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3 months … and …

The official 3 month post-op day came and went without any fanfare. The gas bubble had finally disappeared and normal vision seemed to be within my grasp. Dr A had initially said that I would have a good idea of what my vision would be about that time.

But there was nothing. Well, maybe a little, but not much to get excited about. I could see the big E on the chart and the next line down seemed to be getting clearer. I’d been holding my breath, metaphorically speaking, for a long time, and the expected, hoped for return to normal just wasn’t happening.

The appointment with Dr A at that time revealed that my eye was healing fabulously. No scar tissue. No complications. No re-detachment of the retina. Everything looked perfect … except for the fact that I couldn’t see.

“Well, ” he says, “it can take up to 2 years to fully recover from such a surgery. And you are getting a cataract. We’ll have to watch that, but that may be why your vision is compromised.”

What?! Two years? Cataract?

Crap. This is taking way longer than the couple of months I’d imagined when I had surgery.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2013 in Day by day

 

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4 Weeks – Almost

Just got home from the latest post-op appointment – 26 days after surgery.

I feel fine. My eye feels fine. So, when someone asks ‘how are you?’, my automatic response is ‘fine’.

But that’s not really true. I’m working as hard as I can to function well with vision in only one eye. I’m working to adapt to the new normal. I’m working to be as positive as I can about the unknown end result of the surgery. I’m working to accept the things I cannot change.

I’m exhausted. I still have no vision in the bad eye and I’m exhausted.

So, I’ve felt a little anxious about the follow up appointment scheduled for this morning. Each time I have an appointment I see several people for a series of tests on my eyes before I see the dr. One of the tests involves taking some kind of measurement or picture of my retinas. The woman operating the machine tests my good eye and then proceeds to begin the test on the bad eye. I can’t see the ‘snowflake’ in the machine and she repeatedly adjusts settings in an attempt to perform the test. Finally, in frustration, she calls over another person for help. He sits at the machine momentarily and makes the comment ‘well, she can’t see anything’ and ends the test. The woman sighs and says something about protecting my good eye because ‘it’s my life’.

What does this mean? Should I have all my vision back at this point? Why perform some stupid test that can’t be done on the bad eye? Why do they not have people working there who are at least semi-aware that thoughtless comments can have a huge impact on how I feel?

When I finally see the dr he looks in the bad eye, makes comments for the nurse in the room to transcribe into the computer and sits back. I take this as my cue to ask the questions crowding my mind. When I explain that I still cannot see anything he briefly talks about the gas bubble still present in my eye and being patient as the recovery process continues.

Then he stops. He tells me to hold my head completely parallel to the floor and hold my glasses (which I’m holding in my hand) a couple of inches from my face.

I can see them. And the tears fall.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Day by day

 

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The Eye Patch aka Functioning w/ One Eye

As I was preparing for my first day back at work I stumbled upon a blog (Precious Sight) written by a woman in a similar situation. She mentioned wearing an eye patch and how it helped.

An eye patch – really? How many people do you see wearing them out in the real world? Well, other than my friend who was dealing with double vision for a short time I’d never seen ANYONE wearing one.

Where to buy one? Took a look at my local Target. Nada. Then I noticed the Halloween decorations. Maybe a costume eye patch? Found a package of 10 felt-ish eye patches with a skull and crossbones graphic. Could work. They’d probably fit well under my glasses. And maybe the obvious costume-y look would be less noticeable when worn beneath my glasses.

Got home with my purchase anxious to try them. I felt silly … like some Halloween junky. But the whole idea was to make working easier, so I stuffed them in my purse.

The evening before going back to work I talked my husband into taking me to a local drug store for a ‘real’ eye patch. Score. Found a rigid, satin-y black number that didn’t touch my eye when I put it on. It felt relatively comfortable – ‘relatively’ being the operative word. Putting a cone shaped patch on my face wasn’t comfortable in any real way, but slightly better than the flat costume patches I’d invested in earlier.

So now it’s been two weeks of work. With an eye patch. Here’s what I now know -

  • I don’t like the patch touching my eye. It feels better to let my bad eye function as normally as possible – blinking, crying, squinting – without being held shut.
  • I have MUCH better vision without the distraction of the bad eye. Truly.
  • Driving is a lot easier, too. Still have a blind spot (haha), but without the mess of looking through the bad eye it’s easier to focus and concentrate while driving.
  • Putting the patch on is an acquired skill. The goal is to wear it comfortably first and foremost. Style comes a distant second (it is an eye patch after all).
  • After a long day at work it’s a relief to take the patch off when I get home.
  • When I put the patch on in the morning it’s a relief to finally see better.
  • My co-workers enjoy pirate jokes. =)
 
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Posted by on October 13, 2012 in Info

 

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Day 14 – Driving to Work

Day 14 was my first full day back at work.

Some of the thoughts running through my brain: ‘Will I be able to work?’ … ‘Can I see well enough to do the job?’ … ‘What if I make awful mistakes?’ … ‘Am I confident enough to drive to and from work?’ … ‘What will my working relationships be like with only one eye?’ … ‘Can I even do my job?’ … and on and on.

