Spiders, Spiders, Everywhere!

This has been the year for spiders.  Lately, I have noticed these sheets of thick webs on everything.  We find their webs all over now…. on our front porch, on our screened-in porch and most recently, even on our shutters on the front of the house.  That was a first.  The spiders are nowhere to be seen, just the sheets of webbing which are white and very thick.  We knock them down but by the next day, they’re there again.  I pointed out the webbing on the front of the shutters to my husband.   I told hubby it looks like the Munsters or the Addams family lives here.  After he looked and was amazed as I was, he commented that he would go retrieve the long handled cobweb duster (Webster) and remove the webs.  I told him we could always just leave them up for Halloween decorations.  🙂

So he went to work knocking down the webs.  There was a garden spider who had built her very large web at one end of the porch. “DON’T KNOCK HER DOWN,” I warned.  “She will be my fall entertainment,”  I said with a grin.  Hubby just rolled his eyes.  That day, the garden spider, who I aptly named “Morticia,” caught a katydid.  She hugged it close for 48 hours, then finally cut it out of her web, where it now lays among a pile of other shells of bugs she’s feasted on.  Last night she caught a rather large moth.  She zapped it and then spun it in her silk.  I guess she was saving it for breakfast today.  How I love to watch these eight legged creatures… they are just fascinating to me.

Meet Morticia, enjoying her katydid

We just got a new Sony camera and I am still learning to use it.  This was the first picture I took with it. 

The other day on the news, I heard that it is not unusual to start seeing spiders in your house this time of year.  I always do find a few spiders in the fall and always just assumed they were coming in the house since our nights are starting to get cooler.  According to the news reporter on TV, that is a misconception, and he said this is the time spiders breed and these spiders we see coming into the house are just about always males who are on the move in search of female spiders to mate with.  It wasn’t 24 hours after seeing that on TV that a rather large brown spider was scurrying down my hallway up against the baseboard.  My cats will just about always hunt them down and terrorize them before I can even find a shoe to do the dirty deed myself.  Sorry spiders, but you best take your breeding business outside.

Gail

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Sunday Glory

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Fight All Your Battles on Your Knees and You Win Every Time

~Charles Stanley

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A little Fall Humor

Alas, my favorite season has arrived and today, the weather even reeks of autumn.  The temperature took a pretty drastic dive and it’s been a windy, blustery day.  Fall is definitely in the air.

Wishing you all many happy fall blessings!

Gail

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Things I’m Loving These Days

Though the fall season won’t officially be here until September 22nd, (6 days away!) it seems everyone has already entered into pumpkin spice mode and I know several family members who started decorating weeks ago.  I have to say after our brutally hot and humid Tennessee summers, I’m usually quite ready for fall, my favorite season.  The only “hint” of fall I’ve seen here is I’ve noticed the deer who come traipsing through our yard are losing their red summer coats and getting their gray winter coats already.  And THAT is the ONLY sign I’ve seen.  We did have a few days and nights a week or so ago where our humidity let up some, but IT’S BACCCKKKK!!!!  I just can’t decorate for fall when it’s still so hot out and until the calendar tells me it’s officially fall!   I’ve been browsing fall catalogs like a wild woman!  I usually just browse, though, as there is nothing in this world I need in the way of anymore fall decorations.  In fact, I told my husband and sisters if they so much as see me looking at anymore pumpkins or scarecrows to bonk me over the head!!  But I do love looking through fall catalogs.  It gets me in an autumn mood.  I saw a sign today that said, “Autumn is My Favorite Color” and I thought yeah, mine too!

Here’s a few things I’m loving these days.

1.  Pumpkin Biscotti, Pumpkin Bread, and Pumpkin Butter

My sister was on a recent trip to visit her daughter and brought me home these pumpkin goodies from Trader Joe’s.  Oh, how she knows how to make her pumpkin-loving baby sister happy!  🙂

I’ve been having the pumpkin biscotti with either hot lemon tea or a cup of coffee in the morning and it is delicious!  I absolutely love this stuff!

