Archive for the ‘operation’ Category

Red and white cane…

December 11, 2008

No, not the diagonally striped one made of candy, so seasonally appropriate right now. This one is a collapsible aluminum white cane with a red bottom portion such as used by those with limited vision as a way to warn others around them that someone who might make unpredictable moves is about, and should be looked out for.

A week ago, Rumpole took me to visit Dr. Seemore. We hoped to hear reasonably good news about me getting a new lens in my left eye, maybe early in the new year. Instead, Dr. Seemore viewed my eyecondition with reservations, and while he did not say in so many words that I would be sightless in that eye, after all the numerous operations during the past two years, he telegraphed by carefully chosen words and phrases that the prognosis might not be as I had hoped. More tests in the new year, to see if blood supply into the retina is adequate to make it worth installing a new lens.

On the drive home from the office, Rumpole essayed to draw me out as to how I interpreted the conversation between myself and Dr. Seemore. As if interpretation needs to be made by doctors’ pronouncements! Unfortunately, it has been my recent and not so recent experience that doctors are notoriously loathe to give bad news, and in their avoidance manoeuverings end up severely pissing off a patient, such as your truly, who might wish for some necessary and unvarnished truths. I was righteously annoyed, and kvetched and carped about my chagrin all the way home.

Once we arrived, we partook of a good cup of coffee. Rumpole took his cup and disappeared into the front office. After several moments, he called out to me to come and join him there. He had logged onto the computer and got into the CNIB site. He patted the chair next to him and said it was time for me to order a white cane, which might be useful in warning off people walking near me to look out for my wild swings and lunges toward my blind side. And how did I feel about this anyway?

I felt okay, I guess. I spend half my time out in publick apologizing to people for knocking into them or slapping them with my wildly gesturing left arm, that is whenever I don’t cut them off in their eagerness to pass me by. The white cane will help shut me up in public; save some breath.

So my cane arrived in the post today – a tidy collapsible and lightweight pole good for probing ahead but not of cudgel-like proportions to knock others nearby senseless. It’s rather jaunty, like a fencing rapier, but not as dangerous seeming. Sort of reminds me of cross-country skiing poles, minus the stabbing bit at the tip. It collapses in a jiffy and fits inside my purses. A very practical little stick.

I wonder how long it will take for me to get used to using it. I’d really rather fake it, and pretend I see just fine, but unfortunately that ain’t the case. I bet Mousey will like my cane. We can play magic tricks with it – collapse it and hide it, use it to loft stuffed animals about the house, lift curtains with it to see who is hiding behind. I wish Rumpole wore a toupee on his bald head; I’d delight in flipping it off his head with my cane. The Mouse would chuckle with great glee. Maybe I can victimize some other poor toupee-wearing schmuck on the streets nearby.

They don’t beat up an old blind woman, do they?

Lecso with the Old Forester…

August 27, 2008

I had my sixth eye operation on Monday morning. Old Forester, Uncle Pista, was arriving yesterday to spend several overnights with us while he visits his old cronies from Sopron Forestry School ( at UBC) for their annual summer picnic.

Rumpole and I had spent a poor sleepless night Monday night, mainly because I had to sleep on my stomach with my head face down after the operation. This necessitated creating a structure out of pillows and towels in bed to keep my head steady and allow me to breathe at the same time. I was up every hour as my back spasmed from the unusual sleep position, and poor Rumpole was disturbed by my getting in and out of bed. Finally, I got up at 4 am to take a Tylenol and let him get a couple of hours of straight sleep. At 6:30 we drove off to Abbotsford to make the 7:30 am follow-up appointment with the surgeon, Dr. Seemore. On the drive, Rumpole asked how I was going to be able to be ready to receive Old Forester. What was I planning to feed him?

“Oh, Lecso, I think,” I told him. “These old Hungarian fellows like their traditional growlies.”

“Well, don’t over-do it, ” he grumbled, stifling a yawn. “Remember you are supposed to take it easy. And just how exactly can you cook lecso lying down?”

“Zere is a vay, vere zere is a vill, edesem,” I replied, “maybe I can invent upside-down lecso? Stranger things have happened.”

“Don’t be so bloody flippant, G. I’ll rat you out to the surgeon. He will strighten you out!”

Well, it so happened that Dr. Seemore looked at my puffed-up tomato red eye and said that I could stay upright the rest of the day. Thus he gave me permission, witnessed by Rumpole, to carry on as Domestic Goddess and make regular Lecso for us for supper. Yes!!! Just don’t run around, bend down and pick up heavy stuff. Easy peasy! I told Rumpole on the drive home that chopping vegetables and assembling them was not major labour, and that yes, before Pista arrived I’d do a little lie down and rest. Poor Rumpole had a day in the office, with demanding clients to contend with. He had had scant little sleep the night before and certainly had more important tasks to discharge than my measly putting together a simple meal.

The weekend before, we had gone to the local farmer’s market and picked up some fine yellow sweet Hungarian peppers, green peppers, ripe tomatoes, juicy onions and new nugget potatoes. Lucky had gifted us with her husband’s home-made deer pepperoni sausages – so these were slated to be the meat component of the lecso dish.

After changing and making up beds, washing and hanging out laundry, I took a couple of hours of blissful nap – and not lying face down either. By the time I awoke, my eye had turned a deep eggplant colour – not vey attractive. I looked like a victim of severe domestic abuse and wondered if Old Forester might make a sarcastic comment about why Rumpole might take pokes at me. Entertaining possible smart rejoinders to such queries, I began to wash and chop vegetables and sausage. Assembled all the different ingredients into separate bowls and laid these out like a regiment near the stove to begin assembly.

