Friday, August 30, 2013

Cataract's easy and painless....

 The day before cataract surgery, I couldn’t remember my phone number and realized that I was nervous. That’s like the story someone told me about going to a medical conference and hearing a speaker say, “I must be nervous. I just took a valium.” I’m like that in the slow-reaction department. Why bother to feel anything since it’s just going to get worse. But I hadn’t bothered to feel anything before the operation since it wouldn’t do any good…

It was getting dark in here and a bit smudgy. I could no longer drive legally at night and it was inevitable. James, who I never manage to correspond with, much as I want to, said to do it five or six months ago. That was when the optometrist suggested that it was time to introduce me to a surgeon. But I wasn't ready.

The operating room was cold, but the process was interesting and the surgeon was willing to describe what I might be seeing…caused by the intensity of the light. I saw three small pink circles in a field of changing color, orange, lavender, green, orange again. Sometimes the dots moved, revealing black as if there was a mask underneath them. Later, when he was taking out the actual cataract, the field was pale gray with white crackles…and I knew when he was putting in the lens because of the extremely narrow lines of white light… 

The nurse had spoken to her supervisor and I had to delete all the photographs I took that included any patients or staff…she stood behind me after the operation and watched, to make sure. But I kept a few blue elbows, which didn’t seem to bother her.

Waiting with all the other people waiting, some older than me, some a bit younger, men and women, the men looking more sprightly, strange as that seems, took far longer than the operation did……….a long time sitting there, trying to write about years ago when I had my toe nail taken off and was in a New York hospital near women with serious problems…a mastectomy, an amputation. And was certain I’d die from the anesthesia. I didn’t. I’ve heard so many stories about how easy this cataract experience is and that when it’s over, it’s over. Never again in that eye. Cataracts don’t redevelop.

I must have been nervous, though, in spite of what I thought because I went to the wrong office for my next morning after-inspection. You are not allowed to make any important decisions for 24 hours after the surgery. This wasn’t a decision and not all that different in terms of mistakes than I do make – arriving an hour too early or too late or on the wrong day. But it was a first for a wrong office, the one in Boston rather than Cambridge.   Oh, well. The surgeon, an incredibly pleasant man, didn’t mind my taking photographs. Many eye doctors are also photographers, though of a very refined and classical bent. Landscapes that are perfectly in focus and beautifully printed.

Now my left eye sees everything in a heavy tinge of light. Whites are really white. My right eye still gives a yellow tinge. Yesterday when I visited friends, their house was yellow when seen with one eye and a very pale, pale yellow, verging on white, when seen with the new lens. I can’t imagine how awful all the photographs I’ve lightened recently must look….  oh, well…

I have to go back next Thursday. And it is difficult to be on the backside with the left eye protected by gauze. I have to find another solution by the time Layla Jane gets taken to her new home on Friday.


  1. i am glad to have such a detailed explanation of what this whole process is. it seems so scary--anything to do with the eyes...but you make it feel reasonable. such a grown-up thing to do -- to take care of one's self!

  2. hurrah! i'm so happy for you! and i was right, wasn't i? you have a whole new wonderful life ahead of you, believe me. still, not everything is roses. i've learned that my left hip joint is bone to bone, and will require a replacement. some years back, when i had to have the knee replaced, i felt so good for a while, but looks like we can't get used to one adventure without having to face another, eh? jim

  3. that white light is the way things really look; your right eye is now the poor sister to your new one, and the yellow it sees is actually not an accurate representation. have you discussed surgery in that eye as well? i had them both done. my vision is now 20/20.

  4. Thanks for this thorough post. I really hope you've got better since.

    Greetings from London.

  5. Gracias por compartir tu procedimiento de Cirugia de cataratas, tengo un familiar que es temerosa a este tipo de intervenciones que la necesita con urgencia, con tu post despejo muchas dudas. saludos

  6. So, how are the eyes, Melissa? I had cataract surgery and found I didn't need glasses for near or far...didn't last but a few months untill I needed 'readers'...but so far, so good...