... satellite surgical op was in Waltham
In mid-July, 2006, I had cataract surgery on my right eye. I was curious about the procedure and wondered how it would go. Russell and I were dreading the trip into Boston, since my ophthalmologist, Dr. Robert Lytle, is associated with Mass. Eye & Ear. Much to our delight, though, we learned that Dr. Lytle and a colleague had opened a satellite surgical location in Waltham, easier to get to from our home.
On the appointed day we arrived at the Surgi-Site building around noon. It is an interesting concept, neither full-fledged hospital nor doctor’s office, but rather it has an in-between function. After a few minutes a pleasant young man named Chris took me behind the closed door. At our first stop he obtained a hospital bracelet” to place on my right wrist. The second stop was marked "Locker Room,” and I wondered if one needs to get undressed and into a johnny for eye surgery. In the locker room, Chris placed my pocketbook in locker No. 11 and removed the key from the locker. The key was attached to a bright yellow spiral bracelet that went on my left wrist.
The next place Chris led me to was a large room full of beige colored chairs somewhat like a dentist’s chair, except these had more padding and could be moved from an upright position to a reclining position with several stops in between. While I sat in one of those my questions about the appropriate dress for eye surgery were answered. The smiling assistant wrapped a paper johnny around my dress, put booties over my sneakers, and placed over my hair a loose fitting shower cap. She also deposited my red cane somewhere for safekeeping.
Now that I was correctly attired for the operation the pleasant young woman and an assistant wheeled me in my beige chair over to the next area, another large room full of purple dentist chairs. They helped me get into the purple chair where the serious business of the day would take place.
The first person to approach me in my "purple bed” was perfect for his role. An anesthesiologist, he had a calm manner and a soothing, well-modulated voice. He inserted a small receptacle into a vein on my left hand, ready for service if an intravenous were necessary. There was another anesthesiologist on my right side, a competent-looking woman. One of them administered what I affectionately call Happy Juice,” so that while I was pretty much aware of what was going on, I didn’t much care. Great stuff! As a result, the procedure I had been dreading (insertion of a needle just below the eye to deaden the pain) seemed to be no more than a bothersome mosquito sting.
Dr. Lytle appeared, also appropriately and hygienically gowned, and the surgery commenced. In my euphoric state, it seemed as if there were five or six people hovering around me. I could hear Dr. Lytle talking with his surgical assistant. He asked for 25 millimeters” of something; so many cc’s of something else. At one point he said, "One minute,” and the assistant started a countdown: 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, and then 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.” But I didn’t blast off into space!
The only sensation of which I was aware was toward the very end of the operation, when I could feel a cold, thin piece of metal being inserted into my eye (Or at least that is what it felt like.) But it didn’t bother me; the Happy Juice was still operative. Then I felt something being pressed under the eye, or perhaps an instrument was being removed.
After that I was moved again from the purple chair to a beige chair and wheeled back into the beige room. Shortly, a smiling nurse asked me if I would like a snack, and of course I agreed. She brought me two Fig Newtons and a paper cup of cold apple juice. Similar to the light meal a woman has after giving birth, it seemed like heavenly ambrosia. Eventually my pocketbook, my red cane and I, all accompanied by the smiling nurse, were reunited with Russell. And home we went. Dr. Lytle had instructed me to take two extra-strength Tylenol tablets every four hours if I had pain. I did take a series of three doses overnight, but I can honestly say it was not a painful operation.
Here’s the painful part. The next day we went to Dr. Lytle’s office in Wellesley for the first post-op appointment. He said all had gone well. But I was totally unprepared for the regimen of eye drops for the next few weeks. I came home with FOUR different drops for the right eye, each drop with a different schedule from the others! The left eye has only one kind of drop. A particular medicine I have been putting in both eyes at bedtime for years is now to be administered only to the right eye, with a separate solution for the other eye.
I was a bit worried that I was going to lose my mind over those infernal drops, but once I sat down and created a chart I felt less confused and more in control. My life seems to be dominated by the drops at this point, but that is a small price to pay for better vision.