2.  Goat Milk Lotion from Syman Says Farms 

I mentioned this goat farm in my last Things I’m Loving These Days post.  They are in Connecticut and I’ve been buying their products since the winter.  I’ve been using both the Oatmeal Milk & Honey Lotion and soap and I just love the scent.  The lotion is so creamy and smooth and the scent is very pleasing and yet, not real strong or overpowering.  Hubby even loves it too and I’ve caught him using it a few times.  I gifted some of the oatmeal milk & honey soap and lotion to my mother-in-law and my father-in-law told me he is using it.  He told me he really likes it and it was helping the dry skin on his arms.

Photo from symansaysfarms.com

Recently I ordered a couple of bottles of the pumpkin Goat Milk Lotion.  I can’t wait to try it!   These lotions might be a tad pricey but they are worth every penny!  Goat milk lotion is supposedly good for dry itchy skin, eczema and psoriasis, acne, and other skin conditions.  Hubby swears it’s making the little crusty keratotic lesion on the side of his face disappear.  I think he’s right.

Photo credit: symansaysfarms.com

If I ever travel to Connecticut, Syman Says Farms is definitely a place I would love to visit.  I admire the love these people have for their goats and the wonderful care they give to them.  It warms my heart.  Watching their YouTube channels calms my soul, makes me laugh out loud, and educates this goat loving gal.  Goats are just hilarious!  I can’t tell you how much I have laughed watching this channel and their videos.  Hubby will holler and ask from the other room, “What in the world is so funny now?”  I’ll answer, “Just the goats again, honey.”

3.  These Food Storage Containers from Anchor Hocking

I came across these food storage containers at our Publix grocery store.  I love the mineral blue color of the soft lids.  They seal airtight and are easy to open.  Anchor Hocking has never let me down and these are no exception.  Last night I had to laugh when a girlfriend messaged me with a picture of these and told me to check them out at Publix, that she and her mother just loved them.  Her mother is 87 and very arthritic and has trouble opening containers but could easily open these.  So my friend bought a set of them on Amazon.  I laughed while telling her I had already discovered these and purchased some.  I took some banana pudding to my mother-in-law in one and she really liked the container, so I bought her one too.

4.  Velvet Pumpkins

photo from Amazon.com

photo from Amazon.com

photo from etsy.com

I’ve been seeing these in the stores for the past three years or so and I think they are so pretty!  They seem to be very popular.  My sister is trying to find some pastel colored velvet pumpkins and I’ve been helping her look and we’ve learned these are very pricey!  Most are made with real dried harvested pumpkin stems.  Aren’t they beautiful?

5.  French Country Rooster Mason Jar Lamp 

photo from collectionsetc.com

I have this little lamp on a table in my living room.  I’ve used it all summer and it will be perfect for fall too.  My sisters don’t know it yet (they don’t read my blog), but I got one for each of them too.  Our mother collected chickens and roosters and had a chicken/rooster kitchen so rooster decor is a little sentimental to all three of us.  This LED lamp is so pretty and colorful at night with the lights out.  They must have been pretty popular as they sold out.

I know I’m 6 days early, but happy fall season to all!

Gail ♥ 

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Sunday Glory

Here’s a little humor meme for Sunday’s Glory post this week.  I thought it was quite funny myself…. and true!

Gail

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Remembering the Unity on 9/11/01

I was thinking back on where I was twenty years ago today when the terrorists attacks on our nation occurred.  Who doesn’t remember where they were and what they were doing that morning?  I posted previously about that day here.  It was a scary day, an unprecedented day, and one filled with so many different emotions.

I think what I remember most about that day was how strongly my urge was to just get home.  I was in downtown Nashville when the bombings occurred and I just wanted to go home.  I also remember that once I got home, I wanted badly to go yank my children out of school.  I just wanted them home, safe in my arms.  My husband and I discussed whether it would be best to go get them or leave them in school, and we chose to leave them since by that time, they were interviewing psychologists on TV who said it was best NOT to get them out.  So we reluctantly left our children in school.  Our youngest was 8 and our oldest had turned 12 just 2 days previous, on September 9th.  I remember our talks from the events of the day and how I felt at a total loss to try to explain things to them when I didn’t understand myself how something like this could happen.  I still don’t and I don’t understand the hatred.

Another strong memory from that day is when our Congress united on the steps of the Capitol and sang “God Bless America” that evening.  I can’t help but wonder if today, that would even happen.  This country is so tragically divided, that I really don’t think it would.  I would hope, but still, I don’t think it would.

