11 Days In

Eleven days post-op, and the amazement of my new-found vision is giving way to a bit of disappointment and the impatience of wanting this interim period to be over.  While my sight is still leaps and bounds over what is was, it is also much different than what it was when the patch came off.  I cling to that perfect vision I had in those first 48 hours or so and wish that it would come back.  Right now, my distance vision is frustrating while my near vision is great.  I know I can’t have it both ways.

Not being able to get a prescription until my right cataract has been removed and the eye healed, I am stuck in this limbo where my eyes seem to be fighting each other.  Or maybe it is my brain confused over which eye is sending the proper information.  Whichever, it is sometimes difficult to keep my eyes open.  I just want to close them off to all the stimulus and take a break.

The blur in the distance sometimes makes me dizzy and disoriented.  Depth perception is off too.  All these things are normal, and will be corrected with glasses.  I know that.  But these are going to be a long, few weeks as I will not get my right eye done until the end of April or so.

I am considering telling my doctor to give me more distance in my right eye, but have been told this “monovision” is not a good choice for many people.  Perhaps this unsteadiness I am experiencing right now, is my brain’s way of telling me that it is not wise to go through with that.  Just be happy with glasses!

Yesterday, I felt pain in my operable eye; pain that made me take ibuprofen and lay down to close my eyes.  Perhaps it was strain.  I still feel it now, though not as bad.  No flashing lights, no excessive floaters, no deep pain, so nothing to call in about.  But still, it is uncomfortable and the worry-wort in me wonders.

Regardless, I am so glad I had the surgery and just look forward to having this all behind me.  I’m tired of this being the number one thing on my mind.

Still, I am so happy to SEE you!



Posted by on March 14, 2011 in Uncategorized


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The New & Improved and the Not So Pretty

My vision is leaps and bounds above what it used to be, and that is with only one eye being without a cataract. I can only imagine how much more improved it will be when my right eye is done.  At the moment, it seems that my eyes are fighting each other for control.  Perhaps I am right eye dominant and that is why.  My left seems to go through these focusing fits until it settles and finds that sweet spot.  I know that is completely normal as my new lens continues to fit itself comfortably into place as all the working parts of my eye heal and seal around it.

I had a follow up appointment yesterday and received all passing grades.  Everything is proceeding as expected.  This darn black arc is still visible, but I am starting to get used to it, even though it is quite annoying.  I just wish it didn’t sometimes feel like I was looking through a swollen face.  Putting two sets of eye drops in 10 times a day is hard to keep up with.  Thank god I have a phone with a calender alert; that thing is going off sometimes every hour!  I was told from the healing and the seemingly constant drops, that my tear film is unstable and that could very well be contributing to things.  As all these various layers fix themselves, my eyesight will get better.

I am no longer 20/15 in my left eye, as I was 1 day out of surgery.  I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up, but my excitement that day couldn’t be contained.  I can now say I am confident I will need those glasses for distance viewing, but I am also willing to put out there that I may not opt for the bifocals.  I am sitting here at the computer free from vision correction while typing this post.  I was able to read a restaurant menu for the first time in a long time yesterday.  Even with glasses, I was not able to see the print on those things before.  So I am generally happy with the continuing results.

My life is exponentially better already, and here are a few simple things I’ve really noticed over the last few days that to the normal person aren’t such a big deal, but to me, well, they make me happy.  And also, some things I might have preferred to actually not be capable of seeing.

