The room is astoundingly quiet, as though it is insulated from the rest of the world. Which in a way I guess it has to be. But it is as if no distractions live here. This is a place of peaceful purpose. It almost smells of efficiency, effectiveness, and anaesthetic.
But my mind is whirring too fast for this environment. There is no tick tock of time in here. And I have been running against time for what feels like forever. So I feel out of place. Mine is the heartbeat which does not match the rhythm of the rest. My presence is what is throwing everything out of sync. I am the one who needs to take a deep breath but doesn’t.
I am flittery and jittery and flighty and heighty. Pitter patter pitter patter skitter scatter skitter scatter…… My being bouncing all over the place like one of those rubber balls.
I am aware of the inappropriateness of my vibe, but I cannot contain my excitement.
A nurse places a heated blanket over me, which instantly makes me feel cosy and safe.
And while the anaesthesiologist is nice enough, but not really my cup of tea. Obviously he is there to do a job, my nervous babble isn’t helping. As he is only listening because he has to, and is making it quite obvious. But given he is the man who is going to keep me alive through this shindig, I guess I ought to be grateful.
I am so worried the anaesthetic won’t hold, just as it didn’t with Little. I mean I know this is different, but holy shit if it doesn’t hold, the consequences are far far greater.
The last thing I really remember is someone putting an oxygen mask over my face, the lights above me, and the anaesthesiologist asking me to count backward from one hundred.
We had been having such an animated conversation about who knows what, and just when I thought it wasn’t going to work, the next thing I know I am awakened, and in the theatre with my two knights of shining eye surgery at my shoulder.
My procedure is to take place under a local anaesthetic, but they had to put me under a general first, in order to administer the local around and in my eye.
Good morning gentlemen, I say as I come back to consciousness.
There is a very bright white light in my eye.
I had been warned by the pre-surgery paper work that I would see colours and shapes and feel a tugging. I hoped to God it wasn’t like the tugging you felt when having a caesarean, because we all know how that ended.
And in terms of colours, I had imagined it might be like those colours you see when you look at the sun for too long.
Everybody gets those,right? Those moving stick figure colour of greens pinks oranges reds and yellows, that move and dance in sort of slow motion?s
But It is nothing like that. It reminds me of when I used to try and look at the moon through a mini-scope as a child. Just a big circle of gritty whiteness, and I couldn’t understand the big deal.
But this wasn’t grey like that. This is white white white with little ants periodically crawling over it.
I had been worried about being able to keep my eye still. Had they factored in my nystagmus?
Wouldn’t it be easier under a general?
It would be easier for me.
But it doesn’t take me long to realise that it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun. And my fears about them accidentally slitting my eyeball in half, or my being able to feel or see anything are unfounded.
As it turns out, this is the most fascinating experience of my entire life besides having baby girl. Because let’s face it, that was pretty amazing!
I love you baby girl.
But this big bright white circle with it’s’ ants, and occasional jelly fish is definitely on par.
The doctors quietly talk between themselves, each switching positions or instruments like a carefully choreographed ballet dance. And my cateract is the dragon, which needs to be slayed.
They seem to work as one. Each synchronising with the other perfectly, and picking up where the other leaves off automatically.
They never forget I am a person, and even when they are discussing the complexities or concerns of my case, of which I had purposely not Googled, as I did not want to be armed with the dangers of a little knowledge, they keep me involved. Be it via a question, or an explanation. And even though I have a million questions, I have to remember not to move.
No talking, the anaesthesiologist had instructed before putting me under. It is really really important you stay still as possible.
Oh, I’m not happy with that traction there, says one surgeon to another.
What the hell does that mean, I wonder in my head. Imagining all sorts of disastrous consequences.
What if my eye is going to fall off.
Surely the thread of my retina will hold.
Oh please god please god please god make it hold, I chant silently.
What if it is about to snap, and my retina coils back into my head like a spring, while my eyeball pops out like a marble? Flying through the air and landing in the anaesthesiologist’s mouth. Because yes, that could so happen. Then what if he swallows it, and we will have to wait for it to pass… Oh yeah, these are some pretty good drugs, I think. Not realising just how insane my chain of thought has become.
