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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

San Francisco's GLIDE (www.glide.org) needs help! Your donation will be doubled thru Dec 25th! To help: www.firstgiving.com/todthorpe. Thx!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fal de ral de ral do...

Now that I'm getting stronger each day, it's become apparent that I've been spending a lot of energy on healing physically to overcome the headaches and dizziness, and there is still work to be done to get all of my life in balance again. I'm rusty in a few facets of my life. Recovery is an interesting process. Lately my spirits have been blue, since I'm still not 100%. My confidence has been lacking, as I'm not entirely myself yet. So I've been reaching out to my closest friends, as well as forcing myself to get out everyday. In addition to reaching out, I've been going to various coffee houses in the afternoons to get work done, which has also allowed me to meet some new people. Since most of my friends are married with children, their availability is limited time-wise, which I understand. However it makes things a bit lonely. And since I'm still plagued by visual disturbances, headaches, and dizziness, it's been imperative to branch-out in order to keep my spirits up.

I've had to remind myself that as recently as four weeks ago I was crippled by headaches & practically bed-ridden. It's no wonder my spirits have been flagging. I realized last week when I was out with Johnny Boy that I was rusty socially. So while it's against my norm to force myself to get out, it's definitely working. Not only have I been making new friends, but I've also met a wonderful new friend, Scott, who has two darling little dogs who are presently snoozing at my feet! He's a cyclist, and has been wonderful enough to let me watch his dogs, Lola and Shibi, while he's out riding. Lola is a sweet little blonde mix with a cute underbite, and Shibi is a Shiba Inu who only has three legs, having lost one in a car accident. Talk about two cuties!

Yesterday my bestfriend, Cher, and her 3-year-old son, Alexander, came to visit from Napa Valley. Driving can still be a challenge for me visually, so I'm limited to local trips. They were wonderful enough to make the voyage down-valley to Sausalito. We spent the day cooking, which soothes both of our souls. And Alexander was delighted to play with the little dogs, Lola and Shibi. It was a perfect day. Thanks Cher. I love you both.

Since traveling isn't a great thing for me right now, I'm spending Christmas Eve with Susan and Jiminy Christmas, and Christmas day with Bradd. I'm grateful to have wonderful friends in my life, old and new, near and far. While I'm self-conscious about the headaches when they stop me in my tracks, it's comforting to have friends around who understand and laugh with me while I struggle thru it. Like Cher pointed out yesterday, my true friends will understand when they see me struggle, and while they will be concerned for me, they will understand. Thanks to all of you. You mean more to me than words can express.

Nice Weather For Ducks
performed by Lemon Jelly

Nice Weather For Ducks by Lemon Jelly

Onward & upward!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Well hang on...

This week has challenged me. In a different way than most.

I had a birthday that I had no desire what-so-ever to 'celebrate'. The physical struggle after my eye surgery has been so great that I'm feeling depleted. And a big, fat, shining reminder that I'm aging wasn't what I needed. [Thanks millions to all my friends who wished me happy birthday. May we celebrate next year?]

My new laptop that I purchased two weeks ago (after mine blue-screened) bluescreened! So I dutifully took it back to Bestbuy for a replacement. I replaced it with the same make & model, and when I got that one home the wifi didn't work. So I dutifully took the second (2nd) computer back to Bestbuy for a replacement. I changed make & model this time, and when I got that one home the power switch was faulty. So I dutifully took the third (3rd) computer back to Bestbuy for a replacement. I changed make & model again and now I'm on my fourth (4th) computer! [At least this fourth works. And I've finally completed the music section on my website (http://www.little-bear-productions.com/outdoors.html), now that I have a working computer!]

I'm still dealing with some headaches and dizziness. While I'm a lot more mobile now than I have been since my eye surgery, I also have several physical limitations I didn't have before my surgery. And now that I'm regaining some strength, I'm frustrated that I'm not 100%. A) I have to rest my eyes frequently. That can make the difference between an 1-hour headache, or a 5-hour headache. B) Sometimes I just can't see much at all. And that's pretty scary. C) Sometimes I feel as if a bullet went thru my head. D) Sometimes I get so dizzy that I stagger like I'm drunk. E) My confidence is waning. [But I am seeing slight improvement, which helps. And I finally have a neurologist appointment scheduled for December 22nd.]

And as much as I'm tired of sounding like a broken record, I suspect my friends are tiring of hearing it. I'm very aware that everyone else has their own lives, and are struggling with their own issues. I only wish I had more strength to better lend them a hand, too. [So I thank you all for the friendship you offer, as it truly means a lot to me. Especially in the quiet moments.]

Up until now my spirits have been pretty good. This week has really challenged me.

So I think what I need to do is try my best to count my blessings, and look for more inspiration.

  • This week I'm grateful that I got to trim the Christmas tree with Greg & Neil, and their adorable 3-year-old daughter, Elle. Thanks for the holiday cheer!
  • I'm grateful to Hot Toddy for his love and humor across the miles.
  • I'm grateful that I'm going to see Cher tomorrow for lunch.
  • I'm grateful that I got to see Susie-Q, if only for a few minutes to giggle in the rain. Hopefully Christmas Jim will feel better soon.
  • I'm grateful to Shoshana for her support & musings thru the miles.
  • I'm grateful to Martin for his friendship & smiles, always. You see me so well.
  • I'm grateful that I'm going to spend time with Bradd for Xmas.
  • I'm grateful to Larry for his trust, and his ferocious appetite for brownies.
  • I'm grateful to Johnny Boy for his friendship & watching the fireworks in the rain. It was nice to get out.

