Friday, 22 January 2010

stickler - the operation, part one

Imagine squeezing and pulling down your earlobe. You can feel the pressure, but you wouldn't describe it as painful; you can pull it quite hard before you start to think that it's going to be painful. Imagine someone else is squeezing and pulling your earlobe. Again you wouldn't say it was painful, but you might make a noise or give an indication thatyou're getting near to the point where it would start to be painful. Now imagine feeling that pressure in your eye; obviously some pushing or puling or tugging is going on, you can feel the pressure, but you couldn't particularly describe it as painful, but it just feels very very wrong to be feeling that kind of sensation within your eye. So in one way you could say that it's no different from someone tugging your earlobe; in another, you could say it'sa feeling that makes you want to have it stop right now and certainly not think about what those messages of feeling being sent to your brain imply for what's actually going on.

So, even when I was getting my eye inspected on Monday and Tuesday before the operation, I really don't like it. I don't like the sensation of having my eye poked and prodded, however much the professional involved knows what they're doing. The doctor looking at my eye on those days asked if I was feeling pain, obviously surprised at this possibility, and I would say no, just that I could feel the pressure. Whenever my eyes were being looked at I ould have my hands touching each other and be pinching one or other hand when I felt the pressure going on; I would also go 'mm' if I felt the pressure in particular, which is when they would ask me if I was feeling pain; I also did this during the operation. They must have thought me a terrible wimp.

When the doctor was describing the planned surgery he asked if I was happy with a local anaesthetic, and I said yes, and he said are you sure, and I said yes. I thought if grannies could have cataracts done with local then I should man up and have local; and also, local is obviously the routine process now. So many things are routine now, it's amazing, which before would have been unthinkable.

I had to sign a consent form after the doctor described the operation to me. Of course, my pupils were so dilated with drops that I couldn't read the form, which I presume indicated I was giving informed consent to the operation and that it had been described to me. He had to guide my hand to where I had to sign; I hought that was very funny. He did describe the possible dangers and side effects. But of course when option two is, we won't operate and you will lose the sight in your right eye, then you're going to go for option one pretty much whatever it is.

The nurse did the preparatory questions and drops not long after I arrived on the eighth floor, but said there was no point in putting me in the gown until they knew when they were going to do me. There were three operations booked in for that morning, they call them all in for the same time and I guess decide on the day which order hey're going to do them in. One of the operations was on a girl who was an inpatient and was going to have general anaesthetic, so the nurse thought they'd probably do that one first, which indeed they did - her parents came up into the clinic where I was later on in the morning to wait while the operation was going on. The third patient didn't make it in from wherever they were coming from because of the snow; we knew very early on they weren't coming, so I knew I'd be second. They took me down just before eleven and I was back up in the recovery area of the clinc about half past one.

I had to take off my shirt before the gown was put on, but I was still in my trousers and shoes. My shirt, fleece and jacket, and anything from my trouser pockets (I had deliberately emptied them at home), went into a locker in the clinic. My wedding ring was wrapped on my finger in surgical tape. They asked if I had any implants or anything metal (including piercings) in my body; I said just my fillings but I didn't know what they were made of.

Oddly enough I was trying to remember last night and this morning if I had walked down with the nurse to the operating theatre or been wheeled down by her on a trolley/bed (which is certainly how I came back) and I just can't remember. An older couple had been with me in the clinic for a while, and they were going down in the same lift as us, they on their way to the eye clinic on the ground floor, and the man (who was the companion rather than the patient) gave my shoulder a squeeze as we left the lift on the second floor.

My only previous experience of an operation was as an infant, in relation to my hare lip and cleft palate, which of course I have no memory of, but which it turns out I can also thank Stickler's Syndrome for. When we went into the theatre corridor on the second floor it struck me as more industrial than I would have imagined, more so than the ward or regular hospital corridors. I have a vision of the coridor ceiling in particular, which is oneof the things which makes me think I must have been lying down during my journey. They also had hot blankets in the corridor outside the operating theatres, and I'm pretty sure the nurse got one out and put it on me, now that I think about it, which also suggests lying down travel.

Well, turns out this is going to be a two-part post, as I've just got to the door of the operating theatre and I feel like I need a break. More later.