Wednesday, September 22, 2010

DALK Surgery

I got to St. Elizabeth surgical center at noon and was called in shortly afterward. I want to say that Dr. Holland and his staff were all efficient and personable, making Michele and I feel comfortable. While we waited, various personnel came in to double-check my information; they asked me to verify the eye scheduled for surgery about 20 times, which I found reassuring. Dr. Holland even signed my left eye so there would be no mistake.
I'm not going to say I wasn't nervous, because my stomach was doing flip flops. Ultimately though, I needed to do something about my horrible left eye. I'd been seeing 20/100 from that eye for the past 15 years, which left it all but useless aside from getting some peripheral vision from it. Many of you scheduled to have DALK will be more interested in the procedure, so let me get straight to that.

They used a local anesthetic to knock me out so they could "block" the area. This means that they gave me one shot in the temple (not actually very deep) and one between the eye and cheek bone so that the entire area would be completely numb and immobile. Neither of these I felt because I was out cold. They woke me up a few minutes later and pushed me into the operating room. It was on!

I was awake during the entire procedure but extremely relaxed and sedated. At first, I did not like the idea of this but it was somewhat necessary according to their procedure. This isn't quite as bad as it sounds, but I'm not going to lie and say it was easy. During the procedure, I saw mostly an oval of bright light and some shadows in the operated-on eye. I felt pressure but no pain when the old tissue was being removed. During the suture phase (I received 16 sutures) I felt faint pricks and the pressure of the doctor pulling them through. I'm usually pretty wimpy about this kind of thing, but I think I handled it pretty well. The thing that got me though was that as they were packing up and finishing the procedure, someone said they were going to give me something for the pain, and I received (I think) another shot between the eye and cheekbone. That was a bit of a surprise and hurt like hell to be honest.

They put me into the recovery room and already I was feeling much better. They put a patch on my eye, gave me some do's and don'ts and let me go out the door. Regarding the pain factor, I can only say that the eye feels (and continues to feel) very scratchy and aches a bit. It is nothing out of the ordinary, but it is fairly annoying. I can tell this scratchiness is going to be frustrating for me over the next few days, even with the pain-reducing eye drops.

Two hours later I removed my eye patch and put in some eye drops. How's my vision? Well, sitting here watching the Reds game on a big screen TV, I feel like my vision is going to end up being great. When I watch the game through my operated-on eye, I can actually see the names on the back of the players' jerseys and can almost read the tiny score on the screen! I could NEVER do that before, not even with my glasses on. The only problem is that everything is very cloudy, and the image seems to be "low" so when I look with both eyes I have severe double-vision...this is likely because the drugs they used to immobilize my eye have not worn off yet. No floaters, no bubbles or dark patches. Now I just have to fight very watery eyes and scratchiness. I hope the eye stabilizes soon.

I have to tip my hat to Dr. Holland and his staff. If my vision improves and clears up (and I think it will) it looks like I'm going to have amazing overall vision. Stay tuned for more updates!


I scheduled eye surgery two months ago to replace the topmost layers of my left cornea. The procedure is called DALK. Of all the corneal procedures, this one is the least invasive and has the highest rate of success (95%) for my condition, Keratoconus. This is something I could have had done several years ago, but was a little skeptical of the results. Now, being 40, it seems I better just go ahead and do it so that I can have good vision for the next several years.

I picked up 2 of my eye drops today, Durezel and Vigamox, while the third one remains caught up in pre-certification. I'm a little nervous about the surgery, as anyone would be, but I hear Dr. Holland is one of the best at this, and so I’m confident I'll be seeing pretty well in a few months.

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