Surgery How does one describe pain? And how much information is too little or too much?

April 1, 2015

I am slowly getting over the “mild discomfort” that the laser/retina specialist warned me about yesterday before starting laser surgery . The discomfort was so mild that I had to stop her several times to recoup my forces, and take deep relaxing breaths…to bear the next bit of “stitching”. (The anesthetic was on my cornea…the laser was working on my retina, directly on the nerve layer.)She also added, once the surgery was done, that I would have “deep pain”…thus proving that very different words will be used by a doctor before, and after, a surgical procedure! My heart goes out to those who are chronically ill, in pain, and who need surgery.

Here’s the problem, that got accelerated by the surgery:

read about lattice degeneration

I am glad I decided to give myself enough time post-surgery to ensure that any possible complications could be taken of,(in spite of the counsellor at the clinic going “No risk! Absolutely no risk Madam!” several times with a bright smile) before I went on the long journey across the Atlantic.

Apparently I am one of the few people who, being myopic before cataract surgery, have this problem acclerated. I saw flashes and floaters and promptly went to the eye clinic, and this was treated. The doctor on duty immediately referred me to the surgeon who performed surgery on my right eye. He, in turn, called in to a laser/retina specialist.

When the two looked into my dilated eyes and started looking at each other, I knew it was not going to be quick “Go home and rest”. I caught the words

“paving stone”

and “lattice” and stopped them to ask what the terms meant. Then I got some information.

I am unhappy, also, that I was not even asked whether I had to go elsewhere, or whether I could have the surgery immijetly. I was just led to the laser room. At least,here, the surgeon explained what she was going to do, and what was wrong with my retina.

Since the cataract surgery had been almost painless, I was not prepared for the “mild discomfort”. I made the surgeon pause every now and then, and then resume her work, diverting my mind from the pain with general chitchat about what I did, where the surgeon trained, and where her 5-year-old daughter went to school. Conversation and operation!

I was also not told that the laser surgery could be done under general anesthesia…until I was lying on the hospital bed and the surgeon had already started the surgery. I might not have chosen the G.A route (which has its own risks) but I needed to know that option.

A friend of mine had something called

Macular Traction

It was completely asymptomatic…she’d just gone to an eye clinic with a friend! She had surgery done last Monday. When she came out of surgery, she panicked as she could not see with the “done” eye. When she asked the doctor, he laughed, and said, “Oh, you won’t be able to see for 10 days.” Should this information not have been given before the surgery?

Why do Indian doctors not prepare their patients with enough knowledge? For me, ignorance equals fear. In the US it’s the other extreme…they are so scared of being sued, that surgeons will give the patient all the worst-case scenario, probably scaring people thoroughly!