August 14: Couldn’t sleep for more than 3 hours because there were a lot of preparations to be done for Project ReachOut’s Independence Day event at BM Habitat Mall.
August 15: Couldn’t sleep for more than two hours because I was too tired.
August 16: Couldn’t sleep all night because thanks to Gaurang, I went on a night trek to Kunti Betta.
So, August 17: I came home at around 9:00 AM and crashed. I was so very tired from the trek. Until that moment, I had no idea that I was capable of going three full days without sleep.
Now, curled up in my comforter, I was deep in my world of dreams when my dad woke up me up, saying, “The doctor is free today. She has asked us to come over at 11:00!”
It was a Sunday morning! I yelled at dad for not having paid heed to my sleep depravity. However, since I was way too tired and had not the least bit of energy to argue, I just groaned and made a face and then went with him to the hospital. “It will be done in 15 minutes. She will just check your eyes and send you back. You can be back home in a half hour and go back to sleep again” remarked he as I angrily walked out of the house.
In two minutes, we were at the hospital and guys, here ends the prologue!
Now, let me begin the story! The timings below are approximate and are lesser than the actual time elapsed. So, moving on to the scene at the hospital.
Registration: 10 minutes
Wait in the waiting room: 20 minutes
Preliminary eye check up: 10 minutes
Wait in the waiting room: 30 minutes
Doctor’s consultation: 10 minutes
Wait in the Scanning room: 10 minutes
Scanning: 15 minutes
Wait in the waiting room: 15 minutes
Eye drop test: 30 minutes
Doctor’s final checkup: 10 minutes
Talk about the condition and the surgery: 20 minutes
Total time elapsed: 180 minutes!
My dad, mom and I went to the hospital at 11:00 AM and returned home at 2:30 PM! Fifteen minutes my SSA!
With that said, I also want to admit that the happenings at the hospital were so very funny. The guy who did the preliminary test and lady who did the scanning kept yelling at me, asking me to open my damn eyes! I’m all, “I can’t! I’m sleepy!” I struggled so hard to stay awake and my dad had the best time of his life! He knew I was directing anger so powerful that if anger were a physical entity, it would have crushed him.
A few minutes later, once we were done at the hospital scene, I came home, with a heavy heart and a heavier set of eyes; and blurry too, if I may. The people at the hospital put some eyes drops before we finally met with the doctor and I swear, I couldn’t differentiate between a cow and a man! Every damn thing was so hazy. I couldn’t read the dial on my watch and the texts on my phone! I just walked straight into my room and slept. I spoke not a word to anyone.
On waking up, my vision was fine. I quietly walked around my room and then settled down into my chair and recalled the doctor’s words: “We have to perform a procedure called C3R on both his eyes. He has a disorder called Karetoconus, it is the bulging of the eyeball. He is seeing those shadows owing of this fact and if we don’t perform the surgery soon, his condition will worsen and he might not be able to see at all. I know it’s too soon for you to trust me on this, but I have been doing this for years now and I can assure you, it will go just fine. I can finish the procedure for both eyes in one sitting. I have a vacancy next Wednesday, so I’d suggest you get it done.”
Once the doctor’s words had resonated in my mind, I called dad and ask him about it. I could see that he was a bit pale and he had a sorry face. I looked at him and asked, “So, next Thursday?” and he replied with, “Yeah, I think we’ll go for it.”
Doubts dwelled as to if getting both the eyes operated at the same time was a good idea. We took a second opinion from a doctor who is a family friend and we arrived at the conclusion that it had to be done and it had to be now.
I then went online, read about this thing called Karetoconus and well, I freaked out a little. I called up my friends in the medical college and told them about it. They said they would study about it and get back to me (Sigh!).
Anyway, I gave up on the medical guys and called my engineering guys. I spoke about the “companies”, the “project”, the “internals” (Lol!) and then I found out that the doctor’s “next week appointment” wasn’t going to be conducive. So, I went up to dad and told him that I’d get the procedure done that very Thursday. Three days from the day I was diagnosed.
