Cataract & Ruin (Ouch)

eye4Another step on the road to decrepitude. When I told my former college roommate that I was having cataract surgery, she said “God, we really are old, aren’t we?”

Yes, we are. But aren’t we lucky to be old at this time? Back in the day, this kind of procedure required a hospital stay, eye patches, protective goggles, and a list of strict restrictions like those against lifting and bending. The restrictions are still there, but offered more in the way of suggestions to resume normal activities but avoid anything strenuous. Don’t bend over the day of surgery (impossible since I was mostly sleeping off the anesthesia) or drive for 24 hours (same situation). But I did drive myself to the doctor’s office the next day and everywhere else until a week later when the entire procedure was repeated on the second eye.

Cataract surgery involves removal of the eye’s lens which has become cloudy over time and replacing it with an artificial lens. It is usually a same-day procedure performed in a physician’s office or medical facility. Recovery is most often swift and easy.

(But why do you suppose discussion of medical procedures releases the worst punning instincts in me? A while back there was the post about Paul Bunion and now this heading, which only makes sense if you keep the “t” silent.)

My eyes are getting used to their new lenses and even with new over-the-counter “readers” from the drug store, I was thrilled to be able to read an entire New Yorker article the other night. The next big break-through will be eye makeup (one more week!). The blazing California sun is a challenge but the UV protection sunglasses from the doctor help and who cares if they make me roy orbisonlook like Roy Orbison.

Another reason why we’re lucky is Medicare. Not only was the surgery covered but I was informed that as a Medicare patient who’d undergone cataract surgery, I am entitled to one free prescription “reader” glasses. So something a little more grownup is on the way, though the sparkly pink ones from Walgreen’s are fun.

And don’t think of trying to make me feel guilty about Medicare. I believe we should have Medicare for all in this country. Our distinction as the only so-called advanced country in the world whose people do not have medical care as a right is shameful. Obamacare is a start but it should be universal. And Medicare should be able to bargain with the drug companies as the Veterans Administration does.

A man from Sweden was visiting us a few years ago. “Guess what,” he said. “I got hearing aids.” “Good for you,” I replied. “Ed and I getting close to needing them.” “Guess how long I had to wait for them,” he said. “How long?” “A year.” “And when you got them,” I asked, “how much did they cost?” “Oh,” he said, “nothing.”

Humpf! A year’s wait seems like a piece of cake to me. Not unlike cataract surgery.

Photo: Roy Orbison

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