Saturday, June 21, 2008

Detached Retina (Part I)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Today I noticed something a little weird about my eyesight. Not sure what it is – I was busy doing household chores and for the most part I wasn’t aware of my eye problem. But there is definitely something going on.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Today was spent doing things around the house. Cleaning, laundry, paying bills, etc., etc., etc. Again, I noticed something going on with my eyes. It wasn’t really obvious but nevertheless there is something going on. Tomorrow will reveal the problem.

Thursday, June 5, 2008
Today I had to work. While at work I noticed when I was filling out my forms I was having trouble getting my pen in the correct blank. As I thought about it I realized that my depth perception was off – that was the “something” that had been bothering me. It wasn’t just with filling out forms, it was with everything, even on the stairs. I began to worry and decided that the next day I would try to see my eye doctor. After work I went to meet friends for coffee and a little visit. I enjoyed myself and didn’t worry too much about my eyes. Once I was in the car and driving home I became painfully aware that this problem was pretty bad. I was having difficulty judging distances and even having problems when looking to the left. I came to a stop sign and stopped. I put the car in park. I covered my left eye with my hand – no problem I could see just fine out of my right eye. So I covered my right eye with my hand – BIG problem. I only had vision in the upper outside corner of my left eye. Boy, did I freak! I put the car in drive and headed home. All kinds of things went through my mind and as I thought about it I started feeling jittery. Once I arrived home I talked to Thomas about what was going on and I decided to check my blood pressure. On top of not having sight in my left eye my blood pressure was pretty high. Thomas decided we needed to get to Urgent Care and find out what was going on. The people at Urgent Care were really nice and helpful. Even though they were concerned about my blood pressure, they were more concerned about my eye. The doctor was almost 100% positive I had a detached retina. He explained what that meant and told me he wanted to call a specialist. I was really freaking out now. The wait for the specialist to call back seemed like forever, but eventually arrived. The doctor talked to the specialist first and then I was put on the phone. She asked me quite a few questions and then told me she was positive that I had a detached retina. These were her instructions: I was to go home and do absolutely nothing – just go to bed and I was to go to a Retina Specialist at 8:00 in the morning. I was also told I couldn’t go to work on Friday. So Thomas drove me home and the first thing I did was look up “Detached Retina” on the internet.

What Is It?
The retina is the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye that converts visual images into nerve impulses that are relayed to the brain to produce sight. When the retina separates from the deeper layers of the eyeball that normally support and nourish it, the retina is said to be detached. Without this nourishment and support, the retina does not function properly, and this can cause a variety of visual symptoms. For example, if the retina detaches near the macula, the part of the eye that is responsible for the center of the visual field, then there may be a sudden, significant blurring or loss of vision. However, if the area of detachment is closer to the outer edges of the retina, then the visual loss may be more like a curtain being drawn over one side of the visual field (the "curtain effect"). Other symptoms of retinal detachment may include floating shapes in the field of vision or brief flashes of light.
Although there are several types of retinal detachment, the most common one starts when a tear or hole develops in the retina, and some of the gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eye (vitreous fluid) leaks through the opening. Eventually, the leaking vitreous fluid gets behind the retina, separating the retina from other layers of the eye.
The retinal tear that triggers a retinal detachment sometimes is caused by trauma.

More often, it is caused by a change in the gel-like consistency of the vitreous fluid that can occur as a part of aging. This age-related change can occur unpredictably in older people, and there is no way to prevent it. Once this type of retinal detachment develops and causes symptoms, it can progress to total blindness if it is not repaired promptly.

Now that I had that information I was even more freaked out. So I followed the doctor’s advice and went to bed. I was not looking forward to my appointment in the morning.

