The Cataract Chronicles—Part Two; The Bad Eye Has Surgery!

Last month I wrote a blog post introducing my little friends, the Cataracts!  If you need a bit of refreshing, here’s the post: Of Cataracts and Proaging Eye Care

Dopey me. I thought your eyes had to look like THIS in order to have cataracts!

It’s Friday as I write this. The weather is warm. It is sunny out. The sky is crystalline. And I’m healing from the cataract surgery I had two days ago. On Wednesday.

And this is how it rolled….

5:00 AM. The alarm went off and I jumped out of bed eager to get this procedure over with.  It’s weird because I wasn’t nervous. And knowing my anxiety levels, I was a bit surprised at my lack of angst.  Thinking back, it was simply because the cataracts (each eye had two, one in front and one in back) were being removed from my lazy eye. This is the eye that I don’t use. It crosses inward and apparently it was a lot worse before I had corrective surgery in 1960 to correct it.  All I remember from that long ago was being put to sleep with ether. To this day I can still remember the horrific stench.

Safe for kids?  How come 60 years later, I’m still traumatized by the disgusting stench!

Anyway (because we all know that “anywayS” is not a word), as lazy as the eye is, it still affects my good eye.  It’s difficult to imagine if you have two eyes that work properly but I’ll try to explain.  Vision in the bad eye (my right eye) is limited.  But the cataracts have given an overall cloudy and blurry field of vision. Because the eye turns in, I can still see the cloudiness with my good eye.  It’s akin to an annoying person who just won’t leave you alone. I can’t get rid of it.  And so, it would be welcoming to have the cloudiness from the lazy eye leave so it wouldn’t annoy my good eye.

Hope you can follow this illustration because it pretty-much sums up how my eyes see!

 In addition, the cataracts in my good eye were causing spotty blindness inasmuch that I couldn’t see facial features, couldn’t see road signs and couldn’t see traffic lights until it was too late.  The husband has been driving me around since the beginning of the summer when my sight just got too bad.  Honestly, the worst part is not being able to drive because I feel as though my freedom is taken away from me.  Besides, I can’t sneak out to go shopping by myself.

This is how I saw my son Roman during his summer visits!

Back to the procedure….

It didn’t take long to get ready because I couldn’t wear makeup.  I plopped a wig upon my noggin and slipped into a casual little black dress and Repetto ballet flats.  I figured this would be the perfect outfit. It was the same one I wore to last year’s colonoscopy because the ease of slipping out of the shoes and dress were important.  After all, the dress, shoes, and purse I carried would be securely placed into a locker as I changed into one of those extremely fashionable hospital gowns.

No makeup. LBD. Ballet Flats. A nice wig.  How NOT to dress for cataract surgery during a pandemic!  Wear super-comfy clothing. My dress kept riding up I was dressed more appropriately to give birth than for cataract surgery!

I forgot about the pandemic.

We arrived at the Mainline Surgical Center in plenty of time before the scheduled 7:15 surgery.  Due to Covid’s new normal, Bonaparte was unable to accompany me inside. Reminding him a million times to leave his cell phone on, I entered the building.

Thank God my husband had the intelligence to wait a few minutes.  I wasn’t allowed to bring my purse with me.  Instead I had to take my driver’s license, my insurance cards and my debit card out of my purse, along with my phone, and place everything into a clear plastic bag.

Similar but not the same, the bag I was given had a drawstring at the top. Next time I know to leave the purse home.  Next time I don’t even have to bring the insurance cards because they are on file–only my cell phone and debit card are needed!

I ran outside, handed my purse to my husband and told him to go home, drop the purse off and by the time he returned, the surgery would be finished.  Fact is, at this point, I was more concerned about the vintage Louis Vuitton Speedy bag I placed in his care.  That bag was restored by me.  I purchased it for next to nothing at the beginning of the lock-down so I would have something to do and I freaking love that bag—even though Chippy snacked off the zipper pull and tag.

Back into the building and to the suite where the surgery was to take place. I was a bit surprised to see the waiting room so empty although there were a few patients scattered about.  Chairs were taped to remind patients to keep a social distance. And although it was early in the morning, it was further validation that this virus isn’t going away any time soon.

I didn’t realize that was the pediatric waiting area. I couldn’t read the sign!

Chairs were taped for social distancing. And, I was also given a clean face mask. I liked that!

