Surgery is over, and I'm resting at home. I realized this morning why I've had difficulty connecting emotionally with the reality of the surgery plans. First, this is the kind of surgery that has always been in the realm of "someday, maybe in a few years." I never put much stock in those words because despite all the somedays that were predicted during my childhood, I have seen very few come to pass. There were also a lot of factors that having this surgery was dependent on: Medicaid covering it, a good report from Dr. Trese, and even my post-surgery meds arriving on time. The meds problem still wasn't resolved yesterday--the person who took my order wrote my credit card number down incorrectly, so the meds had not been sent. They were sent overnight last night, but I actually expected to come home to a notice about attempted delivery and not have the meds I needed. (Fortunately, my pessimism was not prophetic.) So now I am adjusting to the fact that someday has happened.
I was awake during most of the procedure. I ended up needing extra pain medication a few times, and this was upsetting to me. I remember not knowing quite what to do with my arms... When I let myself relax, they hung off the sides of the table.
The doctor who actually did most of the work is not listed on the practice web site. I wonder if he is new or if he is a fellow... It was more than obvious that Dr. Price was teaching him--he was right beside him, explaining various things about my eye and things he saw about my previous grafts. Of course, I didn't understand all of it, but what I did understand rather interested me.
A representative from the AlphaCor manufacturer was also in the room--apparently she is a registered nurse, and she not only delivers the AlphaCor but also gives feedback during surgery. She and the younger doctor were discussing my case in comparison with other cases. Only two or three other people have received this artificial cornea in the state, and only 200 have received it in the country. In cases where the corneal damage is the only cause of damage, some people have gone from having 20/200 before surgery to 20/20 afterward. In my case, of course, it depends on the status of other eye structures. This is nothing I haven't already said in this journal.
What is confusing to me is the question of whether I will be able to see during the three months between now and "stage 2." A doctor in Florida who evaluated me for this procedure last July said that I would probably have similar visual functioning to what I had before surgery. Right now there is a piece of the white part of the eye over the implant to allow it to settle. This conjunctiva flap is obviously not clear. But I don't think I will see blackness. I'm not sure if this is just wishful thinking, but I think I saw sunlight through my patch this afternoon. That seems crazy--I have a lot of gauze and shield and tape over my eye. But then again, a person who covers her eyes with a blanket that is light-colored can still see a bit of sunlight through the material. At least, I used to be able to--that's why I don't like lounging outside.
Dr. A. said that I would not have vision during this time. But during the procedure he said to the AlphaCor representative: "I wonder if she'll be able to see anything tomorrow." Some web sites say that vision will be "limited" during this time. So I have no idea what to expect. I really am a beta tester in this ... and I guess we'll find out tomorrow what I can see when the patch is off.