Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

Adult Strabismus Surgery (or Fixing My Crazy Eye)

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In the interest of keeping this blog fresh for you, my readers, I decided to go get a surgery that’s completely unrelated to my knee. Actually, it was because I’d started having vision problems about a year ago and finally decided it was silly to continue trying to deal with them as they got more and more awkward.

That’s why I was missing in action here last week.

Let me explain by going back to the beginning. I’ve had strabismus for as long as I can remember (it started when I was a toddler). I remember having to use a patch over the dominant eye to encourage the weaker one to pull its own weight. I also had to use a red prism on my glasses for a while. Yeah, I was that weird (read awesome) kid in the first grade.

Until this year, I always thought I had a lazy eye, but that’s apparently something different (amblyopia). In my case, I can see out of both eyes just fine (I do need glasses because I’m nearsighted), but I don’t use both eyes at the same time. The eye that I’m not using typically wanders inward to stare at my nose. At no point could I ever tell there was an issue. I was so young when it started, my brain adapted incredibly well. I take back what I just said… I could never use 3D glasses in a movie theater because you have to see out of both eyes at the same time to see in 3D. But that was literally the only time I even recognized that I had an issue.

About a year ago, I noticed that I was closing my right eye (the non-dominant one) when I was driving. It happened automatically, and I wouldn’t even realize it. Then I started noticing that I was having trouble with depth perception. It was the worst when I was reaching for something small (e.g. a receipt from a cashier). Eventually, the only way I could grab something small was either to make several attempts to grab it or to close my right eye. I’m sure several bartenders thought I was winking at them when I was really just trying to grab my drink without spilling it. So you can see how that could be awkward.

I thought it was perhaps time to go back to my eye doctor to see if I needed a new prescription. Typically, when I notice a change in vision, it’s nothing more than time to get a new prescription, but that didn’t help this time. I was surprised when she asked me about strabismus. I’d never connected that word to my eyes not working together because it just wasn’t something my eye doctors discussed after a certain age. She did a few tests and said that it was like my brain was trying to “wake up” the non-dominant eye. She had no clue why, so she referred me to a pediatric ophthalmologist who treats adults with strabismus. (My experience in that waiting room full of pediatric patients could be a whole other post.)

I was a bit shocked to find out that I technically have no depth perception. That’s one of the many things my brain worked around when I was a kid. At no point was I walking around running into walls, so it happened fairly quickly. For the longest time, you could really only tell that I had a wandering eye when I was tired. That’s apparently gotten worse over the last few years, but I didn’t really notice anything. Not until the awkward encounters with bartenders.

The ophthalmologist did a number of different tests and had me look through a bunch of different prisms to determine the best course of treatment (prisms help treat refractive errors). Since the only prism that worked to correct my esotropia (look it up) was almost two inches thick, adding a prism to my lens to treat the strabismus was not an option. That left surgery. If successful, the surgery will allow me to regain binocular vision and will stop the non-dominant eye from stressing out. This particular surgery requires general anesthesia, which was more worrisome to me than the actual surgery where they cut and rearrange the muscles that position the eye.

I had the surgery a week ago last Friday. It wasn’t too terrible. I talked to the anesthesiologist beforehand, and he tried a few different things to keep the nausea at bay. He didn’t use any gas during the surgery, and he said that he’d have the surgeon use more local anesthetic so that he didn’t have to administer any narcotics. They insisted on general anesthesia, and I was ok with that since they were working on my eyeball.

While I still woke up retching, they were able to get it under control after maxing out the doses of Zofran and Phenergan and placing a Scopalamine patch. This anesthesiologist knew what he was doing because, even though I woke up so sick the nurses were worried, I was eating fro yo (I’ve told you before that I love Huddles!) before I even got home. That’s NEVER happened before. I’m typically lucky to eat Saltines before the next day.

Though I had a prescription for Norco following the surgery, I never filled it. I’ve not even taken any Tylenol. The eye was irritated and somewhat annoying for a few days, but not painful enough to warrant taking any pain medicine. It’s been a little over a week now, and the redness (oh my was it bright red for the first few days) is going away, and it’s starting to feel a bit more normal. It’s still odd to roll my eyes to one side or the other, but it’s getting better. I’m not sure that I’ve achieved binocular vision, but my ophthalmologist said that could take weeks. So while we’re waiting for that to happen, I thought I’d share some pictures.

In the PACU after strabismus surgery.

Two shots in the PACU. I had no clue my sister snapped these until she texted me three days later to 1) laugh at me holding the emesis basin and 2) threaten to blackmail me. Now, I’ve just shared them with the world so she has nothing on me. Except the one pre-surgery shot that will never see the light of day.

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Author: Laura

I have a fern I named Frankenstein. I like leprechauns, practicing kung fu moves on my dining room furniture, and pretending that one day I will move to Fiji. I dislike my neighbors' kids, anything that is chartreuse, and Ben Roethlisberger.

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