  • I can actually tell the difference between the shampoo bottle and the conditioner.  I no longer have a trial and error process to get the right one.
  • I am able to squeeze the toothpaste precisely onto my toothbrush without having it fall miserably into the sink.
  • I can read the dosages on medicine bottles!  I no longer have to hope my kids have read it right.
  • I made a cake in half the time it normally takes me because I didn’t have to hunt for the magnifying glass to read the recipe and didn’t have to make guesses on whether that was a 1/2 or a 1/4 measurement.  Oh, that was so frustrating!
  • My eyes don’t ache from the bright lights first thing in the morning.  I no longer have a 5-10 minute adjustment period, even with my right eye still being sick with a cataract.
  • I can read the numbers and buttons on the remote control.
  • I can see the radio station channel and the clock in my car.  Oh, and also the speedometer.
  • My overgrown eyebrows!  But, whoa, where have my eyelashes gone?
  • Hello pores!  Ugh.
  • Just b/c I couldn’t see that my face had pimples, didn’t mean that in my 40s I was over them.  Oh my.
  • Wrinkles.  My face could use a good ironing.  And I do believe someone has sprinkled a whole jar of salt and pepper in my hair.
  • You really shouldn’t paint the walls when you can’t see so good.  Whoops.
  • The dog, she sheds.  A LOT.
  • The kids, they are filthy human beings.

But still, I am so happy to SEE you!

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Posted by on March 9, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Post Cataract-One down, one to go

Four short days ago, I was practically blind.  And now?  I am so happy to SEE you!

At 40 (or 38, when I was diagnosed), I never expected I would be incapable of taking care of my family properly, but that is what my life had come to.  I had given up nighttime driving a year and a half ago and was about to give up daytime driving as well.  When you can’t see a stop sign or the color of a traffic light, you’ve got problems.  My problem is posterior subcapsular cataracts, in both eyes.  They ruined me.  I was in a depression and every day feeling more and more sorry for myself and my children, who had to drop out of activities and events because mommy’s taxi service was going out of business.

I knew this had to be remedied, but I was honestly scared about someone cutting into my eye, removing a natural and critical element of my being and replacing it with something fake and seemingly less capable.  (By less capable, I mean not doing the same job as a properly working lens.) The alternative was going completely blind.  I pulled up my big girl pants, and surrendered to the ophthalmologist, knowing it was my only option.

A little over a year ago, I was scheduled to have the cataract in my right eye removed.  Paralyzed with fear just a few days before surgery, I canceled and took a friend’s suggestion of trying a homeopathic doctor.  I was desperate to save my god-given body parts and do what I could to naturally reverse this debilitating cloudiness.  Long story short-it didn’t work.  After 8 months of taking a little white pill that tasted an awful lot like sugar, I gave up, made an appointment with a new ophthalmologist (by that time, we had made a military move to another state and I had to start the process all over) and waited impatiently to be scheduled (specialties like this are slow in the military world of medicine).  Three months after my initial appointment last November, I found myself in the operating room.

By this time, my left eye was by far my worst, so it was determined that one would go first.  From the get-go, I told my doctor how nervous I was and how I thought it best to be completely knocked out for the surgery.  The morning of, both he and the anesthesiologist agreed as my nervous attempt at humor failed and I fell into uncontrollable sobs.  I gave birth to four children; I know pain.  I am not afraid of pain.  I am afraid of not seeing.  My children.  My husband.  My family and friends.  You can tell me all you want how easy and safe this surgery is, and rattle off statistics on success rates, but that would all fall on deaf ears, ears that could only hear my brain screaming the what-ifs.  And so, I was given a glorious shot of something and then some gas, and drifted off into a sleep where I felt nothing, saw nothing and remembered nothing about the surgery itself.

I had decided on a monofocal lens, more or less because that is all the military has to offer its patients, but was comfortable with the doctors opinion that it was my better option anyways.  He determined, from my insistence that my driving ability was the most important factor in all of this, that he would choose a lens that would give me great intermediate focus, as well as giving me good distance vision and reasonable near vision.  My lens is a Tecnis 1-piece (ZCB00) IOL.  Technicalities aside, 4 days out I think his choice was perfect.

