As promised, here is the re-cap of my recent detached retina surgery. I’ll just give you the highlights (if you’re interested in the gross details, check WebMD).
Diagnosis: Sometime around mid-March, I noticed a shadow across the vision in my left eye – made an appointment with my doctor to get it checked out. I had no clue what it meant, but to be honest I didn’t think it was a big deal. Until he said “surgery.” OMFG. Surgery on my eyeball?
From that point on, most of it was a blur. He was great about explaining how it would work, but all the words just ran together – removegelfromeyeinsertgasbubbleineyeballbandbuckleheadpositioning blah,blah,blah.
And all of this would be done as an Outpatient.
The one thing I do remember is that he said nothing I did or didn’t do caused this – they don’t really know for sure but it seems to be more common in people who are nearsighted. And it happens far more often than I ever imagined. Coming as I do from a family where EVERYTHING was my fault, this was very comforting. This was rough enough to absorb without the added stress of truckloads of Catholic guilt.
They talked to me about the recovery process (the surgery is 10% and head positioning 90% in determining a successful outcome) but it didn’t really sink in till later.
Day of Surgery: I have to give huge props to the staff at Yale New Haven Hospital. They run that outpatient surgery center like a gentle assembly line. Kind of like The Wash & Brush Up Company in the Emerald City where Dorothy and the gang got spiffed up to see the Wizard.
Which is a good thing because it was 6:00 am and I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink (not even water!) since 10:00 pm the night before. So, off with the clothes and on with a Johnny coat and some funky socks with rubber grips n them – I guess that’s to discourage patients from sliding down the halls like Tom Cruise in Risky Business.
Then they marked my forehead with a Sharpie and covered me with a warm blanket. Yes, heated – warm. How sweet is that? Didn’t have to wait long (did I mention how efficient they are?) before they walked me into the Operating room.
This is the assembly line part – on the table, strapped down, sheet over my face (except for the eye), bang, zoom – done. The anesthesia was that Twilight thing (without sparkles) so I was in and out during the procedure, but too loopy to really remember much. They rolled me over face down and that was a wrap.
Recovery Week One: Face down, 22-24 hours a day. The gas bubble (in my eyeball!) floats, so to get it to press the retina back where it belongs, you must be in a prone position constantly.
Sounds pretty simple, right?
We rented this ergonomic torture device which came in the form of a chair and another brace to attach to a bed. I’d been on chairs like this before when getting a massage, but I was never really able to adjust this one to a comfortable position. So I spent the week in bed. My face resting in a donut-shaped cushion on a metal frame, attached to the end of the bed. Usually during the night, the donut cushion would shift and I’d wake up with a painful bruise on my forehead from resting on the metal brace. (Ladies, if you ever did it in the back seat of a car, you know EXACTLY what this feels like.)
I was banished to the guest room downstairs because I can’t negotiate the stairs. Navigating is unbelievably difficult when you can only see your own feet. Just getting to the bathroom is an adventure – going anywhere else is terrifying. Especially if I don’t have something (or someone) to hold on to.
Thank God for audio books. I had a portable disc player and a bucketful of audio books – that was my only entertainment. Although, I did tend to fall asleep – this deep, Zen sleep – so I’m not really sure how much of those books I actually listened to and how much I absorbed subliminally.
Recovery Week Two: By now, I’m getting a little stir crazy, so I would wander (face down) to the living room and sit doubled over on the sofa, listening to TV. Then meander back to the bedroom. Other than trips to the doctor’s office, that was pretty much the extent of my traveling.
At the end of week two, the doctor gave me the OK to sit up and lift my head. Although I still have to sleep on my right side.
Yes – Freedom!!!
The gas bubble is shrinking as it’s absorbed and as it shrinks, it moves. I can’t feel it, but my vision is wonkier than ever.
This is the only way I can describe it - you’re looking through a glass of muddy water – the bottom is all murky, the top is clear, and the surface of the liquid (which runs right across the center of your vision) wiggles whenever you move. If I move too fast, I get a little motion-sick. It's very unsettling to say the least.
And my depth perception is completely out of whack. Little things like putting toothpaste on my toothbrush are challenges – bigger things like going down stairs are terrifying.
Recovering: So, I’m upright now, allowed to read and use the computer – but I’m only good for about an hour on the PC before I get a headache. Still using drops to keep the eye dilated, so it’s very sensitive to light. Can’t drive, exercise or lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. And on those rare occasions when the guys take me out, I have to wear those stylish huge dark sunglasses. Yeah, I know… stunning.
All in all, I’m getting better every day. The procedure was painless. Even though they prescribed Percocet, I haven’t used them. Had some aches the first week and still get the occasional headaches but it’s nothing that a couple of Tylenol can’t handle.
Meanwhile, the Bear’s been busy.
Check it out!
Yep, he won a beauty contest (although he swears he only did it for the scholarship).
I’m thinking it was the swimsuit competition that nailed it.