Let me warn you now, this isn’t going to be a small article. So if you are bored, go back and continue from this point later. If you are still interested in the tale of “Eye, eye and I”, then continue.
Once I made the announcement, I woke my computer up and started looking for audio books. It really didn’t take me long to find what I wanted. I downloaded 1984 and The Three Musketeers. I then reorganized the songs on my music library. I copied it all into a neat playlist on my iPad and then I continued the search on Karetoconus. I then read somewhere that an effect of Karetoconus was being sensitive to bright light. This reminded me of Batman and so, I started writing “The Curse of Batman”. I infected Bruce Wayne with the Karetoconus I had (don’t worry, it isn’t contagious).
Three days hence, I was all prepped up for the surgery. Weird doubts kept bugging me till the time I went inside the Operation Theater.
Examples of the questions in my head:
1. How will they keep my eye open for 1.5 hours?!
2. Will it pain when they put a clip to ensure I don’t close my eyes?
3. How would the sharp objects coming near my eyes make me feel? (Scary, I know. I was just worried as to how I would endure it!)
4. Will I be able to see? What if I lose my sight?!
Questions kept biting my senses and I moved back and forth on wanting both eyes to be operated on the same sitting. Grandparents (Maternal and Paternal), parents, uncle and cousin comforted me and they came to the hospital with me. It was like a wedding! I don’t think the hospital had ever seen such a crowd accompanying a patient. Well, some might feel that it is stupid, but then my family is so very united and so very supportive that even if there is something as common as a common cold, they will make a big deal of it and keeping calling on you to check until that last quantum of virus evacuates your nostrils!
Moving on now, all of us climbed up to the second floor and were seated in the lobby. We occupied a whole row! Then a nurse came, gave me a couple tablets and then, a few minutes later, as the doctor came and asked me to get in, my heart was in my mouth. The adventure was just about to begin. Everyone wished me luck and sent me in. It was like I was going on a voyage.
Once inside, a guy came, dressed me up in a weird apron and then continuously poured drops, one after another, into both eyes. And as he did, I just sat there, my eyes opening and shutting, opening and shutting, and my mind following suit. I couldn’t think about anything that made me less nervous, hell! I couldn’t think about anything at all. Fifteen minutes hence I was called inside the OT and made to lie down on a chair that would bombard me with one of the best experiences of my life. Once there, my face was painted (I think) with something that made everything above my mouth go numb. Then they covered my face, cut two slits where my eyes were and then flooded my eyes with more drops.
“No matter what, do not touch your face. Don’t move much. Tell us the moment your eyes start to pain. This will take a long time, so please be cooperative…” the doctor kept saying as the anesthesia began to work its way around. 15 minutes hence (I think), they put clips on both my eyes in order to keep them open and I found myself asking, “Okay, so I won’t be able to close my eyes now?” “Try,” the doctor replied calmly and smiled (I sensed).
Everything around me was really hazy and I couldn’t recognize any detail. I could feel something coming close to my eyes and that’s about it. “Is it hurting? Are you okay?” asked the doctor, as she moved the metal in her hand over my eyes. I didn’t know what she was doing, but I couldn’t feel any pain. Then, almost 10 minutes later, she said, “Okay Adarsh, I have cut your epithelial layer, the procedure has started, it’s going real well”.
I smiled, though she couldn’t see it, and said, “Thank you”. I couldn’t think of anything else. My heartbeat had significantly reduced and I was breathing, normally I think. “So Adarsh, you have a lot of relatives out there,” she asked, as she asked her assistant to fix some timer and began injecting the Riboflavin dye into my cornea. She started with the right eye first and well, for me though it makes no difference which eye would be operated last.
