The Operation…

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.

18 Responses to “The Operation…”

  1. Nita Says:

    Thats wonderful to hear G! I hope you are well soon!

  2. citrus Says:

    Well, going through procedures like that is against my religion. I’m a confirmed coward.
    Roger

  3. Trish Scott Says:

    Hey… Good to have a good doctor. For a change.

    I liked John Denver! Course that was back in the day…

    Probably tough to take now…

    May have been orchestrated (ha) to keep your mind off the operation.

    This is all very hopeful news. All the best from here. T.

  4. suburbanlife Says:

    Nita – thanks! 🙂 So far so good. This time feels less horrible, which might be a good sign. G

    Roger – you can’t possibly be a coward, only might find such situations less entertaining than others. I lead a very limited life to find excitement in even stuff like this. G

    Trish – good one, heh heh, “orchestrated”. You kill me!!! Come to think of it John Denver’s clear tones stone one out as if on Ativan. Yikes! Thanks for your good wishes. Are you taking a rest from blogging? i keep looking for your missives, to no avail! Sheesh. G

  5. tysdaddy Says:

    Ask if you can bring your .mp3 player next time, filled with appropriate music for the magnificent light show you described.

    Glad to hear things went well for this phase.

  6. Deborah Barlow Says:

    G, Thank you for this update. Harrowing in its details, you never shy from the truth, a quality I admire immensely. Best wishes with your recovery and ongoing bravery.

  7. ybonesy Says:

    A cautiously optimistic congratulations. It makes total sense that the scar tissue would be obstructing your vision and that even just removing it would reinstate some capacity.

    Someone commented in an earlier post how much they loved your doctor names. Those made me chuckle. Dr. Sandman. Ha! Dr. Seemore. By the way, that reminded me of the silly joke, Have you read the book Under the Bleachers by Seymore Butts? 8)

    Well, I got through the narrative of the IVs and seeing your reflection and all that with only a slight feeling of faintness. Remember, I’m a fainter. I was impressed that you could stay awake for the procedure. I wouldn’t have been able to.

    Also, did Lionel Richie’s Easy As Sunday Morning come on? Gag me with a spoon!

  8. bluedragonfly Says:

    Good luck with your recovery! Perhaps the 70s music was too distract you to the point of being in such pain listening to the music that you could pay much less attention to everything else 🙂

  9. suburbanlife Says:

    tysdaddy – a mp3 player sounds to be what might just do. But mayb the OR staff might take exception to the music a patient provides. Imagine a surgeon being irritated by the background music provided by a patient, wrong type, wrong tempo – would make for slips? Thanks for your kind words! G

    Deborah – thanks for your encouraging words! G

    Ybonesy – good of you to remind that cautious optimism is the correct response so far. The doctor names are ever so cliche, i just couldn’t help myself and succumbed to my innate bad taste! 🙂 it really isn’t all that bad to be awake and not caring what was done and when. The stuff they give to keep one quiet is actually quite nice. They did play Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello” which made me want to hurl. Aargh! Something sexy, sensitive and sultry would have been nice, though, Maybe “Judy Blue Eyes” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to remind me of an old lover? G

    BlueDragonFly – thanks for your kind words of encouragement. I know it doesn’t portend well to hear 70s music during operations. It meanswe’ll be all bopping to Captain and Tenille during Happy Hour in the old folks home. That and Bingo are a nightmare in waiting for my generation. 🙂 G

  10. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Excellent writing, once again, and since I live next door, I can report to anyone reading through all these comments, that Suburban Life is doing WAY better than her previous operations. She’s coming along….
    Am always delighted by your humour and your fine craft of writing, Ms SuburbanL
    K

  11. mariacristina Says:

    Great writing! How amazing it is to hear true tales from the other side of local anasthesia. you were so observant. And as usual, your knowledge of specific terms to recreate a concrete experience bring the scene to life for the reader.

    I don’t think I’ll ever hear soft rock again without cringing and think of you. I love the image of you hating the music more than having your eye or even your head removed….

