Cataract Surgery -- YMMV

... so the worst is over, and here I am at my computer, without glasses, back to reading and writing, and not taking it for granted.

After discussions with my regular eye doc, the astute-but-lethargic-looking Dr. L., and my surgeon, the gentlemanly-and-professional Dr. S., it was agreed to correct my eyesight mainly for reading (i.e. my “near visual acuity”); which means I'll still need glasses for distance, but with much less correction. Something like -2 rather than -5 going on -6.

What I didn’t know until recently is, that the current favored method of cataract removal is with ultrasound, at least for pulverizing the bad/cloudy lens. Sounds gruesome, doesn’t it?

When I first started seeking personal-experience info about cataract surgery and recommended surgeons, I was surprised by the number of responses I got. Friends, colleagues, the “girls” at exercise class, our family lawyer, my cleaning lady – they all either had it done, or else their spouses had, or their parents. Everyone assured me it was a short, safe, non-painful procedure, with remarkable results. All very encouraging, and probably contributed to my calm, cheerful  attitude at the hospital, and my relaxed state on the operating table. My doc said I was a model patient.

Ultimately, everyone was right. But that’s not how I felt during the procedure itself.

First of all, you are told not to budge. Particularly not your head or your hands. The mere knowledge that I have to resist any  sudden urge to scratch my chin, sneeze, or withdraw from the glaring light, made me worry.  Then my face was covered with a heavy protective mat, leaving a hole for one eye, and for the nostrils. I nearly panicked when the heavy cover pressed on my left nostril, since my nostrils are quite narrow and I have a deviated septum, which means my nose gets blocked up very easily. But a tube of oxygen was placed right under my nose, and breathing was easy.

The entire 20-30 minutes you are staring into a very bright light. Most of the time it’s white. At times it turned a pretty pink, green, turquoise. And two or three times it went black, which is a bit scary (“Gosh, I hope this is normal and not a sign that I’m going blind!”). Occasionally my doc said, “Look up, please,” “Now look to the upper-right,” or similar. When he addressed me directly, which he did from time to time, either to explain what he’s doing next, to remind me not to budge, or to instruct me where to turn my gaze to – it was reassuring. But when the doc and his assistant and the other one or two [male] nurses or technicians in the room spoke to each other sotto voce, one’s imagination tends to run wild. So if that happens to you, make sure and rein it in. I wish you luck. Reining in my imagination is not something I’m good at.

As the bright light shone on, flickered and changed color, and as the pressure on my eye socket increased or decreased, and the sounds changed from humming to buzzing to sucking or purring, I couldn’t help trying to guess what they were doing now. A certain part of the procedure did entail some pain, a sort of dull pressure/pain perceived in the top-back of the eye socket. I said “ouch,” in a very even, matter-of-fact tone of voice, and Dr. S. said, “Sorry I have to apply some pressure here.” This painful pressure accompanied me, on and off, for about 40 hours. By now, 50 hours after the surgery, as I write this, it has abated and vanished.

As I understood it, the process was roughly so: Setting the sights; pulverizing the nasty lens; sucking out the debris; mopping up and disinfecting; inserting the small, folded acrylic lens through a 2 mm incision; spreading it out and maneuvering it into place; a bit more rinsing and mopping; checking that everything is okay. Removing face-cover, oxygen pipe, ECG wires, blood pressure arm band, pulse-taking finger clip. Affixing a huge bandage over the relevant eye. Helping you off the operating table and into a wheelchair and wheeling you back into the pre/post op room. Grin at your partner to indicate that all’s well. Get dressed. Get coffee and a couple of petit beurres. Get an All Clear and paperwork from doc and head nurse. Give the next patient in line an encouraging wave. Go to office to complete paperwork. Heave sigh of relief. Go home.

The following morning, after the removal of the bandage, my surgeon gave me a hard plastic eye patch (clear plastic with holes) to use at night, but said he hands it out mostly because patients want it, not because he thinks it's necessary. I did use it last night, worried that I might, out of habit and absent mindedness, rub my eye.

Though the doc told me my right eye is also developing a cataract, I was not aware of its effect until now: When I cover my right eye, the wall ahead of me is brightly white; when I cover my left eye, the wall is a sort of beige...

I’m instructed to use 3 kinds of eye drops, 4 times a day. Am cleared to do anything I want, except go swimming, wet my eye, do weight lifting, or let my bubbly, bouncy grandson within arm’s-reach of my face.

The surgery took place at Assuta Medical Center, Ramat HaChayal, Tel Aviv. 

And in case you haven't seen the before-and-after pics I uploaded to FB:


Kindle, a.k.a. Kinda'leh, Makes Itself Useful (well, nearly.)

