Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Supermassive Black Hole

     As it turned out,  our adventures in the emergency room last Tuesday were just the beginning of what ended up being a long damn week. I suspected that was going to be the case while my husband was still being examined, but there's always the hope of being dead wrong. Yeah, no such luck. I know how strange it sounds to actually want to be wrong about something, but you see why it would be preferable in this case. I know what happens when some seemingly minor health issue snowballs into something larger (the hernia surgery that had to happen a mere month before our wedding springs to mind) and it never, ever ends in something fun.

     After finally being discharged with orders to contact the eye doctor the very next day, my husband and I left the hospital for home. It was almost one in the morning, neither of us had eaten in hours and we still had to stop by the pharmacy to get his painkillers for his back. If you'll remember, his back pain is what started the whole mess in the first place. It was there, in the emergency room while waiting to be seen, that he rubbed his eye and started the ball rolling on that. It wasn't truly his fault, though, considering that he'd really just opened up an incision (again) that was already weak .

     By the time our journey ended for the evening it was well past one in the morning and I knew that we were far from done. The eye doctor had said the last time this happened that if the incision opened up again, they were going to laser it closed. Great, fine, let's do that. When my husband called the next morning (well, technically that same morning, but let's not get stuck on the fine print) and was given an appointment to be seen early that afternoon, I fully expected them to fire up their laser right there in the office and seal up the hole. That's exactly how it works, right?

     What actually happened was quite a bit different than the little tableau I had in my head. One of the doctors in the practice (his regular doctor wasn't in that day) looked him over and decided that they were indeed going to do surgery. It was a little more complicated than just lasering the hole closed, however. Upon consultation with my husband's regular eye doctor, it was decided that donor tissue would be used to make the patch, as his sclera is thinner and weaker than someone without Marfan's Syndrome and the tissue couldn't be trusted to hold a stitch. Or, as my husband's inner 8-year-old said to me, "Dead person eye! On my eye! Now I'll have a zombie eye!" (This line of thinking was only encouraged by Adam, his best friend, who declared upon finding out about the proposed procedure, "Zombie pirates f---ing rule!")

     Now that we knew what the plan was, we sat back to wait until the doctors decided the time was right to perform the operation. My husband had yet another appointment on Thursday morning with the eye doctor and we thought that would be the visit that would decide the when and where of his impending surgery. My husband found out how wrong that assumption was when he was presented with a surgery consent form and told that they were preparing the operating room for him. Um, what?

     Neither of us was prepared for full-on surgery for a couple of reasons. Surgery is the kind of thing that you have to sort of get yourself into the correct head space for and I know my husband wasn't there. Neither was I, for that matter. He texted me from the doctor's office (I was at work) as soon as he found out what was in the works and I could tell he was a bit wiggy. He got wiggier still when he was informed me that because of his blood thinners, they were not going to do a general anesthesia on him, but rather a local. That meant that he would be AWAKE while having his eye cut on. Sounds like a good time if I ever heard one.

     It's just one more thing in a long list of somethings that's made more complicated than it should be by the Marfan's. At this point in the game, it hardly registers with me when it happens because it's such an integral part of our lives as to be almost a non-issue. In this case, the eye needed to be repaired quickly and completely and there just wasn't time to pull him off the Coumadin and onto whatever that injectable blood thinner is. Therefore, hold very, very still for a few hours while the doctors poke and prod and cut on your eye.

     Actually, they did give him a large amount of Valium before beginning the procedure, so he was out for at least part of it. Notice I said "part of it", because he did wake up about two hours into the surgery and from then on was very aware of what was going on. He said that all he could see was a very bright light, but it did a real number on his head, waking up in the middle of surgery and trying to hold perfectly still, lest he cause the doctors to slip and accidentally blind him. I myself had eye surgery when I was fifteen (the kind with scalpels, not the laser kind) and I cannot imagine how much worse it would've been had I been cognizant of anything. It makes me cringe to think about what it was like for my husband to be laying on that table, knowing full well what was going on.

     He came through the three-hour ordeal just fine, though, as the recovery room nurse told me when she called to tell me I could come pick him up. After consulting with my boss, I left work early to skip on over to the hospital and collect newly-repaired husband. Upon arrival, however, that same nurse informed me that there had been a slight complication and so the surgeon had been called back to take a look at him. She then told me that he was going to be okay and that I had to be strong, because my husband needed me right now. I just looked at her with a paper-doll smile and nodded my head. I understand that she was just trying to be helpful and that there are many people who go to pieces over things like this, but I am not one of those.

     I sat down in his recovery pod (no, really, they're called pods) to wait for him and he was brought to me within a few minutes. Apparently, there was a corneal abrasion in addition to the surgery site and that's what was causing all the pain. (I've had one of those and they're less than fun. Think of a piece of hot ash trapped between your eyeball and your eyelid.) The surgeon came to speak to me, let me know what I/he needed to do to care for the eye and sent us on our way. I brought the car around to the pick-up area and the nurse loaded my husband into the front seat. He was pretty quiet then because they'd put some numbing drops on his eye before his departure, but those started to wear off before we'd even made it home.

     Our arrival at home marked the beginning of a rather painful recovery weekend for my husband, but that's an adventure all its own...

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