I stayed still for sometime as she added, “It’s okay, you can talk. No need to be afraid”. I breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Yeah, parents, all grandparents, uncle and cousin”. “That’s nice. Are you the only child of your parents?” “What do you study?” “What are your hobbies…”
The questions rained for the next half hour and the procedure went smoothly. Then, the turn for the UV rays had come and with it the time for me to shut up. They fixed some stand right next to my head and they bent a beam at the tip of which a light was suspended. It had 6 circular windows and out of each one of it emerged a blue light. I was asked to stare at this light for over a half over! Tears kept rolling down my cheeks like a flood and I couldn’t (Rather, wasn’t supposed to) wipe it off. One of the guys there played some music and said “I know it’s boring, if it helps, just listen to it”. Well, I didn’t enjoy it, but It gave me a way to count the time that had elapsed. I gave each song four minutes and was waiting for the lapse of six songs.
As always, time moved forward and I saw the light being lifted off my right eye and the doctor saying, “Excellent, Adarsh. You did real well, just another half hour and you can go home”.
My heart started to pound again, with excitement. My back was hurting, legs were hurting, I couldn’t feel my face, I was thirsty, my eyes were really very watery and I was scared about how I would spend the day after I walked out of there. “Hey, it’s okay. You have endured a lot, you will endure this too. Chill out. Many people get this thing done. It isn’t a big deal,” I said to myself, as the doctor said, “So what are you going to do after you home?”
“I have downloaded a few audiobooks, I think I’ll listen to that,” I said. “Which books,” asked she and I replied, “1984 and The Three Musketeers”. Then we spoke about books and novels and I mentioned to her about my novel (I never miss a chance). We spoke about it for sometime during which time she put the dye in my eye and asked me to stare at the blue lights again. So, the mouth was shut and the eyes were as wide open as the ocean.
The doctor then gave me a tip that made me lose quality sleep for the next two weeks. She said, “The only drawback of C3R is that it is highly prone to infection. You have to be extremely careful. You shouldn’t leave your house and your parents should regularly rinse their hands with Dettol before putting your eye drops or giving you food. You aren’t supposed to put water on your face and you aren’t supposed to rub or even touch your eyes for yet another week. You will be fine until you go home, but Adarsh, tonight is going to be one of the worst days of your life. Please be strong and don’t lose hope. Come on the day after and see me again. Your procedure will be done shortly. I will go now and talk to your parents, okay? You are doing real well, just a few more minutes”.
The Few-More-Minutes passed and well, I was finally out of the chair I never want to sit in ever again! The doctor helped me out and my family greeted me like I was returning home from battle! But none of them shook hands with me or hugged me. Ha! The doctor had scared them about the “infection” and well, none of them could find any Dettol in there. So, well, I was reminded of the doctor’s words again and then I was driven home.
I could hardly open my eyes. Tears kept oozing out my eyes and it washed my face whole. I managed to walk into my room and I just collapsed on my bed. My back seemed to love my bed and I it. Mom fed me food (after washing her hands with Dettol) and then gave me tablets and put me to sleep. I slept like a baby till that evening, and then the time I had most dreaded dawned. The effect of anesthesia died down and the pain began to grow. All the tablets that had put me to sleep had finished their work and I was now left open to the world of no medicines.
The pain was gruesome and I couldn’t find a way to make myself feel better. With the help of my dad, I tried listening to the audiobooks, but in vain. I really couldn’t at all concentrate. I then tried listening to just music, but that didn’t help too. I just told my dad and mom to sit beside me and just hold my hand. That was the only thing that helped ease the pain a bit.
No matter how tough one thinks he/she is, there is always a point when the subconscious mind defeats reason and practicality. That night was the night of the ultimate fight between the mind and the body, and as you must have guessed it right, the mind triumphed.
With the passage of each day, I realized what it is like to not be able to message your friends and loved one, to not be able to watch a favorite TV show, to not find the energy to eat by one’s own self, to not be allowed to wash your face, to not be able to read a newspaper, to not be able to bear bright light, to fear walking in the wind, to eat five meals a day just so you can kill time and to feel a sense of accomplishment after the passage of each day.
It has been 18 since now since the procedure and last evening, my doctor said, “Adarsh, your eyes are out of the infection scare. It will take two more months for the full recovery, you will have a bit of pain because you won’t be wearing your power glasses, but I’m sure you’ll be able to bear it. Now, go back to your normal life schedule and meet me after a month”.
Well, everyone, this is the story of Eye, Eye and I.