eye disease

Now you see it…a setback and a comeback

My third surgery was on November 19, 2015. I have been living with eye disease for 8 months now. (In case you missed my previous posts, you can catch up HERE)

At my follow-up appointment in December I had a bit of a setback. Fluid had built up behind me eye and my eye was very inflamed. My doctor could not determine if I had developed a hole in my eye due to the inflammation. He prescribed  an anti-inflammatory and continued with the steroid drops. This meant four rounds of each drop daily. It is inconvenient and the drops sting somewhat, but in the big scheme of life, it is very worth it. I considered this a bit of a setback because I thought once I had my surgery in my left “good” eye, I would be able to jump behind the wheel of my car and resume my life! Not so much…

A small bit of good news was that my doctor (whom I trust completely) told me I was able to wear my contact lenses as long as they didn’t physically bother my eyes. Finally! A gleam of hope for resuming a somewhat normal life! After putting in my lenses I was finally able to view my computer screen and phone and TV better. No driving, but progress is happening!

In January, I received even better news! Although the inflammation had not completely subsided, I am able to tested for a new prescription for contact lenses and eyeglasses. If all goes well, there is a possibility I can start to drive. This is so uplifting to me. I was also cleared to start walking, bicycling and lifting weights. My only restriction is no jarring movement to my head. I am unable to run or bend to pick up heavy weight or sit ups, but I can live with it!

My next appointment is in three weeks. I hope to have made enough progress that I can stop putting in the drops each day.

Thanks for sticking with me everyone! I feel more positive each day!

faith

Now you see it….Progress and Surgery Update

Thursday is the day! My third surgery. This time on my left eye AKA my good eye. I am a little more frightened about this surgery. Very anxious in fact. You see my left eye is my “good” eye. Now my doctor will try to repair my “good” eye and insert a gas bubble behind my eye to support the healing process. I know the chances of gaining better eyesight in my left eye are much greater given there is not a macular hole. But still…knowing my left eye will be blocked by a large round black circle prohibiting clear vision for 2 months is daunting. Add in the fact that I will have to be face down for 10 days which covers the week of Thanksgiving and it becomes downright depressing.

Gratitude-Unlocks-The-Fullness-Of-Life-Quote

However, I am grateful for several things:

  • My Dad is driving down the day before my surgery to help my hubby take care of me for five days. The bonus is he and hubby are going to fix our Thanksgiving Feast to enjoy on Sunday.
  • This should be my last major eye surgery. Fingers crossed they can repair the damage to my left eye and I will have somewhat restored vision in my left eye and it will be strong enough to “help” my right eye to see better.
  • My Mom is coming to stay for the whole month of December!  After a very rough year, it will be nice to take a break in December and enjoy the holidays knowing the worst is behind us.
  • My doctor is so kind and caring. I am confident in his care and knowledge. I feel safe and right now that is so important to me.

I can’t wait to start the new year with a fresh outlook (no pun intended!) I am excited to push this blog even farther. I am excited to run and exercise and drive again! I will post updates when I am able. Prayers are always appreciated!

Now you see it….eye disease update

Hi All! Just wanted to give you an update on my eye disease…

I went to see Dr. R last week for my monthly check up to see how my eye is progressing. More importantly, how my gas bubble is dissipating.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t great news. Although my gas bubble has decreased in size, Dr. R was able to see that the macular hole in my eye did not close. There really isn’t anything more he can do for me. He told me that a third surgery on my right eye is pointless and may cause more harm. I wasn’t too upset as I had assumed the hole was still there because the vision over the top of the bubble is starting to show wavy again. Dr. R says  the waviness should calm over time. I am hopeful to see a bit of progress so I can have a little more independence with driving and exercising. As if the hole being there wasn’t bad enough, I am developing a cataract in my right eye though. We had expected this. Dr. R says after the first of the year we will address the cataract surgery.

Regarding my left eye, no hole! Dr. R is scheduling surgery on my left eye on one to two weeks. His goal is to form the eye and remove the scar tissue before my eye tears or a hole appears. Dr. R gave me the option of scheduling surgery after the holidays, but I don’t want to take any chances of developing a hole in my left eye. If we catch it quick enough, I can have good (non-wavy) vision in my left eye. I expect a cataract will develop in my left eye as well. We will take care of those surgeries after the new year. (Seems cataract surgery will be a breeze in comparison!)

