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.
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.
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.
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.
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