When I had surgery in 2021 to repair an inguinal hernia, my motivation was to have something wrong with me fixed so I could get back to living life as I did before the hernia popped up (literally).
But the glaucoma surgery I had today was tougher to get enthusiastic about. There's no way to fix damage that's occurred to the optic nerve. All that can be done is reduce the chance of further damage.
However, Dr. Young, the glaucoma specialist in Portland I was referred to after some significant nerve damage was found in my very nearsighted right eye, felt that a Trabeculectomy surgery was the way to go, even though drops to reduce eye pressure (that's the main cause of glaucoma) had been working quite well for the last 18 months or thereabouts.
So despite some initial qualms -- I view all surgery as scary; eye surgery is extra scary -- after hearing Dr. Young's reasons for wanting me to have a Trabeculectomy, one was scheduled for 11:30 am today at Good Samaritan Hospital in NW Portland.
Here's why I was pleased with the surgery, though obviously it's too early to tell how successful it will be in further reducing the pressure in my right eye. (My left eye is only minimally affected by glaucoma.)
First, the Traffic Gods were with my wife and me.
I'd begged for the latest possible surgery time, because I told the scheduler that we live south of Salem and neither wanted to leave our house at a super-early time for the 75 minute or so drive to Good Samaritan, nor run the very real risk of getting stuck in morning rush-hour traffic heading into Portland.
Pleasingly, we encountered no backups at all today on either our drive to Portland or our drive home. That was a major stress reducer.
Another stress reducer was my surgery starting on time. My hernia surgery was delayed. I found it tough to be all prepped and ready to go, then be told that because a previous surgery took longer than expected, mine wouldn't start for an extra hour.
But today I was wheeled into the outpatient operating room a few minutes early.
And it was good to be awake through the eye surgery, though I'd told the anesthesiologist that I enjoy propofol when I've had it for colonoscopies. He said that he'd put a small amount in my IV tube. Don't know if that happened, though, since I felt pretty much the same during the surgery.
UPDATE: I need to change my "pretty much the same" claim after idly scratching my chest while watching TV last night and feeling a strange lump. A big lump. Checking it out, I found that it was a square of adhesive with a metal connector thingie on the top. And not just one, there were three of them on the top of my chest where they were hard to see without looking in a mirror. Must have been put there in the surgery room to monitor my heart. I have no memory of that happening, nor, as I thought more about it, of being wheeled into the recovery room. So now I believe that while I was conscious during most of the eye surgery, I wasn't for all of it, and the "pretty much the same" feeling I had while the eye was being operated on could have been a propofol effect where propofol reality feels more real than actual reality (and more pleasant). Also, I forgot to credit the anesthesiologist with a clever question. He asked me, "So what did you have for breakfast today?" Quick-witted senior citizen that I am, I replied, "Ha, trick question! I didn't have anything to eat after midnight, as I was told to do by the pre-op instructions." He must feel this gets a more honest answer than "Have you had anything to eat after midnight?"
Good Samaritan is a teaching hospital (maybe all are). A nursing student from the University of Portland accompanied the RN who did my pre-surgery workup. She asked if I was OK with the student inserting the IV tube.
I said, "Sure." I did have some qualms about this, but the student did a good job. I told him that I admired him setting out on a career in nursing, given that so many nurses retired or quit the profession during the high stress time of Covid.
Having relaxing conversations with the nursing staff goes a long way toward making surgery as pleasant as possible, though in no way was it fun.
It'll be interesting to see what Regence MedAdvantage is charged for my surgery. When I was wheeled into the operating room, I was surprised to see what appeared to be about a dozen people in the room. I'm sure they're all necessary. I just visualized dollar signs floating above the head of each person.
As with my hernia surgery, once again the anesthesiologist who talked with me just before the eye surgery said "You're really healthy." And once again I replied, "OK, but I'm about to be wheeled into surgery, so I'm not that healthy."
His point, he went on to say, is that I don't have diabetes, heart disease, cancer, a lung problem, an inability to walk, or other common problems that, I assume, he sees in many older patients he works with. So that conversation provided me with some perspective on my glaucoma.
Now I have to do the post-surgery thing. Three kinds of medicated drops that I have to use for several weeks four times a day. Wearing an eye shield while I sleep for a week. Not lifting more than ten pounds for a while. Going to Dr. Young's Tualatin office the next three Friday afternoons to see how the eye is healing.
Which is all fine with me. The best thing about having surgery is that it feels so good to have it over with. I'd worried about all kinds of things going wrong today. None of those things happened.
I found that sometime last week my attitude toward the surgery changed from "Oh, no, I need to have this damn eye surgery" to "Oh, please, let's get the eye surgery done so I can stop worrying about it."
Mission accomplished. Now I can start worrying about other things that probably won't happen.