I was so happy to hear from a writer I just met on a book launch team who happened to have the same eye situation. Its nice to know I am not alone! If you have a story or experiences to share, I’d love to hear them!

You can read more about my story with eye disease here and here and here.

 

Now you see it……The Recovery

So when I last posted, I was on the road to recovery. Little did I know that recovery would be three months long and come with another unplanned surgery.

My first surgery was June 18. I received very good care from the doctors and nurses. I also was given very strict instructions on how to best take care of myself.  With a hole on the back of my retina, the doctor can choose to insert a gas bubble or an air bubble into the area of the hole to “block” the hole and promote healing. Because of  severity of the hole, my doctor chose to insert a long-lasting gas bubble. If you remember from science class, gas expands and contracts depending on the elevation level. I live in the High Desert of California and to get to the high desert, we must travel up a mountain to a higher elevation. I had to lie down in the backseat of the car with my head down for the trip and stop halfway between the surgery center and my home to rest my eye for about 90 minutes. This allowed the gas bubble to slow expansion and not injure my eye any further.

A gas bubble in my eye means I had to lay face down on my stomach for 2 weeks. I was very fortunate to have done some research ahead of time and found a massage type of chair that allows you to lay face down. This chair came with a mirror that allowed me to watch TV. It also had a stand to lay a book on for reading. Although I had little pain in my eye, a face down position is painful to my chest and back and neck. My family put hot compresses on my back and rubbed pain cream on my back and neck to relieve some of the pressure.

The gas bubble in my eye lasted for 2 months. I could not drive for the whole 2 months. I had a couple of follow-up appointments within the 2 months (stopping for 90 minutes each time…uuuggghhh). At my last appointment, my doctor informed me that the hole did not close. I still saw wavy lines and my vision, although better, was not corrected. He scheduled my next surgery for September 3rd. The procedure was the same, but seemed much more painful this time around. My eye did not appear as red and swollen as the first time. The doctor told me he removed a fibrous membrane from my eye and “pinched” my eye to promote healing. It seems to be healing better this time. I still have three more surgeries to go. I will have the same surgery, but hopefully without the gas bubble on my left eye in October. I will then have cataract surgery on both eyes after the first of the year.

Let me say how grateful I am for technology and the wonderful God-given talents of my doctor.  He has been very encouraging and compassionate about my care. That being said…..a few things I struggle with:

  • I cannot drive:

Sometimes being driven around has its perks. For the most part though, I miss my independence.

  • Gaining weight:

Being sedentary  and restricted on exercise packs on the pounds. I am not allowed to do rigorous exercise or lift anything above 10 pounds. Not being able to see out of my right eye restricts walking outside also. In the big scheme of things its a small price to pay.

  • Not being able to see!: 

I am so grateful to my husband and daughter, my parents, and my friends for encouraging and taking care of me while I go through this. I could not have done so well mentally and emotionally had it not been for their love.

If you have nay questions or going through this yourself, please drop me a comment, I’d love to hear your experience!

Now you see it….Part 2 Surgery Day

When I last left you, I talked about being diagnosed with macular pucker. According to the National Eye Institute:

“A macular pucker is scar tissue that has formed on the eye’s macula, located in the center of the light-sensitive tissue called the retina. The macula provides the sharp, central vision we need for reading, driving, and seeing fine detail. A macular pucker can cause blurred and distorted entral vision. Macular pucker is also known as epiretinal membrane, pre-retinal membrane, cellophane maculopathy, retina wrinkle, surface wrinkling retinopathy, premacular fibrosis, and internal limiting membrane disease.”

I was scheduled for surgery in a few weeks, advised not to drive, go into direct sunlight due to the hole in my eye, and no strenuous activity. This included walking for exercise because the risk of tripping was too great and I may completely detach the retina in my eye.

I looked online for everything related to my disease and surgery and recovery. I was nervous about having the surgery, but confident in my doctor.

