Staggering into the bathroom this morning, I discovered my vision worsened through the night. A cloud of black now eclipsed 80% of my left eye. I clung to trust in God and the hope of surgery later today.
A wrench thrown in the works
Everything changed at 10 AM with a phone call. The original doctor’s office I expected to fix my vision declined the surgery. I had chosen an out of network doctor.
I initially met with a doctor from the Midwest Eye Institute, a large private center. Upon discovering the out of network issue, they immediately referred me to Eskenazi hospital.
The serious time crunch
As far as I know, Eskenazi does excellent work. But, facing only a couple days before permanently losing my vision, I needed the reassurance of a quick surgery date. Repeated calls to the hospital led to call centers and messages left. And lots of stress for Ashley and me.
At first, it looked like the hospital wanted me to come and see the doctor on Tuesday and hopefully schedule my surgery Wednesday. Ashley and I worked the phones endlessly.
11:27 am the phone rang
The woman, on the other end, said, “I am calling from your new Retinal surgeon. You have surgery at 2 pm.” Shocked with relief Ashley and I rushed to get on the road to north Indy.
I walked into the small IU surgery center, seeing no one and wondered if I had the wrong location. Panic set in. Seconds later, a receptionist stepped in and said, “Are you here for your surgery?” Relief washed over me as I affirmed and got my bracelet applied.
Shortly after arriving, I walked back with the nurse. She applied the first set of 3 drops into the operative eye and ordered me to change my clothes completely.
It startled me how vulnerable you feel when you take off almost all your clothes and put on a hospital gown and hair net. You go from controlling your life and self to putting yourself in someone else’s hands. You fight to worry as you anticipate what will happen shortly.
I spend a lot of time in hospitals as a pastor but have never laid down as a surgery patient. The experience humbled me and made me regret how lightly I’ve treated the surgeries of some. No amount of verses or prayers entirely stemmed the anxiety I felt.
The surgeon visits and briefly explains what he would do.
“I’m going to basically take the wallpaper of your eye and put it back in place. Then I’ll put a gas bubble in place to hold it there.”
Then he took a marker and confirmed which eye needed his work.
We ran into a problem. Most of the way through I planned to go completely under general anesthesia for the surgery. I also planned to have the surgery at 6 pm on Monday instead of 2 pm. Therefore I ate breakfast on Monday at 7:30 expecting to have 10 hours to clear my stomach. The anesthesiologist didn’t mind the toast I’d eaten, but the peanut butter I put on caused the issue. She would not put me under until the peanut butter was 8 hours in the past.
She gave me two options:
1. Wait 2 hours and hope the schedule worked out for my surgery. (General Anesthetic Option)
2. Do the surgery now mostly under.*
*”Mostly under” meant I would regain consciousness while a surgeon operated inside my eyeball! She would give super strong pain killers and ultra-powerful Valium so I would chill out. But I had to still respond to commands. She explained this served the benefit of me having the ability to hold my eye stable while the surgeon worked.
Reluctantly we chose the “Mostly Under” option
(Side Note: The whole time I’m thinking of the scene from The Princess Bride: ‘”He’s only “Mostly Dead”‘)
With documents signed, prayers made and hugs given they wheeled me away.
Looking down my bed, I saw a room packed with people waiting for me. Then they turned the bed and backed me in. Everyone asked me to confirm the operative eye again, and I pointed to the left. They ordered me to scoot 18 inches up and off the end of my bed, putting my head in a cradle. Complying I did, and everything started.
They tell me the surgery lasted a full hour, but I only remember a couple of moments. I remember my face feeling itchy and asking the surgeon to itch my nose. (Itching=side effect of meds). Then I felt a bunch of tugging at the end. Then they wheeled me out.
I pretty quickly found the clarity to move and get my clothes on. I had a patch taped over the operative eye. The doctor and nurses ordered me to remain face down through the evening and sleep on my left side.
Through the evening I felt pretty good. The only pain was keeping my face down. My face/eye didn’t hurt, but my back sure did.
The next day
Tuesday at 8:20 am the surgeon told me of my good fortune.
“Most of the retina wall had detached already. You had maybe one more day before the damage was irreparable.”
I hugged Ashley and thanked her profusely for making me get the eye checked out.
According to the doctor, I most likely will get all the vision back. It will just take about six weeks for the gas in my eye to dissipate.
I hope by writing this someone else will find encouragement facing their surgery. Waking up today (Wednesday) freaked me out when I looked in the mirror. I’ll explain that in a post with some pictures tomorrow.