Really! No Pain – Really!

OK guys, I’m back.  Had to take a respite from all this fun to fix what they call a macular hole in my left eye – yeah, it’s a not-uncommon problem that develops in old folks – yeah, I’m old.  Actually, the surgery itself is a piece of cake, but the rehab is a bitch – not much pain – it’s over in less than an hour, and you get that fantastic ethereal experience one has with Versed – Sorry, but I’m love with the stuff!

Boy, does this feel strange.  Since I did my first blog post back some 2 years ago, I’ve never gone 2 weeks without posting – the feeling is much like returning to work after a three week vacation – how do you get going again?  There’s a mass of post ideas floating out there to choose from, but where’s the entry point?

Maybe another cup of coffee is the answer.

OK, let’s do this – I’m going to share a bit of the experience of this procedure – hopefully not so much to bore you, but because it’s not an uncommon surgery these days, and the recuperation is such a unique experience, there may be some interest in knowing what’s it’s like to go through.

Yes, They Stick That Needle in Your Eye! (photo courtesy of http://www.retinalphysician.com)

The surgery itself is known as vitrectomy – it involves removing the vitreous, a gel-like filling of your eye, which begins to shrink up as you age, and allows the macula -a tiny hole at the back of your eye- to gradually get larger which distorts your vision eventually.  The surgery removes the vitreous, which nature replaces with other fluids.  No, your vision is not fully restored, but I understand it’s a hell of a lot better than allowing the macular hole get huge.

Actually, They Stick Three Things Into Your Eye (photo courtest of www. vrmny.com)

Additionally, the surgery puts a bubble of gas into your eye, which provides a pressure on the macula while it is healing – this gas eventually evaporates and is replaced by the new eye fluids, but -and it’s a big BUT- until that time, you must hold your face level with the floor for 50 minutes of every -EVERY- hour, to facilitate good healing – this goes on for 7 days.  Until you experience this seemingly easy but constant positioning, you have no idea how wonderful it is to go through life in an upright position!

And I just wish that my mother was still around so I could finally tell her that there was at least one thing that poor posture was good for!  Alas, yet another of life’s lost opportunities.

As I listened to the surgeon telling me about all this prior to my surgery, I couldn’t help thinking, “… how bad can that be?  I’ll read, watch TV, and play on the laptop!”  Then comes reality – Ever try to watch TV while staring at the floor?  Ever try to read a book while sitting on the edge of a chair bending forward over your book? (that works for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, then your neck stiffens in severe pain!)  And what I thought would be an easy process with the laptop turned out to be near impossible – even with my assistive “cheats”, I never did find a good way to work on the laptop while in an acceptable position.

I had a benefit that not all victims of this surgery have – my eldest daughter, Melissa, the new doctor of all things geriatric!  She apparently knew what a bitch this rehab process would be without help, and so she arranged for the weekly rental of an assortment of the things which make the process more tolerable – and I thought I’d run through what for me were the best -and most helpful- of those assistive devices.  Hey, you don’t know if you yourself might need this knowledge real soon – and if you do, by god, you’ll thank me! – as I thank Melissa for her foresight.

photo courtesy of http://www.kellycomfort.com

The absolute best piece of the package was the chair – initially, this thing scared me, because all I could remember were those crazy “ergonomic” chairs of the 70s, in which I once almost broke my back.  But this is a well designed and engineered device that essentially holds your head level with the floor – it does this by providing a horseshoe shaped, padded “pillow” to hold your head in the proper position.  It also holds your body in what I assume is the most comfortable position for the long term.  Having said that, please let me add that there is NO position in which the human body can be placed for 50 minutes of each hour, and which will remain comfortable after, say, 6 or 8 hours!  Eventually, I settled into a pattern in which I’d spend 3 hours in the chair, and then go into the bedroom for either an hour’s sleep -luckily, I can sleep on my belly- or to assume a semi-practical reading position for an hour or so.  Interestingly, I never did find a good way to read while using any of the assistive devices (because they won’t work with glasses), but did OK for an hour or so of reading by simply laying on the bed with my head over the edge and the book at a good height supported by a stool.

photo courtesy of http://www.kellycomfort.com

There was also a “head rest” sort of thing that tucked in under your bed mattress – this would have been super-good if one didn’t wear eyeglasses, but otherwise, after a few minutes, your glasses begin to press against your face and cause pain.  However, I did find that this device worked quite well to allow one to sleep while flat on the belly, and still breathe easily, which is often difficult with a pillow alone.

