sleep.
3. No heavy exercise, or exertion, though walking, and stair climbing is ok. No heavy lifting.
4. Close the eye when bathing.
5. Take the drops 4 times a day. Each drop is put in 3 minutes apart.
During the 2nd week:
Follow Steps 1, 2, and 4.
Exercise, and exertion, can be resumed.
Take the Drops 3 times a day.
During the 3rd week:
1. Don't rub the eye.
2. Waer in the eye is ok, but ry to avoid.
3. No need to wear patch while sleeping.
4. Apply the drops 2 times a day ( morning, and evening ).
During the 4th week:
1. Do not rub the eye.
2. Apply the Drops once a day, in the morning.
I saw my eye Doc today to discuss 3 tests from a couple of month a go.I learned why it took so long to get back to me on my test results.Someone misfiled my file folder alphabetically in the H's, or somewhere. ;-DAnyway, while my eye pressure was not normal at the time of the tests, it is now in the high end of normal today.The Doc is unsure I have Glaucoma, though the signs are a mixed bag of results that lean in that direction.He showed me images, and charts, of my results, that clearly show the issues of concern.My Right Eye has less optic nerve than expected, and it is really obvious.My Left Eye is not so bad off.On the Visual Field Test, a test that involved pressing a clicker each time I saw a flashing dot, thus showing where I might have blind spots:The Left Eye results were significantly abnormal.The Right Eye results were pretty normal.What this all means as a Glaucoma Indicator:High Eye Pressure/ Normal Eye Pressure results are a borderline indicator.The Abnormal Optic Nerve Appearances, though Borderline, are the strongest indicator.With regards to the Visual Field Test he says it 's possible my unfamiliarity with the test caused part of the results.This puts me in the "Glaucoma Suspect" Class, like so many people with my conditions.Therefore he wants to repeat the tests in early November before going further.As things stand if the next tests are similar to these results I could go blind in the Left Eye ( The one that recently had Cataract Surgery ), in 10 - 15 years, without treatment ( A regimen of eye drops ) to slow the progress down.On top of that I may eventually need Bifocals because I am having a hard time reading tiny print on labels ( For now I bought a $7, 2x2, magnifying glass until my next Doc Visit. )
Last month the Doc told me I needed a follow-up procedure:
On Friday, Sept. 5, 2008, I went in for a Posterior Capsulotomy (Laser after Cataract Surgery).
It was simple, painless, and I was able to walk out of the office, catch the bus, and go home, with no problem.
I see the Doc again in a couple of weeks, and may have to have a new prescription for one, or both, of my pairs of specs, as a result of the procedure.
I hope my story proves informative to anyone who reads it, and reassures anyone with concerns about the safety, and benefits, of undergoing Cataract Surgery.
I encourage you to do your own Google Searches for more information.
If you think THAT was fun, and exciting...
Check out the Colonoscopy I had BEFORE going through the Cataract Surgery. ;-D