August 3rd 2000 was a day I’ll never forget. The night before had been a sleepless night. How could I sleep knowing that I was going under the knife the next day?! A lot depended on this surgery; my self-confidence, my vision and possibly my ability to drive. You may call me a drama queen, but to a 15 years old, this was a really big deal!
I was born with strabismus, a defect which caused my eyes to turn inward, essentially crossed eyes. It caused me a lot of grief. I remember one girl telling the other kids to stay away from me because it was contagious. Kids can be cruel…and ignorant for that matter. I’m sure you’ve seen at least one person with this. If not, look up photos of Kristen Bell and Ryan Gosling. Didn’t know they had a lazy eye, did you? Maybe if they had been famous back then I wouldn’t have let my eyes bother me so much.
I arrived at the day surgery unit of the hospital early in the morning. Right away, they forced me in to the traditional hospital wear…the dreaded paper napkin gown. They also gave me slippers. The slippers were like shower caps, but for your feet. I felt as stupid as I looked. On top of that, they spelled my name wrong on my hospital bracelet, bravo!
I didn’t have to wait in the waiting room very long. The person scheduled for surgery ahead of me forgot to not eat, so my surgery got bumped up. My heart stopped and my legs felt like jello as I rose from my seat to follow the orderly. He sat me in another waiting room full of strangers hooked up to IVs and various machines. That was where I worried myself sick, literally. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity wondering all sorts of things. Would they get it right? Would I wake up on the operating table? Would I go blind? Would I wake up at all? Just when I thought I was about to throw up and my heart was going to explode, my surgeon walked in with his army of doctors to announce that they were ready for me.
They led me into a room that was the sickening colour of sour milk. I was told to lie on the bed in the center of the room. It was cold and hard, they had dug my grave already! They put the gas mask over my face and told me to count backwards from 10. I don’t remember much after 9.
When I awoke, the room was spinning. Not that I could see it, I couldn’t open my eyes, but that didn’t lessen the spinning sensation. The pain in my eyes was pretty bad. The stitches they had sewn into my eye balls poked me with every blink. At least the worse was over though, or so I thought….
I couldn’t open my eyes, so the nurses guided me to a waiting room where my parents were waiting for me. I had to stay there until the anesthesia wore off. A nurse offered me Gravol to help with the nausea. Have you had Gravol before? It’s chewable, tastes like orange and always seems to magically take my nausea away. So of course I said yes when offered. It wasn’t what I was expecting. Before I had a chance to figure out what was going on, the nurse jammed a needle into my hip. Ouch! Thanks for the warning!
However traumatic it was at the time, I’m glad I did it. It improved my vision and did not affect me getting my driver’s license. It also did wonders for my self-confidence. I actually felt pretty once and a while.