Category Archives: Health

Cataracts, Round 2


That’s my reaction this morning after Round 2 of cataract surgery.

But I shouldn’t get ahead of the story. Here’s the long version of the tale. I followed instructions. No food or drink after midnight the night before, or just enough to swallow any regular meds taken in the morning. I reported to the small surgery center just after noon yesterday, again left all of my belongings in a locker and exchanged my shirt for a hospital version, had a few sensors stuck around my chest, and then was led out and settled back in a comfy chair in an adjacent prep area. This is where I was repeatedly asked my name and birthdate (I suppose to check that you’ve not in shock or otherwise out of your normal senses), had my eyes repeatedly doused with four different types of drops (at least that was my count), was asked several times to confirm I was there for cataract removal in the left eye (my left cheek was marked two separate times to make that clear) and insertion of a new lens for intermediate-distance vision, heard the mantra of post-surgery care instructions repeated a couple of times, was visited by the doctor, then the anesthesiologist, got the hair net and shoe nets installed, was asked to hold a handful of plastic tubing after one end was placed in my nostrils to deliver oxygen and who knows what else, watched while the IV catheter was inserted and taped onto the back of my hand, and after several passes by the nurse with a small flashlight in the eyes, was deemed ready to go.

The chair was returned to its upright position and I was led into the laser room to another chair where I was again seated and lowered until I was flat on my back, and the laser equipment was slid over until I looked directly up into its flat eye. My right eye was covered. First step, the laser came in close, I was instructed to look into the center of three bright lights, where a small red patch appeared. Apparently photos were being taken for last minute calibration, and then the main show, maybe 2-1/2 minutes with the laser going, instructions with numbers being called out between the surgeon and the technicians, calming updates being directed down to me with instructions to hold still and keep staring into the same spot, and then a final countdown, twenty seconds, ten seconds, five seconds, and this phase was over.

Then I was quickly unplugged, prepared to stand, and led off into the second stage of the surgery where, I think, the new lens was to be inserted. That meant another chair, the various wires and tubes getting plugged in, another machine eye staring back into mine, and then to tell the truth I lost track. I was going to stay awake but apparently didn’t, as I recall being told that the job was done and a plastic shield had been taped over my left eye and should be left in place overnight, then worn to bed for a week. Not a patch that blocked vision, but a clear plastic shield that blurred the vision in that eye. At this point I was again walked out for probably 15 minutes of recovery, where blood pressure was repeatedly taken and I was offered juice or coffee and a few crackers. Then I was led back to the small room, my locker opened, I packed up my belongings, which included iPhone, watch, wallet, etc., and was walked down the hall to a room where I waited a few minutes until Meda showed up to spring me.

I did feel a little light-headed when first getting home, but after a few bites to eat, and a short nap, I felt good enough to cook and eat dinner.

I really couldn’t tell how my vision was going to turn out until this morning. It was still dark when I got up, went down the hall to the bathroom, removed the eye shield, then walked out into the living room escorted by Romeo and Duke, and finally turned on the light.

Explanation. I chose what is referred to as mono vision. It means each eye is different. My right eye has a lens for distance vision, which has proved to be excellent. My left eye, new as of yesterday, got a lens geared to intermediate vision. It won’t focus all the way to infinity, nor will it focus up close. There’s a small range where I’ll need reading glasses that will be prescribed once my eyes have time to adjust to the new reality. At first glance this morning, though, the world looked great. I could look outside and see clearly, then shift my gaze into the kitchen and read the clock on the stove several feet away, and everything in between. Walking across the room to the dining table where my laptop was set up, I could read at that extended computer distance. But I couldn’t read the markings on the syringe to give Duke his morning insulin shot. For that I had to borrow Meda’s drug store reading glasses, not fancy but they worked.

So it’s a whole new world, for the second time in two weeks.

I return for a post-op checkup this morning, and again next week, with a final check in one month.

To tell the truth, I just wish I had opted to do this sooner.

Saying goodbye to cataract #2

I’m on tap for cataract surgery on my left eye in just a couple of hours. Tick, tock.

The last two weeks has been heavy with anticipation. The first eye went so well that it’s been hard waiting to deal with the second eye.

For the past three days, I’ve had dueling eye drops. Three medications, two eyes, two different calendars that aren’t in sync. So morning and evening I consult the Left Eye and Right Eye calendars, then select the eye drops as specified, and self-administer. The drops begin three days before surgery and continue for a month, if I’m not mistaken. It can get a little confusing, but so far that’s been the only hassle.

I’ve already gotten used to the new colors that came with the first surgery, although my left eye still sees the yellowed tints of the cataract. But those will be gone shortly.

Here are a couple of photos suitable for the occasion.

The top photo shows the reception area in the waiting room at Jenkins Eye Care, the offices of my eye surgeon, Tyrie Jenkins. It’s all decked out in holiday decorations. Note the snowflakes and lights strung across the front of the counter.

The Offi e

But I quickly realized first impressions can be deceiving. It is, after all, a medical practice specializing in eyes.

So I brought the camera in closer, where you can see what’s really on display!

Not holiday lights, but eyeballs! Yes, we’re talking eyes here!

The Eyes have it

In any case, clear vision is my big Christmas gift this year. I should be done and sent home by mid-afternoon (and, yes, Meda will be picking me up at the surgery center).

Hopefully by dinner I’ll be ready to cautiously consume a glass of wine.

Tomorrow I’ll add an update on the experience.

A heartfelt “Mahalo” to John Radcliffe!

Thank you, John.

You bravely spoke for many of us when you went public this week urging the state legislature to finally pass a “death with dignity” bill.

Your appeal was more powerful because you also publicly disclosed your own long battle with a Stage 4 cancer. It’s not just a political issue, it’s a deeply personal issue for you and, eventually, for each of us.

For those who don’t know John Radcliffe, he’s long been one of the islands’ top lobbyists. But he’s also been known for his straight talk, his willingness to openly discuss controversial issues with both friends and foes, avoiding political correctness in order to call things as he sees them. And if that sounds too serious, John has always displayed a fine sense of humor, a delight in irony, with a twinkle in his eye. Even when talking so intimately about death and dying.

Click here to watch the report broadcast by Hawaii News Now.

And for more information, visit the webpage of the Hawaii Death with Dignity Society.

A marathon on stilts?

After the elite runners passed our house at the front of the Honolulu Marathon pack early Sunday, we went back inside and went about a relatively normal day at home. The bulk of runners went past in a crowd between 9:30 and 11 a.m., but with some 30,000 runners, there were stragglers walking, jogging, or limping past late into the afternoon.

I don’t recall just what time I went out to inspect trash that had been tossed along the street in front o four house and saw this man coming along. On stilts! He had apparently made it this far and was onto the home stretch, the final 3+ miles. One stilted step at a time.

That, I would say, was amazing!

On stilts?