Case in Point

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This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

A Case of Snake Eyes

I have the condition of dermatocholasis and ptosis and as a result I have recently had bilateral blepharoptasty and bilateral external levator resection.

You don’t say! You haven’t had yours?

On December 1, Kathy and I went to our eye doctor, Dr. Peter Shelley, to check out our eye balls. She has the bigger problem: a need for cataract surgery in both eyes. So that was our focus. My visit was pretty routine, although our wonderful ophthalmologist basically told me I looked like a cobra with my drooping, hooded eyelids. I told him I liked the Robert Mitchum look and he replied that I looked more like Droopy the Dog in a constant frown. Furthermore, my wife was beginning to complain about my look.

So off to the aesthetic physician (i.e., plastic surgeon) I go to change from Mitchum to Cary Grant. No cosmetic surgery for this boy from Rodeo City Ellensburg. Oh no, this was medically necessary since my vision was 75% occluded because of my “bilateral droopy upper eye lids.” My aesthetic physician, Dr. Troy Woodman, was charming and patient and didn’t need any work on his face. Surgery was set for January 31. It was to be a 30 minute procedure under anesthesia, beginning strong and tapering off to weak. Everything was explained to me but apparently I didn’t fully understand.

On January 31 (last Tuesday), I arrived at the clinic for my 11:30 appointment and at 11:45 was ushered into the pre-operating section of the clinic for final paper work and preparation. I took off my shirt (and suspenders!), put on a gown, lay on a gurney, and had oxygen stuck up my nose and blood pressure cuff put on. And then the fun began. An IV needle was stuck in the back of my hand. After two nurses and four jabs with the little instrument of torture and time running to 12:45 and me still being on the gurney with no IV, I called my dutiful wife to my side and told her, “I am outa here. I have waited long enough and my hand already hurts and they still haven’t got the IV in.”

She looks kindly at her hooded, reptilian husband hoping that the doctor will soon come out and get this guy calmed down. And sure enough, out comes the anesthesiologist to minister to the recalcitrant patient, and says to me, “How about some happy juice?” In about a second, with no pain, I have the IV inserted and realize that maybe I am in the hands of someone other than Torquemada. The anestheologist speaks with an indefinable accent and at the moment he is my favorite person in the world (next to my hand-holding wife). The doctor shortly comes out, elegantly dressed in his operating blues and apologizes for being 15 minutes late because he had to take “an older patient in rather quickly.” I feel like a smuck and mumble something like, “It’s OK.” He tells me that state law requires each patient to be in pre-op for 60 minutes in order to get fully prepared for the medical procedure. All of this makes me feel less like Robert Mitchum and more like PeeWee Herman.

The anesthesiologist tells me that the “happy juice” will decrease in strength in a few minutes and then it will be a moderate pain killer while Dr. Woodman works on my eye lids and eyelid muscles. He will need my cooperation. Well, it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I signed up for the deal. Suffice it to say that while I cooperated with the doctor as he burned (lasered) and stitched my face, I had to be chastised during the procedure to “work with him a bit more” in letting him near my eyes.

After the “procedure” Dr. Woodman went out to see Kathy in the waiting room and told her that when I needed cataract surgery (!) I needed to be completely out because I had abnormal sensitivity to eye-work. Reacting to burning and stitching of your eyelids is abnormal? That was sweet of Woodman to warn my wife, but the thought of having eye surgery and “cooperating” with the surgeon leaves me breathless. We were home by 2:30 in the afternoon.

Post operation phase is now in progress and I have eyes filled with erythromycin ophthalmic ointment (better known in the Case family as “goo”) which makes sight almost impossible (I can barely see to bang out this blog), frozen pea bags on my face to cut down the swelling, and a conclusion still indeterminate. I now look like a cross between Mitchum and Ronnie Raccoon.

I wouldn’t want to go through the procedure again and I won’t know the results for several more days. I see Dr. Woodman on Monday morning. But I marvel at the medical attention I received and thank my Lord that healers like the physician anesthesiologist and Woodman were available to me. Obama Care will probably take all this away so everyone needs to get their nip and tuck right now!

Oh, and Kathy who started all this? She is the real Robert Mitchum of the family. She is scheduled for the other cataract operation at the end of February under the skillful hands of kindly Dr. Shelly.

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