Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cataract II: Seeing - Sort Of - The Expert

"How many fingers am I holding up?"

"I'm not sure. Where's your hand?"

We were about a third of the way through the actual exam. This doesn't count the hour filling out paperwork, the wait with Steve well past appointment time because they were busy, or the actual connection with the Doc at the end to check my dilated eyes and start scheduling a variety of pre-op, surgical, and post-op appointments. (I'm going to be very busy, starting tomorrow.)

But the midpoint of the exam was with the staff, rechecking eye pressure, vision, and whatever else they needed first, then showing me a video explaining what the surgery can and can't do, what Medicare will and won't pay for, and eventually directing me to the corner where they were hiding the restroom. All through the first two major parts of the visit, I caught repeated comments from the staff about how impatient several of the patients were as they were running so late.

I decided not to be one of those. I found the staff very helpful and informative, from answering my questions to apologizing to Steve for how long they were keeping me. Who needed to add to their challenges for the day?

The video reassured me that nearly the entire procedure is performed by lasers so I can maybe not freak out over the prospect of watching scalpels digging into my eye.

For the record, in the how-many-fingers exam, once she started moving her hand out of the deep shadow it had been in and waved it back and forth a couple times, I was able to tell her, "Five."

Information I got back was that I have a type 4 or stage 4, or whatever their jargon is, kind of cataract. There was something about a hard rim as well. At least I think I got that last part right. He translated that as being fully mature. A bit of a surprise for something that was just being hinted at a year ago. And a bit of a worry once he announced another one is starting in the other eye. I can't tell  it's there yet, but it's definitely a strong incentive to fix the first ASAP. Although he also said something about granules and I  didn't manage to get my act together soon enough after that to ask if the cataract surgery will fix those and/or what their prognosis is.

Because they can't see through this one, I have to get a procedure that's essentially an ultrasound of they eyeball so they can look for any other abnormalities, like, say, retinal detachment, as well as measuring the eye for the new lens fit. They called the Doc who does that, catching him in his car heading home as it was so late. He agreed to see me Saturday.

Tomorrow I have to call his office staff to assure them he OKed the appointment, call my cardiologist to see if we can push up my appointment so I have an EKG for them, or get one elsewhere within a week, and head to my Primary Doc for an already scheduled appointment. See? Busy.

Once the tests are in, there's a final appointment with the surgeon to go over everything, and then get my new lens Dec. 7.  I go back the next day for post-op check, then again after two weeks. It's kinda vague as to exactly I get examined for the new Rx for my glasses after that. Weeks. Months.

One thing sure is that I will still need glasses. Not just for the other eye, but because Medicare will only approve the simplest, cheapest version of an implant. While there are ones out there that correst for far, middle, and near distance vision, and can even fix astigmatisms, Medicare will pay to fix only one of those. Your choice. For the rest you pay yourself or get glasses. I'm opting for good distance vision. It's what I'm used to.

Oh, and don't forget the page full of possible bad side effects. And the lack of guarantee, which can even include the growth of a second cataract at the very rear behind the part they replaced. They can maybe fix that by punching a hole through with a laser, though.

Fingers crossed.

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