Better Than A Fork In Your Eye, But Only Just — Part Deux

When we last saw our heroine, she was at the end of her patience with a surgical scheduler who had clearly been mainlining Perky Pills.

It gets better.

You may or may not know the cataract drill. They come in and drench your eye with three rounds of five drops, so that after a half hour or so your pupil is dilated to roughly the diameter of a basketball hoop. Then they stick in an IV line, and then you wait behind the curtain, in this case listening to another patient narrating a lengthy, inane anecdote at just enough volume to upend your thought processes and hearing the nurses at the end of the waiting area asking if there have been any “sightings” of your surgeon (quotha).

The anesthesiologist warned me that I might be more aware of things this time. I need to find him and have a talk.

Remember the redheads and anesthesia thing? We need more and it’s slower to take? Wait for it: This time the pain drug didn’t kick in. AT ALL.

The first eye, while not the “mini-vacation” I was promised, was a painless, intriguing little adventure. I actually prefer to be as aware as practical during a surgery; I don’t trust doctors. And I didn’t really mind being aware this time of having my head duct-taped to the table (that peeling sound), or my eyelids taped, although when it came to the kind of rubber frammis they insert to keep your eye definitively open, I could have given it a miss. “You’re going to see colors and shapes,” said the surgeon.

Then he cut.

And I felt every bit of it.

I can state with confidence that I recall the point which represented the corneal border incision, the pressure involved in macerating the spoiled lens and the frantic spasming of all my eye-related muscles saying GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE, the squicky feeling that was probably the tissue being hydraulically flushed out, and the bruising sensation which I imagine was the prosthetic lens going in (another nasty cramp). “That actually hurts a lot,” I heard myself say distinctly with eerie equanimity, because while I was not numb, I was at least sort of sedated. It was like having cramps in the days before Ibuprofen. “Antibiotic,” said the surgeon without responding to me. And I’m pretty sure he shot it right into my eyeball.

The pain stopped about twenty minutes after they wheeled me down to the car. I don’t know if that was just because it stopped or possibly the drug started to finally kick in.

We had three hours to kill before an in-office check fifteen minutes away. The Engineer found a park on the local map on his phone, and propped me up for a rubber-kneed slow walk up and down a short loop trail, trying to blow off the goofy juice.

At the end of the trail we emerged from scrub vegetation and beheld this:

Three vultures. I think that was a rabbit carcass.

“What the fuck,” I said. “Any day the vultures aren’t interested in you is a good day.”

We drove over to the office and an optometrist peered in my eye and pronounced it good, then put in some numbing drops to test the pressure. She waited for the drug to take effect.

How’s your week going?

Better Than A Fork In Your Eye

My charming, chubby engineer friend — known as Captain Adorable to a few of my acquaintances — developed a cataract in his fortieth year for some reason nobody could explain. Usually this is the age at which guys get a deflating puncture in their delusions of invincibility, but typically we are talking about a humiliating knee injury or cholesterol ratio, not ophthalmic surgery.

Not this kind of cat-n-rack

Whatever. It was only the one eye. The other one seems fine. Driving his two-seater convertible with the sun always hitting on one side? Beats me.

Mama Sled is an idiot, and — being deeply empathetic about visual liabilities — said “Helas! I shall drive you to the surgical theater and back.”

This, in the howling asphalt wilderness that is Northern Virginia, meant piloting the Sledmobile (vintage 1989) through lanes of SUV-driving idiots with cell phones plastered to their pasty cheeks at midday, right into the heart of the Fairfax court house district. It guaranteed one thing: nothing that happened that day was more frightening than an attempted merge just outside the metropolitan circumferential highway, the spavined halfwit in the turn lane accelerating and braking by turns, Mama Sled screeching at the top of her lungs, “Make up your little pink mind you stupid motherfucker!!!!!!!!!!”

I really don’t like driving.

Cataract surgery goes like this. The victim is invited to recline in a prep room while a series of eyedrops are administered over a ninety-minute period. Then he is whisked away to an operating theater where, in a twelve minute ritual, the curdled lens of the offending eye is, rather Biblically, plucked or rather powerwashed out through a corneal puncture and a polymerized Triumph of Technology is substituted. Thus upgraded, the affected eye can often see better than it has in years, sometimes since childhood, if you are really nearsighted. Science: it works, bitches.

I’m not sure whether the longest part was the wait with the eyedrops or the post-op recovery waiting for the drugs to wear off; probably the latter, because Cute Engineer’s cell phone, which I was guarding in my duffle, rang halfway through the eyedrop ritual. His roommate, always two bricks short of a load, had an emergency bulletin: “OMG! I’ve figured out which cat’s been shitting in the corner of the kitchen!”

CE is maddeningly unflappable. “I’m being prepped for surgery,” he said in measured tones. “Can I get back to you on this?”

When we left Fairfax he had a shield taped over his eye that made him look like a cross between Imperial Stormtrooper and Long John Silver. The whole recovery took about a month and I really, really want to clobber the son of a bitch because — with that eye anyway — he can read road signs that I can’t even see without my glasses on.

This morning in the gym the light caught his eye and an eerie sheen glanced off the artificial lens within, like the tapetum of a cat’s eye.

I am training a cyborg, Great Goddess help me.

Or a cat. One that doesn’t, at least so far, shit in the corner of the kitchen.

Well, it’s better than a fork in your eye.