Since I got kinda’leh, it never leaves my side. Wherever I go, it goes with me. Not so much because I can’t  imagine living without it, but as a precaution, in case our house is burgled again. Let the burglars take whatever was left behind by the previous gang; but let them not put their filthy hands on kinda’leh!

And so it came to pass that, when Hubby and I were called early Sunday morning to step in instead of the nanny and rush to Tel Aviv to gurgle and gaze fondly at Baby Momo, I shoved kinda’leh into my already-heavy shoulder-bag, and off I went.

See, taking books – electronic or other – to Daria and Noam’s home is like, pardon the cliché, bringing coals to Newcastle, sand to the seaside or a CD to a D.J. Below is just a sample of the shelves upon shelves of mind-magnetizing, thumb-tantalizing books in that apartment; and guess what: most of them are terra incognita to me!

Daria & Noam's books, sample 1

Daria & Noam's books, sample 2

 Besides, as anyone who’s ever taken care of a spritely, inquisitive 15-month-old knows, one doesn’t get much of chance to loll around and sink one’s intellectual teeth into a book. Sometimes, when Baby Momo snoozes, I Do the Right Thing, i.e. hang up laundry and/or wash a few dishes. And sometimes I just bless my lucky stars and put my feet up. 
When Baby Momo snoozes...

I did a bit of this and a bit of that, grabbed some lunch, and before I knew it the Sleeping Beau was sitting up, alert and ready for action. So much for any reading plans.

At long last, on the bus home, kinda’leh came into its own, showing me what it was good for:
kindle touch 3G - stark design
Doesn't ring a bell? Never heard of it? No wonder. It’s an early, obscure (?) sci-fi piece by Kurt Vonnegut called 2 B R 0 2 B. Haven’t formed an opinion yet, because the ride seemed very short. Must’ve dozed off somewhere between the Ayalon highway and the entrance to Rishon LeZion. But I’ve already decided I’ll download several other Vonneguts, since I haven’t read anything by him yet. (Meaning: I’ve always intended to, but somehow didn’t.)

More about my plans for kinda’leh – next time. Got to get some work done before my upcoming cataract surgery. The doctor’s brochure specifically says, “No restriction on reading, watching television, and working on a computer.” But, as my colleague Mark Levinson  pointed out, YMMV -- my mileage may vary; and Momo’s other grandmother experienced considerable difficulty for weeks. Hope my “mileage” turns out to be better.

Kindle – Not an Open Book

“Tra li li, Tra li la,” I wrote on Facebook “my kinda’leh has arrived!”

I’ve been wanting one for years, but it wasn’t really a pressing need. At last we decided to get me one for my birthday. Shira ordered it for me from Amazon, then mailed it to me from Toronto, wrapped in an old T-shirt reeking of memories and placed in a padded envelope marked – for customs purposes – “1 used T-shirt, 1 used e-book reader”.  - What? Oh, sure it was used. Not as used as the T-shirt, just very slightly used.

I took it out of its wrappings and stared at it. It did not return the stare. It was totally, but totally, unnervingly blank. No keyboard, no obvious buttons, no arrows, nothing. I pressed the discreet on/off button and it came to life. A dull, muted, minimalistic life.  The design is a minimalist artist’s dream come true. At the bottom, or [slim] base, from left to right, there’s a tiny charger socket, round headphones socket, and tiny (7x2mm) on/off switch. Above the screen it says “kindle”, not even with a capital letter; beneath the screen there are four small (1 cm), delicate, slightly raised “lines”, which give the impression of being a microphone but are in fact the only button on the device, that takes you to the Home screen.

Why go to all the bother of describing the thing, when I can just show you a picture? Because an e-reader is all about reading. About words. It doesn’t want to distract you with decorative doodads or a rich array of features and options. It’s not designed to lure you to graphic entertainment. It wants to let you read in peace and quiet. Unless, of course, you want the story read to you. It can do that. And it can show you the original illustrations of books, if you download the version with the illustrations.

I fell in love with it instantly, all the same.  Getting only mildly exasperated when the menu didn’t take me where I thought it would, and when I had to experiment repeatedly to figure out how to categorize the files I downloaded and put them into “collections”.

At the moment, I have no intention of purchasing e-books. Even though some are really cheap, like a couple of dollars. I keep looking at the list of novels I downloaded, and can’t make up my mind which one to read first. The mere fact that I am holding in the palm of my hand War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Three Men in a Boat, My Man Jeeves, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, plus a few other volumes, is just too heady for words.

On Saturday, I had fun cutting up an old folder and trying to make a protective cover for my new toy:
Kindle cover, closed. Unfinished oeuvre.

Kindle cover, open. Unfinished oeuvre.


One day later, I was finally ready to employ kindaleh for its chief purported purpose.

(... to be continued.)