I had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend with my family and then Tuesday morning, June 1st, about 4:30 am, I woke up and decided to use the bathroom and noticed a large dark circle on the wall. I realized almost immediately that it was only in my left eye. At that point, I covered my left eye and saw that the circle was still there and bright like the sun. I looked down at the bathroom tiles and I could see shooting lights around the outer edges of it. I knew without a doubt that it was a retinal detachment.
The last retinal detachment that I had was when I was 15 years old in the right eye but it is hard to forget what that looks like. And the fact that two of my sons have had multiple retinal detachments in the past decade, helped me to recognize it as well.
My first thought after the initial shock passed, was how thankful that I was, that God had waited until this point in my life, for this to happen. All the years that I needed to be able to take care of my children as a single mom, He had protected my vision. Yes, I had needed cataract surgeries about a decade ago in both eyes but those were so simple compared to retinal surgery. And yes, I had needed some surgery on the silicone band they placed on my right eye also but it too had been relatively uncomplicated and successful. I have been blessed and throughout this experience, I have not lost that sense of gratitude. I am thankful that it was me and not my children, going through another eye surgery. It is so much more stressful to watch someone you love going through surgery, than to experience it yourself. I am thankful that I knew what was wrong and how to explain it to the ophthalmologists on call at the hospital. I am thankful that I have a loving husband who has taken care of me and waited on me and given me the support that I needed. I am thankful that I have wonderful children who have been there for me waiting on me and driving me to appointments as well. I have so many things to be thankful for that I could fill up all the pages telling you but maybe you can just take my word for it that I am very thankful to God for my many blessings.
For those of you who don’t know, my family has a rare genetic eye disorder which as of yet, does not have a name. There is actually a scientist at Harvard university who has been researching our family condition for the past year. We are hoping to learn more about it as he does. It is usually characterized by extreme near-sightedness, retinal detachments, cataracts and other related conditions of the eye. It can lead to blindness. There is no preventative treatment yet and most of the treatment is related to surgeries performed to attempt to save the vision when retinal detachments and cataracts, etc. occur.
When they operated on me on June 1st, they did a vitrectomy which means that the doctor had to remove the vitreous gel from the eye so that he could have access to the retina. He then used a laser to create scar tissue which would sew the retina together and keep it in place. He then injected a gas bubble in my eye to hold the retina in place while it was healing. I had to keep my head in a sideways position constantly for a week so that the gas bubble would be over the area he repaired.
I had to return for a follow-up the next day after surgery. The doctor removed my patch and told me to begin taking several different drops in my eye four times daily. I was also told to refrain from lifting anything over five pounds and to rest.
I had another follow-up after one week and the pressure in my eye was too high and the doctor prescribed more drops to control it. I was told to keep resting and to not lift anything or do any strenuous work until my return appointment. Thankfully, the doctor told me that I could sit up more often and only rest in the sideways position.
The pain comes and goes. I was only allowed to take over the counter medicine for the pain because I am sensitive to narcotics. In fact, I was only given limited painkillers during the surgery because of past reactions. In the past, my blood pressure has dropped so low that my heart stopped beating when given certain narcotics. All in all, though, I would say that the pain level was not that bad. It was certainly a lot less painful than what I experienced as a teenager having retinal surgery.
Tomorrow will be two weeks since the surgery and as of today, I still cannot see out of my left eye clearly. The gas bubble is blocking my view completely. It is as if I am looking through cloudy water. It jiggles when I move and sometimes makes me quite nauseous. I have read that it sometimes takes over a month for the gas bubble to dissolve and that it is different for every person. I get to start tapering off of my drops though and that feels like an accomplishment. By the time I return to see the doctor on June 27th, I should be about done with the drops and I am hoping that the gas bubble will have dissolved enough that I can see a little more out of that eye.
Interesting to note though is that this morning, I noticed that I can see out of my left eye when I pull something up close to me. I noticed that I could see the words on my medical bracelet when they were just a couple of inches from my left eye. This is reassuring in that I know my retina is attached but disturbing because I have an intraocular lens implant in that eye from cataract surgery which means that I have no near vision. Either the gas bubble is creating some sort of reading glasses lens or my intraocular lens is missing. I guess I will have to wait for the gas bubble to recede to find out which one it is. Such are my adventures!
Continuing adventures include that the doctor who operated on me was not my regular retina doctor. My regular doctor had moved and I had not yet had my annual visit with the new doctor. This doctor who operated on me, was not even the doctor that I was scheduled to visit because my new doctor was on vacation. I met this doctor in the operating room for the first time. And to make it even more interesting, he is leaving at the end of this month, so I will have one more follow-up with him and then I guess I will be seen by the doctor, I was supposed to be having my first annual visit with. All I can say, is that I am glad that God is in control and that I can trust Him.
So for those of you who have been wondering why my blog has been quiet recently, now you are in the know! I would appreciate prayers for my vision to be restored. I am still writing on my memoirs and this latest adventure will most likely be included. I hope your life story is going well! Let the adventures continue…