Scary Cataract Surgery
Oh, how we take our vision for granted! In July, I was told that I had cataracts on both eyes and that I needed cataract surgery on both eyes. New glasses would not improve my declining vision. “Really, don’t just senior citizens get cataracts?” I queried. “Nope. Sorry, almost everyone starts to form them after the age of 40. Some peoples’ cataracts just develop faster than others,” my optometrist elaborated.
Now, I was not a happy camper. The last thing I wanted was surgery on my eyeballs! After a great deal of research, I decided to go for the laser surgery and a special intra-operative lens that would correct the severe astigmatism in my left eye.
Fast forward to August 16th. I was quite anxious about this procedure. My anxiety jumped up a notch when they took my glasses away and gave them to my son. I had to walk down an unfamiliar corridor, use an unfamiliar bathroom, and find my way in a large room filled with gurneys. All I could see were furry blobs of color and light!
Next came the eye drops in my left eye with instructions to keep it closed so my pupil would dilate. Meanwhile, I’m being hooked up to medical equipment left and right and trying to answer anesthesia’s questions. I was given the anesthesia consent to sign with one blurry eye to read it. More anxiety, despite reciting Psalm 23 to myself: “The LORD is my shepherd I shall not want.” Really, God, I feel like I’m “wanting” here.
Then I’m whisked into the operating room where things did not go as planned. My eyelids were not numb so the “olive tongs”(I swear that is what they felt like and my eyeball was the olive) they used to hold my eye open, hurt like the dickens! The anesthesiologist was reluctant to give me too much medication, because of my asthma. This did not help my pain.
Post-op Cataract Hell
I found out afterwards that my “cornea slipped” after the laser part and so I ended up with an “abrasion on my cornea.” This is fancy doctor-speak for an injury to your cornea, which is the most sensitive part of your eye. My doctor put medication on the cornea and covered it with a “bandage contact.” My eye was very irritated and PAINFUL and my eyelids were swollen. I was quite miserable. The only thing I could see out of that eye were black spirally clouds when I could manage to get it open.
I also found out afterwards, that the medication I was given to relax me just wound me up and made me restless and since I was not given any pain medicine that was why it was so painful to have done. GRRR!
Thankfully, after two weeks it felt much better, but now my eyeglass prescription was all wrong. Before the right eye was operated on, my doc gave me a pair of loaner glasses that I could see out of with my left eye.
August 30th rolls around, and I am back in for surgery on the right eye. No laser this time, as it might have contributed to the cornea slipping. We had a plan to manage pain better and to avoid the medication that made me agitated during the first surgery. Maybe I just wasn’t as anxious, but I felt less rushed by the staff and more at ease in their care. I felt like they were listening to my concerns. Everything went as planned with no mishaps of any sort. Thank you God!
By September 8th, I’m getting weary of not being able to see well. I cannot drive anywhere as my peripheral vision is off and I keep walking into things or placing items in the wrong place on the table. For example, I set my full glass of water on top of the portable can opener on the counter. Another time, I tried to move my car from the carport to the front of my house and almost took out the hedges!
I’m also dealing with daily headaches since I love to read and my glasses aren’t right. So I gave up on the loaner glasses and am just muddling my way through each day with drugstore magnifying glasses. I go back the next Thursday for a check-up and hopefully everything will be fully healed and I can get glasses that actually work. What a happy day that will be! I’ll actually be able to go places without a chauffeur!
I thank God for getting me through this miserable experience, and I thank God for the gift of vision. May I never take it for granted again. I have to say though that this was a much more difficult experience than I expected and it showed me again how much I need to trust God even when it makes no worldly sense. Here’s to surviving yet another unpleasant medical experience.
Update January 2017
I was able to get glasses that worked in early October 2016. I also started having weird visual events followed by headaches. My doctor thought I was having ocular migraines. Since my symptoms were always the worst first thing in the morning, I wonder if going from dark to brightly lit caused those visual effects and headaches. My fibromyalgia makes me more sensitive to everything.
Bright lights still bother me and I still get those odd visual events though nowhere near as often. Looking back, I think my fibromyalgia impacted both my surgeries and my recovery. It made me more “sensitive” to pain, pressure and bright lights. The changes in my vision afterwards took longer for me to adjust to, because of that sensitivity.
This experience also prompted me to write this article about being your own health advocate:
Read about my continued recovery from cataract surgery and how God comforted me when I was discouraged here.