Vande Mataram

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Eye Treatment - Part 1

I'm recording here, my personal experience of an eye treatment I underwent. This post is purely personal.
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I had been having issues with my left eye for a couple of decades now. An accident during the past added to the woes, but it was okay to live with, as it didn't cause any pain or serious problems of any sort by the Grace of my Guru Thapas Chakravarthi Shri Bhrathee Theertha Mahaswamiji of Sringeri and my God the Great Jala Rakshaka Ayyanar of Rajapalayam. But right after the Sankranthi holidays of 2013 (mid January) I've been having an irritation in the left eye and have been continuing with some eye drops advised by my ophthalmologist. Later my dad suggested that I sit with the Ophthalmologist at Rajapalayam for finding out a permanent solution for this. The Clinic is called Shakthi Eye Hospital and Dr.Rajesh & Dr.Anitha were running it. I finally agreed with my dad to meet with this 'couple' of doctors.

When I went to Sakthi Eye Hospital Dr.Rajesh was busy and I met with Dr.Anitha. She had examined my eye thoroughly and suggested that I meet up with a specialist at Aravind Eye Hospital Madurai. She gave a letter of reference to Dr. Usha Kim at Aravind. I was imagining of being treated by a Korean physician. The first name sounds pretty much Indian, but I gave a reason to myself that it could be like our former first lady (born Ma Tint Tint) having taken an Indian name Usha, after marrying Mr.K.R.Narayanan when he was with the IFS. I googled about the treatment but the information was mundane with medical jargon.

I went to Aravind Eye Hospital on 8th of March '13 and was taken through a series of medical examinations and meeting with doctors. When I started telling them about the examinations by Dr. Anitha and the reference letter to Dr.Usha Kim, I was told that they were following the procedure. Standard reply. But the doctors who examined me were looking good (I didn't carry an apple to keep away!) so I didn't raise much voice about the monotony of going through the procedures.

Then came some tense moments. One of the doctors examined me was a Punjab di kudi named Sukhdeep Bains. I have soft corner for her since she was so kind and understanding. She answered my queries, however stupid they may be, with a patience. She was wondering about the reason for the problem I had in my eye. No direct hit on the eye, no apparent troubles, but an accident decades ago not involving the eye  directly cannot be taken for granted as the reason for the loss of vision. She was hesitating in telling me directly about her suspicion. My google memories flashed and I asked her, "Do you suspect Retinoblastoma?" She said the possibilities are lesser to 1% of it, but advised to get it confirmed before deciding on the course of treatment.

I went to the scan section to do a B-Scan. I was rehearsing in my mind the old Ilayaraja song "Mani Osai kettu ezhundhu". When the scan was taken, I asked the lady there about anything special in the scan. Snap came the reply. "The doctor will tell you about the scan result, Sir!". I came out and went back to the section where I was being examined with every other beat of the heart skipping. The doctor called me in and told that nothing indicating any blastoma is reported in the scan, so we don't have to worry about any kind of cancer. I inferred from her expression that she might have been more relieved than me at that moment. And now I was rehearsing back in my mind "Agaram Ippo Sigaram Aachu" the song composed by S.P.Balasubramaniam.

I was asked to go have lunch and come back in one hour. I came back in 50 minutes and waited there. Then the examinations continued for some hours. Finally the doctor advised me that I have to go for a CFP. May I know what is that? She said it is a prosthetic that is fit into the eye to make it look like a normal eye. But what about the infected conjunctiva. She opined that it was a badly damaged nerve that has caused this and it would be highly risky to operate that upon. If my eye found difficulties in accepting the CFP then, she said that we may have to try other options.

I then asked about meeting with Dr. Usha Kim, since I was referred by my doctor to her. Dr. Sukhdeep said it was kind of a protocol that any references to this section would be to Dr. Usha, but there is no pressing necessity to meet to justify the reference, unless the patient was so keen. Here the patient was so keen to meet her, not just to justify the reference, but also to find out whether she was a Korean lady or an Indian, since a lot of interest was aroused in me with the nurses speaking about her being so strict at work and kind in person as well.