I arrived early for my appointment on surgery day. I was told not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery. I was scheduled to be at the surgery center at 1:00pm. The doctor scheduled me for the last surgery of the day so we waited the rest of the day until I was taken back to the surgery waiting area. The nurse continually put numbing drops in my eye. I walked into the surgery room at 5:30pm (starving I may add!). As soon as I was lying down on the surgery table I was administered local anesthesia. The most pain I felt was having my head strapped tightly to the table. They also strapped my arms. This was the most uncomfortable feeling. Having no sense of control is not my strong point! I could see the needle coming into my eye. The doctor reassured me through each step of what he was doing. The surgery lasted about an hour. Didn’t feel a thing!

The surgery lasted an hour and 15 minutes.  After surgery was over I had to walk to recovery area. This surgery required my head to be face down because a gas bubble was inserted in the back of my eye to push the area closed while healing. If the head is lifted up the gas bubble could detach or move the repaired area and possibly rip open the healed area. I sat in a chair with my head down. The recovery nurse offered me coffee, apple juice, grape juice or hot chocolate. I had not eaten for 23 hours at this point and thought grape juice was the best choice. Recovery time in the surgery center took about 15 minutes and then I was released to start my recovery at home. This is where the fun begins…..

 

Now you see it……Part 1

It had been a long, stressful day so it felt great to just sit down on the couch with my blanket, dog and hot tea. My husband was busy working on his computer not really paying attention to what was on the TV. The headline read Harrison Ford hurt in plane crash. However, the words were wavy and some letters were missing. The whole screen looked distorted. I asked “Is there something wrong with the TV screen?” He looked at the screen and replied “No, looks fine to me.” I blinked my eyes several times to adjust my eyes. Still the screen looked distorted. I moved closer to the screen to see if it was my near sighted eyes playing tricks on me. No chance. I was a little worried. I again asked my hubby if he saw something strange happening with the TV. “The writing and picture is all wavy” I said. He got a concerned look on his face. I again explained that screen was completely wavy and I couldn’t see all of the headline He said “Maybe you should just go to bed. It’s been a long day, maybe you’re just tired.” I agreed and went to bed hoping the next morning I could see clearly. I thought maybe it was my contacts bothering me.

In the morning I woke up and stumbled to the sink and put my contacts in, half forgetting the problems I had the night before. My eyes still seemed blurry in my right eye. I squinted to see if that would help and decided the best thing to do was change my contacts to a new set and see if that helped. It didn’t. I really didn’t have time for such an inconvenience as no eyesight, I thought sarcastically. I was leaving on a trip to see my Mom and help her after her knee surgery. I struggled to read and to drive. It wasn’t impossible, but uncomfortable and annoying. I decided to see my eye doctor before I left on my trip and get a new updated prescription.

The news from the optometrist wasn’t wanted I wanted to hear. My doctor didn’t see a change in my prescription. “It would be best to dilated your eyes and have a better look”, he said. He dilated my eyes and took a closer look. His diagnosis was “I don’t know. It could be a detached retina or macular hole. It is best to see an ophthalmologist and get a better diagnosis. Since your eyes are already dilated I think you should go now and have him take a look.”  So I walked to the parking lot with my sunglasses on struggling to make my  way to the car. I drove slowly and made it to the  ophthalmologist just to hear them say “We are booked today. Plus your primary physician must approve you to see a specialist”. Since I was flying out the next day I decided to wait and take care of this when I got back from my trip. I mean how bad could this really be?

 

I went ahead on my trip. I lived with the distortion in my right eye as uncomfortable and annoying as it was. I had no choice. When I returned home, my appointment with the ophthalmologist was scheduled. I was instructed to bring a driver with me so they could run a series of tests. Luckily, my Dad came to take me to my appointment. The news was not good. The ophthalmologist says he could see three things wrong with my eye. He stated he had never seen such a distorted shape to an eye. He recommended I see a retina specialist the very next day. This is when I started to get very concerned that I may lose my eyesight. The ophthalmologist ruled out a detached retina, but I was still in jeopardy of having a condition in which I could lose my sight in my right eye.

“You have a macular pucker”. What in the world is a macular pucker? ……..