Oh that iris has dropped a little, the other says.
What the fuck did that mean, I scream to myself as I imagine my iris coming away from the seam. All the while completely mesmerised by the circle of bright white light with its ants, and occasional jellyfish.
I don’t think we should push it any further, one of them remarks after a time.
I can no longer tell which is John and which is Alex. They are just so seamless, and it is as if there is only one person talking, accept there is two. I know there are two. Two of the most amazing men in the entire world.
Why not push, I respond inwardly. I was used to pushing things to the limit. But then I remember we are dealing with my sight, and maybe we shouldn’t push it after all. I have to remind myself these gentlemen are the experts, and they are as invested in this as I am in terms of creating a successful outcome. They had promised to get my cataract, and get it they would. I just had to trust. This wasn’t all up to me. This wasn’t something I could talk myself into or out of. This wasn’t something I could manage by myself. If anything, it wasn’t even about me. This was something potentially life changing, and all I had to do was enjoy the ride. What a relief it was not to be doing anything. What a relief it was that the outcome wasn’t on me to make this work. What a relief to be here at all. Oh God thank you. Thank you so much for all of it. Try now, or die wondering, I think as I consciously keep very very still and silent. Looking at that bright white circle with its ants and jellyfish. They are so pretty. It is almost peaceful. Yes, that is what it is, peaceful. Beautiful peaceful peaceful peace. I almost don’t recognise the feeling. When was the last time I had experienced peace? God only knew. But oh how I long for more of it. If this is meditation, then I am in. If this is cataract surgery, then bring it on. If this is my life, then it is an extraordinary privilege to be here.
Nobody gets this, I think. Nobody gets to come back from this!
People go blind, but to come back from it? Where do I even begin. There isn’t even a word for that. This is amazing!
I am in awe of my circumstance.
Nobody gets this!
I have nothing to do, nothing to see, and nowhere to be. Oh God, why can’t it always be like this. Oh hello floaty floaty floaty things you’re so beautiful…
Oh, the laser wouldn’t have worked on your cataract anyway Megan, one of them continues, breaking into my floaty floaty thoughts.
That thing was too big and ugly for our delicate machine.
We would have had to take it out the back door no matter what.
It’s not ideal, but I think we’ve got it.
Now to remove the vitreous.
We’re a bit worried about the temporal attachment of your retina, but we’ll just keep an eye on it…
Still I watch the bright white circle with its ants, and occasional jellyfish.
I like the jellyfish, I think happily, not really comprehending what the doctors are saying.
What do they mean they have my cateract.
What does that mean?
What does that mean?
Ok, so we’re not going to put in a lens today, because we want to see how things go. A lens might take away vision as it won’t allow all the light to filter through. But this should give you some peripheral vision.
I have never had peripheral vision, I think.
Everything is all muddled in my mind. I thought by peripheral they meant central. I cannot work out my positioning of what was supposed to go where. What was central vision again? Did I have central vision? I don’t think I do, but can’t remember. SO if I don’t have central, and hadn’t ever had peripheral, then what do I have? My mind circles that last statement like a vulture, trying to hone in on what the doctor is saying.
All I know is that even with the anaesthetic, my eye feels lighter. Physically lighter. As though a rock has been resting on it forever, and now it is not.
My eye is cold, as the air hits it for the first time maybe even ever.
But another surgery? Won’t that hurt, I wonder as still I watch the bright white circle in fascination.
And we’re done.
Where did the time go?
Where was my cateract?
I should ask for it, I think, forgetting to open my mouth.
Done, I finally ask allowed.
Yep, we think it is a success.
Your recovery will be slow, and we have no idea what you’re going to get back, but hopefully we’ll know within a week.
It will probably take a year for your brain to adjust fully, the other ads, but yes, we’re happy.
Thank you so much I say, the words hardly filling the space in the room, let alone touching the sides of my gratitude.
Do they know what this means?
It is as if something is opening up, but I cannot articulate it.
I cannot articulate it through the pain.