The story continues!
This was the plan: During the surgery, the retinologist would scrape off the remaining vitreous fluid from my retina and inject a gas bubble into my eye. For one week, I would keep my head in a face down position that would force the bubble to press against my retina. This process would close and heal the macular hole. (You can see mine in the photo below.) The gas bubble would gradually dissolve over a few weeks, and over several months, my vision would improve. The surgery has a 95% success rate.
On July 8, two days before the surgery, the positioning equipment arrived: a chair, a device for your head that fits on the end of the bed, and a device that fits into the bed.
Cliff set everything up for me. He found that the written directions weren’t great, and he ended up watching the DVD included in the package, which was easier to follow. Cliff’s an engineer and highly mechanical. Just a heads up that the positioning equipment takes a bit of time to set up. The company, Comfort Solutions, is wonderful to work with though. Many thumbs up to them.
The night before surgery, Cliff took me out for an Italian dinner followed by frozen yogurt. I’d have my head down for the next week, so he wanted my last night to be festive, and it was!
We awoke at five the next morning. I needed to be at the surgery center by six-thirty. I’ve gotten braver since my surgery for endometrial cancer, and so I was fairly calm. Many people I told about the surgery cringed (politely). Some said, “There’s just something about an operation on your eye.” But I knew my poor eye needed expert help.
North Carolina Surgery at Wakefield is a great place. It’s new and stylish. Best yet, you park right out front, and you’re in the door in two minutes. Amazing!
We registered at the front desk. About fifteen minutes later, I was escorted to the pre-op area. I put on a robe and took off, per instructions, my wedding rings.
One advantage to being the patient is that you get to rest comfortably while you await the surgery. I like to answer questions (easy ones), and so the long list of pre-op questions never bothers me.
The IV insertion went smoothly (or at least I thought it did). My nurse was wonderful, but she wouldn’t let me take her picture for the blog. I always like to ask the nurse a few questions. This time I asked,”Does anyone ever get up and walk out before their operation?”
She replied, “I’ve had people come close, but so far, no one has actually left.”
I didn’t meet my surgeon, Dr. Rebecca Manning, until a half hour before the operation. Imagine looking this pretty at eight in the morning and a few minutes later, tying minuscule stitches inside someone’s eye?
Just before they wheeled me into the operation room, I met my surgery nurses, who were also friendly and upbeat in their scrubs. One said, “You should start to feel a little woozy now, Barbara. We’ve added a relaxing medication to your IV.”
I didn’t. Not a bit. Hmmm.
“Are you almost asleep, Barbara?” a nurse asked once we were in the operating room.
“No,” I answered, firmly.
Like many of us, I’m terrified that surgery might begin while I’m still awake. This actually happened to my daughter Kath during wisdom teeth surgery.
“Let’s try the other arm,” I heard someone say.
I recall them moving very quickly. I hardly had time to anticipate the prick of that needle.
The next thing I knew, I was back in the prep room, propped up so the gas bubble could start to work its magic. A can of coke and a row of crackers sat in front of me. I suspect I requested them when given some snack options. I love Coke and crackers!
Phew. The surgery was over. I felt no pain or nausea, and soon Cliff came to see me.
The bubble had successfully been placed in my eye. I left with a huge plastic guard and gauze patch over my eye and instructions to keep my head face down for fifty minutes out of every hour for the next week, beginning with the car ride home.
Let the healing begin!
(The story will continue in a few days.)