After signing in, I was called over to the front desk to run through paperwork.  And to hand over my debit card for the co-pay of $200. Another short wait back at my socially-distanced chair and a nurse called for me to follow her.

Bitmoji Image

Ugh. Copays. I would have rather bought shoes or a new wig than spend the money on a $200 copay!

Eager to change my clothing, I was told that due to the pandemic, lockers are not being used.  Instead, there would be no gown; the procedure would take place with me wearing my LBD and ballet flats.  A very “duh” moment for me.  I should have worn yoga pants and a tee shirt.  Who knew?  But I will admit that I felt great when the nurse told me she loved my hair (I didn’t let on it was a wig).

Hospital GIF by memecandy

And I was so looking forward to twirling around in that backless, fashion statement!

Can I just talk about how great the nurse was?  Her name was Beth and she put me at complete ease. She recently became a grandmother and my grandmotherness-to-be was the topic of conversation.    She led me to what looked like a cross between a wheel chair and a Hoveround!

UFSK - eye surgery tables & surgeon stools for professionals

A cross between a wheelchair and a Hoveround, this was weird looking but reclined so beautifully. Come to think of it, this would make a welcome addition to any family room!

Beth took my blood pressure and put a thing on my finger, I guess to monitor something—who knows.  Then she put a needle into a vein in my hand…

The bruised area on my hand is where the IV  needle was inserted.  I could have left it in all day!

Meeting the Anesthesiologist was next.  He was soooo nice!  He asked the usual obligatory questions about general health and if I was taking any medication—including OTC meds such as aspirin and Tylenol.

Why did I feel so bad telling him I couldn’t even remember the last time I swallowed a pill? Oh wait!  I know!  It’s because if it isn’t a happy pill, it’s not worth taking!

Depressed The Simpsons GIF

I rest my case!

But I must say, the needle that was placed in my vein allowed for some good stuff to run through my body because I was feeling extremely relaxed and very good.

Next came the eye drops that were used to numb my eyes. Novocain for eyes without the needle!  I was really feeling good!

After a few minutes, it was time to wheel me into the operating area—or maybe room—who knows what it was because I was ready for fun!  Dr. Sando made me feel extremely comfortable as we spoke about my kids playing golf and the nickname for my oldest son, Jesus Jake. (Note to self—be quiet during the next eye surgery! Actually, I take that back. What the heck—let’s have fun).  I also promised a batch of Momofuku Corn Cookies upon returning for my next cataract surgery. Hopefully, I’ll be allowed to bring them into the building despite the pandemic because Dr. Sando and the staff deserve a bit of sweet treats for having to deal with me.

Corn cookies. A perfect batch | Atypical 60

I hope I’ll be allowed to bring my freshly-baked Corn cookies to the next surgery!

So now I’m going to have surgery.  And I was awake the entire time.  It was not laser surgery either.  Cataracts were to be removed and replaced with a new lens.

I was instructed to keep looking at the light which was overhead; and when my eye drifted, I just went back to focusing on the light.  It was the weirdest thing because it wasn’t like looking at a light in your home.  It was more of a psychedelic light.  You know, I never did LSD when I was younger because I was too afraid of flashbacks and my dad was a New York City cop.  But I can imagine from friends’ description of dropping acid that this must’ve been mighty close—and a lot less harmful!

My high-school buddy Lisa said this was a lot like the visuals she experienced with LSD.  For me it was a lot like the light during my cataract surgery. 

Seriously though, I felt nothing except remarkable relaxation.  And in the timespan of about twenty minutes, it was done.   I was wheeled back to the recovery area and a bit dismayed as the IV was taken out of my hand.

A few minutes later, with a clear eye shield in place, I was off to return home.

A light show.  A clear eye shield for protection.  A happy patient!  What’s not to love?

And that was it!

Oh. The eye shield.  It’s to protect the eye against me. You know, from rubbing or touching the eye area.

Two days later, still smiling and wearing my shield.  Caveat-I only wore makeup on my good eye for this photo. And a couple of others. It’ll be washed off later!

The after-surgery care is important.  Your eye can itch and feel irritated as though an eyelash fell into your eye.  That is why the shield is kept on.  In all honesty, I didn’t have much irritation. No itchiness all. For a moment it felt like a lash fell into my eye but it passed quickly.

Because I’m so nosey and impatient, I lifted the eye shield as we drove home and I was astounded!  I’m not kidding either. My reaction was “Holy shit—why didn’t I have this done sooner”

So clear... | Sky, clouds, Clear blue sky, Clouds

Even though the sight in my bad eye is limited, I can see colors so vividly. I cannot wait to get my good eye done!

