The operation is behind me. Now, I sport a swollen eye, itchy from the minuscule French Knots which secure the newly carved punctures placed at ten oclock and two-oclock in the white area of my eyeball. Rumpole, bless his little red socks, is doing all the leaning and bending I am not allowed to do right now and being his courtly and endearingly attentive self. However, being courtly and attentive does not preclude him chiding me and bossing me around; this he seems to relish. Martha has been supplying us with a variety of culinary masterpieces – home-made bread, impossibly delicious soups, tempting desserts. Lucky has come to cast her professional nurse’s eye on my newly acquired wound, but she does this subtly, without giving rise to anxiety on my part. She has been encouraging and has said that compared to last April and May’s operation disasters, this recuperation seems to be progressing without hitch so far.
Dr. Seemore, who is Dr. Blindside’s replacement, had earlier asked if I wanted to undergo this operation under local, rather than general anaesthetic. I opted for the local, this time. I wanted to be in the know as to who was performing the surgery, and what exactly went on during the hour or so it took. Dr. Blindside had put me under for all three of the operations he had performed last year, and in pre-op he had introduced different Opthalimic Surgical Residents who would also have a go at my eye during the procedures. This didn’t exactly fill me with reassurance minutes prior to being given the nectar of Lethe.
Dr. Seemore introduced Dr. Sandman to me in the pre-op room on Friday morning. He had rather Puckish ears poking out from under his surgical cap, a dry British wit, and enough miles on him visible to reassure that he knew what he was doing. He slipped in the intravenous needle into the top of my hand with deft economy, told me he was giving me rations of salt water for the operation’s duration, stuck the heart monitor electrodes into place and clipped me into the hospital shroud with well-practiced motions.
“Relax,” said he, tapping me on the shoulder. “You’ll be able to hear what’s going on. If you need more sauce for pain, make a noise.”
Dr. Seemore adjusted my head to the angle he wanted it to be. Surprisingly, he didn’t immobilize my head with straps. this was something I had expected, little realizing that whatever relaxant Dr. Sandman had administered cause a lassitude that would allow any sorts of procedures, including plucking the eyeball out of the head if the surgeon so felt inclined, to be performed, with the complete willing participation of the one operated upon.
It was rather interesting to be able to see the probes in the field of vision; to hear Dr. Seemore order one instrument after another; to follow his directions for the room light to be dimmed, for the operating lights to be calibrated for brightness; and for his orders to have the laser activated. Every, so often, the blood-pressure cuff wrapped around my right arm would constrict, puff off, cut off circulation and then let go with a sigh and a short mechanical ping. My hands, clenched on my chest, started to go numb. I could feel my neck muscles seize with tension. My feet were dull bricks at the other end of my body, but I declined to keep tempo with the awful 70’s Soft Rock that played in the background. That much hated tune of “You are so Beautiful to me…”, for some reason assaulted my ears with its cheesiness. Billy Joel crooned. Carol King warbled, and Oh No!!! Please No!!!, not John Denver. However I was too out of it to gag! Had we inadvertently slipped back to a serious 70’s time warp, with long-sideburned medical professionals swathed in fitted polyester floral scrubs and platform-soled white shoes? Dr. Seemore and Dr. Sandman were of the same vintage as me, early sixties of age, and wrapped the operating room in an aural atmosphere of nostalgia that would be better forgotten.
I wanted the operation to end, if not to put merciful conclusion to the execrable music. The light show in the eye operated upon was somewhat more reminiscent of the light shows in concerts. You know, the kind where coloured inks poured into oil were projected on the large screen behind psychedelic musicicians. However, Soft Rock was all wrong.
At one point, Dr. Seemore adjusted the angle of my head. For all I cared, he could have severed it from my neck. But that Music! That gave me problems during the operation!
“We’re done.” announced Dr Seemore, patting my shoulder. ” I’ll see you in the recovery room in a few minutes.”
Dr. Sandman unconnected the blood-pressure cuff and the heart monitor clip from my forefinger. He pulled the I.V. needle and had me put pressure on top of its site and wheeled me back into the pre-op holding room. The kindly nurse brought a cup of welcome apple juice and watched me sit up, swing my legs over the gurney’s edge and sip away. Dr. Seemore emerged from the O.R., looking decidedly ordinary in his blue scrubs, nary a floral pattern in sight on his costume, no long sideburns, no platform-soled shoes. He looked just like his ordinary, reassuring self. What a relief!
“We didn’t put the lens in. Scar tissue was extensive and was pulling on the retina. So I removed it and put oil into the globe to help seat the retina. In six weeks, I’ll remove that in another operation and then give you the new lens.” He took pains to explain these specifics and warned me to not bend down while healing and to keep my head back for the next couple of weeks. “I’ll see you tomorrow at seven A.M. in my office.”
The Pre-op Nurse chased me off to get dressed. On the way to the changing area, a man waiting for his operation commented “You seem pretty chipper. I hope I feel like that too when I come out.”
I dressed and sat waiting for Rumpole to come back to pick me up. The nurse covered me with a warm blanket and I watched the next patient being wheeled into the O.R. Soon, the pneumatic door hissed open, and there was Rumpole, looking ever so natty carrying my large black purse. No coffee in his hand though. I would cheerfully have killed for a cup of good Joe.
“Coffee!” I croaked piteously. “Please, get me to some coffee!”
Rumpole, obliging as ever, complied and whisked me out of the hospital to partake of that marvellous substance. And so we got through the operation.
Today, as I sit here typing away, every so often I shut my good eye and try to assess what change there is to the bad one. Amazingly, I can see shapes much more crisp than before. Colours are more clear, less hazy. This operation seems to be successful so far and I am much encouraged.