by liberal japonicus
This post starts with the juxtaposition of the Olympic Opening and my surgery for a detached retina, please skip it if you are squeamish about things going poke in your eye. However, no gross pictures below the fold.
A discussion of how the sequence was done is here. I still haven't been able to see it, which I will explain a bit later. This quote of Danny Boyle, related by one of the volunteer participants (though I have seen it in other places, so I'm not sure if this is the source, or if he's repeated this point), gets at the centrality of the Industrial Revolution for the opening
“You are creating hell. That is why we’re putting you through hell. The Industrial Revolution was the most important moment, not just in British history, but in human history. I’ll argue with anyone about that. It was monstrous, but it changed lives. People, including myself, can read and write thanks to it. The workers of the Industrial Revolution built the cities that are now the settings for every Games. Olympics don’t happen in the countryside.”
The reason I missed the opening was that the procedure I underwent, after taking a laser and repairing the tears in my retina, fills my eye with a gas bubble (Sulfur hexaflouride in case you were wondering) that then presses the said retina against the back of the eye. In the first operation, they just use air, ('just regular air?' I asked and they said 'yep'). Even though visions of the Three Stooges wallpapering were what was going on in my head, I followed (and am still following) the doctor's directions to always keep my head down and to sleep on my stomach, which keeps the bubble of gas in my eye, pushing the retina back, hence the inability to watch the TV. I guess the surgery is not super common cause they haven't put TVs in the floor here. My wife considered bringing me a mirror to watch, but since there is a huge problem here with perverts taking up the skirt photos, so folks might think, well, you get the picture.
Having my head down all the time along with a laptop and an internet connection has led to a lot of googling about eye surgery. While most eye surgery has actually been done for a very very long time (Two things from the cataract surgery wikipedia page (and here is where it gets a bit icky)
Cataract surgery was known in South Asia at a very early period, and was described by the Indian physician Sushruta (ca. 800 BCE), who described it in his work the Compendium of Sushruta or Sushruta Samhita. The Uttaratantra section of the Compendium, chapter 17, verses 55–69, describe an operation in which a curved needle was used to push the opaque phlegmatic matter (Skt. kapha) in the eye out of the way of vision. The phlegm was then blown out of the nose. The eye would later be soaked with warm clarified butter and then bandaged.
The lens can also be removed by suction through a hollow instrument. Bronze oral suction instruments have been unearthed that seem to have been used for this method of cataract extraction during the 2nd century AD. Such a procedure was described by the 10th-century Persian physician Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, who attributed it to Antyllus, a 2nd-century Greek physician. The procedure "required a large incision in the eye, a hollow needle, and an assistant with an extraordinary lung capacity."
I shudder to think what Count-me-in's version of the job advert would be.
But surgery for a detached retina didn't really get going until the turn of the 20th century, with a doctor named Jules Gonin.
From 1902 to 1921 Jules Gonin almost single handedly changed the landscape of retinal detachment surgery forever. He recognised that the retinal break was the cause--and not the consequence as it was largely believed at the time--of the retinal detachment, and that the treatment had at all costs to comprise the closure of the break by cauterisation. He named the procedure ignipuncture, as he cauterised the retina through the sclera with a very hot pointed instrument. Despite rigorously detailed clinical observations and increasing success rates, his discovery was not readily accepted and sometimes openly opposed by a large part of the ophthalmic establishment. It was not until 1929 that he received worldwide acclaim at the International Ophthalmological Congress in Amsterdam for his surgical technique.
To tie these two thoughts into something barely resembling a post, with the Industrial Revolution and eye surgery, my thoughts turn to steampunk. Dr. Science is, I'm sure, much more in the know about this than I am, cause I'm not a steampunk fan, though I do like some stuff in that genre, primarily Alan Moore's graphic novels. However, and this is what I cannot figure out, is steampunk a homage to the Victorian Era or a tweak, suggesting that even though these ideas were within their reach, they didn't really grasp them? The inclusion of Kenneth Branaugh as Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the opening ceremony suggests if it is irony, we should be careful in dishing it out. F'rex, take his atmospheric railway. (Slight aside, on the Guardian live blog of the ceremony, they suggested that when Brunel came out, Americans were wondering why Abraham Lincoln was making an appearance at the opening ceremony. I hope I didn't startle my roommates with my laugh.)
Anyway, I'm not sure how to take stemapunk, and I'm sure that some may question my relating a version of experimental surgery from 1902 to the Victorian era. But, as I often an wont to say, don't pick at the metaphor, you'll leave a scar. And even more so when it is a hot needle stuck into your eye as a cure. I've been trying to find some illustrations and explanations, but have only turned up this 1935 article about advances from ignipuncture. If anything, it explains that informed concept occurs historically later.
At any rate, things seem to be going well for me, the retina has adhered and the gas is slowly being replaced by fluid, though my reading suggests that the original fluid, called vitreous, is gone and the body replaces it with some off-brand knock-off found at the body's equivalent of Costco. The second operation necessitated them removing my old lens and inserting a replacement acrylic lens which is both thinner and actually provides some correction. I'm in the hospital for another 10 days, though in the US, efficiency is the key, and it's done on a overnight or an out patient basis. In order to cover that gap, Google ads helpfully pointed me to some vitrectomy support systems. The one linked to says that during the day, "the Face Support System becomes a temporary seating mechanism to help you relax while writing, reading, eating, socializing or watching TV while facing down from vitrectomy surgery." Looking at it, I'm going to get one through Amazon.com (if only to send a little love to Jeff Bezos) and see how using it goes over at my faculty meetings and I'm recommending y'all do as well.