The following video gave me cold chills…. both the speech and then the singing.  How I wish our nation could stand together united like this once again.  I just hope it doesn’t take another terrorist bombing to do it.

Gail

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Sunday Glory

Photo by Tobias Bjørkli from Pexels

Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the LORD rises upon

you.

See, darkness covers the earth

and thick darkness is over the peoples,

but the LORD rises upon you

and his glory appears over you.

      ~Isaiah 60:1-2

Gail

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Let’s Talk Cataracts- Part 3

If you’re interested in reading Part One and Part Two of this series on cataracts, here are the links.

Part One is a little about cataracts in general.

Part Two is a detailed post about my experience with having the cataract removed from my first eye.

This post will cover surgery on my second eye.

I had surgery on my second eye (right eye) on August 11th, which was two weeks from my surgery on my first eye.  I was told that the second eye is much easier (a piece of cake) because you’ve already had the other eye done and you know more what to expect.  This was somewhat true, but I found myself with some anxiety and wishing and hoping that they would sedate me just a little deeper for the second surgery as I didn’t like being so awake and alert and seeing the blood fill my eye with the first surgery.

Hubby and I awoke at 4:30 the morning of the surgery to make it to the surgery center by 6 am.  Again, I was my doctor’s first surgical patient of the day.  I checked in and discarded the mask I wore to the center in exchange for one of their masks.  I was taken to the back where I was again weighed and had my temperature taken.

I was put in a bed and this time I had a different nurse and a different anesthesiologist. The nurse started the series of eye drops and in between instilling the drops, she placed an IV catheter in my hand.  Actually, I think they call them saline locks (previously hep locks) but we call them IV catheters in veterinary medicine so they will always be IV catheters to me.  Everything was the same as the first surgery.  I was hooked up to a cardiac monitor.  A blood pressure cuff and pulse oximeter were placed and they put a nasal canula under my mask.  My head was placed in the foam cradle head positioner and a pillow placed under my knees.  I was covered with warm blankets.  Again, I remained in the clothes and shoes I had worn and didn’t have to put a hospital gown on.  A surgical bonnet was placed over my head.

A different anesthesiologist came in to talk to me.  My primary concern, other than not being TOO wide awake for this surgery, was controlling my nausea (which was pretty bad after the first surgery despite them giving me Zofran).  The anesthesiologist told me they had given me Versed and Fentanyl for my first surgery and more than likely, the nausea was due to the Fentanyl which is a narcotic with a side effect being nausea and vomiting.  She asked in the past when I had taken pain meds such as hydrocodone (Lortabs) or oxycodone (Percocet), if they had made me nauseated.  I told her yes, almost always, and I told her I tended to avoid Percocet as it usually made me vomit.  So she decided for this second surgery, they would leave off the Fentanyl and only give me the Versed.  I expressed my concern about not wanting to be too awake and how I had felt a pin prick and jumped with my first eye.  She explained that my ophthalmologist WANTED me awake during surgery as she would be giving me voice commands to follow.  But she told me they numb the eye very well so while I would feel some pressure, I should not feel pain.  She said there’s not much they can do to prevent feeling the pressure but they don’t want a patient to feel pin pricks.  I told her I was just being a weenie and all was good.

For the nausea, this time they gave me 3 tablets: Zofran, Meclizine (Antivert) and Decadron (Dexamethasone).  That worked!

My ophthalmologist came in around 7:20 and briefly talked to me and they wheeled me to surgery at 7:30.  They injected the Versed as they were wheeling me to the surgery suite.  I did not feel even the least bit woozy. Usually Versed makes me quite chatty (when I’ve had it for colonoscopies) but I don’t think I had that reaction this time.

Again, I remember everything despite them telling me I would have some amnesia.  I remember them washing my eye, turning on the oxygen to the nasal canula, the eye doctor telling me she was going to drape my eye and apply the eye retractor.  I remember her telling me she was starting the procedure and I saw a swirling red eddy in my eye.  This time I felt a little pressure but no pin prick sensations and no pain whatsoever.  I could hear the noises of the phacoemulsification (sort of a whirring noise of the machine).  I remember her telling me she was putting in the IOL.  I heard her say, “Okay, okay, okay…. OKAY… Perfect!”  I remember the doctor announcing the surgery end time as 7:50 am and I was done.  I remember her telling me everything had gone perfectly.  I asked her if this cataract was also a bad one and she said “Yes, but not as bad as your left eye.”  They placed a bandage over my eye and sent me to recovery.

