Just another rambling fool at WordPress.com

Down Time


If the old saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” is true, then I’m drowning in the stuff. I had my eye surgery early Tuesday morning. I wasn’t nervous, just mildly anxious to get it over and done with so I could get on with my life and do the things I like to do without visual impairment. I chose my surgeon not so much for his charming bedside manner (absent) but for his reputation for being the doc with the resume to do this type of procedure with great success. Not one, but two different doctors told me that if I was their wife (daughter, etc.) that’s who they’d have them use. The doctor himself basically said the same thing. (Yup, just a mite bit cocky)

The interesting thing about eye surgery is that you’re awake during the procedure. Not mildly sedated, but totally, fully, 100% awake. They sedate you to anesthetize your eye (which is actually one entire side of your head and face), then they bring you out of anesthesia for the remainder of the surgery. Your nose and mouth are covered with a plastic oxygen mask and your face is double draped with a clear plastic sterile barrier. It’s the closest you’ll ever come to having your head sealed in a  plastic bag and live to tell about it. Meanwhile, the rest of your body is pretty much mummy-wrapped in warm blankets. You couldn’t scratch an itch if your life depended upon it. If there was ever a recipe for claustrophobia it’s eye surgery.

Given all this, the other fascinating thing about eye surgery is that you can “see” what’s happening inside your eye. Yeah. Very odd, that. Good thing I’m not squeamish because you can see the microscopic instruments going after the bad stuff. You can also see the membrane being lifted off the macula piece by piece. It looks like a very fine mesh. You can follow the surgeon’s progress in your head as though you were sitting right there assisting him. That is of course when you’re trying your damnedest not to suffocate or think too much about the itch you want to scratch on the end of your nose. The anesthesiologist sits on your left through the whole procedure. Since I wasn’t sedated after the local was administered, I’m guessing she had the least amount of pressure on her. She kept a nice running banter going between the surgeon and his two assistants so that overall, the atmosphere was oddly chipper as I lay there struggling to breathe and trying not freak out at my total inability to move a single muscle.

In my former life  I was (among other things) a dental assistant. I worked for an Endodontist (root canal specialist) for five years and we did a good amount of surgery. Having been an assistant, you know firsthand how the atmosphere in an OR changes when something goes wrong. Voice timbre changes, the banter vanishes and suddenly things go from routine to, “We’ve got a problem, Houston!” So imagine my alarm when I suddenly “felt” a subtle shift in the vibe of the room. The surgeon’s voice changed as he started asking for things that obviously were in the OR, but not out and at the “ready” position. That’s never a good sign, I thought as I lay there listening to the two assistants quickly shuffling about the room. When he called for something again his voice had an agitated edge to it, and when one of the assistants asked for clarification I could feel her energy had changed too. This is not a man I’d want to keep waiting while trying to anticipate his needs.

The remainder of the surgery was unremarkable except for the fact that the light, almost airy energy that was in the room at the beginning was gone. I had to ask for some sedation toward the end of the procedure as the pain had suddenly become too pronounced to ignore. The anesthesiologist pushed a bit of sedative through the IV in the back of my hand (they couldn’t tap into an arm vein for some odd reason) and the subsequent pain and burning was enough to take my mind off the pain in my eye. (Note: I don’t think that’s how anesthesia’s supposed to work, but there you have it!)

I sat in recovery for about fifteen minutes before the surgeon came in to talk to me. The fact that I was not allowed to lay back should have been a big red flag, but I wasn’t thinking about that at the moment. The surgeon looked a lot less chipper than previously and I wondered if he was already thinking about his next case. He wasn’t. He was thinking about what to tell me about my procedure. Turns out, I’m a statistic  … again.

I know any time you have surgery there’s always a risk of complications, but for some strange reason my ticket keeps getting punched. Fifteen years ago I had spinal fusion surgery that went horribly awry and now, once again I’m on the “Oops!” list. Apparently everything was going just fine until my retina tore … in multiple places. I don’t know what it is about me, but I can never screw up in moderation. For example, years ago when I broke my wrist I didn’t break one bone I broke five. Twice. When my back developed problems and required surgery it wasn’t one disc that herniated needing fusion, it was three. And now I was faced with the complication of multiple retinal tears.

