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Keep an Eye Out For Me

I was supposed to be in Memphis today ... listening to blues, chewing on a rib or two and watching the USF Bulls play football at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

But as (my) luck would have it, I had to undergo an emergency procedure on my left eye .. a retinal tear. It's an injury you hear about with athletes when a baseball hits them in the eye or a concussion related football injury. Mine was probably from sneezing.

For those of you keeping score, this was my 357th procedure in five years. Okay, I know I tend to exaggerate ... really more like 356th.  But at least I didn't have to go to TGH this time. I went to the Eye Institute on USF campus and saw three different ophthalmologists who all agreed that I would have to have the procedure done that day.

I was a little nervous. I am not a fan of anything touching my eye ... even tried contacts one time and was so bad at it that the optometrist fired me from her store. But the ophthalmologist (who was all of four feet tall) told me that it was relatively painless and would be pretty quick. Hmmm ... heard that one before.

So ... step one was to mark the left eye (well the forehead over the eye). This was to make sure that the correct eye was being done and to make me comfortable knowing that the eye that was really damaged would be fixed and not the good eye (I guess).

Deb drove over from St. Pete to take me home when I was done and patiently waited with me until I was called in.

This procedure, I was told, would be done with a laser which doesn't touch the eye surface and would seal the tear to allow the retina to heal.

Sometimes it doesn't work. Hmmmm ... heard that one before too.

I was ushered into a kinda storage room/procedure room in the back of the clinic. Yes, this kinda freaked me out but since no anesthesia was going to be used and I guess it didn't have to be too sterile I waited for the doctor to come get me.

She was finishing up with her last patient and came in about a half hour later. She laid me back in the chair and told me that she would be right back with the laser. Behind me I heard the sounds of equipment being moved around and instruments clinking.  

Finally ... there she was with a mask, a headset with that dorky light that ophthalmologists wear and what I guessed was the laser machine.

There were no nurses or assistants which I thought was strange but she seemed to be just fine. Later I found out that we were the only ones left in the whole building.

She numbed my eyeball with some drops and then told me that there would be a bright light from the laser but to hold very still.

If we were doing "politifacts" I would give her a "mostly true". The light was extremely bright and flashed into my eye not once but probably 100 times. My eye got drier so she gave me more drops. After she could see that I was just about ready to lurch off the chair she said "Just a few more .."

Then she stopped.

"Wow ... that was different. Thank heavens that is over ..."

"Well ... not exactly. There was so much blood in the eye that part of the laser treatment didn't seal it. We are going to try one more thing./"


She started to move more equipment around and disappeared for a while. She finally came back with a bigger piece of equipment.

"Okay ... what we have to do is actually freeze the eye using cryopexy to form the seal tighter. I'll numb your eye and then put a probe in to do the actual ..."

"Wait. Wait. You are going to put a probe into my eye?"

"Just under the lid not into the eye."

"Um ... okay ..."

"Don't worry. First I will numb the eye."

Silly me. I thought there would be more drops. No way ... before I knew it she was holding open my lids and putting a needle into my eye. "Hold still now." HOLD STILL????

Okay ... got through that ... now the freezing thing. The probe was very uncomfortable and the sounds from the machine were more like a Snow Cone maker. I thought I would never make it through the last part. The probe had to be moved around the corner of the eye and was making me crazy ... and what seemed like only 12 hours later ... we were done.

I have to say that I was so impressed by the fact that my doctor worked so late and did it all by herself that I felt a little silly complaining about what I went through ...


Home, healing ... hopefully my floater, flashers, and all the other stuff that swims by my eye will subside in the next few days.

Until my next medical miracle!


Anthea Penrose said…
Nothing is ever straightforward for you Joel!! Love the commentary and clearly you must have charmed the little doctor to stay around late to fix your eye rather than have you come back later!! Hope all is well in the morning or soon! Cheers. Anthea

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