Vision problems are the latest Parkinson’s issue to require surgery

My husband and I are old hands at a range of these procedures since his diagnosis

Jamie Askari avatar

by Jamie Askari |

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My husband, Arman, has undergone several surgeries since he was diagnosed at age 38 with early-onset Parkinson’s disease. When I learned that he needed cataract surgery, I hoped that the procedure would be easier than the others. Still, the thought of another surgery brought back some difficult memories.

Arman’s first surgery, after learning in 2009 that he had Parkinson’s, was when he entered a clinical trial for the Duopa (levodopa/carbidopa intestinal gel) pump. A PEG-J tube, placed in his stomach, was attached to a pump to deliver a constant supply of the Parkinson’s medication. Six years later, he had the pump removed when he chose to have deep brain stimulation (DBS).

DBS involved two separate surgeries, done one week apart. First, he had the 12-hour brain surgery, and seven days later, he had the pacemaker placement. Then, a year and a half later, the pacemaker was replaced with a rechargeable device.

Arman later had shoulder surgery and soon had to repeat it after he fell and tore the shoulder anew — lots of surgeries in a short time.

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Although I was nervous about this eye surgery, I was also excited about it, as Arman had struggled with his vision since early childhood. It broke my heart when he told me that kids were cruel to him in elementary school and made fun of his thick “Coke bottle” glasses. Needless to say, I was thrilled that he might be able to ditch his glasses.

His general ophthalmologist and his neuro-ophthalmologist both recommended this surgery, hoping it’d help with several of his vision issues, such as myopia (nearsightedness), mild double vision, and his disconjugate gaze (an inability to move both eyes together in a single direction). In addition, I hoped the surgery would help with his balance issues and falls.

Each eye would be done separately, exactly two weeks apart. For the first one, we were asked to arrive at the hospital early in the morning, as he’d been assigned the first appointment that day. As we drove down to the Cleveland Clinic before the sun was up, I promised Arman that I’d stay with him until he was ready for surgery and that I’d be there when he woke up.

When the nurse called his name, I began walking back with both of them. But she immediately told me I couldn’t. This day was starting out differently than we’d planned.

I waited in the designated area. I came equipped with my computer, chargers, snacks, water, and a book. I have become an expert in packing up before surgery or an emergency room visit. If you’re heading to the ER and need to grab some quick items, I suggest that your top two be chargers and snacks.

As I waited, I began to reminisce about all the surgeries and procedures that Arman’s been through. When I started to feel a bit down about everything, I took a long look around me. All sorts of people were waiting there. We were all waiting for a loved one or a friend to undergo surgery. I thought about everyone there and realized we all have a story, and mine is definitely not the worst in the room.

Instead of sulking, I stood up and began walking laps around the large waiting area. This activity cleared my head and made the waiting go much quicker. Before I knew it, Arman was wheeled out of recovery, and we were heading home. Thankfully, both surgeries were successful, and he can finally look on the bright side without glasses!

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


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