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Imagine my surprise after going to get my eye prescription updated and being told that there was a large hole in my retina! That is not news you see every and any day (pun intended). All puns aside, it was quite alarming being told that I should go to the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute emergency room. To my dismay, the doctors recommended that I get eye surgery to fix it. Although I was fearful of the surgery, I don't think I could have imagined how truly horrifying it was.

On the day of the procedure, I had to enter alone. The hospital was only letting patients in because of COVID precautions. It is understandable but doesn’t make it any less suffocating when you’re sitting in a cold waiting room alone and unsure of what is to come. To make matters worse, they make you change into those horrendous hospital gowns that are more like sheets of paper. At that point, I felt like I was practically the star of the new episode of Naked and Afraid. After several hours of waiting, I was finally wheeled into a waiting room with other patients. An anesthesiologist came to talk to me, and the true horror began. He explained that I would not be asleep during the procedure. Instead, they would give me anesthesia through the vein to make me feel “drunk” along with local anesthesia in the eye. The anesthesiologist reassured me that I wouldn’t feel anything. He explained that if I did, I would just have to say something. I put on a brave face. Yet, I felt like I was living a nightmare. I found myself continuously asking myself what I did to deserve this.

Luckily, I don’t remember much after that conversation, so they must've made me truly quite "drunk." Unluckily, the anesthesia must have started to wear off towards the end because I suddenly became aware of what was going on. I felt this overwhelming, suffocating panic grip me in the throat. I could see the outlines of figures standing above me. I started to feel tugging in my eye. I recall trying to say something along the lines of "I can feel that" or "that hurts." It must not have come out right, or maybe I said nothing at all because I continued to feel it. The surgery ended shortly after. You might think that is the worst part, but the worst was yet to come.

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While in recovery, I finally got to eat after nearly twenty-four hours of not eating, but this joy was short-lived. The anesthesia continued to wear off, and the pain became all-consuming. All I wanted to do was get home. I just remember sitting in that car wishing it would teleport to the house. To that girl in the car suffocating in pain, it felt like eons. The two days after had to be the most trying times. What I failed to realize was that I would be unable to move the unoperated eye. Moving one eye would move the other one causing me excruciating pain. Therefore, I sat there for those two days doing nothing, and negative thoughts began to eat and corrode my brain. For some reason, I couldn’t help but be angry at myself and those around me. I kept thinking, "Why am I experiencing this pain?" "What if the surgery went wrong and the eye never heals?" "What if they have to operate again?" These thoughts led my mind to some very dark places. I found myself constantly crying and thinking about some very, very dark thoughts. Little did I know this is very common after surgeries, especially eye surgeries.

In the end, I was able to reel in those negative thoughts. However, I read about many people who sadly could not and lost their lives because of it. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t know much about the procedure. I don’t think I would have gone through with it if I had known. This surgery was something that I needed to do to save my vision. Thankfully, every day I can see a little better out of the eye. Consequently, I’ve changed my perspective on what happened. Instead of asking what I did to deserve the surgery, I’m thankful I went through with it. I'm so grateful l I could save my vision before something happened! I guess you could say I’m seeing it in a new light.

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Graciela is a senior at FSU currently majoring in behavioral neuroscience. She is striving to become a forensic pathologist after completing medical school in the future. She loves to read and watch movies in her free time!
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