As my surgeon would say, retinal tears can usually be fixed. That’s the good thing. Unfortunately, there’s lots of bad things about it too, the least of which is having to spend the next 10-14 (or more) days face down. That’s face down 24/7. Sound like fun yet? This is what that looks like.

So that’s where I’m at for now; face down 50 minutes out of every hour 24/7 for the next week or two. Hopefully, things will heal properly because I don’t want to think about what will happen if it doesn’t. My back is taking a beating, which kind of takes my mind off the misery of my aching eye. How ironic is that?

16 responses

  1. I am so sorry that this did not go as anticipated. I will keep you in my heart, thoughts and prayers for a speedy and total recovery. Wishing you nothing but the best. Take care and rest up.

    March 30, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    • Thanks Bill. I’m working on getting better ASAP!

      March 31, 2012 at 8:31 AM

  2. So sorry to hear this. Virtual chocolates. When was too cranky for words & couldn’t use my eyes (sick, sitting in dark rooms, couldn’t focus on the TV), hubby suggested audio books. I found retreads of old favorites worked best, e.g. Lord of the Rings. Soothing, comforting noise that I didn’t have to think about. Doesn’t do anything about the pain or your worry about the future, but will make time pass. OTOH, going through all of the other surgeries shows how tough you are. You can do this.

    Love the picture, is he (she?) lying in snow or rolling? Licking the water or eating the snow?

    March 30, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    • Thanks for the great suggestions. I’ll probably send my husband out to the library this afternoon to get a few books on tape. I can watch movies on my laptop, but after awhile that gets dull. With the recorded books I could just close my eyes and listen; something I’m sure my surgeon would approve. In the photo above, Bullet was waking up from a nap in the wet corn snow. It was late winter. He loves taking sunbaths and doesn’t much care what he lays in. He was licking the snow … something else he does a lot of!

      March 31, 2012 at 8:39 AM

  3. I am sorry to read about this! Praying for a successful recovery and healing. I have listened to audio books before as well and loved them! What a perfect thing to do during this time. I hope you have someone that can pick out something you love 🙂

    March 30, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    • Thanks for the well-wishes! I’m going to give the books on tape a try for sure!

      March 31, 2012 at 8:41 AM

  4. Mumsy

    Oh, my goodness!!! I am so sorry to hear this. I sure hope all that face down helps and you have total healing. Sending up prayers for you. Hugs

    March 30, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    • Thanks Mumsy! Hope all is well with you and your gang!

      March 31, 2012 at 8:42 AM

  5. Yikes, you sound like me. Anything that can go wrong will! And I am facing down a type of brain surgery. Whew boy. I hope you heal quickly and well. I love your horse. Now that is a relaxed look just a licking that snow. Great shot and healing thoughts coming your way.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    • Some folks can’t win for losing. There must be a reason, but it eludes me! Try to stay optimistic!

      March 31, 2012 at 8:59 AM

  6. Pingback: Vision | Cowgirl Up!

  7. So upsetting to read about your horrible experience – you are one brave woman, not least for being able to write about it all in detail. I so hope things “look up” for you (pun intended!) as soon as possible. I second all the kind comments above – a lot of kindness and generosity out there which I hope helps on the moral support front.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    • Thanks for dropping by! I think the fact that I always loved assisting surgery makes any procedure fascinating, even when it’s my own! I remember in the weeks before my spinal surgery my spinal doc lent me a video of the fusion surgery I was going to have. He told me he never lets patients watch it because they’d never have the surgery if they saw it beforehand. (The video was a teaching tool for surgeons) I loved watching it. I admit that it’s kind of surreal to watch your own eye surgery from inside your own head, but since you can’t “close your eyes” and escape it, you may as well enjoy the show! 😉

      April 1, 2012 at 10:03 AM

  8. eremophila

    Hang in there – your horse needs you♥

    April 1, 2012 at 7:22 AM

    • Thanks! I’m looking forward to getting the go ahead to assume a “head up” position again so I can spend some time with them. Not sure if I’ll be allowed to ride for awhile, but I do miss just hanging out with them!

      April 1, 2012 at 10:05 AM

  9. I am sorry it did not go as it should…. all the best, I really hope you recvover without lasting complications.

    April 2, 2012 at 2:36 AM

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