Surprise! Eye Surgery!

It’s a good thing I was born in this day and age because if I hadn’t I would have been weeded out by now because of my poor vision, consumed by hungry and possibly even slow hyenas while others in my pack fled and I sat around going, “So, as I was saying…”

Cross Section of Human Eye
This would be my eye if it weren’t all gray

 

Anyway, last week I went to the optometrist and for my annual eye exam. I really like my optometrist because he has a special glaucoma machine that doesn’t do the air puff, a machine that takes photos of the inside of your eye without having to do dilation, and a special wrist motion he uses when he covers your eye with a black plastic spoon (kind of like jazz hands, but optometry-style). Amidst the non-air-puffing and the special wrist flips, he found what he suspected was a hole in my eye. Holes in your eye are bad, because they can lead to retinal detachment. Retinal detachment is bad because it causes blindness. I always knew that because I have such poor vision I had a higher risk of this, and I’m the kind of person where if something bad could happen, it usually does, so this wasn’t totally unexpected, but I was mostly grossed out by the idea of having my eye propped open. Years ago I took a friend to her LASIK surgery and, not being squeamish, asked if I could watch. The doctors happily allowed me to and broadcast a ginormous close-up of her eye while it was being operated upon. Let me just say that it was MUCH grosser than I ever thought. I learned that watching an eye being taped and propped open makes me kind of sick. And her eye also bled.

So today I went to see a retinal specialist. He also had a special machine that takes pictures of the inside of your eye, and the technician was especially excited about this machines. The technician, who without my contacts I can only describe as being flesh-colored with what appeared to be a beard, an uneven bob and a headband, started excitedly pointing at diagrams of what this picture could look like and what conditions those could indicate (this is a surprising departure from most technicians I’ve experienced, who refuse to share their interpretations of results with you probably because of some legal reason, even if you say oh, come on, please, I won’t tell anyone.) Anyway, I pretended for a while to follow and then finally said, “I’m sorry. I’m blind as a bat without my contacts so I’m just using my imagination right now.”

Fast forward: I meet the doctor. It’s his first day on the job. I’m a little worried. I hear him in the hallway being introduced to people and am glad to know that it’s not his first day as a doctor, and that he went to and worked at Stanford before coming here. He puts lots of eye drops in my eyes. He shines lots of bright lights at me while I look in a bunch of different directions. He finds the hole and commends my optometrist, who I want to tell him has this special wrist motion. He says that there is a hole. It is small, but if something happened then I could get a retinal detachment. Again, retinal detachment: bad. He says that I could take the risk that nothing would happen, or, get the surgery and decrease that risk to 0.5%. He says there will be 5-10 minutes of pain, and then I can go on with my day. And maybe I’d want to take a Tylenol.

ME: How bad is the pain?

DOCTOR: Not too bad. I just did it on a 12 year old and he put up with it.

ME: So you can do this, like, now?

DOCTOR: Yes.

ME: And then I just go home and go on living?

DOCTOR: Yes.

ME: [thinking through pain management exercises, and that if I go blind I will be dependent on my husband to do my hair and makeup] OK.

Fast forward again. Cold eye laser beam room. He pushes lot of buttons. I can tell by the way he’s pushing that what he wants to happen isn’t happening. He pushes more buttons. He tries to figure out how to adjust my chair. He says, “I’ll be right back, I’m just going to get some help with this.” I am again thinking through the scenario where my husband will need to do my makeup and hair. He comes back with another doctor. They push a bunch of buttons and check the plugs. I am hoping they have a backup generator and that there isn’t an earthquake in the 10 minutes it will take to do my surgery.

DOCTOR: OK, we’re ready!

ME: Uh, you feel confident with this procedure, right?

DOCTOR: Oh yeah, I’ve done it a million times, it’s just my first day here.

ME: [hoping this machine works the same way as the one at Stanford] OK.

He put this thing on my eye (remember, no contacts, so I couldn’t tell you more about it) and then I saw lots of really bright flashes of light. I didn’t actually think it hurt at all; it was most bothersome to the eye that wasn’t being lasered. But I do think I have a fairly high pain tolerance because I was once in labor and didn’t know it. Though another time I was in labor and it hurt a lot.

Then, he was done and I was free to go. I still couldn’t see anything, being dilated and having just been temporarily blinded by laser, but he said that I could drive. I don’t get that — eye doctors are always telling me I can drive after dilation but to me the world looks like I’m playing an ’80s video game with someone else’s glasses that my kids have licked. Anyway, I used The Force and my imagination and got home, and a few hours later, have mostly recovered my vision.

But the best part is that when I got home I got a surprise that was even better than surprise eye surgery:

Sprinkles Cupcakes
Sprinkles cupcakes! I can't help but see some of these as corneas and irises.

This was totally unrelated to the surprise surgery, but thanks Jenny!

 

6 Comments

  • Sandra
    January 18, 2012 - 4:46 PM | Permalink

    I am now SURE that I have a hole in my eye too since my eyes have been bothering me a little and after reading this I can almost FEEL the hole in my eye. Going to see a Japanese opthamologist tomorrow

  • January 18, 2012 - 9:40 PM | Permalink

    Laughing at you (but not good that you had a hole!) and Sandra. I’m telling B.

  • Sandra
    January 19, 2012 - 6:13 PM | Permalink

    I drove to Dr. Okada’s this morning and she said, strangely, that I probably didn’t have a hole in my eye just because my friend did, but that I did need to come back to get my retina looked at. I asked her to do it right then but then she pointedly said, “IN JAPAN, we do not let people drive after their eyes have been dilated.” As. If. She. Had. Read. Your. Blog.

  • January 19, 2012 - 6:35 PM | Permalink

    Now that Bakerella’s been to my site I’m *sure* Dr. Okada reads this blog. But it just goes to show what an advanced society Japan is — and why it’s one of the safest countries in the world. Any country who can eliminate fogged mirrors and has automated squirty water jets in their toilets is ahead of its time.

    Have her check again, though, because I’m sure it’s contagious.

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