Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cataract Surgery

This is a really long (and personal) post - not my usual type of post, but I am just trying to "keep it real" and journal this for my own memories.

Things have been quiet around here lately because I have been recuperating from cataract surgery last Friday.  I only briefly mentioned my up-coming surgery on my blog because I was embarrased about having what is considered an "old persons" ailment and I didn't want to admit publicly how much I was struggling to see.  Family and friends could see how quickly my eyesight had deteriorated, but having strangers stare at me as I held things up close to my face to see was hard :(  It's amazing / scary how quickly the cataracts progressed.  I was diagnosed about 18 months ago when I noticed my eyesight was more blurry than usual (even with my new glasses) and then in the last 3-6 months it was that blurry that I struggled with everyday things.  I was relying heavily on Craig when we were out it public - I couldn't even cross the road my myself due to not being able to see oncoming traffic.  The best way to describe my sight was that it was like having a plastic bag over my eyes.   Surgery was the only option and as scary as it was there were some remarkable benefits - the biggest one being told after this surgery I wouldn't need to wear glasses again (except for reading glasses).  I was so excited!!   I have had poor eyesight my entire life - I've worn thick, heavy glasses and occasionally contact lenses (usually for social events only, due to them making my eyes dry and sore if I wore them too long) - this was a dream come true.  Another benefit was that they would change my vision from being extremely short sighted to being long sighted, which meant I wouldn't have to bring things close to my face to be able to see them.

Luckily my surgery was booked and I just had to wait till the end of June for the first op and middle of July for the 2nd op.  At my eye appointment 3 weeks ago my eye specialist advised that they had moved my operation dates forward by 3 weeks (thus only giving me 10 days to panic / stress LOL).   After a chat with my doctor we agreed to operate on my "bad" eye (right side) first.  This eye is Amblyopia and even after having corrective surgery in my late teens I never gained proper use of it (basically my brain and eye never learnt to 'talk to each other").  I also have myopic eyes - which means my eyes are different shaped (elongated) and larger than normal.  With these factors in mind I thought if there were any issues with the operation, then I was only risking that eye.  In a pre-op call the day before the operation the hospital mentioned I was getting my left eye ("good eye") done first.  This sent me into a complete panic and I made a call to my doctor.   She explained that due to my prescription, my new lenses had to be ordered from overseas and that they would have to delay surgery till they got my right eye lens if I insisted on having that eye operated on first.  (I should have realised that the new lenses would be manufactured overseas, because my glasses lenses and contact lenses also had to be manufactured overseas because the Australian laboratories didn't have the technology to create them).  I wanted my independence back and trusted my doctor, so agreed to go with the right eye surgery.

After a restless night, I was up early Friday morning to have breakfast before I had to fast.  My mum popped over for the morning to give me some early birthday presents to cheer me up :)  The hospital called and asked my to come in a bit earlier, so off to hospital we went.  Once I arrived at the day surgery unit, I was given a gown, hat and bootees to put on over my clothes (and shoes!) and ushered into the pre-op room to start a round of drops.  While I was waiting more patients getting cataract operations came in - I was the youngest by a least 35 years (I was listening when they gave their DOB LOL)!!   Cataract surgery is usually done under a local aneasthetic, but due to my age I was put under a light general aneasthetic (phew - the idea of being awake when they put a needle in my eye was terrifying!!).  I was put onto the bed and wheeled into a little room just outside of the theatre to have my canulla put in ready (which was the most painful part of the whole proceedure!).  I will admit there were a few tears as they took me in - I was very frightened :(  Once in the theatre my doctor came in, made some marks on the my eye, 3 deep breaths and I was out!  I woke up in recovery a short 30 mins later.  After having something to eat and checking my vitals - I was released after an hour.  Craig had been waiting for me, put me in the car and took me home where I went to bed and slept for a few hours.  I had a shield over my eye, so I wasn't sure how the operation went, but that night Craig took it off to put drops in and I was able to see that it was successful and that I had clear vision!  I was estatic and didn't want him to put the shield back on :)

The next morning I had a post op check up where they took the shield off and checked my eye - all was well!    I took this photo and sent it to my mum saying "look mum, no glasses" - she called me and we both had a little cry over how amazing this was and how much it would change my life :)

So, it's been a week and I'm getting used to the changes - it's strange to be able to see myself without glasses on (and see the crinkles and a grey hair or two - eeek!).   I do still scrabble around looking for my glasses first thing in the morning, then remember I don't need them LOL  I am still wearing a contact in my right eye until my next operation.  I have been so excited to be finally able to wear the sunglasses I have in my collection :D  I still find myself bringing books / items close to see them, then realise I have to hold them at arms lengths (very weird LOL).  I have realised all the things I will be able to do now that my vision is better e.g when we go snorkelling I will be able to clearly see the fish /coral instead of blurry colours and things darting in front of me LOL  and so many other little everyday things that people with normal eyesight take for granted :)  Now the countdown is on my next operation which is in 2 weeks time.

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