May 11, 2021 — Tomorrow morning at 10:45 a.m. Central Daylight Time, while you are having your second or third cup of coffee, I’ll be under anesthesia. About a month ago I experienced a loss of vision in my left eye, and will be having my second vitrectomy. More on that later.
This past week I’ve spent much time on the phone with the surgery center in preparation for the festive events. Last Friday afternoon the surgery center called to remind me that “if your underpants are not 100 percent cotton, you will have to have the surgery without them.”
What? This pronouncement struck me as absolutely hilarious. I have no idea if my Granny panties are 100 percent cotton. I had a similar surgery in February 2019 and they had me take off my top and That Apparatus that Holds The Girls Up, but I swear I wore undies and jeans right into surgery. I can understand why That Apparatus that Holds The Girls up would be suspect, what with its series of iron and steel levers and pulleys to get the job done.
My husband was incredulous that I did not ask WHY undies had to be 100 percent cotton. I felt like I had spent enough time talking to the surgery center last week. It didn’t matter. I swear if I had asked them why, they would have made another ridiculous request. Maybe all my toenails need to be shaped into hearts, a new Joint Commission recommendation. (From Dr. Google, I learned that some patients have been burned by the metal in their Spandex underpants because eye surgeons use cautery. Okay, that makes sense, but wouldn’t the metal parts on blue jeans, the rivets and the zippers be way more worrisome than undies with a 5% Spandex content? What do I know? I studied the liberal arts.)
At their request, I had talked with the surgery center folks many times this week. However, they waited until Friday afternoon to have me check with the retinal surgeon about taking 81 mg of aspirin daily. Of course, I immediately called the office, which told me that I needed to check with my cardiologist. Anyone who has ever worked in healthcare knows that you NEVER call a doctor’s office on Friday afternoon or Monday morning. Fortunately I got through to both offices.
After finishing my calls, I checked the undies drawer. Of course, I can’t see well, and the labels were faded. I had to search through the entire drawer to find a label I could read. 95% cotton, FIVE PERCENT SPANDEX. I found one pair of really old Granny Panties that were 100 percent cotton and I could still see the label. That they had a label tells you how old they are. Haven’t they been printing labels directly on the undies for two decades? This pair was in sad shape and went directly into the trash as I feel the hot breath and wrath of my mother who always warned me about moments like this. Spandex it is. Au naturel.
Then there was the matter of COVID testing. I was told that regardless of getting my jabs on February 8 and March 1, I needed to have a COVID test. Wednesday of last week, they called to say if I could send my COVID test card, I was off the hook as long as I stayed in lockdown until surgery day in a week. I took a picture of the card and sent it to the surgery center with a request that they let me know if they received it.
The surgery center has a policy to use secure and encrypted email, so I got an email back on my phone with a two-screen procedure on how to set up their email system. I just wanted to know “YES or NO, Did you receive my #$%(*$ card?” The type was so small that I could barely read it (remember I am having EYE surgery.) So I called and of course, I didn’t get the same person because that’s now how they do things. Finally, the random surgery center person was able to look at my chart and see that the card was there.
After the surgery, they’ll send me a teeny tiny email to see how I’m doing. Maybe it’s a TEST. I can’t see the giant E in the doctor’s office but I’m supposed to read this teeny tiny email on my phone.
About 28 years ago, I started having eye problems and was diagnosed with Pars Planatis (often known as Uveitis.) My local ophthalmologist sent me to a world-renowned retinal clinic at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. I was 34, my husband did not have tenure, we had a mortgage at 8 percent, and a two-year-old who had just been diagnosed with autism. We sat in the waiting room surrounded by people in various stages of blindness. It scared the living hell out of me. I prayed that my vision remained until I raised my child to adulthood. I had no idea, but many people suffer from retinal diseases. My husband’s brother also has the same disease. I had no idea. The initial experience made me so aware of how precious all our senses are, and how lucky we are to enjoy them.
My prayers were answered, but my eyes did worsen over the years. I was diagnosed with various issues, had treatments and surgeries. My vision in my right eye remained fairly good, except for glaucoma which is kept in check by drops.
Fast forward to about a month ago. I woke up one morning, and out of my left eye, I could only see a fog of shapes and colors, light and dark. I also saw a crescent-shaped floater (floaters are not unusual for me), but this one was large. My opthalmologist worked me in and sent me to the retinal surgeon. The doctor figured out that my artificial lens–placed years ago when the cataract was removed–was coming loose. I saw the edge of it. He decided to see me in three months but told me to call if it got worse. Within days it got much worse, plus I could see the entire artificial lens, which has been incredibly distracting and irritating. I’ve been patching my eyes, purchased both a leopard skin patch and a hot pink one. (Catch me out on the town with my bifocals, oxygen cannula and cord, leopard eye patch, and Aetna Medicare purple face mask, and you will have seen the foxiest 63-year-old in the universe. I have to wear my tiara only at home now because I am Just. Too. Much.)
So the doctor is now replacing the lens. A note: if you’ve had normal cataract surgery, don’t worry. This hardly ever happens as Cap’n Carl said when he took us and two 11-year-olds on the Florida dolphin cruise and we saw wild dolphin sex.
Chances are the new lens will give me back some of the vision I’ve lost, which will be great. My balance and depth perception has been compromised. If the vision doesn’t return, my brain will adjust, and likely the balance and depth perception will also adjust and I can resume my career as a knife-thrower.
There are millions of people with monovision who do just fine. You may not be aware you know people with monovision. The doctor will also make a decision in surgery whether or not to place a bubble in a macular hole that has returned. I had surgery for that in 2019 and it did not work, but he may try again with nothing to lose.
I would appreciate your prayers and good thoughts. And if you could each deposit $3,000 in my bank account, that would also be helpful. I can certainly recover better if I have a driver and a black town car to take me, my husband, and my giant oxygen tank to a private beach where the pool boy is Pierre Brosnan. I will not be online until Thursday after the patch comes off. We will know Thursday if the new lens has made any difference.