My dad told earlier that she looked pretty much Indian, but I told him I wanted to justify the reference made by Dr.Anitha. We finally met up with Dr. Usha Kim despite strenuous objections by the all-in-all admin person, a lady named Rejitha. She was trying put her foot down that we didn't have an appointment with Dr.Usha for that evening, but my dad went and wished Dr.Usha when she was about exit and the doctor asked "where is my patient?". I was rushed through by the staff and was presented in front of her. She was Indian (Hooray!) :) She queried about my comfort level with the treatment and after studying my reports for the day assured me of perfect cure. I was asked to come back after 4 days, of course after taking the advised medicines, for a review.

I went on day 5 and the routine check ups were done on both the eyes. Now it was a different set of doctors   (No Punjab di Kudis this time) and they examined my left eye. Finally I was sent to the prosthesis center at Aravind and a lady from Periyakulam was the boss there. She took me through some painful procedures and advised me that a week to would be needed to fit in the CFP in the left eye. The caveat given was that the eye should be accommodating the foreign body, else we need to undergo different procedures. My eye was 'readied' for the CFP with different medical (painful) procedures then. Not fit to be called a surgery exactly, but a foreign body was fit in to my eye.

This was tried for a week and an unfortunate me... the eye didn't accept the CFP. All the pain I underwent  were in vain. I went back to Dr.Usha and she was frightened to see my eye without the prosthesis as the damage done was bloody. I was advised rest for 10 days with loads of medicine for both the eyes as my right eye has lost its ability to see brighter lights in the prosthesis procedure. Dr. Usha was visibly disturbed by this and assured me of a "close and open" procedure to fix both the eyes. She advised me to take the medicines and come after 10 days. But the pain took its time to go and  I didn't know a way to push it off too :(

In the meantime I had my office calling. There was some serious issue and my services were required. I started working from 25th of March '13, sitting in a dark room with laptop brightness reduced to bare minimum. Initially I felt like Alice in Wonderland, but after an hour all the memory membranes got activated. Work went on with my eye getting better with snail's pace. Seeing laptop continuously for long hours had its toll on the eye. My right eye got an infection too on 27th March '13. I had to undergo treatment for that too. The infection was cured in 4 days but still the lesion is there and the right eye is under medication.

Well, I went after 15 days to Aravind. Dr.Usha was satisfied with the improvement and advised a date for the fix. The nurse who took me for an examination gave me some details which were in stark contrast to what Dr. Usha had advised me. I wanted a clarification and was given a startling reply that Dr. Usha had generalised the procedure and these nurses were telling me the customised process to fit my eye. If that is the case, I don't want my eye to be treated by a person who generalises treatment and keeps off from customising for the case at hand.

These nurses seem to have not faced a person who had lot of questions and refused to accept their reciting from the Standard Operating Procedure booklet. What happened then was one of the worst episode in the medicare domain. The nurses and the medical assistants were insisting that I should accept their explanation and undergo what they advised me to, as they were in the trade for how long they had been. But I insisted on knowing what would happen to me before undergoing any procedures, since the earlier procedure was a painful failure. They stuck to their ground and I stuck to mine. I was refused an appointment with the doctor citing some meetings during the first week of April. "Whatever time it may take, without a meet with Dr. Usha and clarifying the procedure, I would never lie down for a surgery again, not even sit for a test of my eyes", I resolved.

When I consulted Dr.Anitha at my home town she laughed at the mention that Dr.Usha generalises and these nurses take an empirical approach towards the treatment. She actually could not control laughter and said that those girls were blabbering without any sense of what they were blabbering. She advised me that Dr. Usha was an expert in her domain and she teaches medical students at Harvard and Johns Hopkins too. Then I got my confidence back! Still, I googled and found for my self about Dr.Usha's capabilities. She appeared to be the master as praised by one and all.

My parents went to get the answers for my queries on the second week of April and my mom told that Dr.Usha was taken aback with the statement of the nurses about the surgical procedures. She wrote down all the steps in the SOP and struck down some as unnecessary for my corrective procedure. Then she advised to come on 12th of April '13 for the surgery. I told office about it and promised to be back on Monday to work.

I will continue......

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