Oh say can you see?

Oh say can you see….  So starts the words of our National Anthem by Francis Scott Key, I woke up this morning with those words in my head, the last of a dream that I cannot remember. In December of 2015 I made my annual drive out West on vacation, the trip lasted about five weeks and was pretty much a normal mix of good and bad days for that time of the year.

It wasn’t until the return trip that I experienced an unexpected turn of events. I like driving at night and usually try and get on the road between two and three in the morning, it is a good time to travel, and I usually pick out a truck that is traveling in my direction and stay a good bit behind him. I watch his brake lights – they are an advance warning system that something is happening on the road ahead of me. The rainbow halo around the moon did not alert me to problems, it is a normal weather phenomenon – except when it is not, then I started to see halos around all lights and I knew I was having troubles with my eyes. I made a mental note to tell the doctor, I had my annual eye exam coming up soon.

It was hard to believe how rapidly my night vision had changed over a period of five weeks, it went from good to poor so fast. My last two nights on my return trip home were a challenge to drive in unlighted areas, the dark was really dark and my headlights just did not seem to be doing the job. My ophthalmologist diagnosed cataracts and glasses, the glasses solved my night driving problems and I thought my problems were over for awhile. Six months later I had to have a stronger eye glass prescription.

This past January, I was given the bad news, a stronger prescription would not help, cataract surgery was the solution. I could go a bit longer, but in my mind, I already knew the outcome – if I waited, those cross country trips I took three times a year would end, already I had canceled my winter vacation because, pardon the pun, my vision had gone West before I would.

I made my decision and scheduled the operation as soon as possible on my left eye. I chose the option to use laser for the operation, it was more expensive and was not covered by my insurance, but as it was explained to me  a better solution for healing. Because of unforeseen events and scheduling there was a few weeks delay before the operation.

On the day of the operation, one of my neighbors drove me, and would also drive me for my postoperative exam the next day, as I would not be able to drive until I received my doctor’s OK.  I had been thinking about this operation for awhile now, and truthfully I did not feel good about it. There are things I worry about, stuff happens I cannot control, as I get older I have pain or discomfort most every day, I find a way to get by it, but this was my sight. I was scared, I did not sleep very much before the operation.

The morning of the operation my stress levels were probably off the charts, I try not to show it.  When my blood pressure was taken by the nurse, it was high – red zone high, it had been high  for a couple of weeks. I knew, because regularly take it at home. I joke with the nurse, got to keep from thinking about what is going to happen. Everyone is nice, friendly, they explain everything, on the outside I keep my cool, but when I am on the table and the machine is lowering that will do measurements on my eye, I push my head back on the padding, trying to force it through the metal table under the padding.

The actual operation is no problem, the needle in the vein on the back of my hand assures that I will stay in Na-na land throughout the procedure. When I wake, things I see from the left eye are cloudy, no pain, a little discomfort, but the light is so, so bright.

The next day, I go for my post-op exam, vision is still a little wonky but tests out at 20 over 40. Over the two days after the operation, I could feel my vision improving on an hourly basis, full healing will take one month with frequent eye drops of three different medications. Eleven days later, I go through the same procedure, my blood pressure is still high, but I knew it would be. The second eye was easier, I was still a little tense, heck, I was still a lot tense but the fear factor was down to almost nothing, I knew what was going to happen.

As of this writing, the third day after my second eye was done, I can see the TV from across the room, things are much brighter, and colors stand out. There is a can of computer dust-off about two foot away from me, I can read the eight point print on the can. Before the operation, everyone I had talked to, had told me there was nothing to worry about. A lady I talked to in Walmart had asked me who I was going to, and when I told her, Ocean Eye Institute, she told me that was where her husband had gone, and they were the best in the area.

I still have a month to go before I have to stop using the medication eye drops, but my life is changing back to normal, my blood pressure numbers are back in the safe zone, and I feel as if my vision has been turned back twenty years to my fifties. Lastly I want to thank the friendly, caring, doctors and staff at Ocean Eye Institute, God bless you all.