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by Dolly Withrow
Daily Mail columnist

There's something about surgery that puts me in stitches. After a hip operation three years ago, the nurses at CAMC General Hospital's Trauma Center and I found something to laugh about every day.  I've learned humor is the oil that smoothes life's rough places, and surgery can present a rough place.

Recently, after entering Charleston Surgical Hospital for cataract surgery, I heard a nurse say as she looked my way, "I have her books and read her columns." I knew then I had lucked out again. With Dr. Nunley, a fine ophthalmologist, and reading nurses, I had nothing to fear. My great expectations were met at the surgery hospital.

Thanks to research, I learned a little about cataract surgery. Because of the latest technology, the ophthalmologist makes a miniscule incision in the cornea. Then, he uses a tool that travels back through the iris, all the way to the intraocular lens. After paving a road to the lens, the doctor inserts a tiny jackhammer (my term) that pulverizes the lens, which is then sucked out with a straw-like instrument. A clear plastic lens (like a tiny umbrella) is inserted. It unfolds once it lands in place. If the lens had been removed in one piece, a much larger incision would have been required.

I had feared needles for numbing the eye, but eye drops have replaced needles for numbing. Once I was in the operating room and receiving intravenous drips of joy juice, Dr. Nunley asked what kind of music I liked. I didn't want him to know I grew up on foot-stomping country music thumping from a jukebox in Cat Eye's beer joint and from my long-playing records, so I said, "Light classical."

"How about Mozart?"

"That would be wonderful," I said, as if I were a Mozart scholar.

Walking back from the CD to the operating table where I awaited Mozart, he said, "You'll never guess what came up first. Mozart's 'Requiem.' "

We decided against "Requiem." I didn't hear any music because a tremendous light show had captured my attention. Dr. Nunley had built a tent of tape over my eye, and as instruments came and went, I saw two glowing-white marshmallows floating above me. Behind them were two black marshmallows. The backdrop was a kaleidoscope of colors spraying upward and outward. Amazed, I watched the moving fountain of oranges, reds, greens and pinks. It was breathtaking, especially since it was accompanied by joy juice.

The only problem I had on the operating table was nausea from something in the joy juice. After heaving a few times, another drug was added, and all was well. 

The next morning, I was again nauseated. I had an appointment with the ophthalmologist, and when he, a doctor-in-training and the nurse were in the examination room, I said, "You know I tossed my cookies this morning. You don't think I could be pregnant, do you?" Jessica, Dr. Nunley's nurse, laughed, but the stunned doctors looked like cartoon characters with wavy horizontal lines drawn for mouths to show puzzlement.

The worst part was wearing an eye guard each night for a week. Here's the best part: I won't wear glasses after my next eye surgery. Like baby boomers, I'll wear readers. If you need cataract surgery, remember it is all about vision gain without the pain.

Contact writer Dolly Withrow at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..