Groggy and confused, Patrick Gower peered up at his audience of two and launched into analysis of the election hopes of Internet-Mana.

The dynamic TV3 political editor - who usually shares his sharp observations with an audience of hundreds of thousands - had just emerged from eyesight-saving surgery to repair a detached retina, 10 days before the most important event in a political newshound's diary, the general election.

As he was wheeled through Greenlane ophthalmology Department, the father of two found himself talking about Mana Party leader Hone Harawira.

Before going under, the anaesthetist told him to think about something nice, Gower said.


"I thought of my son, so that was all good. And then when I woke up I was talking about Hone Harawira ... and something about what percentage of the vote Internet-Mana would get."

The anaesthetist later told an embarrassed Gower he and the nurse were talking politics as Gower woke up and, naturally, he'd joined in.

"Thankfully I hadn't been dreaming about Hone Harawira."

Gower was on the Paul Henry Show when he started seeing white flashes. Less than 48 hours later, as the leaders' debate kicked off on TV3, he was in surgery. Doctors froze the retinal tear before pumping a gas bubble in the eye to heal the damage.

The tear was caused by his short-sightedness and a hereditary weakness, Gower said.

"I asked the doctors over and over if I could blame it on Paul Henry, but they said 'no, it's genetic'."

The health emergency was an unwelcome intrusion into the highlight of his political calendar.

"The possibility of not being able to work before the election was gutting. 'Three more years' was ringing in my ears."

Gower returned to work within three days of his surgery, fronting political show The Nation. He had his doctor's blessing and was not in pain, but it wasn't easy. He felt "pretty average" and could barely see out of his bung eye.

Interviewee David Cunliffe joked he was relieved it was Gower's right eye and viewers spotted something else. A fluorescent green hospital recovery wrist tag slipped below his shirtsleeves, Gower said.

"I got tweets from people wondering if I'd been at a rave or on a hydroslide."

Enjoying his first day off since the election, Gower was this week reflecting on the support he received. One supporter was All Black, political junkie and fellow detached retina-sufferer Conrad Smith, who likened Gower's comeback to that of former All Black Zinzan Brooke's selection for the 1995 Rugby World Cup after an achilles injury.

The others were the medical professionals, Gower said.

"In an election campaign you're getting heaps of shit from all sorts of people. It was a good way to step away from the crap ... and remember it's people like that I'm doing the job for."