From my journal:
June 13, 2005, Monday—This is the big day. “Terrified” pretty well says it all. We began it with a prayer and that prayer continued on silently through the day for both of us.
We arrived early, expecting a wait, but they took me in early, after I signed some special consent forms upstairs. Since the FDA had not approved this, “you will have to sign your life away,” the doctor told me, but what choice did I have? I signed page after page, and then initialed some handwritten lines added up along the side of the form in the margin. One of them said, “I understand that no one knows how this material will interact with human tissue.” Then they sent me back downstairs to wait for pre-op.
We shared a long hug when they called my name. Most folks were there for simple cataract surgery so I am sure that no one understood why we made such a big deal out of this, but it was possible that I would never see Keith out of that eye again, or the other one for much longer either.
As usual with me, it took several tries to get an IV, along with a lot of pain and blood.
“You are a real challenge.” First try, first bandage.
“Yep, you’re gonna be a REEEEAL challenge.” Second try, second bandage.
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Third try, third bandage. “Let me go get the resident expert.” She must have been, because she got it first try.
They told me I would be in a “twilight sleep," that I would be able to respond but wouldn’t care and wouldn’t remember. Famous last words. I remember everything, including everything the doctor said as he worked. Especially after they threw that sheet over my face. The claustrophobia came in with a rush. “You have oxygen, Mrs. Ward, you can breathe.” Right. Sure. Someone must have accidentally turned it off.
Then the blue kaleidoscope show started, and at least I was no longer staring at what I knew must have been an inch thick, non-porous, air-tight wrap over my whole body.
“We have full angle closure.” Yikes. Not good. Maybe I should not have done so much research—I know too much.
“Iris prolapse,” I heard next. What? This is what they said would abort the surgery, but Dr Osher kept going.
“This is not small enough. Give me another muscle hook.” Now that’s not a pleasant thought.
“That’s too big. Give me a smaller one. No, not that one. It’s still too big. I want the (some number).”
Tug, tug. “I can’t get it.” Tug, tug. “Let me try the (some instrument).” Tug, tug. “Got it.” Thank goodness, I was about ready to yank it out myself, whatever it was.
“Now it’s time to make some decisions.” Now? What does he mean "now?" Isn’t this a little late?
“This is difficult.” Amen.
“Thank you, Lord.” It was not the last time the doctor thanked God, nor me either.
Assorted technical stuff and lots of video off, video on for the next two hours.
“I’ve got Healon 5 (?) behind the lens. (Flush, flush, flush). This may be obsessive but I can’t leave it or she’ll have a capsular blockage. I’m not going to use this on the other eye. (Response: Not at all?) Can’t risk it.”
“I’m putting in enough drops to float the Queen Mary.”
After nearly three hours under that sheet, the light show stopped.
I cannot see a thing with the right eye. “Your eye will stay shut because of the anesthesia till sometime tonight.” That explains that. I did not even realize it was shut.
My blood pressure is 170/98. Terror will do that to you.
The things that go through your mind during a time like that always seem ridiculous when it's all over, but near-hysteria is another product of terror. I think hearing everything he said, especially when he became agitated because things were not going well, made it worse. He may have thought I was calm merely because I never uttered a sound until he asked a question, but I was just too petrified to move.
Look through that again. The thing he said that I remember best was, "Now it's time to make some decisions." That came closest to making me lose it. Isn't the middle of a first ever surgery a little late to be making decisions? I learned later what he really meant. This man was as ready for this surgery as he could be, staying late several evenings with a full surgical team to practice on pig eyes before he ever touched me. He knew exactly what tools to use and the course of the procedure. What he did not know, was how my 15 mm nanophthalmic eye would react when he placed the 50 diopter prismatic IOL inside it, and what he might have to do if something unexpected happened—like full angle closure or an iris prolapse. He did not know how, or even if, I would be able to see afterward. He very carefully explained that in clear, no-nonsense language the day before. Yes, he was as ready as he could be. There was nothing slapdash, hit-or-miss about it. And due to all that preparation, he succeeded in saving my eyes for a while longer, accomplishing the same near-miraculous feat six months later with the left eye.
How well do you plan for the major trials of your life? That is exactly what each temptation is—just like a major and very dangerous surgery. No, you cannot know exactly when it will happen. No, you cannot know exactly how Satan will come at you. But do you have a plan in place for defeating him? Are you building a fortress around your soul with prayer, Bible study, and the fellowship of brothers and sisters who can help? "If this temptation comes, this is what I will do," and then work on those very things. Have you planned which passages to read, which hymns to sing, what words to pray, or who to call for encouragement? Or are you going into major surgery with an unlicensed surgeon who flunked his anatomy test—are you counting on an unprepared you and only you? I had a doctor who is considered one of the top five eye surgeons in the world and even he practiced!
When the actual trial comes, it will hit you hard and fast and it will be far worse than you ever imagined it could be. But how much worse will it be if you are not even a little prepared? When you do not prepare to win, you have prepared yourself to fail.
NOW is the time to make some decisions. If you think you can just sit back and start operating and everything will be fine, you will lose your patient at the outset—and that patient is YOU!
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14).