Aaaah, home again from three days of hospital stuff. It was all highly successful and I’m feeling pretty good, happy that it’s all over. Jeepers, I’ve had a busy year. In the past twelve months I’ve had five general anaesthetic operations and two local anaesthetic ones. These are the GAs, as they call them, all for different things:
- November 2016 – removal of gastric band;
- March 2017 – removal of gall bladder;
- September – colonoscopy;
- October 10 – bladder and kidney infection, discovery of stone in ureter, requiring insertion of stent;
- November 21 (Tuesday this week) – removal of stone and stent.
The local anaesthetic jobs were:
- October 31 – removal of BCC (skin cancer) on nose;
- November 22 (yesterday) – cataract operation on left eye.
Crazy! I’m fine and feeling good, happy that it’s all over for the year – I hope. It’s been a busy year! There’s one ongoing thing, the CLL leukemia (properly called Mantle Cell Lymphoma). The news on that is to wait about three months, check red cell count again and if decline is ongoing, to boost the bone marrow by injections of iron, vitamin B12 and folate. Not too difficult, I don’t think, except he said the iron may be done by an infusion into a vein in my hand, and sometimes it leaves a brown mark which is permanent. Big deal – tattoos are fashionable these days. So my next appointment for that is 13 February. I might bring it forward if I still feel fatigued.
The stone and stent removal was painless and highly successful. The surgeon said I’m free of all stones now. I think that stone had been lurking in my right kidney for 25 years or more. It showed on X rays back then, but it wasn’t moving, so it was left alone. But I remember having some pretty bad pain for two days in Bali in December 2014, but it stopped, so there was no action then. This seems to have been its final trip down the tube. Painless, thank goodness! It’s gone now, broken up by laser lithotripsy, hi power focused green laser pulses to blast it apart in small sections. That wasn’t available when I had a lot of trouble back in the 80s and 90s.
Yesterday was my first cataract operation. It was quite easy and almost painless. I now have a new lens in my left eye, made from acrylic. It’s corrected for astigmatism, but it’s fixed focus because the eye muscles can’t change its shape as the original lenses are. That means it’s set for distance vision, and therefore I now have the equivalent of “long sight” (presbyopia) instead of the short sight (myopia) that I had before, in that left eye.
The effect is a bit magical. I don’t think I need my glasses for distance vision with that eye now. That would be a big thing, because I’ve been wearing glasses so long I think I was born with them on.
As well, it’s brighter and noticeably sharper in general. I had felt that my vision was dimming before, and now I can see the difference between left and right, I can see it’s true. It’s a bit disconcerting and the surgeon said I can have the right eye done if I want it. He offered the next available slot, but I said let’s give it a few weeks to settle down first.
It means I’ll have to get my left lens redone in my glasses frame, effectively just for close vision. I’m not sure if I need bifocals or what yet. I’ll wait and see.
The operation was fascinating. It all went fine, not as scary or painful as I expected. No nervousness. I arrived at 9.20am, filled out forms and answered questions with a nurse (no, she wouldn’t marry me), had drops put in (sting!) to open the iris, then was taken to a booth where I stripped off (she still wouldn’t marry me even after seeing my body) and got fitted out in two green gowns, one frontways and one for the back. Why? No idea, but with the hair cap on and the bootees I felt like a surgeon!
Then at about 10.30am it was into the theatre and first, sitting on a stool, some marks were made with marker pen on my face, to identify the correct eye, I guess (ho ho). I have a feeling some local anaesthetic might have been injected at this point, but I hardly felt anything. Then a small tool was applied to hold the eyelids apart. No hurts. Oh, I forgot, I’d previously had a “pedget” placed under my lower eyelid. A “pedget”? It’s a tiny white cube (0,5mm) that, maybe, had anaesthetic in it? I don’t know, but there’s a new word for your Scrabble games. They removed it with tweezers now.