    And Rumpole looking ever so natty holding your black purse 🙂

    Thanks for this entertaining piece, and for the update on your operation. Soon you’ll be painting in the fields again, I hope.
    C.

  12. maryt Says:

    G. thank you for commenting on my Mary Oliver post on Answers to the Questions, I was so delighted to hear from you! I just read your description of your eye surgery and I hope by now you are very well and on your way to good sight! Your experience under what was probably a Vallium drip was similar to mine when I got tooth implants except all I heard was my heart monitor…beep…beep…beep. I assumed that as long as I heard that “beep” I was still alive and well. I didn’t care that the dental surgeon used a mallet to hammer into my jawbone the metal implant. LOL! You understand, right? Please get well and keep in touch.

    Work of the Poet
    Answers to the Questions

  13. Poetmouse Says:

    What an ordeal, and thankfully successful. But the music is the worst part. I’ve had that experience once giving birth after two days of labor by c-section too exhausted to tell them to turn off the loud morning traffic report and news. It’s like I wasn’t there! Lovely experience of childbirth, but it also turned out great.

  14. whyvonne Says:

    beautiful writing! i have been a nurse for about 18 years, but also a patient and victim of surgery from time to time.

    your telling of your operative experience was touching and quite humorous at times.

    i will be back to check in on you.

  15. mariacristina Says:

    Just wanted to thank you for reading my poems and commenting. Hope you are healing and seeing ever brighter colors.

  16. suburbanlife Says:

    LFB – thanks for your kind comment and all the encouraging you are doing so close to home. G

    Christine – Thanks!!! you should see Rumpole walking around Costco clutching my black bag – positively stylish. He does have a Man-purse he bought in Berlin 10 years ago, which he totes about. But he looks kind of tough even carrying that, so gets no lip from strangers.
    I am enjoying the new half-vision and have hopes for imrovement after the next operation. G

    Poetmouse – Two days of labour before they deigned to give you a C-section – how unneccesarily cruel! Why did they need to listen to the traffic report during the operation? That’s downright weird. I would have been screaming for them to turn it off!. I’m glad the payoff after that was so great 🙂 G

    Christine – I marvel at your poems. it is such a treat to read them and know you are on such a creative roll. it is always my pleasure!! G

  17. canadada Says:

    Please Gott not ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round that Old Oak Tree’ !! I would have needed more pain killer !

    I think it brave to have anything done to one’s eyes, especially as it is your ‘primary’ utilized Sense … However, that said, I’ve worn specs all my life. It is the ‘weakness’ of my sight that has actually made me appreciate it as a ‘gift’. Plus, I was introduced to the ‘notion’ of ALTERNATE ways of seeing at a very young age because I quite literally had two world views: the crisp, clear one of my specs, and the amorphous, mysterious, smudged one of my ‘real’ vision … I am quite comfortable in both, and have even, on occasion, turned off all lights and only used touch, memory, sound to manoeuver around the familiar premises to add yet ‘another dimension’…

    My mum has ‘wet macular degeneration’. Her sight, after numerous attempts to ‘save it’, is slowly disappearing. Things she once took for granted, like reading the label on a jar, are completely gone for her now. Even so, her overall attitude is good. It’s what the Good Creator done Flung.

    Revel in what you’ve got G.
    We must count our blessings.
    Brave Girl, best, C

  18. suburbanlife Says:

    Canadada – you are absolutely right – we have to revel in what we have, on hand, t’s the only way to stay sane and content.
    Your Mom’s macular degeneration sound like it would yield to great frustration as the desease impacts on living. Good to hear your mother is coping well.
    You are obviously shortsighted like I am – here i have lived in both worlds for over fifty years – the fuzzy, soft focus one, and the acuteness of vision with glasses. maybe that has helped me to adjust to the current state. We do have to live with what is given, and there are much more discouraging natural ways to be than this one – so i am thankful. God provides!!! G

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