But without a doubt, the single-most handy device -after the chair itself- was the magic mirror (Majikview Mirror)!  Yes folks, without the magic mirror, my major hours in the chair would have been spent staring at the floor.  But this little gem -positioned properly- allowed me to watch untold hours of stored up TV documentaries, to which I’m addicted.  Were it not for this fact, I have no idea what would have filled my time – I suspect I’d have spent most of my time in the bed, flat on my stomach!

This little device, which measures less than 12″ x 8″ actually gives you a nice, clear picture of whatever is straight ahead of you – all while you are staring straight down at the floor.  Initially, I thought the picture would be so tiny that it’d be difficult to watch anything, but surprisingly, that’s not true.  I’m sure that part of what makes that fact true is the mirror effect – you know how when you look into a mirror, you immediately see things on your shirt front that you couldn’t see when simply looking down at your shirt.  I don’t really know why that’s true, but it is true.  And this same mirror effect is at work when you viewing a huge 40+ inch flat screen TV through this small mirror.  I find it difficult to believe, but you are actually looking at a mirror image of the screen about 5″ x 3″, and every tiny detail is as sharp -if not sharper- than when viewing the 40″ screen!  Blew me away!

But I lived through the ordeal, which is only part of the battle – I have yet to learn if this eye is healing properly.  For that I must wait until this next Friday, when they will inspect the eye and pass judgment.  I hear that it is not unusual for this process to fail, resulting in a further deterioration of vision.  My private nurse and helpmate, Sandee has the opinion that I cheated too much on my time in a good, therapeutic position – I, of course, disagree.  We’ll find out which of us is more correct on Friday.

Thank you again, Melissa

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About drfugawe

I'm a guy with enough time to do as I please, and that my resources allow. The problem(s) are: I have 100s of interests; I have a short attention span; I have instant expectations; I'm lazy; and I'm broke. But I'm OK with all that, 'cause otherwise I'd be so busy, I'd be dead in a year.
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12 Responses to Really! No Pain – Really!

  1. Mary Smiley says:

    I surely hope you are healing well there doc! I know all too much about eye surgery and loss of sight due to my injury last summer from the bungee incident. Follow doctor’s orders and don’t cheat! My eye is finally to the point where it isn’t a bother or burden to me anymore. My vision is pretty good now and even though I’m still using drops, I’m in a much better place than I was a year ago! Good luck! PS….am closing on the house in FL next week so you’ll have to come visit next winter! cheers

  2. drfugawe says:

    You know of course, mary, that when I learned they wanted to mess with my eye, I immediately thought of you! I’m very happy to hear that your eye is healing well – super!

    What part of FL are you moving to? You should be more careful about inviting folks to visit – dangerous! Of course, if they continue to have winters like the last, who’d want to go down?

    Have you been out ‘shrooming lately? With the super wet spring, my picker friends tell me they’re looking for an early chanterelle season. Just need a little heat now.

    Doing any breads?

  3. Anet says:

    Well, I wish for you a speedy recovery! I can not imagine all that time in so many different positions than one is accustomed to. (Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, yes?)
    Your assistive devices were the best to read about. One can never know when all that information is needed. Being a retired nurse, it still amazes me on what is ‘out there’ and knowing the way to get it.

