Cataract Surgery Day 1

The car arrived bright and early.  A black luxury Cadillac.

The eye surgery center provides a custom limousine service to and from the procedure.  And right now, I’m more nervous than a balloon on a cactus farm.

I get in the limo.  The driver tells me what everyone else has told me.  I’ll be happy with the procedure and eager for my second eye to undergo the cataract removal.

You say that now.

I arrive at the surgery center in Latham.  A quick check in.  Here’s my medical card.  Here’s my driver’s license.  Here’s my co-pay.  Never forget the co-pay.  The receptionist then prints out an adhesive wristband and attaches it to my right wrist.

In other words … I can’t run away now.  I’m tagged.  I’m banded like a parakeet in a pet store.

I do whatever it takes to clear my mind of nervousness.  I check my phone and read Facebook comments.  I read a three-year-old copy of Reader’s Digest – wow, they still have Life In These United States and All in a Day’s Work features.

But I know the rule of reading hospital lobby magazines.  The minute you get to an article that actually intrigues you…

“Charles Miller -please come to the reception desk to be prepped for surgery.”

Dang.  And I didn’t even find out if Reader’s Digest still had Laughter, the Best Medicine or Toward More Picturesque Speech features.

I don a hospital gown.  The nurse puts a hair net on my head.  Two more nets are put on my feet.  My personal belongings are locked in a storage locker.  They know I can’t escape now.

The doctor comes in, he puts a Sharpie dot over my right eye.  I ask if everything is okay.  He says there’s nothing to worry about.  I tell him I’m still nervous about the surgery.  The doctor tells me that he can take care of that.

As one nurse applies eye drops to my right eye – to dilate my pupil and prepare my eyeball for surgery – another nurse searches for a vein in my arm.

“I’m going to give you some Versed, Mr. Miller, it will help you through the surgery.”

And of course, because it’s  2018, I ask her if Versed is an opioid and am I going to be a walking opioid zombie junkie because of it.

“No, it’s non-addictive and will help you stay calm through the procedure.”

The nurse then starts flicking at the back of my hand, and once she finds a vein there, I get stuck with a butterfly needle and the smooth taste of Versed flows through me.

I’m now wheeled into the surgery room.  They move me to another table.  My head is placed in a small restraint.

And then, for about fifteen minutes or so … I get a light show without the benefit of a Pink Floyd soundtrack.  Need to remedy that.

I regain consciousness.  My right eye is taped over with a plastic shield.

“Mr. Miller, would you like some juice and cookies?” a nurse asks me.

I think I mumbled yes. She brings me a bottle of cranberry juice and some chocolate cookies.  I wish they had Oreo’s or Freihofer’s, but I’d take chocolate-covered cardboard at this point.

The surgery center provided me with a limousine for the ride back home.  I’m still feeling like I tried to wrestle A.J. Styles after he hit me with a Phenomenal Forearm, a Styles Clash, the Calf Crusher and about seven other finishing moves.

I get back into my house … sit in my chair… and two nap-induced hours later, I wake up.

I think I made it through.

There were some residual effects from the surgery – for the rest of the day, if I stared at any lights, I would see some halos and ghosting around the light source – almost like a fermata on a music scale.  You know, the hold note symbol.  You know, this.


I removed the shield to install my medicine drops regimen.  No excuses now.  If I mess this up, they’re not going to put the cataract back in my eye and start over.  The doctor did his part.  Now I must do mine.

I need to wear the plastic eye shield at night for the first one or two evenings, or at least until I speak with the doctor on my follow-up visit, which will be this morning.  And to make sure the eye shield doesn’t fall off, I put on a pair of safety goggles over my face – locking the eye shield in place and keeping me from accidentally rubbing my eye in the middle of the night.  Crafters, this is why you should buy safety goggles.  You never know when you’ll need them.

I check my eyes this morning.  The fermata ghosting seems to have disappeared – that might be either that the stitches around my eyes have started to heal, or my brain has filtered out the distracting image.  I’ll take it either way.

Am I glad I had the surgery?  Yes.

Was I scared?  Of course.

Will I be scared the next time?  Probably.  I don’t do well with surgeries, and that’s a psychological thing for me.  Hospitals are the last places I’ve seen those who were important in my life. So that takes some getting over.  Some getting used to.  Some mental and emotional adjustments.

Right now I’m on the road to recovery.

Let me work on that.

And we’ll see what my next eye surgery – in January – brings.