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?