I woke up from my sedation with a pretty obnoxious headache and a patch on my operable left eye.  I do remember hearing my doctor say everything went extremely well, but in my stupor, all I cared about was my aching forehead.  The hospital lights made it worse, so after receiving a Vicodin, I pulled the covers over my head and gave in to my drowsiness for a bit longer.  I’m not sure how much longer I slept, but when I awoke, I was perfectly pain-free and ready to leave.  My friend (my husband was unfortunately away on a military mission) helped me put myself together, gathered my belongings and drove me home, where I continued to sleep most of the day away.  My kids came home from school and tenderly checked in on me from time to time.  Another friend gratefully made us all dinner-a delicious potato soup and homemade bread.  I was thankful for that, as my throat was very sore from the device they inserted into my mouth to keep me sedated.  It wasn’t an intubation tube, thank heavens, but some other contraption that I was told sits just outside the area of your vocal chords.  (They couldn’t use a gas mask because it sits just too close to the eye area.)

I felt just a tiny bit of pain around my eye, but was really more annoyed by the gauze and patch they taped across it.  I think the gauze was rubbing against my eyelashes.  I was nervous for the next day and what I would expect to see when the patch was removed.  My expectation was that everything would still be blurry, but not cloudy.  I was told that bifocals would be needed after my eye healed completely, so I was under no illusions that I would see perfectly well.  Boy, was I surprised.

That patch came off and I fell into a blubbering mess!  I could see!  There were colors!  And there was sharpness!  And letters!  And the beautiful eyes of my good friend!  And the lights didn’t discount anything in the room!  Everything was vibrant and without cloudiness.  I couldn’t believe what a difference.  The nurse handed me the device to cover my right eye and asked me to read the chart.  Not only could I see the top line, I could read the 20/15 line!  I was no longer blind.  Only half-blind, of course.

Shortly after the patch removal, I noticed a strange thing happening in my vision on the left side.  A weird black shadow that I described to the doctor as being the side of my face that I was seeing.  He quickly informed me that it is called a black arc, known as “negative dysphotopsia”, a common side effect of the surgery.  It should go away over time as the eye heals and my brain adjusts to my new way of seeing.  I have since read that sometimes it takes a long time to go away, and sometimes it doesn’t go away at all.  No matter, this is much preferable to everything that was lacking in my vision and in my life.  For two days, I felt some pain in my eye as it moved and focused on things, especially when I was looking at something with light, like out the window or at the computer screen.  I have not felt this pain since.  I also saw a few flashing lights every now and then for the first 36 hours, but those have also gone away.  It was sort of like a strobe light coming on and going off rather quickly.  I imagine my eye was getting used to filtering light properly for the first time in years.

With my right eye still with a severe cataract, it is strange for me to be able to test just how blind I was.  I started looking around my house, and even though I had cleaned the day before my surgery, I noticed how filthy it actually was.  Dust and hair and scum in the sinks that I had NO IDEA was there.  Scuffs and spills on the floors that I COULD NOT SEE.  Windows that have smears from the dog’s nose when she is watching the squirrels tormenting her outside, not to mention the DOG HAIR THAT IS EVERYWHERE, not just when they collected enough in the corners so I could actually see them.  There were certain benefits to being as blind as I was!

I am noticing that my vision is definitely going through an adjustment phase.  Things that I can see clearly one minute are needing to focus again the next.  So far, I think there is a slight possibility that I will not need corrective glasses for distance.  I am pretty happy with what I have there.  Reading glasses I will clearly need, although if I sit back far enough, or hold my phone or reading material down enough, I can see very well.  That will get old, I imagine and I will just give into the cheaters.  But instead of wearing +2.75 readers on a full time basis (even for distance!) as I was before this surgery, I am now back down to a mere +1!  I am looking forward to checking out my nighttime driving abilities.  I’m not sure I’m going to be comfortable enough to attempt that until both my eyes are cataract free.  I did drive for the first time yesterday, during the day.  My kids really got a kick out my constant announcement of all the street signs I could clearly read.  “Hey guys, look!  It’s 2nd Street!  Oh, wow!  That says STOP!  Hey, that light is green!  Did you all see that Starbucks sign?  Let’s go have a treat!”

Have I told you how happy I am to SEE you?


Posted by on March 7, 2011 in Uncategorized


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