I went to get a second opinion on the retinal hemorrhage in my right eye. This ophthalmologist said that if I didn’t have the injection within two weeks of the testing he’d have to repeat it. I don’t especially appreciate having dye injected into me, and since I doubt my insurance would pay for a third round of pictures just because I procrastinated, I did.
My son took the afternoon off and treated me to a pleasant lunch before heading to the hospital. The doctor’s office being in the medical arts building reassured me and relieved some of the anxiety.
It’s an office so large the elevator opens right into it and there’s a rope line where you wait to get to the front desk, sort of like at the movies just not as much fun. When I said I was in for a shot, they directed me to an area I’d never been to. That waiting room was full to bursting. My son pointed out the last empty seat to me.
After a moderate wait, I was called in and given information about the procedure plus a consent form to sign. The language reminded me of the long list of possible side effects recited after medication commercials and made me want to say, “I’m outa here.” The same words my son had used when we took him to see Ghostbusters when he was little. He stalked out of the theater without a backwards glance leaving us no choice but to follow him.
This time he would be following me, but I didn’t get out of the chair. Instead I took the pen and wrote my name. No turning back. Even though I still felt like bolting until the moment I was face to face with the doctor.
The assistant had instilled anesthetic drops, followed by a yellowish-tinged solution. “This might sting,” she said. It did and when asked what it was she said, “Betadine.”
“Betadine?” I responded. “In my eye!” Betadine is a brownish-yellow antiseptic solution that we used to prep for surgeries or other invasive procedures.
“Yes, to prep,” she said.
Of course, how stupid of me. I was there for an invasive procedure.
She then applied anesthetic gel all around my eye, in every nook and cranny. “Your eye might feel sticky,” she said. “I like to cover everywhere because he’s going to put a speculum in.”
I’d wondered how exactly he planned to keep my eye open, because there was no way I was going to be able to overcome the reflex to close it when there was a needle coming.
“Now you can go to the waiting room,” she said.
“The waiting room, really?” I thought I’d be left there till the anesthesia took effect.
“There’s two people ahead of you,” she said. “We need to give the anesthesia at least 20 minutes.”
“How long does it last?”
“Thirty minutes to one hour,” she said. “Keep your eye closed.”
I practically felt my way to the now half-empty waiting room. I wanted to check the time, but reaching for my phone seemed like a big bother. I decided to trust that they would get to me before the anesthesia wore off. I closed both eyes and rested my head on my hand. When you can’t beat it, give in.
I was called in again and the doctor was all business, but amiable, shaking my hand, answering my questions. He pushed a button and the chair rotated backwards till I was looking straight up at the ceiling. He put in the speculums, one under each eyelid, then bade me look left while he put in some drops. Then more drops. Then I saw, even though I was looking away from him.
I knew it was time. I felt the sting of the entry, but nothing more. It was a very slight sting, a nanosecond, but I was a trifle disappointed. I’d been told I’d feel nothing.
“You did great,” he said. He gave me instructions on when to call him. I went to check out and the burn began.
My son jumped up. “Your eye is all red,” he said, putting his arm around me. I looked in my compact mirror. Yep, tomato red.
The burn was fierce. I could not keep my eye open. When we got home, I used the artificial tears I’d been given, but they offered little relief. After a while the burn and the redness subsided and all I felt was the presence of a foreign body every time I blinked. It was probably inflammation at the entry site, but it felt like I had a two-by-four in my eye.
That was the worst part of the ordeal and it lasted for over eight hours. He said there would be a black spot at the bottom of my field of vision, and both after effects would be gone “within a day.” And they were, but I have to say that black spot was freaky.
I’m to go back in four weeks for more pictures (no dye) and probably more medication, depending on how I respond. I’m not looking forward to it, but at least now I know what to expect. And I appreciate his wait-and-see attitude. The first ophthalmologist had told me flat out, “once a month for six months.” It didn’t exactly inspire trust in me as there is no cookie-cutter treatment that’s one-size-fits-all.