Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Conversation with my Ophthamologist

First, something in the way of background would probably be helpful. Out of the myriad of injuries I suffered in the bombing, the most serious injuries were those to my eyes. Of course, I am not sure what the shock trauma doctors would say about this. They might vote for the blast damage to my lungs. But hell, let them write their own blogs then.

Okay, digression over. Back to the subject.

Anyway, half of my right eyelid was sheared off, my right eyeball suffered blunt force trauma and shrapnel was lodged in my left eye. I underwent two surgeries to correct the damage immediately after the bombing. The surgeries, in combination with approximately a zillion gallons of assorted eye drops and eye creams, were a success and the vision in both of my eyes was saved. And I was one happy camper.

Fast forward three years and wham! thanks to the earlier trauma, a hole developed in the macula of my right eye. Since it was a small hole, and not causing much in the way of problems, apart from distorting my vision so that, sans glasses, my visual world was like living in a circus funhouse, it was decided to hold off on surgery, in hope that the hole would close on its own. By the fall of 2007, the hole had expanded to the point that it could no longer be ignored (a shame, as that is one of my favorite tactics when it comes to dealing with medical issues) and it was back under the knife for me. Two additional surgeries and another zillion gallons of assorted eye drops and creams later, the hole is now closed. I am slated to undergo one more surgery to remove a cataract at some point in the next six months. And then that is it. I hope.

Anyway, the second surgery was about seven weeks ago. Yesterday I went for a follow up visit to Dr. Halpert, my ophthalmologist. Dr. Halpert is great. He is friendly. He seems to like my visits. As much as I would like to attribute this to my wit, charm and sunny disposition, I suspect that the real attractions are my eyes. Dr. Halpert worked very hard to save my vision and he is exceedingly proud of my eyeballs. It gives him great nachas (pleasure) to see them healthy, functioning, not sporting random holes or metal objects, etc. Yesterday, my eyeballs made him very happy, and passed the examination with flying colors.

At the end of the visit, I told him about my blog. At his request, I brought up the blog on his computer. He was quite excited.

Dr. Halpert: You should tell them that I had to sign off three doctors in order to perform the surgery.

Me: Really?

Dr. Halpert: Of course! You were unconscious and we did not know who you were. We cannot do a surgery without consent. So I signed off myself and had two other doctors sign off as well. (Starts rifling through my file). It should be in here somewhere.

Me: I think that it is in my other file. The hospital has a nice assortment of files on me.

Dr. Halpert: Ahhh… I put your shrapnel in here as well; the piece of copper wire I removed from your eye.

Me: I remember. I think that this was in the other file as well. You tried to show me once, but apparently the wire had fallen out.

Dr. Halpert: (Still flipping through the file). I remember--Dr. Entebbe checked you Friday night and stitched up your right eye. She also performed a CAT scan of your left eye and discovered a foreign body lodged inside. She called me that night. I wanted to do the surgery right away: Friday night or Saturday morning. But the head of shock trauma said your life was still in danger.

Me: My life was in danger? [I hate when this happens! This seems to happen all the time. I finally think I have a handle on what happened and then it turns out that I have been clueless the entire time. I feel like the title character from The Truman Show].

Dr. Halpert: You had shrapnel in your neck, near major blood vessels. They wanted to see what would happen. I told them that I would be available to do the surgery as soon as they gave the okay. On Sunday morning, I got the call. I did the surgery that same morning. The shrapnel was small, curved piece of copper wire.

Copper is very dangerous for the body. In the eye it causes chalicosis; it breaks down and kills the retina. This process is very fast, which is why I wanted to do the surgery immediately. A month after the surgery, the copper had already started oxidizing and had turned green…. That would have happened inside your eye! Actually, it was from your case that I learned that terrorists put copper wire into bombs on purpose.

Me: (Theme from the Truman Show now playing madly in my head) But I thought that the bomb was a clean bomb?

Dr. Halpert: Hmmm…it could be. Maybe it was from the detonator. (Changes the subject and goes to the Hadassah webpage) Look what Hadassah has posted on the net: videos of surgical procedures!

He proceeded to click on one of the links. All of a sudden I am staring at an eyeball.

Me: Ummmm…this is you performing the surgery?

Dr. Halpert: (Nods happily). This is cataract surgery. What we are going to be doing for you in a few months!

Suddenly, a knife approaches the eyeball and starts slicing away the top portion.


Dr. Halpert: (looking at me) Don't pass out!

Me: Really, Dr. Halpert, I think I am better off not knowing what you are going to do to my eye.

Dr. Halpert: Okay. But post the link!

Link for those of you want to see Dr. Halpert play with an eyeball.
Link for those who would like to learn more about Hadassah Medical Organization.


Baila said...

Dr. Halpert sounds like a fun guy.

Jack Steiner said...

It is good to have a doc with a sense of humor.

Gila said...

Dr. Halpert is the best!

Unknown said...

That entry reminded me of Kill Bill Volume 2. Those who saw it will know why.

I totally get why you don't want to see what they are going to do to your eye during the operation. It's like when I go to give blood-I'm fine so long as I don't actually watch them stick the needle in me or what the blood flow into the bag.

treppenwitz said...

I was actually giggling while reading this... but then I suddenly remembered the event that was behind all this medical stuff you've have had to deal with.

Forget Dr. Halpern... I'm glad you have a good sense of humor. :-)

Gila said...

Trep-you are supposed to be giggling! If I wanted you to be depressed, trust me, I can do depressing.

But that is oh-so-dull

Kayla-I (accidentally) saw Kill Bill Volume 2. Not not not my type of movie.

Oh--may be in Jlem Mot"sh and seeing G&H--join us?

Emah S said...

As a life member of Hadassah, glad you've put up the link there too. I think even those who preach Hadassah back in the US don't realize the miracles that are truly performed there.

Feel good...

Anonymous said...