Well, that was interesting.

I had my cataract removed from my left eye and the implant put in.  That all went perfectly according to the surgeon.  Then I got sick from the anesthetic and the day went downhill from there.

I think I may have contributed to this.  You’re not supposed to have anything to eat or drink from midnight on before a surgery.  In fact, I hadn’t really had anything to eat or drink since about 6:00 pm (dinner) so I was pretty hungry and thirsty to begin with.  Plus I had a pile-driving headache from the lack of coffee so there’s that.  I was also told back when they first scheduled this that since I am relatively young and in good health, I would probably be the last one to have the surgery since all the older people with diabetes and other issues are scheduled first so that they won’t have to go as long without their meals.  So it turned out; I was called in at about 10:30. I could tell who the other cataract patients were since we all had the surgeon’s initials scrawled on our heads with a marker.  Apparently this is standard practice to ensure they operate on the correct side.

Except for the headache though, everything went well.  I was a bit nervous but not excessively so.  I was taken into a pre-op area where a series of nurses got me ready.  I knew that anesthetic could make you forget things so I was extra vigilant about trying to remember things.  The nurses names were Arminda, Shondra, and Mai.  I have no idea if the spelling is correct but they seem right when you sound them out.  Arminda tried valiantly to get a needle into my vein for anesthesia but had a terrible time of it.  That was the first indication of my dehydration.  She managed it eventually and apologized profusely.  She warned of an impending bruise because of her efforts but there was none.  I’m not sure why they put you out for this but it was only for five minutes or so while they gave me a shot to numb the eye area (and about half my head besides).  After this I just waited for it to take effect and then it was off to the OR.

When I got into the OR, imagine my surprise to find somebody I knew.  I heard a voice: “Greg! I thought the name looked familiar!  It’s me, Julie!”  I couldn’t really tell since she was masked and had a cap – all I saw were eyes so she helped me out with some more info.  Turns out she’s in our small group at church and our daughters were BFFs in high school.  I was a bit of a comfort to know someone but I’m always a bit uneasy when I meet somebody I know in the context of health care.  I don’t fancy the notion of any of my friends seeing me unconscious or perhaps without my clothes on but in this case, you keep all your clothes on so it was a non – issue.

The surgeon came in and got straight to work.  He’s normally a friendly guy – much like a car salesman – but in surgery, he’s all business and quick besides.  His comments became intelligible mumblings to his nurse assistant but since you’re awake for these procedures I could see (sort of) what was going on.  I don’t know if it was because of the numbing or not but I could see light and dark but no real images.  I could see what looked like the outline of things but only if they were in motion.  Anytime anyone moved, I could see something like an impressionistic pencil drawing of them but as soon as they got still, they faded out.  Interesting how the brain works that way.  I recall the scene in “Jurassic Park” where the scientist said dinosaurs only saw motion.  Anyway…

I could see shadows of the instruments he was using as he wiped them back and forth and it was over in about 10 minutes.  He said that “that was a tough one” but in the end it came out “perfect”.  So that was that – Julie had me sit in a wheelchair and took me out to Melissa who was waiting.  On the way, we stopped at another OR to see her husband Jeff who I also know.  So it’s like old home week in the hospital.

We drove away from there to the nearest restaurant.  I wasn’t terribly hungry and was feeling a bit uneasy but ate anyway.  We went on home where Mel dropped me off and then went to the dentist for her scheduled cleaning.  While she was gone, I started feeling queasy and soon thereafter got totally sick.  I had to run to the bathroom and proceeded to puke my guts out.   At that point some coworkers called to see how I was doing.  Like an idiot, I answered the phone (I had heard them start to leave a message on the machine – yes, we still have an answering machine) and talked to them for a bit.  Then I hung up quickly and returned to the toilet for another session of worship at the porcelain altar.  This is bad news for people who have had eye surgery so I called the doctors number and told them.  They said come straight back.

Mel arrived back about that time so we headed back up to the doctor’s office.  I made the trip OK although I was feeling pretty poorly.  They measured my intraocular pressure and determined it to be OK (after having removed the tape on my eye).  They gave me some anti-nausea cream to rub on my wrists and sent me home with some more of it.  On the way home I got the nausea again and proceeded to puke into a sack I had brought along.  I was soon “out of ammo” but kept dry-heaving.  This was something new: nausea for the sake of nausea itself.  Before I had only thrown up when my body needed to get rid of something but this was something else.  Finally the medication kicked in.  It had the saving grace of making me sleepy so I went home for a nap.  From then on, I could not stand up without getting dizzy and nauseous again.  I used the rest of the medication and just stayed in bed. 

I think part of the problem was that I was still dehydrated (from all the puking) and hadn’t eaten anything in about 24 hours.  At least nothing that I had been able to keep down.  When I got up the next day I was dizzy and nauseous again but I think it was from lack of nutrition and water.  After drinking some juice, water, and simple food like toast, I started feeling better and spent the remainder of the morning just drinking water.  That was the ticket; I never got dizzy or sick again.  I called in to work and cancelled a business trip that I had scheduled since I was told that most people get on with their lives the day after.  I guess I would have if I had hydrated myself correctly although I still may have had that anti-anesthetic reaction.  I hope that good hydration will help me avoid this next week during my second procedure.

I went for my post-op the day after and was told that my eye is doing great.  It looks like I’ve been in a bar fight since my eyelids are swollen and my eyeball is bloodshot but they say it’s fine and my vision is now better than most people show up with the day after lens replacement.  I’m happy about that although I’m still getting used to it.  I popped out the left-hand lens of my glasses so that I can still use the portion of my glasses that I use to read.  While there, I asked the ophthalmologist if he could explain how this multi-focal lens implant works.  He said “No. I have no idea.”  I have to admire his honesty – I guess he just installs them, he doesn’t design them.

So, now I just wait for the swelling to subside and see how thing stabilize while I await the next procedure.

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