  4. Melissa says:

    I’m so glad the assistive stuff helped! When I started reading about this procedure, I couldn’t believe it was possible to “assume the position” for a full week (or longer – now that you’re recovered, check out the plethora of horror story blogs out there detailing the experiences people have had, sometimes for several weeks, trying to recover). Hope it all worked, and as I told mom the other day, I bet they count on you cheating a bit – I’m sure you did as well as anyone could with this!!

    By the way, if you’re interested in wider distribution, I bet Kelley Comfort would be interested in hearing about your experiences. They might even want to link to your blog to help prepare and educate their potential new customers. They were really helpful and nice, and I think it’s a small family owned company, so I feel good supporting them.

    Good luck, I can’t wait to hear it’s all over and worked perfectly!

    – M.

  5. Mimi says:

    Wow. I can see why you were pretty anxious to be done with rehab. You must have been climbing the walls by day 7, lol!!

    I hope your vision continues to improve and that all is well with you!!

  6. drfugawe says:

    Hey Kids – thanks for visiting/commenting.

    Anet, thanks for your good thoughts and wishes.

    Melissa, everything is going along fine – little black gas bubble is almost gone now! I see Doc on Friday; I’ll let you know his opinion.

    Mimi, no wall climbing allowed! Yeah, by day 7, cheating was rampant, but my nurse kept me honest.

  7. audrey pike says:

    I’m having this surgery next Monday. Some of the info I have read about. I cannot afford to rent these apparatuses and am experimenting with things I already have. My son built me a padded headrest on an adjustable stand. He still needs to do some work on it to make it more comfortable. I have read that I need to use rub on products for neck and shoulder pain.
    I am absolutely not looking forward to this ordeal; BUT, I don’t want to go blind either. My retina specialist has been in the retina ‘business’ over 20 years, so I have faith in his ability. The rehab is the scary part. My prayers for your complete recovery. God is good.

  8. drfugawe says:

    Audrey,
    You are very correct about the rehab being the bad part – the surgery was enjoyable in contrast. But if I were to do this again, I’d forgo the expense of the “assistive devices” and spend most of my time in bed -on my belly- with a book propped up on a short table – then I’d break the boredom with naps, and short walks with my head down. And the padded headrest your son is creating sounds great – I’ll bet you do better on your rehab than I did with mine – (I have a back injury that was aggravated badly by that silly chair, after the week was over). You’ll do better w/o it.

    Pick out some good books and make it a fun time – I’m sending my best wishes along too. It’ll be great.

  9. Pat says:

    Great blog. My husband is having macular surgery next month. I too could not afford the chair, head rest, bed item and mirror. So, I went to a local therapist office to ask what he had I might rent (cheaper) and he has offered to loan me the item to use in bed, it is a wedge – new these cost $350.00.
    I bought two mirrors at Walmart and we are trying to think of a way to work together like the mirror they rent. They will not rent the mirror unless you rent the chair, which I find not very nice. I will let your readers know if we ever figure that out. Good luck today at the doctors. If anyone out there has a way to rent the mirror – please blog it. Thanks

  10. drfugawe says:

    Pat, Good luck with the mirrors – let me know if you get them to work – I think I’m going to have to have a re-do of my eye – the hole is still there. They tell me my response is unusual, but I wonder. I won’t be doing the chair thing again, as it triggered major back problems – but I have crushed vertebrae, so it wasn’t unexpected. If I do it again, I’ll be spending most of my rehab time on the bed, ’cause that’s where I had my least problems, and my best reading position.

    Good luck to your husband.

  11. gerri says:

    So sorry to hear you may have to have the surgery again. I had it on 7-21-10 and did a 12 day face down recovery with equipment from Owl. I still have a sizable bubble in my eye and I still have a gray spot in my vision though the doctor says the hole is closed (it appears much smaller than it was). He was upfront with me at my consultation appointment, he said the sucess rate was about 75% but I’m not sure I could do this again. Good luck to you if you do.

  12. drfugawe says:

    Hi Gerri,
    Thanks for visiting and commenting – sending best wishes that you get a complete clearing of the gray spot.

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