Anxiety – It Must Be Eye Drops…

… So many eye drops, falling down my cheeks.
(with apologies to Dee Clark for the paraphrase of his 1962 song)

Anxiety is an illness and one that can trigger or be triggered by other illnesses, whether physical or mental. It can cripple you and stop you from doing things that aren’t really that bad. Many doctors treat anxiety with medications, but I know from experience that it doesn’t work. Being informed and supported are the best treatments.

I have often mentioned my anxiety disorder. It goes along with the bipolar, depression, OCD and panic attacks I have dealt with since I was young. Any change of any kind in my life can cause anxiety such as a move, another health situation, or fear of the unknown.

Last Tuesday I went for my first cataract surgery.  I have to admit after the fact that the hardest part of it is all of the eye drops I had to have before and will continue to have for the next five weeks. I am a real wimp when it comes to my eyes – even a stray eyelash can unnerve me until it is out.

I had to have 3 different drops 4 times a day until I got to the hospital where they inserted another dozen drops before and half a dozen after the procedure. Then I had to have 4 more sets of drops in the eye the same day. Now I have to keep doing them for the next few weeks, basically until I go for the other eye surgery!

I honestly think I could handle open heart surgery better than someone working on my eye while I am awake. However, I had many people telling me it isn’t so bad, praying, sending positive thoughts, and just being very supportive.

When we got there, a few minutes early, five of the six chairs for patients were filled. I was number six and the last of 20 procedures for the day. Apparently, they got off to a bad start with a key piece of equipment needing servicing before they could operate. There was a chance that they might have to cancel the last few if they didn’t make up the time. I am so thankful that they did and that I didn’t hear any of this until I was being wheeled into the operating room.

When I had my hernia repair surgery, I did all the prep the night before and arrived at the surgery department just in time to be told I was being bumped. Then the second time I was booked I had to wait and wait, all the time thinking I wasn’t going to have it bumped a second time. However, they made sure I did even though they went into overtime. I couldn’t have dealt with a second cancellation.

This time, my anxiety was at bay at this point and I didn’t need something to rekindle it. Once I was on the table and my doctor talked me through the complete process, I was very calm and relaxed. It took about 25 minutes and there were no problems whatsoever.

Well, except maybe for all those eye drops.

The prep nurse, Sandy was a good part of why I was so calm. She went through everything I needed to know for after the surgery and had such a kind and friendly voice. She, and the two surgical nurses, Richard and Richmond, were awesome and knew how to deal with anxious patients. (I swear, even with surgical masks and hats I could see Richard and Richmond were identical twins!). Finally, the surgeon was so gentle and kind. I know they are all used to patients being anxious to many different degrees. After all, it is eye surgery!

The first couple of days after the surgery my eye was scratchy and blurry. I have Theraspecs for my migraines and they worked just as well for filtering out the bright lights until my eye could focus on it. Now, except for just after I get my drops, I am seeing much better out of the operated eye.

I see better now out of that eye than before, and better than the other eye pre-surgery.

Now I must go get some more drops.

Lydia!

PS: For those of you who have been following me and my hospital exploits over the last few years, yes, I did wear a purple dress!

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12 Replies to “Anxiety – It Must Be Eye Drops…”

    1. Thank you, Cindy. Your words touch me to the core. My hope from the very first day I started this blog was to be as open as possible in hopes of helping even just one person along the way.

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  1. I feel you. Cataract recovery and prep is so easy yet…. Oy just hard. I had no idea the recovery time would be so easy yet very very diff with only eye drops to think about and no bending over!! Had mine done uh… July??

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  2. So good to hear you are recovering from cataract surgery. My mom has had many eye surgeries, none fun. I do think anxiety can be handled with self-talk, breathing exercises, getting support, etc… I also know when anxiety becomes crippling it can become a diagnosable invisible illness. I have an anxiety ‘disorder’ that is treated with medication from the ‘histamine’ family. My life has become manageable once again. I can function! I no longer hyperventilate in a room full of strangers. I guess we need to figure out if it is the regular ‘something new or scary’ anxiety or if we need to seek treatment for an anxiety disorder. Keep up with those drops Lydia! Eye health is quite a task! Great post. xo~k.

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    1. My Dad had Macular Degeneration and had to have shots in his eyes. He got cataracts but they decided it was too risky to operate as if something went wrong he would lose all his sight. I took him to all his appointments and I know it wasn’t easy on him. Which is why, even with my anxiety I made sure I went through with it. I suffer from the disabling form of anxiety. However, any medication prescribed either made it worse or became addictive. I use breathing exercises, thought adjustment, and other techniques to try and alleviate it as much as possible. I am getting better at it but still have a ways to go.

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      1. Sorry your dad couldn’t get relief. Losing sight is scary. I think you are doing well with managing your anxiety! I love my antihistamine medication, not addicting and not on the opioid list! But we are each different and practice concepts that work for us, as individuals. You should be so very proud of how well you did! I am! ~k.

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  3. Great job for using your coping skills and getting through the surgery. (And all those darn eye drops.) I have rambly disjointed thoughts in connection with your post. I’ll try to keep it sort of coherent. I too have extremely bad anxiety. I was really lucky because Valium worked for me….and then last week I overdosed on a whole bottle of it. My therapist was not nearly as upset with me as my overcatastrophizing imagination feared, but I’m going to be a lot more anxious when I see the psychiatrist again.

    She is a fairly lenient and flexible doctor. If I walked in and said, “I read X medication would help with Y symptom” and it sounded reasonable she’d try it. We also have an onsite pharmacy that I don’t currently use, but which packages meds in bubble packs for each day and time slot, and they will optionally have you pick them up every single week. So, I feel I have a negotiation strategy. My psychiatrist has wanted me to switch to this pharmacy before and I wouldn’t consider it, but I’d be willing to try it if it meant I could get just one Valium a day, picked up weekly. If I needed it for something anxiety-provoking during the day I’d have it as an option, and if not I’d take it at bedtime because after half a dozen sleep meds I haven’t found anything else that actually helps me sleep. Fun fact: Ambien is approximately equivalent to a 5-hour energy shot for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sorry to hear about your episode with Valium but unfortunately that is one of the risks to these drugs. You are being smart opting for the blister packs and weekly meds. I wish you all the best.

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