Early morning and well before the sun rises, I find myself outside this hospital in Northern Johannesburg. Considering that I am about to enter its reception area to commit to bilateral cataract surgery, I am amazingly calm about what awaits me over the course of the next few hours. The hospital has all the relevant COVID-19 protocols in place at the entrance and, given that I was being admitted to the day ward, I underwent a COVID-19 swab-up-the-nose test the day before. In retrospect, that was probably the most invasive and memorable event of the entire procedure. It brought tears to my eyes instantaneously! I am certain that there must be a better way of testing other than trying to poke someone’s brain via a nostril. But I digress…by the time I arrived at the hospital on procedure day, that was a distant memory.
Before diving headlong into my actual surgery, which is the crux of this posting, may I suggest that you first read about my consultation with Dr. Rob Daniel at the Sandton Eye Clinic to put this posting into context: https://travelandthings.co.za/2021/05/the-eyes-have-it-consultation-time-at-sandton-eye-clinic/
This will enable you, the reader, to make an informed decision as to whether to read on or not, as the case might be. At this point, I should point out that there might be images that could be upsetting to sensitive readers. The object of this posting is to show the procedure from my perspective and to point out that each patient will experience the procedure differently. That being said, I was treated with kindness, understanding, and complete professionalism by all concerned, before, during ( my photographer reported back to me), and after the procedure.
For those who are wondering why my eye surgery warrants a posting on what is ostensibly a Travel Blog, the answer is simple. Much like I need to keep my laptop and camera gear in perfect working order, so too do I need to make certain that my eyes are functioning to the best of their ability. Now and going forward into the future. This modern surgery is the way to make certain of that and, if as a result of my experiences, you are motivated to get your eyes checked, then I have done my job.
Once admitted to the day ward, I was required to fill out reams of paperwork that I am certain could be condensed into an online form that could have been completed before my actual admission? But, I suppose that there are legal reasons that all the “t’s” have to be crossed and the “i’s” dotted on the day. I was not going to argue, so I filled it out as best I could, trying NOT to leave out any important health information that might be required once I was under anesthetic. I only spent a relatively short time in the ward before I was wheeled down (up?) to the operation suite where I waited to be taken into theatre. Here I was able to give final instructions to my photographer as to what shots I needed to tell the story of the operation. I have to say that I was relaxed and calm given what awaited me down the corridor…
A moment of frivolity before the op. When Robert (Dr. Daniel) asked me to slide across from the bed onto the operating table, the comedian in me could not stop myself from asking “What happened to on my count”? His response? “You have been watching way too many medical dramas on TV David”! But he did give me a hand to position myself on the narrow operating table without falling off.
Rob stood behind me and started explaining exactly what was about to happen, and at the same time the anesthetist took up his place and did what he does best…put me under. There were no surprises as the warmth of the drugs worked their way up my vein in my arm and spread across my chest. No more counting backward from 10. Even if I was asked to, I don’t think I would have made it to 7. And that warmth was the last sensation I had until I awoke in the recovery ward after the surgery. From here on, I have to rely on what I was told by Rob, the Sandton Eye Clinic website, and my photographer ( who has had cataract surgery and was keen to see what had happened to HIM while he was sedated)
You have to have machines that go “BEEP” while you are in an operating theatre. Although they are not directly involved with what was about to happen in the procedure, they do play a vital role in the monitoring of various important signs like blood pressure and heart rate.
I was told that the theatre was the epitome of calm and professionalism before, during, and after the procedure. No heavy metal music blaring from Bluetooth speakers and certainly no raised voices.
Let’s get this started. Seated in an upright posture, Robert (You can call me Rob) Daniel gets my procedure underway. Seeing that he performs all his surgeries on a Thursday, his posture is important to keep him comfortable and alert. (I was his second patient of the day)
And THIS is how they kept my eyes open during the surgery? It looks like a scene from “A Clockwork Orange”, but because I was under a general anesthetic at this stage, I neither felt any pain nor was I able to see what was going on.
As to what actually occurs, I suggest that you visit the Sandton Eye Clinic website, where the procedure is explained in detail. To quote that website: ” Sandton Eye Clinic uses the most advanced Swiss-made laser technology (FEMTO LDV Z8) for premium cataract surgery, which allows for a bladeless, bloodless, and painless procedure with an unparalleled outcome”.
What I do know, from both my consultation and Rob’s calming words just before the operation. was that the old lenses would be removed and the new multifocal lens would be inserted to millimeter precise measurements.
So, basically, out with the old and in with the new…
Modern Swiss technology in action. This is a shot of the monitor with an enlarged image of my eye visible on the screen. This enables all involved to have a clear picture of what is going on and making certain that it is all going according to plan.
I can see clearly now? Well, not at this precise moment, but a few hours later…
The end is in sight…Rob completes the procedure by placing plastic eye shields over my eyes and taping those in place. I would be wearing them overnight to protect my new lenses until I was back at the consulting rooms on the following morning. And, all done, it was off to the recovery ward and then back to the day ward before being discharged.
When your surgeon helps you get back into bed…The bundle on the table is me!
Back in the day ward and sleeping off the last of the anesthetic. I awoke to find my wife, my photographer, and lunch waiting for me… In fact, it turned out that the sandwich and tea were just a post-operation snack. Lunch would arrive before my wife drove me home. All in all, I was in the hospital for about 7 hours. I have been asked why both eyes at the same time? And it was one of my early questions to Rob. The answer is very simple, one operation, one hospital visit, one anesthetic, and half the recovery time. Now, this might not work for all potential patients, but it did for me.
This is my eye the morning after surgery! No redness, no stitches. Almost no indication that my eye had been operated on at all.
To quote the Sandton Eye Clinic website:
“Dr. Robert Daniel is a Specialist Ophthalmologist with more than 15 years of experience who runs the Sandton Eye Clinic and specializes in anterior segment surgery. He also has training in Human Physiology and Neuroscience, which enables him to diagnose and treat both physical and neurological conditions affecting the eye.
After qualifying as a Specialist Ophthalmic Surgeon, Rob completed his mentorship under the renowned Ophthalmologist and medical innovator, Dr Percy Amoils.
Rob’s passion for eye health and preserving this vital sense inspires him to continually broaden his involvement in the eye care sector by developing and sourcing innovative technological solutions for various eye conditions“.
For more information, visit their website, www.sandtoneyeclinic.co.za (by clicking on the logo above), or call them on 011 884 5624/5. It will change the way you perceive the world around you.
My thanks to Jonathan Taylor who took the in theatre images and did not pass out or get in the way! As an actor, Jonathan has played a Doctor in so many productions and adverts that I think he believes that he is a medical practitioner. Luckily for me, it was only his expertise as a photographer I required.
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