Then it was onto the table, carefully, lying on my back, and a cannula was put into the left arm, in the area already red and marked from the previous day. Then Fentanyl and Midazolam were injected to make me a bit drowsy, but the anaesthetist said it was a very light dose because with sleep apnea, he didn’t want me falling asleep. I hardly noticed any effect.
Then the eye must have been numb because he quickly started work, breaking up the old lens and sucking it out through a small cut in the left side. I could sort of see what he was doing, via my view of the intense light above. It was changing colours and sharpness as he worked with a very tiny vacuum tool, sucking all the residue of the old lens out. All was blurry then, of course.
Then he said to the nurse, “Give me the lens, please”, then to me, ” Right, a bit of pushing now”, and he pushed the new plastic lens in through that tiny cut, manouevering it into place, taking a minute or two to get it centred. My view of the filament of the bright light got much sharper and I said so. I was giving him a running commentary of what I was seeing, you see 😃, to make sure he got it right 😉
Then he put a pad over the eye and a plastic cover, then lots of sticking plaster to hold it in place, and it was done. No real pain at this stage, just a tiny stinging. Then I was shuffled over onto a bed and taken to the recovery area, alongside about ten other people, and my BP and pulse were monitored to ensure I was OK for 10 mins or so. Then it was off the bed and walk to a “departure lounge” with big comfy chairs for orange juice, coffee, a sandwich and some water. Lovely.
More BP and pulse readings, then I got dressed again and my good friend Geoff arrived at 1.15pm to take me back to their place in Scarborough, where I was staying the night. I still couldn’t wear my glasses, so I couldn’t go home.
This morning it was another appointment with the surgeon at 8am at the Lions Eye Institute in Nedlands for a check, and it was all over. No charge for this appointment, it was only 10 minutes. Another appt for two weeks’ time and we were away. Geoff got me home at about 10.30am and here I am, relieved that this l-o-n-g series of medical things is finally, almost, over apart from the CLL. Phew. I feel quite buoyant, actually. Now I can think of more pleasurable things, like a car!
After a couple of years of indecision, I’ve given up the idea of a Merc (too unreliable, too expensive to fix, oil leaks, poor quality control in the early 2000s, isn’t that a terrible list?), and decided to go with the idea I had last year when the car above was first released here. It’s the Skoda Superb 162TSi hatch/sedan. It’s made in the Czech Republic and shares a lot with VW and Audi, part of the same group. If you’d told me 30 years ago I’d buy a Skoda one day, I would have laughed my socks off. They used to be terrible cars.
But look at ’em now. Superb it is. The list of standard equipment is amazing, including leather heated and cooled seats, with electric adjustments. A cooled glove box. A 2.0l turbo 4 cyl, giving 0-100Kmh in 6.6secs! Fuel economy of 6.4l/100Km combined. And a shed load more.
I can’t afford a new one, but there’s a s/h hand one in Carramar for a good price (or it will be, once we’ve haggled him down from his silly asking price). It’s 15 months old, 30,000Km and black unfortunately, but it looks classy. We’ll see.
The trick is the hatch back. The lower part, below the back window, opens like a normal boot, but if you release a catch, the whole back window opens up as one piece, making a huge boot area.
The back seats fold down, so it becomes like a station wagon without the wagon look. As well, the back seat area is unusually spacious in leg room, not that that would sway me.
The thing is, I’ve had a station wagon for the last 25 years because of my dogs, and although they’re gone, one day I’ll get another dog. This will serve to carry it without being a wagon, i.e. nicer car looks.
I’m fired up now to do the deal, so I’ll phone my tame ex used car salesman to do some haggling for me. He’s already alerted me to Red Book valuations. Yeah, what a revelation. I might have paid the guy’s asking price, but not after seeing this.
I can’t wait. Anyone want to buy a good 2001 TJ Magna wagon with 148,000Km? Totally reliable, good tyres, cheap? Please?