Friday, October 21, 2022

"An apple a day keeps anyone away, if you throw it hard enough."--Stephen Colbert

Fall is here! Highs: 50's, Lows: low thirties   Site: C-48 pull thru

The trees are turning quickly. They are especially beautiful in Bristol, IN. There sure are some spectacular large trees with gorgeous color all around the area. 

Eldy is done with cataract surgery and all is well. For anyone younger who might not know, ) a cataract is a cloudy growth over your lens in your eye that occurs with old age. You don't start thinking about it or hearing about it until you get to be in your sixties and beyond most likely. Everybody eventually gets them. There comes a certain point where you need to get them removed and an artificial lens implanted called an intraocular lens or you might go blind eventually. There are many different types of lenses with different prescriptions they can put in and you get to choose which one you like based on your doctor's recommendations. As you age, you think your vision is just getting worse because of old age, but the clouding of the lens which occurs normally over a period of years, starts making things look like you are looking through a cloudy or dirty window. You also need to know that exposure to sunlight WITHOUT WEARING SUNGLASSES can speed up the development of cataracts. Sparky is TERRIBLE about not wearing sunglasses. We knew we were both close to being ready for surgery the past year, because each of us kept cleaning our glasses MANY times a day, thinking we had bad or dirty glasses and needed a new prescription. Other signs are: trouble with night vision, light and glare sensitivity (BIG halos around street lights and car lights at night), more frequent glasses prescription changes, double vision sometimes, or the sense of colors fading or yellowing. In addition, the cataracts have to be at a certain stage for insurance to pay for the surgery. This year it was time.

Eldy only has one good eye, so it was a little nerve wracking when the good eye was operated on. (He is legally blind in his left eye.) It's a quick operation, about 10-15 minutes and he was given an anesthetic. He says for the first eye he was totally out, he thought, but he really wasn't. He reports that for the second eye, the doctor talked to him and asked him to "look up," or "look to your left", things like that, so he felt he was much more aware of what was going on, but still couldn't feel anything. ( He just remembers the conversation the second time, haha.) Eldy was in and out of the surgery center for the whole check in and check out procedure in under two hours. He was given a special prescriptive eye drop medication to use 3 times a day at home for the first week, tapering off little by little the second week. He was to continue using over the counter Systane eye drops 4 times a day for two weeks and then that tapers off as well. A special medicinal implant was inserted in the eye to minimize infection at the time of surgery, and the purpose to lessen the amount of prescriptive eye drops needed. It gets gradually absorbed by the eye and you can't even tell it is there. He was amazed at how much improvement there was with both eyes. He still can't see very well out of his bad eye, but together using both eyes, he is thrilled to be able to see a lot of things without his glasses. Our Medicare plan covers the cost of replacement glasses because your vision changes quite a bit after surgery, so we are happy about that!

Sparky was up next. We both went to Boling Eye Care Center in Elkhart, IN, an excellent facility that has state of the art equipment and their own in house surgery site plus the optometry department. It's an interesting process, that's for sure. All measurements and pre-op are done now mostly with machines. We probably each went through a line of 6-8 machines to get ready for eye surgery. They measure your pupil reaction time to glare, they measure and map your cornea, they check your current eye prescriptions not only with "Is this better? One, or two? How about three? Or four?"  but with another machine as well. They also check your eye pressure before and after surgery. Increased eye pressure is common after surgery so they want to keep an eye on that. (Ooooohhhh, sorry about the bad pun. Sparky couldn't resist.)

Our Medicare plans pay for the entire surgeries ($5,000 per eye) IF we opt for scalpel removal of the cataracts and not laser, and IF we don't elect to pick special lenses that pretty much guarantee that you won't need glasses any more. That's a hefty out of pocket expense at maybe $3,000 per eye for special prescriptive lenses. Neither one of us minds still having to wear glasses, we've worn them pretty much all our lives. Eldy actually can see things without his glasses at all and now only needs a bit of prescription for closeup. So he's using cheater readers until his eyes finalize and work together optimally, about a month after the second surgery. Because he has only one good eye, he is going to keep wearing glasses all the time with a new prescription to protect the good eye. So for the both of us, Medicare covers the entire surgeries at zero cost to us by electing the "no frills" cataract surgery.

Sparky had trouble with her first eye, the left one. Apparently, a cataract that wasn't quite ready for Medicare coverage last year, rapidly developed into a dense cataract this year. Sparky had a brunescent cataract which is a dense cataract that has gotten "crusty", brittle and brown around the edges, and was much harder to remove. For every extra minute in eye surgery, the recovery time is an extra day or two longer, said the doctor. After three days, the blurriness was still bad. At the day after followup appointment, Sparky was told they "really had to dig it out". (!) Glad they told her that AFTER it was all done! Sparky worried and fretted as the week went on and the blurriness continued so back to the doctor for an extra consultation. The lens was good, there was no infection, but because the cataract was so hard to remove, there was more corneal swelling. Sparky was given ANOTHER set of eye drops, a sodium chloride solution to help reduce the swelling. That makes THREE sets of eye drops to keep track of, but Boling Eye Care Center gives you a little calendar for each eye with little boxes to check off by the names of the eye drops so you don't get mixed up. 

The second eye surgery was scheduled one week away. Sparky had a tough week trying to see with two VERY different eye prescriptive needs. She was still wearing her glasses with far and near prescription for the right eye, and nothing for the left eye. It's a waiting game between the first and the second surgeries, so it's like taking the training wheels off the first eye to make it start working differently. (They popped the left lens out after the first surgery, so Sparky's brain could start coordinating a new way to see things), but the week was tough, as the blurriness continued, and both eyes did not want to work together to see anything close up. Sparky is not great at being patient, she was hoping for results YESTERDAY! (Glad SHE said that and not me, says E.) If the eye is still blurry in three more days, Sparky is going to delay the second eye surgery for a week.

In addition to all the eye drops, we both had to wear a clear plastic eye "patch" with perforated holes taped around the surgical eye for three nights so we wouldn't rub our eye in our sleep or bump it. After surgery each of us experienced very little itchiness or achyness. That was the good part.

Good job, Eldy!
While waiting in between appointments and followup visits to the eye doctor, dentist and regular doctor checkups, we went visiting one of the fall apple orchards in the Elkhart area. There are several in Michigan, but we like the ability to "U-Pick" at Kercher's Apple Orchard in Goshen, IN. You can pick the low lying apples off the trees, or get the best ones at the top with a pole. Just stick the pole up into the branches, entrap the apple in the center of the basket, twist the pole handle a couple of times, and the apple comes right off. Eldo has the technique down pat!

Indian corn

Cool gourds!
They have all kinds of delectable fall goodies as well in the store--pumpkin whoopee pies, fruit pies, apple pies, candies, and really great cider! They also have heirloom gourds, Indian corn, and pumpkins, too. We really enjoyed the orchard the day we went! There is also Miller's Cider Mill in the area for an Amish cider making experience with a really old school cider press. You can even take your own apples to the mill to have super fresh cider made. Very cool! It's near the end of the season for apples, so glad we got a chance to go and pick some.

                                            Happy fall, y'all!


  1. love traveling with you . we have covid and aren't moving at all. yuk

    1. I'm so sorry to hear this! Your name is not listed--only anonymous. Please let us know who you are! Take care and get well soon!