#341–It’s all about the eyes . . .

Those of us who wear glasses or contacts and see our eye doctor every couple years or even annually, get to the stage where the doc says, “I see the beginnings of cataracts.” Then in two or three years, “By next year you’ll probably be ready for cataract surgery.” And finally, “Yes, it’s time.”

I reached that final stage this past fall, when I saw my eye doctor, Dr. Julie Kittock, here in Florence. So, she scheduled an appointment with Dr. Grillo, whom I met with in the Florence clinic. He gave me a step-by-step of what would happen, and later, I received a packet of paperwork that I filled out. Before long, the surgical dates were set for February. I had previously planned for leg vein surgeries to happen just before Christmas, and this would allow plenty of recuperation time before the cataract surgeries.

Well, the leg vein surgeries were postponed again and again and didn’t take place until March, and so the cataract surgeries were postponed again and again also. But finally, it was time. My leg surgeries were done, and now, I could take care of my eyes.

But an unforeseen problem almost derailed the cataract surgeries once again.

No Room at the Inn

My scheduled dates, middle of June, in Eugene, were at the same time as numerous graduations, including the U of O, and just before the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, being held at Hayward Field. This I found out in May when I was trying to line up a place to stay during the cataract surgeries. The Comfort Inn Suites where I had previously stayed with medical and AAA discounts, had one room left with a King bed that would cost three times what I paid in the past and no discounts were honored. Every place I called either had no rooms left or even higher prices. And I tried B&Bs and hostels as well. No luck! No wonder! Eugene was expecting about 30,000 visitors during this time.

My friend, Rosemary Camozzi, offered to let me stay at her place during my cataract surgeries much to my relief!

So, I emailed my friend. Rosemary Camozzi, who had picked me up from medical surgeries before and was going to again this time, to say that I was going to have to postpone yet again. Her response, “Why not stay with me?”, was a Godsend; I did not want to postpone a third time. So, I took her up on her offer.

First Eye

Phone calls from Pacific Clear Vision Institute/Pacific Surgery Center in Eugene, where Dr. Grillo works his magic, gave me exact times and before surgery instructions.

When I got my appointment time, it was earlier than I expected. I was to report at 8:10 a.m., which meant I would need to set my alarm for 4 a.m. and have a stressful early morning drive to Eugene just before surgery.  I called Rosemary to fill her in on the times and she said, “Why don’t you come and stay Sunday evening, also?” Why not, indeed! So, that became the new plan!

That Sunday, I got home from duty as a docent at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum and watered the greenhouse before fixing a quick dinner. Then I loaded food in my cooler, finished packing my suitcase, and made sure I had the last of the medical paperwork. I left at 6:30 p.m. and made good time until I got to Rosemary’s block. My GPS told me I had arrived and shut off, but I couldn’t figure out which house. I didn’t see a house number. Rosemary had said to park in the back, so I looked for an alley––couldn’t find one. I zoomed in on the map and realized her house was on a corner. I asked a fellow working in the yard at a corner house, and he pointed to the house across the street. Finally!

After unloading, we had a lovely visit and enjoyed the bear claws that I had brought. (I never travel without plenty of food.)

The next morning, I followed all instructions––no food eight hours prior, no liquids two hours prior, scrubbed my face, put no lotion or make up on, and dressed with no jewelry. Then I grabbed my paperwork, and Rosemary drove me to the clinic on time.

Pacific Surgery Center upstairs is where the cataract surgeries took place both times.

After processing the paperwork, numerous photos and scans of each eye took a fair amount of time before I was allowed upstairs to the surgical unit.

Once there, a team of nurses got my info, took my vitals, inserted numerous eyedrops, and prepped me for light anesthesia. They worked like a well-oiled machine. That took awhile, but the actual surgery took only 15 minutes. And I slept through the whole thing. When I awoke, I had a shield over my eye to protect it.

Some time later, Rosemary picked me up. After we got back, she had a Zoom appointment. So, I fixed myself some lunch from all the food I brought and then slept for three hours. Once I got up, all aftereffects of the anesthesia were gone, and I couldn’t tell by feel which eye had been operated on. There was some blurriness, but no pain whatsoever. I was amazed. But what amazed me even more, was when I looked at something with the new eye, it was brighter. And everything with the old eye was in a yellowish, golden haze that I had not noticed before. This was wonderful!  So far, so good!

After each surgery, I was fitted with a clear shield over the eye operated on to protect it.

Second Eye

There was a day of rest between, where I wrote most of this blog post. With my glasses, my new eye could see every single word easily. What an improvement! Mid-day, I had a post-op appointment, and I passed all tests with flying colors! That evening, Rosemary and I went out to dinner to celebrate at a Thai restaurant––my treat for putting up with me for days. I also offered some of my books and she selected three. The least I could do.

Wednesday morning was the date for the second eye. I followed same routine, even wore same clothes in hopes of same result. The pretesting had been done, so, I reported straight to surgery. The well-oiled team was waiting and got me ready in no time. Then I was in the surgical suite. It seemed like they were still getting me ready, when I realized it was over, and they were getting me up. I had on the eye shield and wore heavy-duty sunglasses on the drive to Rosemary’s, which I appreciated, since it was a bright, sunny day.

Rosemary’s Golden Retriever (don’t let the red coloring fool you), Brodie, kept watch over me each day. He was my medical support dog. And he was just a love.

After getting back, I had lunch and napped a few hours. It was becoming routine. And just like before, after awakening, the aftereffects of the anesthesia had worn off, there was no pain, and the blurriness was less.

The next morning, I removed the shield and could see very well—no blurriness! After driving myself back to Florence, I went to my eye clinic there and had the post-op check on the second eye. And just like with the first one, I passed all the vision tests, and they thought I was doing great! I am, indeed, a happy camper.

Bottom Line:

When your doctor says, “Yes, it’s time.” Don’t be afraid! Do your research as to who is the best doctor for you, follow their instructions, and go for it.

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
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