Today was the day of the appointment wify had with the ophthalmologist, the result of a referral by the optometrist. In layman's term, the ophthalmologist would be the eye doctor, a medical doctor specializing in the eye, and the optometrist, an optician, being a person trained and skilled in examining and testing the eyes for defects, in order to prescribe corrective lenses or treatment.
Wify was naturally apprehensive (I think anyone would be when the word “surgery” is mentioned, no matter how minuscule the risk can be). But I assured her that today's purpose was merely to get a medical opinion from a certified professional, and we do not have to commit to a surgery, as yet. Part of her fear, phobia being too strong a word, perhaps arises from her experience in Malaysia, albeit limited, where surgery (the common term used there is operation) seems to be the very first option recommended by doctors, especially by those in private practice.
I tried to allay her misgivings by citing, firstly, doctors in US likely would not go the way of surgery lightly, given that this is a litigious society where suits are filed at the slightest excuse. And secondly, cataract surgery is performed routinely on senior people whose recuperative ability is perhaps a notch down compared to their middle-aged counterparts such as wify. My colleague just told me that both of his step-parents have undergone cataract surgery when in their 60s and 70s.
Thus fortified, wify stepped into the exam room, in my company, in a somewhat relaxed mood. The only anxious moment was perhaps when the doctor needed to deliver the eye drops twice before wify's eyes were sufficiently dilated for the eye exam.
Well, the diagnosis was confirmed, wify does have cataract, on both eyes. But the good news is she is just at the borderline where the doctor would only recommend surgery if wify feels up to it, i.e, mentally prepared to “go under the knife” so to speak (though from what I heard the cataract surgery only involves a small incision). It seems the doctor sensed from wify's body language that she was not too thrilled to undergo surgery just yet.
The doctor then related her own hesitation when she needed to undergo a C-section when her pregnancy had reached full-term. She even pleaded with her doctor that she was willing to walk around with a belly so as to put off the surgery, but perhaps in jest. Anyway, we appreciated her empathy.
We then sought her professional opinion on the imminence of the cataract surgery based on her diagnosis, to which she replied assuringly, “come back in six months and we will see.” Apparently she was also surprised by wify's power of vision at this stage given her eye condition. Wify's seemed to be leaving the Ophthalmologist's office with a slight spring to her gait.
So wify received a kind of reprieve, from a seeming medical inevitability. But what I'm most glad is that the decision has been made not based on our gut feeling, but rather on the considered diagnosis of a certified professional.