Lieutenant Colonel B V Rao
Head, Opthalmology Department
Military Hospital Kirkee
A few years ago, a 60-year-old veteran met with a near fatal road accident. The accident caused severe injury to his spinal cord, which left him paralysed from the neck down. It also caused multiple injuries to his face, which necessitated cutting open his wind pipe for breathing, and mutilated his left eye, which had to be removed. Multiple surgeries and diligent nursing care over several months, at The Spinal Cord Injury Centre in the Military Hospital Kirkee, ultimately saved this patient. Then came the question of ‘life-after’’.
Just when he and his family were preparing for the fact that he would have to spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair, along with losing the ability to speak, the vision in his right eye started blurring. Consultation with an eye specialist revealed the presence of an advanced cataract.
Cataract surgery, though common, became a matter of life and death for this survivor. The ophthalmologist and his team faced the challenge of moving him and positioning him for pre/intra/post- operative evaluation/manoeuvres. Right from the pre-op evaluation, through the surgery and the post-op evaluation, the challenge was in moving and positioning the patient without manipulating his neck and head and then doing a swift, thorough and precise job.
It had to be a zero-error surgery and post-op visits had to be as few as possible. The team at the hospital managed to conduct this ‘high-stakes’ surgery successfully, overcoming all challenges with concerted effort, a disabled-friendly attitude and infrastructure. A multi-disciplinary and multi-pronged approach, with perseverance and dedication by all the care-givers, family members, surgeons, nurses and physical therapists have made this veteran’s survival meaningful. He now moves around cheerfully on his wheel-chair.