I arrived at Centennial Hospital in Nashville at 7AM, for preliminary tests: blood tests, an EKG, etc. That process, in itself, was an experience. The medical technician left a nasty looking bruise on my inner forearm that still hasn't gone away (from drawing blood). I actually think phlebotomist is just a fancy word for vampire, if you ask me. Also, the electrodes for the EKG left a few suction marks on my flesh, making me look as though I had fallen into a vat of hungry leeches. But that was the tame part of the journey...
Around nine o'clock, Joyce and I were ushered into a private room where I was prepared for the journey to the "holding area". Of course, I was told to disrobe and put on one of those little backless hospital gowns. This was a first for me, wearing one of those dadblamed things. I did get to keep my drawers on, though, which served to rescue my manly dignity from further humiliation. In fact, the whole surgery thing was a first for me, since I'd never gone through anything like it before. Around 9:30, I was wheeled down a winding halway toward the first step of my eventual desintation. I got an eerie feeling as I began to round corner after sterile corner. I kept expecting to turn the next corner and find two twin girls standing there calling "Come play with us, Ron. Forever and ever."
Finally, I arrived at the Holding Area, which, in a way, resembled animals being led to slaughter... or so my ghoulish mind fantasized. I was wheeled into a curtained space, where a dozen people appeared, one-by-one, and asked me the same four questions. What is your name? What is your date of birth? Who is your doctor? What procedure are you having done today? I reckon this was a fail-safe plan among the staff to make sure that I didn't have my gall bladder extracted by mistake. The anethesiaologist dropped by and, intially, told me that they would be doing a nerve block, deadening the area around my eye, and that I would be awake during the entire operation. Later, he came back and told me that they had decided to put me under for the procedure. Whew! Thank God for small favors. Ten minutes before ten o'clock, Dr. Bond stopped by and said "So, we agreed that we would only do the left eye today, is that correct?" I said, yeah, that was the plan. The good doctor then took an ink pen from his coat pocket and marked an X prominently above my left eyebrow, just so there would be no confusion... an X that stayed there , for all to see, for several days afterward.
At 10Am, two nurses came to take me to the operating room. "Let's turn on the good stuff," one of them suggested and started my IV. "You'll just feel a little drunk." When I told her I'd never been drunk before in my life, she said "Well, this should feel pretty weird to you." It was. Almost immediately, I felt as though the gurney I was laying on was rocking to and fro, like a hammock. My vision began to get a little fuzzy as they wheeled me down more immaculately white corridors. We went through a set of double doors, I saw those big alien-looking banks of operating lights overhead... and that was all she wrote. The next thing I knew I was staring up at the styrofoam paneling of the recovery room ceiling through my right eye. The left was covered with gauze and what felt like a mile or two of surgical tape. I stayed there, drifting in and out of consciousness for an hour, and was eventually wheeled back into the little room where I started out. My devoted wife was there to attend to me, providing me with compassion and Sprite on ice. Soon, the effects of the anesthesia had diminished to the point where I could dress in my street clothing once again. Before leaving the hospital, the nurse removed my bandages, revealing my bloody and battered left eye (see the photo above for a hint of what I saw when I glanced in the mirror). Ray Milland in The Man With the X-Ray Eyes looked danged good compared to how Ol' Ron looked at that moment.
Now let's get into the gruesome and gory stuff. Hey, I'm a horror writer, remember? I'm entitled to grossing you out for a sentence or two, aren't I? Well, to do the operation, my doctor had to literally remove my eyeball from my skull. My wife, Joyce, still denys that it happened, but it was necessary to do everything that had to be done. When the offensive orb was plucked from my gaping socket, several deadening shots were injected into the optical nerve and extraocular muscles. It was a good thing that I wasn't awake during the procedure, or I would have likely been looking myself in the face. Dr. Bond (and his father, who assisted him) shortened two of the extraocular muscles on the side next to my nose, while repositioning one on the opposite side, loosening it up a bit. Then the eyeball was popped back into my head with the pupil positioned securely in the center, the way it should be. Days after the operation, my left eye was swollen and possessed the texture and color of raw hamburger. Thankfully, during the past couple of days, the swelling has gone down and I've began to regain normal function again. I can actually see some of the white of my eye today and my double-vision appears to be clearing up.
So there you have it... much more than you really wanted to know about my eye operation. I'm glad I had it done, but most of all I'm glad its over and done with. One of the goals of only doing the left eye was to see if the correction would "bully" the right eye into behaving itself and staying put... which, so far, it has. The next time you see me in person, I should be looking at you dead on with no deviation whatsoever. I'm hoping and praying that this single operation will do the trick, 'cause I'd sure hate to think that I'd have to undergo the same procedure again with the other eye. Hopefully, in that respect, the only things that will remain crossed are my fingers. My eyes, on the other hand, should stay where the good Lord intended them to be in the first place.