This time I had NO nausea which was wonderful.  They gave me a sprite to sip on, called my husband back, and went over the post op instructions (which were the same so I won’t repeat all that) and walked me out to the car.  It was 8:05!  We were home by 8:30!

I was not near as sleepy this time since I had not had the fentanyl.  I slept a short time after arriving home and started on the eyedrops.  The brightness was astounding!  I couldn’t believe how white the color white actually was.  Even the sinks in my bathroom appeared so much brighter to me (and they are an almond color).  I couldn’t believe the brightness when I looked outside and how clean and bright my kitchen floor appeared.  I joked with my husband that I had been ready to get a new kitchen floor as no matter how much I cleaned it, it always appeared yellowish and dingy.  Now it was white again.  It had been my cataracts all along and not my housekeeping!

I did experience burning in this eye (which I had not experienced in my first eye).  My right nostril ran when my eye burned, although my eye never did.  At times I felt there was sand in my eye.  I used artificial tears which seemed to help with this.  I did also have a red, hemorrhagic spot on my sclera in this eye (which I didn’t have in my first eye).  It disappeared after a week.  Sometimes I had the sensation of a bruise in this eye.

I went for my post-op check the next morning and everything looked good.   My post-op pressures in both eyes were normal.  My right eye was still 5 mm dilated so things were still a little blurry.  She said she would see me again in two weeks.  I was glad to have cataract surgeries all behind me.

Gail

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Let’s Talk Cataracts- Part 2

I recently had cataract surgery on both eyes (2 weeks apart). I thought I would share my experience since it is such a common surgery and one most of us will have to have, provided we live long enough!  You can read Part One of this series here.

Cataracts (clouded lenses in your eye) are most commonly due to aging.  Normal proteins in the lens start to break down usually after the age of 40 and that is what causes the lens to get cloudy.  People over age 60 usually start to have some clouding of their lenses but vision problems may not happen until years down the road.  According to my ophthalmologist’s website, more than 50% of people age 60 or older are diagnosed with cataracts during a routine comprehensive exam.  Cataracts can also tend to run in families and can be caused my certain medical problems, such as diabetes.  They can sometimes be caused from an eye injury, eye surgery, or radiation treatments.  The use of certain medications can also cause cataracts, such as corticosteroids.

Cataracts can be removed only with surgery.  When the cataracts become worse and keep you from doing things you want or need to do, then surgery should be considered.

I scheduled a surgery consultation with my eye clinic which was thorough and detailed.  I was there over an hour.  The tech rotated me through about three different rooms with various machines that performed various eye tests.  Then the tech dilated my eyes and the ophthalmologist came in.  She did an eye exam and said I was very ready (I had been told last year my cataracts were ready for surgery but due to COVID and other surgeries in our family, I had put it off).  My vision at that point was like looking through a dirty or dusty window.  Things looked blurry, hazy and less colorful.  I was also having some double vision.  I was having trouble reading writing on the TV as the words were superimposed on each other making it appear that there were two sets of words.  I was not however having any trouble reading from books or magazines.

The ophthalmologist gave me two brochures to read on cataracts.  One was on cataracts in general and one on cataract surgery.

She explained a little about the surgery, that she always does the bad eye first and the second eye two weeks after that.  She said I would be awake during the surgery but would be put in a twilight sleep to ease my anxiety.  She said they numb the eye very well and I would not feel anything.

My ophthalmologist explained that cataract surgery is an operation to remove your eye’s natural lens, which has become cloudy due to the cataract.  A small incision is made into the eye and tiny instruments are used to break apart and remove the cloudy lens from the eye.  Your cloudy lens is replaced with a clear artificial lens, called an intraocular lens or IOL.