Friday, June 6, 2008
I arrived at Eye Associates about 15 minutes earlier than my appointment – I figured there would be paperwork to fill out. So after getting all that out of the way I waited to see the doctor. I saw Dr. Robert Reidy (one of 3 retinal specialist at this location). He examined my eye and did some testing. It took him about 10 minutes and he confirmed the detached retina diagnosis. He explained to me what was happening and what the options were for treatment. I was scared and concerned! I didn’t want to lose my eyesight but the treatment options were scary. He told me he wanted to try a procedure right then and there in the office. Here is what he wanted to do and ended up doing today:

Pneumatic retinopexy. Your eye doctor injects a gas bubble into your eye. The bubble floats to the detached area and presses lightly against the tear, closing the tear and flattening the retina so that no fluid can build up under it. Your doctor then uses a freezing probe (cryopexy) or laser beam (photocoagulation) to seal the tear in the retina.

After this procedure my eye was bandaged and an appointment was made for 9:00 on Saturday morning. I was told to stay in an upright position with my headed tilted to the right. This was to help the gas bubble press against the retina to help get the fluid out from behind the retina. The other thing the doctor told me was that I “was out of commission”. When I asked him what that meant he said I couldn’t do anything at all. He told me I would be out of work for at least 4 to 6 weeks, I had to cancel a continuing education class that was scheduled for Monday, June 9, 2008 and a trip scheduled for June 10 – 15. I was not to do any exercising, no walking, no housework or cleaning. I couldn’t even read. The most I could do was sit on the couch and watch TV. For the rest of the day and that night my eye was so uncomfortable. I had about 4 out 10 pain and it was uncomfortable staying in one position. I didn’t get much sleep and I was anxious to get to my appointment the next morning to see what the doctor had to say.

Saturday, June 7, 2008
I met Dr. Reidy at 9:00 this morning at Eye Associates. He checked the eye and there was still fluid behind the retina. I told him about the pain and he prescribed some percocet. He told me to go home, stay in the position he had given me and to come back on Monday and see Dr. Frank Wyant. If there was still fluid I would have to have surgery on Tuesday. I wasn’t thrilled about the whole thing. In fact I was even more nervous and concerned than ever. I just couldn’t imagine having someone cutting on my eye. So the next few days were pure torture just waiting to find out what would happen. I spent the rest of the day sitting on the couch watching TV. I quickly learned that I am not one to sit still for long periods of time. I was antsy and uncomfortable – and being worried about my eye didn’t help. All I wanted to do was get up and clean the house or do laundry. But I didn’t – I followed the doctor’s guidelines and stayed in the required position. It was another night of uncomfortable sleeping – I don’t usually sleep sitting up.

Sunday, June 8, 2008
Today I followed the doctor’s guidelines. I stayed in the position I was supposed to be in and just sat and watched TV. I think this may have been one of the most boring days I have ever had.

Monday, June 9, 2008
My appointment wasn’t until 2:00 this afternoon. So I spent the day doing what the doctor told me I could do – absolutely nothing. When I got to my appointment I was extremely nervous. So Dr. Wyant did his examination. Unfortunately, there was still fluid behind the retina. This was something I didn’t want to hear. The doctor informed me that they would have to do surgery. Dr. Reidy was available the next day and so it was scheduled. There are no words to describe how horrible I felt upon hearing that I had to have the surgery. I became extremely nervous and anxious. Dr. Wyant went over all that would happen in the surgery and told me to go home and rest. I had to be in Albuquerque at 9:00 in the morning – I had all night to contemplate the surgery. Thomas really helped me to see that it was this or lose the eye – there really wasn’t anything that would be helped by worrying.

*I will continue with Part II starting with the surgery. I am only allowed small increments of time on the computer – so I will post the next part as soon as it is written.
Detached Retina (Part II)

1 comment :

Twinville said...

Oh Mark. This is the very worst thing to have happened to someon like you: not able to stay still and watch TV all day long. Someone that loves to hike, explore, read, travel, be outside, move around, carve amazing stamps and SEE rat and beauty in everything around him.

Diane had e-mailed me earlier this month and told me you were having a hard time, but I had no idea it was that awful!

Gosh, Mark! I am sooooo sorry and I hope you heal quickly with even better vision than before.

HUGS to you!