Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Eye Surgery Makes Columnist Nervous
Posted: Sunday, December 22, 2013 11:31 pm | Updated: 12:07 am, Mon Dec 23, 2013.
By the time you read this my medical procedure will likely be over. Nothing complicated, but under a knife nonetheless. I've always believed there are only two kinds of surgery: Major and someone else's.
I'm having cataracts removed, which I'm told is now almost the equivalent of having your toenails clipped. It is a procedure almost half of all Americans have at some point in their lives. It's supposed to be a big nothing. The difference is now it's happening to me.
I'm a complete coward when it comes to medical procedures. I hate needles, to the point where I turn my head when someone is getting an injection on television. I have been known to pass out while just sitting still and having blood drawn.
I'm a big wuss.
But when your vision deteriorates to a certain point, you have no choice. So a few weeks ago I went to see a specialist who told me I needed this particular procedure. Thus began a flurry of appointments and a whole lot of explanations - which frankly, I could have done without.
I know it's important we all understand exactly what is going to happen to us once we step into any operating room. Knowledge is power, and every patient needs to be a fully informed one. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.
I had only a vague idea what cataracts were, and was content with that limited knowledge most of my life. When they had to be removed, I just wanted the doctor to go ahead and take them out - preferably while I was sleeping comfortably and blissfully unaware.
But no, apparently there is an ethical and medical obligation to explain these things in tremendous detail. Thus, in a short time I have learned more than I ever really wanted to know about cataracts and their removal.
My doctor (who is very good at what he does and very personable) told me all about it like he was explaining the fundamentals of baseball. He will begin by putting drops in my eyes, giving me a shot to numb the area, and then make a small incision in my eye. Then he will break up the lens inside my eyeball, remove it in pieces, and insert the new clear lens inside. Just a few hours later, I will be ready to go.
The problem is I pretty much heard nothing after the shot near the eye part. My brain was totally frozen in fear at that point.
But eventually I got by it, secure in the knowledge I would be floating along the edge of consciousness while it took place.
It was then it registered he would be cutting my eye with a sharp instrument. I don't quite know how I thought the cataracts were going to be removed, maybe with a magical laser beam or something. But suddenly it hit home that he was going to slice my eyeball open like a grape (at least in my now terrified mind).
And did he really say "breaking up the lens and taking it out in pieces?" He's going to cut into my eye, and then break stuff inside it? I mean the logical side of me says it makes sense, but the rest of me is screaming in protest.
I have been very fortunate thus far in my 57 years on the planet. I have avoided any major surgery and been relatively healthy. I am grateful for this and count myself as extremely lucky. This procedure is a virtual walk in the park compared to what others go through every day.
And I am looking forward to improved vision. Maybe I'll now be able actually see who catches those passes at the Patriot games, or accurately read what is on my computer screen. Those who knew me as an umpire years ago say I should have had this back then.
I should be on my way home now. I hope they give me a patch on my eye. My grandson loves playing pirates. I just hope he doesn't want me to let him wear it instead.
So Merry Christmas to everyone. And I'll be seeing you - hopefully a lot more clearly.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.