Again, it’s difficult to describe due to the nature of my eye issues, but from the limited range of sight, everything was so vivid!  There was absolutely no cloudiness or blurriness from my right eye. It was an incredible moment for me.  Everything was so bright and clear—in the best way possible.

I closed the bad eye which was now sort of the good eye (I know, I know, it’s difficult to imagine), to look through the good eye which was now offering cloudy, blurry and dull sight.  And now, with both eyes opened, the clarity from my bad eye, which crossed over to the sight of my good eye was annoying.  It’s so weird but so wonderful at the same time.

Eye shield back in place I was car dancing in my seat with happiness!

drunk road trip GIF by MK

Yeah. I was dancing wilder than this guy!

Because of instructions not to bend over, or lift anything heavy or cook, the remainder of the day was spent following my schedule of various eye drops and bingeing on Great British Bake-Off Holiday episodes.  Christmas is only three months away and I need to start thinking about Holiday baking!

Paul, Noel and crew whetted my appetite for Christmas goodies!

Yesterday I returned to Dr. Sando’s office for a follow-up visit.  It was a quick, easy visit as my eye was examined and all was well! And his advice was to use the eye drops religiously!

I’ve been a runnin’ to the shelter constantly for these mother’s little helpers!

And I’m keeping track. Although I had to change the Gray-capped drops from before bed to around 6:30 in the evening.

iThere will be a couple more visits until my next surgery on the 23rd and I am looking so forward to that next surgery!  It’s gonna be so much fun!

How can you not appreciate the personality of a doctor with this eye chart in the examination room?  (Although for some of us it could have been about wine!)

An important part of this process is finding the right doctor.  I’m telling you, if you think you may have cataracts in live in the Philly area, look Dr. Sando up and make an appointment.

This guy!  I’ve finally found a replacement for my childhood-into-adulthood ophthalmologist in Dr. Sando!

Don’t wait.  Don’t do what I did. I blamed everything but my eyes.  I blamed the lighting at work and relocated to a different cubicle.  I blamed my husband for cleaning the no-glare finish off my eyeglasses (of which I am deeply ashamed of). I blamed light sensitivity. I thought eye makeup, and cream got into my eyes.  I blamed drivers for having their brights on (and used rather saucy language) when, in fact, they didn’t.  Those halos surrounding headlights in oncoming traffic, traffic lights and street lights were not a sign that I was seeing heavenly visions. They were an omen that my eyes were in dire straights and I needed to get help!

Add to that, I was in denial that my more mature age was another reason for cataracts.  Being a pro-ager means more than dressing youthful. It means coming to terms with issues that can be brought on with the aging process!

It’s exciting to look forward to realizing that by month’s end, my eyesight will be so much better!  I can’t wait to see with clarity out of my good eye.  It’ll be a pleasure to drive at twilight again.  It’ll be even better to see traffic lights and the facial features of my loved ones—especially when my first grandchild arrives!  And, it’s going to be a most deeply-shallow moment when I can wear mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow and concealer on both eyes again!

I can’t wait to use the Jeffree Star Orgy palette. Look at all those neutrals!  I can’t contain myself!

That’s it folks!  I’ll be writing about my final cataract surgery in a few weeks. And if you have any eye issues at all, please, take care.  Our sight is so very important!

It’s all good!  Now go and take care of your eyes!!!

I got the OK to cook and Bonaparte couldn’t be happier—the Frenchman needs another batch of gougères! Therefore, my Labor Day Weekend will be spent in the kitchen!

Time to make more of these cheesy gougeres. And a tagine.  And tonight’s enchiladas. And hummus……


About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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40 Responses to The Cataract Chronicles—Part Two; The Bad Eye Has Surgery!

  1. Shay says:

    I have to get cataract surgery soon and I’m terrified. I don’t like anything getting near my eyes. I flinch every time I get a glaucoma test and they have to do it several times. I am not able to use drops or put in contacts. I can’t imagine being aware during cataract surgery! I wonder if I can be put out first.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Shay. I’m pretty sure you can get put to sleep. I believe my best friend’s sister was because she cant have anything near her eyes. I’m sure your doctor would absolutely understand. It’s such an easy surgery–I think it’s less time consuming than a colonoscopy! XOXOXOX

  2. Suzi says:

    So glad you finally did the surgery. The profound difference in color is amazing.