An IOL This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Attribution: Frank C. Müller

During the pre-op visit, they go over any medications you are taking and discuss any health considerations you might have.  I had to also meet with a surgery scheduler who did measurements of both my eyes to determine the proper focusing power for my IOLs, and who explained more details about the surgery.  At that time, she gave me a bag which contained pre-op instructions and a bottle of very expensive eye drops ($90) that I would be using after the surgery.  The drops contained an antibiotic, a steroid, and an NSAID.

Starting a week before my surgery, I was told to wash my face daily, especially around my eyelids and lashes,  I was told to purchase a cleanser such as SteriLid or OCuSOFT (found in the eye drop section of drug stores).  I used OCuSOFT lid scrub.

I pre-registered online which involved filling out a long form which covered my medical history and surgical history and the usual COVID screening questions.  They wanted to know all COVID tests I had had, dates and results.

A surgery center nurse called two days before my surgery to go over any medications and tell me not to eat or drink anything after midnight before my surgery.  I was the first surgery of the morning (out of 8 cataract surgeries my doctor was doing that day).  I was told to be there at 6 am (ugh) and my surgery would be 7-7:30.  I was told the surgery was a 10-20 minute procedure and I would be in recovery a short time and home by 10.  The nurse told me to dress comfortably and to preferably wear a button up shirt so they could apply the heart monitor pads easily.

My first surgery, which was on my left eye, was Wednesday, July 28th.   I arrived at the surgery center at 6 am.  After a brief check-in and COVID screening, they had me remove the mask I had worn and said I was required to wear one of their masks.  I was taken to the back where I was weighed and my temperature taken, and immediately put in a bed.  I would remain on this bed during my entire time, even during the surgery.  I was allowed to keep my clothes on (i.e., I didn’t have to put a gown on) and even kept my shoes on.  They joked that this would be one time I would be allowed to get in bed with my shoes on. I was hooked up to a cardiac monitor and a blood pressure cuff was applied as well as a pulse oximeter.  A nasal canula was put on under my mask, so that oxygen could be administered during the surgery.  I was covered in warm blankets (it was very cold in this surgery center)!  An IV was put in my hand so that the anesthesia medications could be administered.  The anesthesiologist came and talked to me as did a student nurse anesthetist.  I told them how I always get nauseated with surgeries so they brought me a Zofran tablet to take.  They told me I would be awake during this surgery because my doctor would be giving me verbal commands during surgery so she needed me to be awake.  My head was put in a foam cradle head positioner at the top of the bed and a pillow was put under my knees.  During this time, they were periodically putting a lot of drops in…. numbing drops and dilation drops.

Finally it was time to wheel me to surgery.  The anesthesiologist injected Versed (a fast-acting benzodiazepine to relieve anxiety and make me drowsy) and Fentanyl (a narcotic analgesic).  They told me the Versed would cause some amnesia.  I never went to sleep and I didn’t have amnesia.  I remember them wheeling me into the surgery room.  My doctor talked to me the entire time and told me everything being done.  I remember them telling me they were going to wash out my eye and I remember them squirting what appeared to be a gel in the eye and rinsing it out (I didn’t feel any of it as I was quite numb).  I remember them turning on the oxygen to my nasal canula.  I remember the doctor telling me she was applying the drape over my eye and then telling me she was applying the eyelid retractor to keep my eye open wide during surgery

eyelid retractor

And then I remember her telling me she was beginning the surgery.  I remember seeing bright lights and then a red color filling my eye which became a swirling red eddy.  I assumed this was blood.  Every now and then a clearing would form and I could see a nurse standing by my side.  At this point, I started thinking I wasn’t deep enough because I was feeling anxiety and wished I was more sedated.  About that time, I felt pressure and then a pin prick that made me involuntarily jump.  I immediately thought that it wasn’t too smart to jump when someone has a sharp instrument in my eye so I verbally told the ophthalmologist that I was feeling things.  I heard her tell the anesthesiologist to give me more juice.  It wasn’t long after that, that she was finished.

They covered my eye with a bandage and I was wheeled out to recovery.  I was put in a chair and given a small sprite to drink but I didn’t want it as I was very nauseated.  I remember the nurse asking me if I was ready to see Steve and I said, “Yes, I guess I am even though I don’t know who Steve is.”  She said, “Isn’t your husband’s name Steve?”  I said, “No, it’s Rick.”  We had a good laugh.  So the rest of the day, whenever hubby would put my eye drops in, I would say, “Thank you, Steve!” Hubby was brought to the back and I was glad he was there to hear the discharge instructions because I was trying hard not to vomit at that point and didn’t pay much attention.  I remember the nurse saying we were going to have to do something different on the second eye (for the nausea).