Ding Dong! The bell woke me from my mise en place engagement with the food-stuff. It was Martha at the back door, come from her dentist’s appointment to check on my operation aftermath condition.

“God! You look terrible, worse than you have after the previous operations.” She covered her eyes and peeked between her fingers at me. “Uncle Pista will think you have been severely beaten by Rumpole. You’ll have to explain that is not what happened here.”

“Gee, thanks!” I muttered as I shepherded her into the kitchen. “Come have some coffee. And why don’t you stay for dinner and a visit with Old Forester”

“I’ll take the coffee, but won’t stay for dinner if you’re making something spicy and Hungarian. What’s for dinner?”

When I mentioned “lecso” Martha demurred and made her excuses. She preferred to bring us supper on Wednesday night and get her visit in with Uncle Pista. I started assembling the Lecso while Martha caught me up on teaching gossip and stories of friends who have come back from holidaying in Cuzco, London and Berlin. She asked if I needed her to get anything for our dinner tonight. Just some wine, I thought, and maybe a baguette to sop up the lecso juices. She dank her coffee and went off shopping.

By the time Martha came back with the wine and bread, the lecso was simmering nicely and smelled heavenly.

“How hot have you made it, this time?” she asked as she unloaded her purchases.

So I gave her a spoonful, to which she commented, ” I hope Uncle Pista has a cast iron stomach!”

Well, naturally,  a cook has to make spice adjustments for seniors, as they can take only more bland spicing, versus the rip-roaring heat a younger person can stomach. Of course, Martha has the palate of a decrepit senior, even if she is in her middle 50s. Or, it could be she has English taste-buds and a preference for bland food. Old Forester, on the other hand, is a true Hungarian who loves the spices used in his beloved meals. I reassured Martha that Uncle Pista would survive my culinary ministrations, yet again. Oddly, she seemed doubtful. Go figure!

Martha took her leave and advised me to ice my eye and put up my feet before Uncle Pista and Rumpole arrived for dinner. I complied and took a load off.

Old Forester arrived before Rumpole did. He looked  natty and handsome in one of his well-pressed forestry service green shirts. He had the scabbard of his pocket knife attached to his belt, and complained of having left the knife at the recycling station in Logan Lake where he last used the knife to slice apart some cardboard boxes he was recycling. He is tending to be more forgetful these days. I promised to take him today to a local sport store to buy a replacement knife.

He made some Hungarian witticisms, of an understated sort, about my appearance. “You have looked better! But I smell that looks have nothing to do with your cooking prowess. Is that Lecso I smell?” He rubbed his gnarled hands together in anticipation. “Oh, I see, you have provided the nectar of the Gods for accompaniment. Well, we shall have a fine evening of debauchery. Yours is the only house where I can have my after dinner cigarette without having to go outside by myself.”

I hugged him, bade him welcome and set a cup of coffee in front of him at the kitchen table. He told me some wonderful stories about his recent adventures while we waited for Rumpole to arrive home for a supper of lecso.

That is what I need for my recuperation from operations – the company of good friends and family. I am going to thoroughly enjoy this brief visit from my old uncle. There is always good conversation and laughter at our table, interesting complaints to air and discuss,  and observations about the state of the world to share. Such pleasure!

The saga continues…

July 5, 2008

The fifth operation on my left eye, which was a mere three weeks ago, is now merely another installment in the saga of attempts to restore some of my failing vision. The eye is starting to resemble a desiccated bloodshot raisin. Its surface is pocked with craters somewhat like the surface of the moon. I now sport a permanent squint, much like Popeye, not a good look for a woman, but heck, it gives me character of sorts.

The last operation, #4, was to remove the oil bubble that had been inserted in my eye to help seat the retina which was becoming detached by scar tissue removed during the previous one. It is quite something to be able to see the pipette inserted into the eye’s globe and watch the viscuous oil  stretch toward the pipette’s tip and gradually diminish in size. I am glad to report that my complaints to the surgeon about the background elevator-music of Soft Rock in the OR had resulted in blessed unmusical silence which helped me concentrate on ‘observing’ as best I could the procedure. This operation was a slam dunk, or so it seemed. A really quick and painless recovery, only made irritating by my having to lie on my left side all the time for ten days.

Last Thursday, Rumpole drove us for a follow-up appointment with the surgeon. Even the rigmarole in the overcrowded office seemed less onerous this time. Enter Dr. Seemore’s sidekick, an efficient Chinese gentleman with a cultured British Accent. Dr. Seemore, it seems, was on a scant week’s holiday, which given his insane working schedule he truly deserves. This nice surgeon peered this way and that into my eye, shone lights into it and announced that some of the oil had been left in from the last operation and had to come out, during yet another operation. I had an unbearable urge to ask him if, perhaps, removing my eye for good and replacing it with a lovely shiny and smooth glass one might not be a better option. With gracious restraint but gritted teeth, I asked him how many more of this cutting and hacking I still had to anticipate and endure.

“I can’t say,…. maybe a couple more,” he dead-panned, “it all depends what happens during the next operation.”

Ookayy!!! An human eye is not so big an organ that it can take numerous invasions of scalpels and resewings. By now, my eye looks like a badly designed smocking, by a deranged seamstress, one who practises free-form smocking. I am rapidly losing patience with the whole scenario.

On the drive home, Rumpole commiserated with me about the whole deal. I told him how cheesed off and impatient I was feeling, and also that I’d have to suck it up and just get over it.

I came home, poured myself a big glass of red wine, and sat with my journal, writing out my feelings and ideas about what next? and how to adjust to the situation. So I have decided to get back to drawing and painting and and not be daunted by having to learn new ways and means to do these things. So onward to an adventure of an old dog learning new tricks. To Life!

The Operation…

April 27, 2008

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.