I couldn’t sleep the night before. All night I worried about a myriad of things (some were definitely unfounded fears, some more substantial) and one of my top fears was the actual getting to work – driving.

I’d done a little driving since being released from positional confinement, but driving all the way to work (7 miles – no freeways, thankfully) was still a task I wasn’t sure I could do – especially in morning rush hour traffic.

Okay, here’s what you need to know … I love driving! I have a cute New Beetle, 5 speed manual transmission, turbo diesel, flowers in the vase, glittery antenna ball (I love my car). I really enjoy morning driving – maneuvering through the achingly slow drivers (how do those people function at half speed??), shifting through the gears of my peppy little car, listening to the purr/growl of my engine (it is a diesel), playing music a little more loudly than I do at home – all in the 15 to 20 minutes it takes to get to work. It’s a great way to start my day! I love it.

And now I was dreading it. My left eye doesn’t work – in fact, makes my overall vision worse. Can I change lanes into a lane left of me? (nope, too afraid – I have a real blind spot now) Can I turn left out of my neighborhood without going to a light? (nope, don’t trust my judgement yet) Can I even go the speed limit? (umm, no – too afraid – 5 under is better – gives me more time to judge and be aware of my surroundings)

Oh. My. Goodness.

What have I become?! (answer – one of those ‘achingly slow drivers’ I mentioned above)

This is definitely humbling.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2012 in Day by day

 

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Gas Bubble in the Eye – pics

So this is what the gas bubble in my eye looks like on day 9.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2012 in Day by day, Info

 

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Day 9 – Paroled!

Did you hear choirs of angels singing today? I did!

I had my 2nd post op appointment with Dr A and it went swimmingly. My eye is fabulous (minus the part that I can’t see a blasted thing – oh well). I was given the okay to go back to work, sit up straight, even drive (hmmm, I’m feeling a little unsure about that one). Oh, to be back among the normal people who can sit up and look around! Such joy!

And I’m really serious about the ‘joy’ part – really. I will forever try to remember to be grateful for not having to lay on one side or face down all the time. It sucks looking at the floor constantly.

And the part about not being able to see anything in my left eye … well, that’s true. I can see light and some shadows. Turns out it will take approximately 3 months for me to know what kind of vision I will have in my eye when all’s said and done. And I may end up getting a cataract from the whole thing – another bump along the road – some time in the future (anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of years). That’s all manageable.

I’ve done what I needed to do to prevent almost certainly losing all my vision permanently in my left eye. Not fun. But I’m infinitely grateful for modern medicine that has come so far in the prevention of said blindness.

I do wonder, though, who came up with the whole gas-bubble-in-the-eye bit. Gotta be some brainiac dr somewhere who couldn’t sleep one night. To whomever it was – Thank You! I’m hoping that amazing idea leads to better vision in my left eye.

And if you happen to see me out driving – yeah, I’m going a little slow and I’m trying to not run into things. But take heart – the dr repeated several times that it’s legal for me to drive with vision in only one eye! Hurrah!

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Day by day

 

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Informed Consent

It’s the law – in every state – that has its beginnings in the 1950s.

From the AMA (American Medical Association) website:   It is a process of communication between a patient and physician that results in the patient’s authorization or agreement to undergo a specific medical intervention.

Not exactly what I would say I had – not at all. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s all the dr’s fault. I know some of it is mine. How?

Well, I didn’t take the time to read thoroughly all the papers I signed. Shocking, I know. I’m sure there were some in there that I should’ve slowed down to read. Maybe all of them.

I relied on the dr to give me the straight scoop on the whole mess. I listened patiently as he went through his rehearsed monologue on all of the important info. When it came time to ask questions, I did, but I didn’t know enough to ask the probing questions, the ones that might have gotten me the knowledge I wanted.

Or maybe I didn’t want to know. It’s hard to look back now, revisit those moments and think about how I really felt. I know I was scared (we’re talking about my eyesight and all I can think is ‘I don’t want to go blind’). Maybe all I wanted was some god-like dr to fix it all for me, to wave his magic wand (in the OR of course) and make everything all better.

I’m not putting all the responsibility on him – not by a long shot – but there has to be a better way.

My med school student son called me when I got home after surgery. I was mad – angry at my situation and how unprepared I was for being here. I listed off all the things I’d had no idea about and how I felt I’d not been given all the pertinent information to make the decision to go forward with surgery.

He laughed – not a hearty chuckle, but a knowing laugh. ‘Oh, Mom, you didn’t really expect him to tell you all of that!’

‘I certainly did! I wanted to know!’ Well, if not completely true for the moment with the dr, it was true now.

I guess I screwed up. Maybe I gave mixed signals to the dr during the initial visit. Maybe there’s a paper – on top of all the other papers – that we should sign before all the others: ‘PLEASE GIVE ME THE TRUTH, COMPLETE AND UNVARNISHED.’

I’m pretty sure I would’ve signed it.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Rants

 

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