I was walked to the car and given an emesis bag for the trip home.  We were home by 9 am.

I reclined the seat and slept on the drive home.  I hit the bed when I got home due to nausea and slept until about 4:30.

As far as post op instructions, I was told to remove the eye bandage one hour after getting home.  I was told to NOT rub my eye and was given an eye shield that I was to wear only at night when I slept for one week.

eye shield

I was to start the eye drops immediately and use them four times a day for one week and then twice a day for 14 more days.  The purpose of these drops was to reduce pain and inflammation and to prevent infection.

 

 

I was also told I could use artificial tears/lubricant OTC drops if my eye felt irritated or to increase comfort throughout the day.  I used Refresh drops.

There were no limitations of bending, walking, reading, TV, travel, bathing/showering.  I was told not to rub my eye hard for 4 weeks but to gently clean my lashes daily with warm water.  I was told to wear sunglasses for any light sensitivity, if needed, and not to do any strenuous lifting or pushing for one week.

I had no pain or discomfort in this eye whatsoever.  I honestly could not even tell anything had been done to my eye.  I had no redness or watering in that eye and could not even tell you where the incision had been made.

I was amazed at how much brighter and whiter everything was in that eye.  My kitchen floor was white again and no longer dingy yellow.  Covering up each eye and comparing the two was absolutely amazing!  Just looking at my socks with my surgery eye and then with my remaining cataract eye was such a difference.  I couldn’t believe how white my socks were!

I went for a post-op exam the next afternoon and everything looked good.  My intraocular pressure was up a little in that eye which is typical for 1-2 days after cataract surgery.  My eye was still dilated and so things were still a little blurry.  The doctor told me they use much stronger dilating drops and more of them for this surgery than they would for a routine eye exam so it was normal for my eye to still be dilated.  The dilation lasted about 36 hours.  I told her how amazed I was at how much brighter everything was and she said that is about the most common comment she hears after cataract surgery and she warned me that sometimes the brightness is a little overwhelming at first until you get used to it.  Having that surgery made me realize how dark my world had been.  It was such a gradual darkness, that I guess I hadn’t realized how bad it had gotten.  I was told to come back in a week.  At that visit both my intraocular pressures (IOPs) were normal as the doctor expected them to be.  I was told everything looked good and the ophthalmologist was pleased with how everything had gone.  She said the surgery had gone perfectly.

Coming soon…. part 3… cataract surgery in the second eye

Gail

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Let’s Talk Cataracts!

Several years ago, at a routine eye exam, I was told I had cataracts.  A cataract is any opacity in the transparency of the lens of the eye which blocks light from reaching the retina.  This causes a loss of sight which can manifest as mild vision problems to partial blindness.  Treatment for cataracts involves surgery to remove the affected lens and replace it with an intraocular lens implant.  I was only in my mid 50s and mentioned to my ophthalmologist that I didn’t think cataracts usually became an “issue” until the late 60s or early 70s (and I was mostly basing that on it being the ages when both my parents had cataract surgery).  While she agreed that cataract surgery was more commonly performed in ones late 60s and early 70s, she did tell me she did indeed sometimes do cataract surgery in people in their 50s and even people in their 40s.  She told me mine did present a little early but would not be “ripe” or ready for surgery for a few more years.

Cataracts in Dogs and Cats

Most all I knew about cataracts when I was diagnosed was from what I learned about them in veterinary school.  Back in 1984, in my clinical year of veterinary school, I had the privilege of getting to watch a veterinary ophthalmologist perform a cataract surgery in a dog.  At the time, the veterinary college I attended was “in between” ophthalmologists and did not have a clinical ophthalmologist on staff.  Neither did the college have an ophthalmologist on staff my second year of veterinary school when I took the ophthalmology academic course (which was combined with Audiology).  I remember being given two sets of notes to learn and study from, so most of the course was a “learn on your own” or “do it yourself” course.  One set of those notes was by Glenn A. Severin, DVM, who was recognized nationally as an expert in veterinary ophthalmology. 

