Almost 2 weeks ago, I was diagnosed with a retina detachment. Having worked in the ophthalmology field for as long as I have, I knew exactly what was happening as the symptoms were coming on. But it wasn’t until I heard it fall out of the mouth of an ophthalmologist friend that fear set in.
Don’t get me wrong, I was fearful right at the moment when I saw the large, blobby floaters (that could only be blood cells from the retina tearing loose) float down through my vision after all the lightning flashes earlier in the day. I’ve always been nervous about this, being so near-sighted for so long. I’ve known it’s a full-on risk for me and my eyes for as long as I live. But I figured treatment has progressed over the years… they’ll be able to just laser it back on and get me all fixed up. No big deal.
Well, it turned out to be a bigger deal than everyone thought in the beginning.
I was referred to a retina surgeon, a new ophthalmologist friend – and I say friend because when I was originally referred to him for evaluation, he said he didn’t want to use a certain laser (cryopexy for any of you in the ophth world) because it’s painful… and “since we’re friends now,” he’d prefer the least amount of pain for me as possible… and I truly appreciated that. He tried another fix of a less painful but still effective type of laser to treat around the tear. Even though this process was much less painful than the cryo laser, it was still arduous and tiresome on my end because of the discomfort and the unbearable brightness of the light, and on my doctor’s end (I’m sure) because he was honestly trying so hard not to cause me pain or have to take me to the OR.
But after his honorable attempt at lasering my retina, a procedure in the OR was still what I needed.
I saw sadness in his eyes when he explained that was really the only option we had after the laser didn’t take. There was too much fluid already underneath the flap where the retina had lifted off making it impossible to adhere completely. And if left untreated, a whole host of issues would arise, including the entire retina eventually pulling away and any chance for clear vision again being pretty much lost.
The next morning I was admitted to the hospital for outpatient surgery to fix my eye. From the moment I checked-in at the registration desk ’til waiting patiently in holding, I was nervous and frightened. There’s something about the possibility of losing your sight that sends your brain into a whirlwind and makes your stomach tie up in knots. Both my husband and mom were with me, making jokes here and there trying to lighten my spirits. And I sincerely adored their efforts. However, it wasn’t until the nurse anesthetist came in and said, “Okay… you’re going to feel like you just took 5 tequila shots.”
And WOAH! Yep! That did it! I was out soon after that. No worries at all.
The next 9 days were full of nothing but lying on my left side. This positioning was necessary so that the gas bubble he put in my eye to help hold the retina in place wouldn’t dislodge.
Bed or couch, depending on the time of day. It didn’t matter. I had to be on my left side somewhere… bed or couch. I’d eat then go lie back down and fall asleep. Eat, then lie down and fall asleep. I’d listen to some music then put on a tv show, but watching it was difficult. Any great movement of my eyes hurt, which meant I also couldn’t read. I felt very geriatric-like but knew this positioning was incredibly necessary. And I am a very compliant patient. And lord, did I want my eye to heal well!
So I did what I was told and stayed put for 9 whole days.
It doesn’t sound like that much. I mean, I know there are others who’ve had to stay put for much longer than 9 days. And I can’t imagine what that’s like. But 9 days was quite difficult for me. I never knew how much it would drain me of any energy I had left!
These first few days of being vertical again are tough. I feel dizzy and light-headed and fuzzy visually because of the gas bubble. Driving is hard and grocery shopping is even harder. My eye is red and sensitive, but I’m hopeful. It’s getting better day-by-day. I’m regaining my strength more each day. I’m certain all will be well in time; I mean, I do have some awesome doctors looking after me and for that I’m very grateful.
And I can see clearly now… not exactly as clear as I’d like at the moment but clear enough for now. These retina procedures come with long healing processes, but I’m patient.
I can see clearly now… that everything will be okay.