POSTSCRIPT / October 27, 2022 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Why I was missing in action last week

Having been missing in action for two column-days last week, I owe everybody an explanation for my absence from my assigned slot.

My deteriorating eyesight traced to cataracts in both eyes has disrupted my reading and writing routine, forcing me to undergo surgery over the past two months to pluck out the cloudy lenses and replace them with clear artificial intra-ocular lenses.

Cataract is a condition where the normally clear lens of the eye starts to become cloudy. Photo: medicinenet.com

I was recuperating from the second eye operation days ago when a granddaughter in New Jersey, where I have been riding out the pandemic, tested Covid-positive.

Being a senior and presumed more vulnerable, I decided to play it safe by transferring to another place. I was more or less settled in my new workplace when I was informed two days ago that my dear apo had been cured. I packed up and went back.

The surgeries, post-operation checkups, and the moving around in the middle of the pandemic, not to mention other age-related medical issues bothering me, have wrought havoc on my body clock and my work schedule.

Under the circumstances, it might be best to discontinue writing my column. This will not only relieve pressure on me while trying to adjust, but also avoid my irritating sensitive souls floating around this spooky time of November.

I look forward to seeing our collective cataracts replaced, and our general physical and political condition improved – so endangered media species need not drive around with their hand-brake on, as I noted in my “Postscript” of May 3. Go to: https://tinyurl.com/yc3k2bhk

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Four years ago, my annual physical checkup showed that a cataract was developing in my right eye. But after weighing the benefits of surgery versus the risks, I decided to just let it be.

The thought of paying for a major surgery at the forex rate of P50 to the US dollar scared me. Not being a US citizen, I had no Medicare to cover the costly procedure, professional fees, and such. Besides, at that time, I could still read, write and drive normally with eyeglasses.

Friends ask how much cataract surgery costs in the States. It depends largely on who does it and where. As for the replacement intraocular lens, in my case it was around $3,000 per eye, which is apart from the fees for the doctor, the anesthesiologist, and related things.

It may be a major out-of-pocket item, the doctor said, but with the proper multi-focus IOL in both eyes, he assured me I won’t need prescription glasses for reading, distance, and driving. Sold!

The outpatient procedure itself took only about 15 minutes. What ate more than an hour were the preliminaries in a curtained cubicle where you changed into a gown, the nurse recorded your vital signs and verified everything (identity, age, medical history, allergies, etc.) and made sure you signed the papers (which I presumed were mainly for consent and waiver), the anesthesiologist entered and explained things, then added the sedation fluid into the IV solution that he inserted earlier while talking.

The eye doctor came in, made sure it was me and the correct eye to work on, and repeated key reminders before they wheeled me to the OR. After some 15 minutes, it was over – except for the billing. I was aware throughout the procedure and, thanks to the sedation, I felt no pain – just the pressure of their doing something to my eye using an overhead equipment that I noticed carried the brand name Leica.

In the recovery room,  actually just another curtained cubicle, an orderly chatted with me and got me my things to put on. After some 10 minutes, he took me in a wheelchair to the lobby for pickup by my daughter Theresa who has been my medical hatid-sundo.

Of course, the surgeries are one eye at a time, with three-four weeks’ interval. Naturally, the second eye is operated on only when the first eye is confirmed in the Post-Ops to be on its way to healing.

Only two drugs, both eye-drops, were prescribed: Moxifloxacin (an antibiotic) and Prednisolone suspension Those two meds came with a list of reminders on do’s and don’t’s. I was also given plastic covers to protect the eye when sleeping and unconsciously touching, scratching, or banging it.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 27, 2022)

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