Unusual Cataract Surgery Experience

by Jennifer J. Lamb
(Warren, MI, USA)

A while back, I was told that I had early forming cataracts. Now, if I were 50 or older, this probably wouldn't shock very many people, but I am only 36.

Well, in December of 2016, I had gotten sick twice, and both times I needed steroid shots to help me feel better and breathe better. I also have asthma and one of the inhalers that I use is a cortico-steroid. Not only that, I'm also a smoker... so it really is no wonder how I ended up with cataracts in both my eyes at 36 years old.

I also have Bipolar Depression with PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, so I have been through the gamut with multitudes of psychotropic medications and sedatives as well. I gave my doctor a list of all the medications I was on and let him know that I was very fidgety when it came to things like surgeries and other health concerns.

My ophthalmologist is a great guy. He put me at ease about having the cataract surgery done. But I also did some research on my own. Between everything he told me, and everything I looked up, as well as everything my mom told me... I wasn't too scared going into this.

Fast forward to the day of my first cataract surgery and well... this is where things get a little too hairy for me. And this is going to sound more like a horror story now, than a routine surgery.

I'm in pre-op, and things are going good. My blood pressure and everything looks great. I'm pretty relaxed before they even give me the sedative. My boyfriend is visiting in the back with me... basically everything, so far is going right.

Well, the anesthetist comes to give me the sedative. And I relax even more, but I'm still in my right mind. It wasn't like how I'm used to on heavy sedatives, ready to sleep within minutes and not clearly aware of what's going on around me.... no... I was fully aware of all the conversations going on around me. I was clear headed, I was silently laughing at the jokes one nurse was telling another. I even held a fully conscious conversation with my pre-op nurse about another nurse and her pregnancy.

I remember clearly the OR nurses coming in to look over my charts and then putting the numbing medications in my eyes, and she tells me that I'm five minutes away from my own operation.

Fast forward twenty minutes later and I'm being wheeled into my operating room. They ask if I can scoot myself to the top of the bed and are amazed at how quickly I do it. My doctor comes in...

I remember every excruciating detail of the operation. My doctor told me that he was going to open my eye and that really hurt, and I let him know by repeating the word "Ow" several times.

My doctor tells me to look at the light, I ask him which one because I see three distinct lights. He tells me the one on the bottom, I ask him which one on the bottom as there are two. I don't think he heard me so I chose the one on the right.

When he makes the incision I feel a pressure so intense that I almost hit him until two nurses grabbed my hands and held them. I was so happy for those nurses. They patiently held my hands and let me squeeze them as hard as I needed to. I'm surprised that they didn't have broken hands later...or at least the one with the hands that felt very delicate (I did try to take it easy on her). While I'm holding the nurses hands, my vision quickly fades to black and I start freaking out a little. They then gave me more of the sedative to help calm me after I told the doctor that I was blind (he calmly told me that was normal).

The doctor told the assistant he was working with that it was bigger than he expected and that they had to use a different lens. I heard them look for and then open the new box. When the new lens went in the painful pressure was so horrible that I passed out.

The next thing I know, I'm being wheeled into the post-op area. The nurse is checking my eye shield and she notices that I'm awake. I tell her that the right eye is in a lot of pain as well as my head on that side and my neck. I tell you... it hurt like... well, lets just say ice-pick was the phrase I used. She asked me if I wanted to sit up, I said yes and lean forward from laying totally on my back... the pain in my head eased a bit and I didn't feel any nausea. She helps me put on my shirt because I'm still attached to the IV then she asks if I wanted to sit in the lounger that's in the cubical with me. I say yes and she helps me get there. the pain let up quite a bit...

My mom and my boyfriend come in the back as I'm getting some medication for my eye pressure and the first thing I said to my mom was "You lied". I didn't want to do that because I didn't want her to feel bad.... but I had to, I couldn't hold it back. I told her every detail that happened to me in the OR and she was shocked. She wasn't mad, but she did understand my frustration.

The doctor came to talk to them after my surgery and told them that my cataract was much larger than they expected. Asked her if I was still driving because I was legally blind. Thankfully I stopped driving several weeks before the surgery because I just couldn't put others at risk like that.

Despite the anti-nausea and heartburn medication that they gave me, I ended up throwing up in the car on the way home. During the drive home the pain in my head and neck started getting worse and worse...I have to say, that day was the most painful and worst of my life.

But when the pain broke, and I could open my eyes the next day, I figure it was well worth going through it. The clarity in my right eye is like nothing else. I haven't been able to see this well in YEARS, if ever! The doctor told me he is going to put me completely out for the next one because I was a little too fidgety for his liking, however, I would go through this experience again because the rewards are just great! And who knew there were so many shades of purple and green! I mean, wow!

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