  3. Neveen Wood says:

    Glad to hear it went well! Thank you for sharing! ❤️ Sounds like it made a big difference too!

  4. Jean says:

    It’s amazing, isn’t it? When I went in for the second eye, the Anesthesiologist asked me how I felt during the first one (because I had been terrified that I’d move around and ruin everything). I said “it was great. I saw lights and heard voices, like being on drugs.” He laughed and said “Obviously, you never did drugs.”

  5. Juliet says:

    So glad you are safe and sound and come through the surgery so well. So when you have the next surgery will you still wear glasses? I’m curious as a cousin had laser eye surgery (different I know) and another cousin had laser and cataracts or something – neither of them now wear glasses despite being milk bottle wearers since childhood – which has bemused me as I used to hate wearing glasses but now I feel they are very much part of me and how I look. Anyway – best of luck for the next surgery and great big hugs to you

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks Juliet. There’s two things on this. A. I LOVE my eyeglasses and have been wearing glasses for 62 of my 65 years. They are part of me and I will still be wearing the glasses because………….B. Here in the USA, our medical insurance is all privatized. And it sucks. A good chunk of our salaries go toward medical insurance and our copays are expensive and medical insurance only pays for so much. As such, my medical insurance will pay only for the basic lenses. Which will allow me to see more vividly and clearer–as proved in my “bad” eye. However, I’ll still need glasses and I’m fine with that. They will be needed for reading, watching TV or movies and on my computer. I’m unsure of whether or not I will need them for driving, but considering how I drive, I shall opt to wear them! LOL! XOXOXO

  6. Mary says:

    What a lovely positive post, Catherine! It will reassure anyone who needs to have cataract surgery. (I absolutely love your rings, they’re exquisite 😀)

    • Catherine says:

      Thank you so much Mary! It’s my mission to make everyone who may need it to not be afraid!! LOL. thank you–my husband has great taste in jewelry! XOXOXOXO

  7. Maryellen Reardon says:

    Very happy to hear it all went well. I have the very beginnings of cataracts. Doc says it is not time yet for surgery. Thank you for sharing how easy and beneficial it is!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Maryellen. Hey. When it gets to the point of the cloudy and blurry vision getting in the way of activities of daily life, please get in there and get that surgery!! XOXOXOXOXOXO

  8. Glad to hear your procedure was a success! It was so interesting to me to hear about your childhood experience with ether because I too had several procedures as a child where ether was used. It was horrible! I’ve never heard anyone confirm my experience! After that, I couldn’t set foot in the dry cleaners because those fumes reminded me of the ether and make me so nauseous.

    • Catherine says:

      OMG! RACHAEL! YES! The dry cleaners! You have given me an aha moment. My entire life, the stench of the dry cleaners has made me sick to my stomach–to the point I don’t go. My husband brings the clothing for me. It smells just like ether!!! Up until your comment, I’ve never had anyone confirm either–THANK YOU! Ugh. I can still visualize that net coming for my face. I hope they never bring that shit back!! XOXOXOXO

  9. lovsjaz says:

    Glad it all went well! I had my cataracts removed a few years ago and it gave me a new lease on life!

  10. Momcat says:

    I was getting worried because there hadn’t been a peep from you for awhile! So happy the procedure went well. I am looking to have it done next year with the correction lenses so ( hopefully) no more glasses or contacts. I don’t have cataracts yet but am assured that I won’t get them after having the surgery. It’s so amazing how cataract surgery has changed, no more two week stay in hospital, no sandbags to keep your head immobilized…your vision will be so much better and you’ll be back ridin’ your whip in no time.
    Glad to hear all went well and best wishes for surgery#2

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks Mae. Yeah. I’ve been taking time off from writing because my ‘good” eye is now not that great so I’m taking it easy before the next surgery. I’m amazed at how quickly the surgery was executed! I’m dropping the eye meds nonstop but it’s with good reason. The medical advancements for this is great. When I had my eye surgery with the ether (ugh) I was in the hospital for 5 days with bandages around my eyes. That was 60 years ago!! XOXOXOXO

  11. Joni says:

    Glad to hear everything went well for you and a very reassuring read for anyone facing future surgery, as most of us will be at some point!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Joni. I tried my best to write a fun and positive post about this surgery. Any surgery can be nerve-wracking so I wanted to reassure others. Thank you so much for validating that! OXOXOXOXO

