Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

I’ve been feeling fine since the cataract surgery, but having surgery to only one eye has resulted in a slightly annoying condition. While the vision in my left eye is 20/20, the vision in right eye is about -6. To make things more complicated, I was told by the intern that my left eye had been about -6, and the surgeons put in a lens with a correction factor of 8. This overcorrection complicates reading and working on the computer, because the left eye is bad on short vision, and I’m totally myopic in the right eye. Trying to wear my old glasses with the left lens popped out doesn’t work, because the images from left and right eyes don’t line up. The interim solution has been to wear my right contact lens — which I normally used to wear about 8 to 10 hours per day — now from the time I get up until the time I go to bed, and also wear drug store reading glasses (strength +2) to get by on the computer and reading.

June 6th, 2006

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What a difference a day makes! As scheduled (for some months now), I had my cataract surgery yesterday. This morning, I went for the post-op checkup, and I now can report 20/20 vision in my left eye.

Yesterday, my surgery was scheduled for 1:35 p.m. Diana and I went the requisite 2 hours early, and checked into the day surgery clinic (on the fifth floor at St. Michael’s Hospital). It’s been designed as a welcoming place — some benefactors must have spent some time there! — with a wood panel reception area. We were directed down a very long hall — the place is huge — and were given a cubicle large enough for a reclining chair and two guest chairs. The curtain was drawn in front, and I was given the usual hospital gown (actually designed with a side slit) and a very large white terry bathrobe. I removed my street clothes, and was down to underwear and socks under the bathrobe. The nurses went about to correct the attendant who had brought me down: for cataract surgery, they’re only interested in the head, so I could actually have kept my pants on. I opted to stay in my underwear, because it’s about as comfortable as being in my shorts at home.

May 16th, 2006

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In the small window of time before leaving for Europe, I had the pre-op for my cataract surgery scheduled. Since this was the day before an international conference that I’ve been working on for months, it was a busy day.

I find the hospitals, like most public institutions in Canada, to be interesting reminders of citizenship. Generally, the health care professionals are more than capable. Public services are an equalizer. Priorities (e.g. emergencies) are mostly driven by need, rather than social status (i.e. money doesn’t usually help jump the queue). In the best demonstration of Max Weber’s machine bureaucracy , pretty well everyone gets the same level of care and treatment. It’s likely that in the perverse Canadian way, the more a person raises his or her voice, the more he or she will be flagged as someone annoying. (In either the American or French culture, it’s probably a way of “getting noticed”).

April 18th, 2006

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The opthamologist called me with an appointment.  The next available date for an operating room at St. Michael’s Hospital for Dr. Squires is Monday, May 15.  I’m scheduled to be back from Austria / Finland / UK on Thursday, May 11, so the timing is good.

I was assessed as needing the surgery on February 17.  From February 17 to May 11 is 87 days.  (This didn’t include the span from December 1 until February 15, which was how long it took just to get the consult with the optometrist!) 

I had previously commented on the Ontario wait time web site.  Here’s a snippet from scorecard, most recently and with some history.  (In addition the measures for all hospitals and St. Mike’s, I’ve included Don Mills Surgical Unit, which I see on the list as a privatized alternative).

  Hospital Median Wait Time (days) Average Wait Time (days) 90% completed within (days)
December 2005 – January 2006 All hospitals (65 of 77 reporting) 99 142 311
St. Michael’s Hospital (Toronto) 74 148 345
Don Mills Surgical Unit Ltd. (Toronto) 149 173 299
October – November 2005 All Hospitals (66 of 77 reporting) 93 138 314

March 31st, 2006

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Over the weekend, I had a headache, which is unusual. Unprecedented, however, was that my hands and feet were so cold, that I needed to get into bed — twice — to warm up. I phoned my naturopath / Chinese doctor, David Lam, and went over to see what he could do.

I’ve been under the care of Dr. Lam since 1996. He’s dean of the Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine, the oldest teaching school of its domain in Canada. Dr. Lam was a pediatrician in a hospital in Shanghai, and has the advantage of being able to explain symptoms and problems in the contexts both of western and eastern philosophies. Since I’ve had eczema and allergies since childhood, I know that western medicine doesn’t have any answers. For most maladies, I generally prefer to see Dr. Lam and get some herbs. They seem to clear things up in a few days.

It was a nice day, so I decided to bike over to Dr. Lam’s office. It’s in the Dupont / Bathurst area, all the way cross town, so it’s ride over to the university and then beyond, about an hour in traffic. Dr. Lam is used to seeing me show up on a bike, and I could use the exercise, since I didn’t feel up to playing badminton on Sunday.

March 27th, 2006

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The rare people who have ever gone out drinking with me know that I turn red with as little as one ounce of wine. My childhood friend, Paul Boughen (who is now a doctor) said that it was because I was missing the aldehyde hydrogenase enzyme, so that I didn’t digest alcohol. The alcohol would just go directly into my bloodstream. On the other hand, after 3 hours, I would be completely sober, as the alcohol would be flushed from my system.

On the other hand, research published in the Journal of Clinic Investigations suggests that nitroglycerin may do nothing for me if I run into heart issues.

February 6th, 2006

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