JUST PHYLLISOPHY – December 2014

Just Phyllisophy (150x67)By Phyllis Galowitz

Lili (my cat) sits beside me on the futon, watching our Sunday morning programs, trying to absorb and make sense of the political turmoil and the worldwide problems of the day. She’s totally relaxed and as I absent-mindedly stroke her silken coat, I am too. She’s not concerned with how I’m doing after the cataract surgery on my right eye last week. Life goes on as usual for her. Her food is put out regularly, water changed daily and her litter box is kept up to her meticulous standards. She’s able to hide under the quilt on my bed whenever she’s afraid, and she has many fears. She’s afraid of the strange workmen who are renovating the basement after our recent flood, caused by the washing machine overflowing when the shut-off valve stopped working. She’s afraid of the plumber who’s making the repairs. She’s afraid of people in general that change the environment of our usually quiet house. She follows me like a shadow and waits patiently outside the bathroom door as I take my shower, always ready to greet me when I return from wherever I may have gone, for a minute, an hour, a day, or even overnight!

Last week, I had the surgery on my right eye. The most difficult part was following the explicit, pre-op instructions. There were three prescriptions for eye drops, one to be started three days before the surgery, four times a day, at five-minute intervals, one, once a day and one for after the surgery, along with the other two. As if that was not confusing enough, the left eye is being done next week so there are post-op instructions for the right eye and pre-op instructions for the left eye to be administered five minutes apart. They can’t be given at the same time! Needless to say, I am spending the day dropping eye drops in one eye after the other. There are other instructions: like not bending your head lower than your heart, not lifting heavy things, bathing the eyelids, with baby shampoo, etc. Fortunately, I can read and watch TV, so besides stroking Lili, that’s what I’m spending the day doing.

The surgery itself is amazingly, efficiently done. When I arrived at Fox Hospital I was immediately ushered into a little cubicle which was to be my room. A nurse, (Mary Tuthill) was assigned to me, who administered a sedative intravenously while constantly putting more drops in my eyes. Mary kept up a constant banter of light conversation with Amy, my daughter, and me. I was swaddled in warm sheets and felt deliciously comfortable. After about an hour of warm, loving care, Dr. Bitterman and I were ready for the surgery. I don’t remember anything from that point on except that I kept seeing pink lights. In what seemed a few minutes later, I heard Dr. Bitterman say, “We’re all finished. Everything went well.” I was helped into my clothes and driven home by Amy, who stayed with me and was my very caring nurse until the following day when she drove me back for a follow-up visit to remove the bandage and be given instructions for the left eye’s surgery the following week.

I remember visiting my grandmother, probably sixty years ago, when she had had cataract surgery. It was very frightening. She was in the hospital for a week. She had to lie absolutely still and visitors were warned not to touch the bed. Today the surgery takes twenty minutes, and aside from the confusing instructions, my life can go on fairly normally. If only I could train Lili to help me to follow the instructions!~