  12. vavashagwell says:

    YAY! My best friend had her eyes done last year and she was so thrilled to see colors again vividly. We’re so fortunate to be able to have this surgery, think back to the 1940s and 50s when people just went blind. Glad things are going well for you!!!!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Vava! Yeah. I’m so excited about the next surgery on the good eye but am afraid that my lines and wrinkles will be far more clear and vivid! LOL! I cannot imagine how it was to just go completely blind–but I have a good idea!!!! COXOXOXO

  13. Liz McGarry says:

    Cataract surgery was THE BOMB… I remember being so amazed that there were individual leaves on trees and not just massive green blobs. 🌿🌿🌿. Also remember the period between surgeries being kind of wonky until I found an old pair of glasses and popped out the lens in front of my now good eye – problem solved. I now need a very slight glasses rx. and I use readers which I order from Zenni optical so I can get my exact reading rx. Drug store glasses don’t work for me because my eyes aren’t the same as far as reading acuity goes. AND I remember the bad old days when my grandmother and father had cataract surgery and their heads were sandbagged and they were hospitalized for two weeks. Afterwards they had to wear glasses with very weird magnifying lenses that made their eyes look huge! We are so lucky to be the beneficiaries of modern treatment. Heal well, my friend!

  14. budschik02 says:

    So encouraged by reading your post. Now I am going to have to pick up the phone and make the appointment.

  15. Susan Epstein says:

    I am so glad all went well. I enjoyed reading your detailed blog with your complete experience. You have such a wonderful attitude and such a cool way of expressing yourself!!! Love all of the visuals!! Heal quickly!!!

  16. Dee Buenger says:

    Very interesting Cathe, I didn’t know your Dad was an NYPD. Incredible people. I wonder how he would feel about the Dems advocating for Defunding the Police. Scary time to be a police officer and they are so willing to put it all on the line to serve others.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Dee. Yeah. My dad was one of NY’s finest! I come from a line of many cops in the family and a family of mostly Democrats with a few others in the blend. My working-class roots are extremely democratic. And thusly, people are misinformed when it comes to defunding. My dad couldn’t stand many police departments out of NYC. He said many of the officers were criminals in need of feeling superior. He got it! And his sense of humor and empathy were his amunition so to speak. He would be for a restructuring of the poorly run police departments in our country. He would also be against a leader who lies and pokes fun of the disabled, as my sister Beth Ann (RIP) was severely disabled. But that’s another ballgame. I think many cities have not vetted those who apply to be officers. It is an important job to keep law and order and it is equally important to do so with kindness and understanding and not with arrogance. Sadly, due to a lack of leadership, our once-beautiful country is in dire straits and hopefully we wil be back to normal at some point. Thank you so much for your thoughts! XOXOXOXO

  17. That was on enlightening post that you made it a 100% positive experience. I remember how long it took me to admit I needed glasses after I couldn’t go any higher on the $1 reading glasses. My world was very blurry until I finally went to see my eye doc. when he asked how long since my last visit I said oh a couple of years… had been 5 years. Opps. When I put my first pair of prescription glasses on everything was so clear. I can’t wait until you can see how clear the world really is.

  18. Kewlm0m says:

    Hi Cathe! Thank you so much for this informative post chronicling your cataract surgery. So helpful and encouraging to those who are, as I am, facing finding a new doctor and scheduling the surgery as well. I love the chart you had to keep track of your medications. Did you make that or did they send you home with it? Also, if I could make a recommendation, I would still bring photo ID like your license and your insurance cards next time. They always tell me I won’t need them but then they always ask for them when I get there. Maybe better safe than sorry.

  19. emjayandthem says:

    glad everything went so well ~~ ! MJ

  20. Cyndy Floor says:

    The best part of my cancer diagnosis was getting my cataracts taken care of before they could do treatment- radiation causes cataracts. The clarity after surgery is mind-blowing. Be aware that you may have to get laser surgery later because of the eyes natural reaction that causes a membrane to form over the lens. In my case, it took nine years- and my doctor said it was the worst he had ever seen. My doctor said some people have the laser after only four months. You are going to love your new outlook on the world!

    • Catherine says:

      Cyndy. I should have mentioned that. Dr. Sando did tell me that I will, at some point in the future have the laser treatment and he said it’s done in office and takes about ten minutes. My new outlook is incredible and I’m still amazed!! OXOXOXOXO

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