Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nostalgia Ain't All It's Cracked Up to Be - Cataract Edition

A while back, I blogged about how the good old days really weren't.  Today, as my spouse underwent cataract surgery on one eye, I was reminded again of how nostalgia ain't all it's cracked up to be.

I had a long time to ponder this, as first I waited for my spouse to be taken for prep, then waited nearly another 45 minutes for him to be taken to the operating room.  And then, another wait in the recovery room.  The entire process, including transportation to and from, took about four and a half hours.

Spouse has had the cataract for about a year, and in the past few months it deteriorated rapidly.  It got noticeably worse just in the last two weeks.

Basically, a cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye.  It can occur in one or both eyes.  If both eyes develop cataracts at the same time, it can cause blindness.  In the case of my spouse, the cataract had "ripened" (meaning it was ready for surgery where insurance would pay)  and was causing him significant distress.

This cataract surgery is one a lot of older people have had, and it's almost like a routine procedure in our country. With modern medical technology, it's an outpatient procedure. The eye surgeon takes the natural lens out and replaces it with an artificial lens. With my spouse, the actual procedure took only about 10 minutes, and he remained conscious for the entire prep and procedure. (His report: it was painless, but weird, including an interesting light show in his field of vision.)

In certain instances, the patient may no longer need glasses.  It's a nice outcome if a surgery actually makes you better than you were, rather than just correcting a condition.

My spouse won't be one of those who can throw their glasses away, but it's only several hours after the surgery and he's already seeing improvement in his vision.  It's possible that he may be cleared for driving as early as tomorrow.  Now we need to hope that he doesn't develop a complication, or an infection.  He's taking three different types of eye drops to prevent the latter.

So, what's the point of all this?

I know someone who had cataract surgery in the 1980's.  Her procedure took about 2 hours, she had stitches (the thought of that gives me the creeps, a long recovery period, and she wasn't able to resume driving for several days. 

And prior to this surgery being available at all? All we need to do is look at the cataract situation in developing countries.

According to one statistic I read, 50% of "preventible" blindness cases in developing countries result from cataracts. Where families live "on the brink", a blind family member becomes a burden, and can affect the entire family's ability to survive.

Doctors have teamed to bring cataract surgery to these developing countries and to people who have been blind for years, the surgery is literally a miracle.

Am I nostalgic for the "good old days" before this surgery was available?

Quality of life isn't only about technology - and there are parts of modern life I would rather be without - but if you are facing blindness due to a cataract, technology is certainly something you want on your side.

Do you think the "good old days" were the good old days?

16 comments:

  1. I am reminded of when I used to work at a historic village, specifically with the small farm included the animals and gardening chores. Folks use to always wax nostalgic for the good old days of when gardeners used 'natural' products keep bugs and such off the produce. Those natural products were things like almost pure arsenic and similar poisons... :)

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    1. You are so correct. People don't stop to think that "organic" pesticides, for example, included nicotine (as another example). Just because something is organic doesn't mean it can't be deadly.

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  2. I think we're often nostalgic for the days long past because someone was there to take care of our troubles. We were care free. We were one with the joy that can come only from a constant high developed from running, jumping, playing, and being out in the sun. We long for that sense of belonging -- of being.

    It's not often I see that child in me anymore. He was a goofy kid that struggled to remember the Pledge of Allegiance in grade school. He liked to climb trees and roller skate. He liked to read and sit in the sun. He liked to walk and discover the world. He wanted to be an astronaut.

    Now, things are so different. I'm not even sure that kid could have imagined the world now. I'm unsure that any of us could. Magic turned to Science.

    So, nostalgia? There are times, but honestly not that often.

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    1. I enjoyed your observations very much. Thank you! I don't see that little girl in me, either, and haven't for many years. Life does have a way of doing that, doesn't it.

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  3. I remember when they put some sort of metal covers with holes in them over your eyes after the surgery. That was in the 70's... no it wasn't always better in the good ole days... Good post

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    1. Thank you. My mother in law endured the older surgery I described - she mentioned an "eye patch" while she was hospitalized - the metal cover sounds horrible. (My husband does have to use a plastic cover with holes, for the next week, when he sleeps.)

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  4. Ewwww... stitches in the eye??? That gives me the creeps as well! And we certainly do take for granted all the gifts we have in our country thanks to technology and medical advancements. I'm so glad your husband is already seeing improvements and will send my positive thoughts that his recovery continues to go smoothly!

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    1. Thank you, Suerae. (the description of the older surgery, by the way, was what my mother in law endured-what a difference a generation makes!)

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  5. Well, the good old days are over-rated, but as far as stitches... a relative of mine is recovering from cataract surgery she had a few months ago. There were complications and her cornea was damaged! She had to have a cornea transplant and still has stitches in her eye.

    Oh, and the efforts to improve her ability to read did not work. She will need bifocals.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear this. Along the way, as my husband mentioned his pending surgery to people at work or otherwise, we met a couple of other people who didn't have good outcomes, or had to endure several additional surgeries to fix problems caused by the initial surgery. All surgeries have risks, as the doctors love to warn. I'm hoping, of course, that the apparent good outcome my husband seems to have continues.

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  6. Modern proceedures help in so many cases, especially this one. It must be wonderful for people in third world countries to have a life-saving operation like this, where they can live as a contributing member of their family instead of being a burden.

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    1. Indeed. It's been almost like a miracle for my husband (although he can't read with both eyes at this point)and am crossing fingers that no complications will result.

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  7. My mom has had cataract surgery and it went well. Personally I love the romantic ideas of the "old days" but wouldn't switch (except for maybe less gadget technology). Medical improvements alone make our quality of life better.

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    1. I wouldn't switch, either, except for the pressure of being available 24/7 through gadgets - just one almost senior citizen's opinion!

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  8. I agree with Suerae! The thought of eye stitches makes me shudder!
    I hope your husband makes a speedy recovery!

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