Tuesday 15 July 2008

what are your overheads?

The most uncomfortable bed in the world

The weekend started pretty well when I got home from work on Friday to find a letter from my medical insurers (who charge me vast amounts of money to cover the WTs) telling me that the expensive procedure on my eyes that I was expecting to pay for and in fact hadn't even told them about was fully covered as the hospital had written to them about it for some reason. Bonus. Things got better still when I went out for a lovely meal, a glass or two of wine and a little dance with some friends on Saturday night, and it happily turns out that a nagging background hangover is actually a really good distractionary tactic from worrying about someone cutting open your eye the following day. It wasn't a killer, but I was so concerned with simply getting myself back on an even keel, that it wasn't really until dinner time that it actually dawned on me that a lot of what I was feeling was probably nerves about the forthcoming operation. Not surprisingly, I only slept fitfully and was up and having the specified light meal before heading into the hospital for admission at 7am. That light meal - a cold sausage and an innocent smoothie that were both kicking around in the fridge - turned out to be crucial to the rest of my day.

I was supposed to be "nil by mouth", you see, and they'd sent me the wrong letter. I couldn't possibly have a general anaesthetic with food in my stomach, so they were unfortunately going to have to do the procedure under local. I tried not to dwell either on the fact that this meant I was going to be fully conscious whilst they monkeyed about with my eye or that they clearly would have preferred me to be knocked out whilst they did so. It wasn't a complicated procedure, apparently, and I was reassured that it shouldn't be any problem at all under local. Could I please get changed into my gown as they wanted to take me down soon.

Now I was really nervous.

Some eye drops were put into my left eye, and I was asked to climb into a wheelchair (hospital policy apparently) and be wheeled down to the operating theatre. The surgeon, the anaesthetist (husband and wife, as it happens) and the rest of the theatre team were friendly, chatty and relaxed, but although I was happy of the chance to engage in a bit of small talk, at the end of the day I was very apprehensive about the procedure, and could think of little else. My pulse was taken, and the lovely anaesthetist talked me through step by step as she applied the local. This was actually the most uncomfortable part of the whole procedure, and involved my eye being clamped open as something that stung was inserted over about a thirty second period. Pretty soon after that, I lost the sight in my left eye, and was for some reason surprised to learn that this was because my eyelid had drooped down under the local, and not because of the local itself. My bed was wheeled into the theatre proper and I was transferred onto the slab. The professor gave me a warm hello and then proceeded to cover me up entirely. I had a bar placed just above my chin, I was given a little pipe thing that was apparently going to pump air in and then a green veil was drawn over my whole head, leaving only my left eye exposed, although with the eyelid drooped, I could see nothing anyway. Someone held my hand, popped a pillow under my uncontrollably trembling knees, and we were off.

The whole procedure took about an hour, and it was actually quite soothing to hear how calm and measured the professor and his surgical team were about the whole procedure. I could actually see little more than shapes and was only vaguely aware of drops being regularly applied to my clamped eye and could see vague shadows and outlines of whatever instruments he was using to open up my cornea and to insert and attach the lens. In fact, throughout the whole procedure, I was incongruously earworming the Flight of the Conchords song, "Think About It":

"There's people on the street getting diseases from monkeys
Yeah that's what I said, they are getting diseases from monkeys
Why's this happening, please, who's been touching these monkeys?
Leave these poor sick monkeys alone
They're sick, they've got problems enough as it is"

A good look, no?

After a bit, we were pretty much done. I felt the stitches going in to close up the cornea, and I certainly felt the injection that went in after that, but then my eye was patched with a sterile dressing and a plastic shield put over the top and that was it. I'm not sure I would exactly say that having the procedure done under local was a breeze, but it was certainly a lot less hardcore than I imagine it sounds. It was really okay. Maybe not something I'd want to have done every day, but really not that bad. I was transferred back onto the gurney and wheeled back out into the anteroom and then back up to my room, with my glasses balanced on my nose in front of the plastic shield.

The next seven hours essentially consisted of C and I sitting up in the room waiting for a follow-up session with the surgeon. I killed the time by trying to watch the cricket on the telly and by reading newspapers and magazines, trying to ignore the spiky feelings in my eye as the local began to wear off, and trying not to wonder too much about what quality of vision I could expect when the dressing was removed. We were finally called down at about 5pm, and as the professor removed the patch, I got my first glimpse at what had happened. My vision was a bit blurry, but essentially it was fine. The professor carried out a few checks and seemed content with the mooring of the lens in my eye and with the pressure in there, and after handing me a bag of eye drops and things, packed me off home with the advice that I should not eat before I came in next Monday, as the next lens is a bit harder to do and he would really prefer to do it under general. I had no complaints about that....

it turns out that the operation had, in fact, enlarged my nose...

And that's it really. The dressing was removed, but I had to keep the plastic shield over my eye for the rest of the day (and will have to wear it for the next three nights to protect my eye), but apart from the warping of the shield, I could see. It stung a little, I guess, but it was easily manageable. When I woke up this morning, I took the shield off and was able to have a good look at my eye for the first time. It's a bit bloodshot, but I can't even see the lens in my eye.

So far so good.

Next eye on Monday.


  1. Arghhh!
    Great news that be
    That look be suit'n ye fine

  2. Respect, ST. I had to skim-read parts of this post, can't imagine me ever being able to actually do it myself. Good luck for the next one.

  3. I'm glad it went well, and I hope the next on goes as smooth. Good luck

  4. This sounds like a much more complicated procedure than the one I bottled out of. It takes 20 minutes for both eyes and you can leave after an hour!

    Like HG, I had to skim read parts (actually most) of this post. You're a brave man. Will look forward to reading about the positive results, if not the gory details.

  5. So pleased to hear the op went well, although I have to admit that I was wincing whilst reading your post.
    You're a brave, brave man.

    Any chance they could do something with your ears while you're there next time, so we can be spared anymore Flight Of The Conchords.

  6. I love your photo captions. Glad to hear the procedure went well!

  7. Hello Horatio.

    Glad it went OK.

    the eye in the sky

  8. The moment i read "What are you overheads?" I was away in Conchordland. Wonderful stuff.

    Glad the operation went ok. Hope the next eye is just as simple.

  9. Yowza!
    There's no way I'd make it through this with just a local.