I am writing this post twenty days after surgery, no sooner, due to my volatile emotions. This was the most incredibly uncomfortable, painful-for-me, recovery I have ever experienced, including post-op bi-lateral mastectomy!
DAY ONE: Leaving the surgery center, we stopped at Whataburger for lunch since we were both hungry. We ate the meals in our vehicle. When we arrived home, I slipped into summer pajamas and headed for the air mattress on the living room floor; supporting my forehead with a pillow, I laid face-down. Harry turned the television on to the History channel for me to listen to the programs and doze. I told him to go back to work, that I would be safe and fine and if I needed him, the cordless phone was on the coffee table at the head of my air bed, I would be able to call him.
My eye was patched with a gauze pad underneath a clear plastic eye guard, taped very securely to my face, nose, cheek, forehead… I did not know how my eye looked or what I might be able to see. I would wait until the next day for my 1-day post-op visit when the doctor would remove the eye patch.
DAY TWO: Awakened, literally rolled out of the airbed onto the floor where I acquired a doggy position, face-down, then raised up to a standing position still maintaining the face-down attitude while I ate a breakfast croissant standing, face-down, at the breakfast counter. I washed, dressed, brushed my teeth, walked to the Jeep where I sat hunched over during the drive to the eye surgeon’s office – all with my face down.
The nurse removed the patch from my eye as I realized the answer to one of my questions, what would I be able to see after the surgery – nothing! Everything was white, as though my pupil was still totally dilated. It was like white-blindness.
I do not recall if the doctor looked “into” my eye, nor do I recall if drops were administered. The visit was more or less a safety check. Was I in pain? Did I have any questions? With my good eye covered, could I see the fingers that the nurse held up? No – I couldn’t see her fingers, her hand or her!
Instructions for home recovery included administering three different eye drops: Besivance, antibiotic, 1 drop 3x/day; Prolensa, an NSAID, 1 drop 3x/day and Durezol, a steriod, 1 drop 3x/day. The eye was to be kept dry, not to let water from the shower drip into it. If needed, I could take over-the-counter Tylenol for pain. I would cheat. I had leftover Percocets from my mastectomies and would take one before going to bed the first three days, not so much for eye pain, but neck and back pain.
When the doctor came in, he basically reviewed all of the home-care instructions with me and told me that during my face-down positioning, I “could” have a total of two hours non-face-down. For instance, thirty minutes eating lunch and dinner, ten minutes here and there for attending other personal needs, all to add up to two hours per day, no more. I cannot express how happy I was to hear this reprieve! Suddenly, my mind grasped the possibility of being able to endure this torture by having two hours of scattered relief throughout everyday. I could do it!
After leaving the doctor’s office, we once again went out for lunch and ate in the vehicle. When we returned home, I quickly changed into my pajamas, looked at my eye and took some pictures of its ugliness. Wow, what a shiner!
The remainder of the day was a repeat of the previous day – laying face-down on the air bed, listening to television. I was tired and had no desire to sit in the massage/vitrectomy chair to actually watch t.v.
DAY THREE: With nowhere to go, no appointments, no visitors, my day began with a breakfast croissant at the kitchen counter, then tended to some personal hygiene and back to laying on the airbed face-down. I was not allowed to read. I listened to television, a lot of programs on the History channel, National Geographic and a new, local channel called “MEtv” that plays old shows like Leave it to Beaver, The Donna Reed Show, Father Knows Best… the oldies but goodies from when I grew up. I was still somewhat content with just lying on the airbed rather than sitting in the Vitrectomy chair.
DAYs 4 – 9: Repeat day three with a few moments of sitting in the Vitrectomy chair and actually watching television through the two mirrors positioned on the floor in front of the chair. It wasn’t too bad, except that I am short, only 5’2″ and the chair, adjusted to its shortest length, was too long for me to be able to position my face onto the face cushion. Somehow I tilted the face cushion and raised or lowered the seat and found a comfortable enough position that I actually fell asleep in the chair and fell out!! Not good! I never sat in the chair again when I was tired enough to fall asleep!
By day ten, I was approaching insanity and I blatantly disobeyed the command to not read. I turned on my computer and checked into my facebook account as an invisible observer and read through the latest dramas in my friends’ lives. I was there for thirty minutes as part of my two hour daily reprieve.
Days eleven through thirteen, I enjoyed another little variation by turning on my Kindle and playing Free Cell for thirty minutes each day.
I value my eyesight above all human senses and that is why I agreed to earnestly follow the strict guidelines for post-op home care even though the success for this surgery is only in the 90% range, whether the patient maintains the restrictions or not.
There are no guarantees with any surgery. But, as much as I value my eyesight, I cannot imagine being asked to go through this recovery regime again. The solitary confinement was maddening, the back and neck pain became unbearable by day four when I ditched the Percocet and instead started popping Flexeril and Mobic to ease the inflammation and pain.
These were, by far, the most painful days I have lived.