He taught ophthalmology for many years at Colorado State University Teaching Hospital.  He was considered “the man” in veterinary ophthalmology.  I was told if we covered his notes and studied them in detail, we would probably have a pretty good working knowledge of ophthalmology.  My clinical year, when I rotated through ophthalmology, the college brought in a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist I believe from Atlanta, GA.  She saw patients and performed surgeries in clinics once or twice a week as well as I remember.  Teaching students, however, was not her forte and ophthalmology was an area that I quite frankly felt pretty weak in.  But I did feel fortunate that I got to witness a cataract surgery.  Most of my classmates did not get that opportunity.  

We see senile (old age) cataracts in dogs a lot.  Most dogs eight years of age and older have some degree of haziness or cloudiness in their lenses due to cataracts.  Cataracts are also common in diabetic dogs.  Cats do get cataracts but not very commonly.  When they do occur in cats, they are usually due to injuries, trauma, or infection.  Surgery is usually only done on animals who have a great deal of difficulty getting around. 

You can see the blue gray haziness of this dog’s cataracts. This dog would most definitely have some visual impairment. Image by ivabalk from Pixabay

Image by Mad_Dillon from Pixabay

Back in the mid 80s, when I observed the canine cataract surgery, veterinary medicine had not yet started using intraocular lens implants for cataract surgery.  So the dog we did surgery on, had his entire lens removed, which contained his dense white cataract.  It always amazed me that we could just go in and remove that dog’s lens.  I always wondered how the dog was able to focus without a lens in his eyeball, and in all honesty, he probably didn’t focus very well.  The surgery restored his vision but he lost some visual acuity because the lens was no longer present to focus light on his retina.  But he did very well and saw good enough to get around even though I’m sure things were somewhat blurry for him.  It never fails…. dogs always amaze me!  We did an electroretinogram (ERG) on the dog prior to surgery to make sure he had adequate functioning retinas.  There would be no sense in doing the cataract surgery if the retinas were damaged. 

My ophthalmologist told me human medicine didn’t start implanting the intraocular lenses in humans until around 1985.  Veterinary  medicine lagged behind this a few years and began using lens implants in the early 1990s. 

My Vision Worsens

My early cataract symptoms began as seeing haloes around headlights and street lamps at night.  The haloes were white and smoky appearing at first but later became rainbow colored.  Then I began seeing starbursts when I looked at lights which produced an annoying glare.  When I went for my eye exam last year in 2020, my vision had significantly worsened.  Things were becoming blurry, I was not able to read eye charts and it was like I was looking out of very dirty windows.  My doctor said my cataracts were ready for surgery.  But my husband had JUST had hip replacement surgery the week before, which had been cancelled and rescheduled a few times thanks to COVID.  He still needed help and couldn’t drive and the last thing we needed was for both of us to be down and out.  I was also not real thrilled at the thought of having elective surgery during the COVID pandemic so I put surgery off. 

Over this past year, my vision deteriorated even more.  I stopped driving at night because I could no longer read street signs and because now when I looked at headlights, I was seeing double and triple headlights.  Headlight glare was overpowering and my world was much darker.  My “windows” became much more smoky and hazy.  Colors, especially white colors, became dingy yellow and almost a light brown color.  All colors seemed faded.  I also started having double vision when I read writing on the television.  Also I could not see facial features in much detail on the TV or in real life.  When I would look up at the moon at night, I would see 3-5 moons superimposed on each other with my left eye and a double moon with my right eye.  I decided when I no longer felt safe driving during the day, that it was time to have surgery.  Things were getting more and more blurry and this was particularly noticeable when my husband and I would go walking at dusk.  I was missing deer and other wildlife that he was able to see.  The leaves on trees were all looking blurry.  One thing I had noticed I was doing was walking into a room where the lights were on, but switching the lights off and then back on.  I think I was driving my husband crazy doing this and he asked me one day why I KEPT doing that?  It was because my world had become so dark, that I was always thinking surely the lights could not be on. But they were on.  It was definitely time for surgery!  

Part 2 coming soon…. cataract surgery 

Gail

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