Thank you.

Everybody Hurts
performed by R.E.M.
Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The ships are coming in...

This morning I stumbled across a young beautiful elephant seal snoozing on the beach! When I first saw her she was sleeping, and as you can imagine, we were both surprised when she woke up! She was about 5-6' long, grayish-brown in color with black whiskers, and pleasantly plump.

After calling the Marine Mammal Center in Marin County, they determined that she was healthy, and most likely just hanging out. Apparently several of them have been recently beaching to either rest or molt.

The Marine Mammal Center (http://www.tmmc.org) is a fantastic non-profit organization that rescues, rehabilitates and releases injured, sick and orphaned marine mammals (seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises, whales and sea otters) along a 600 mile stretch of California coastline, from Mendocino County through San Luis Obispo County. Before The Center was established in 1975, stranded marine mammals were either left to die or were destroyed as threats to public health. We're fortunate to have them located here in Sausalito in the Marin Headlands.

It's nice to have so much beauty in this world to capture our imaginations.

The Walls Are Coming Down
performed by Fanfarlo
The Walls Are Coming Down by Fanfarlo

Onward & upward!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Thread That Guides Through Black Times

Now that I'm finally 'seeing' improvement in my recovery, I'm focusing all of my energies on healthy ventures, positive thinking, and anything that inspires me to continue healing. And at the same time, I'm reminding myself of how much pain I'm still in, and to give myself credit for how far I've come.

I'm not sure if it's all the pain I've been enduring, or if my Bull$*!& quotient is just over-flowing, but I seem to have no patience whatsoever for anything negative. A part of me feels that I've been given a sort of second chance in regaining the vision in my left eye. And I'm determined to not let anything weigh me down, or hold me back. No matter what.

performed by The Kings of Convenience
Renegade by The Kings of Convenience

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I will weather the storm!

Things are going well. My challenge is to figure out a good balance between being Type-A and listening to my body. The headaches still occur, however they fortunately aren't as frequent. I'm contending more with intense dizziness now, which isn't as bad as the pain.

All in all, while it's an adjustment & I'm not yet 100%, I'm happy with how much progress I'm finally 'seeing'.

As for my medical, I'm going back to UCSF on Thursday for visual field testing to figure out why the vision in my new eye is like looking through a peep hole.

For those who are new to my blog, I'm recovering from eye surgery to repair damage to my left eye. The cork of a faulty, over-pressurized champagne bottle struck my eye many years ago -- causing a lot of damage -- and my recovery has been challenging, to say the least.

Now I'm striving to make proverbial lemonade out of lemons, one step at a time! Simple distractions along the way help, such as something beautiful that takes my breath away, whether visual or audio. :-)

I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
written by Irving Berlin
performed by Kay Starr (Stuhr remix)
I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm by Kay Starr (Stuhr remix)

Onward & upward!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

just leave love alone...

Think I've been overdoing it. Well, actually, I know I've been overdoing it. This morning I woke up incredibly dizzy, which is never a good sign. There's a thin line between a little vertigo giving you a cheap buzz, and the full-blown crazy-vertigo that, by definition, makes you fight the urge to vomit. Nice, huh!?! I'm on the tea-cup ride, an elevator, and a magic carpet ride, all at once. While I've always been a huge fan of roller coasters, and have always been the one to hold my hands up on any ride, this is a bit much even for me.

So rather than letting it get the best of me, I called my best friend of nearly 20 years, Cheryl Knarr Rick, right after grinding some fresh coffee beans. There are reasons why she's my best friend. It's good to have someone you can turn to when you have tears in your eyes, especially before the coffee's been brewed! So now, with my huge cup of coffee in hand -- and a pep-talk under my belt -- I'm making the best of it. Thanks Cher.

The past three days have been a whirlwind of visiting with friends, driving, doctors appointments, lawyers appointments, and working on a new website. Oh, and Thanksgiving, too, which was lovely! I spent the holiday with Cher and her family in Sonoma. It was so nice to see everyone. I particularly enjoyed catching-up with Cher's mother, Dr. Catherine Knarr Turner, who also underwent a lot of trauma vis-a-vis her vision this year. Poor thing! It's nice to chat with someone who can relate. And last night I got together with my friends (and neighbors) Susan and Jim Whipple. We laughed so hard! OMG!!! It's no wonder I'm dizzy this morning; I really have been overdoing it. I'm type-A, what can I say!?!

So now I know I just need to take it easy today. Rather than a strenuous hike, perhaps a stroll instead (hence my choice of photo today). It's SO gorgeous here, that it always buoys my spirits to get outside. Back in July when it first became apparent that something was seriously wrong with my vision I picked up a little camera. Think I'll break it out & see what I can stumble across. And I also think I'll try to find some music that's a bit more cheery than this, too! :-)

performed by The Big Pink
Velvet by The Big Pink

Onward & upward!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

loving you is cherry pie...

Today was the first day since before my eye surgery that I felt myself again! Which means I was up at 6am & was actually able to do my favorite hike in the Marin Headlands. The Headlands are 12,000 acres of pristine wilderness overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge, and San Francisco, depending on your vantage point. It feels unbelievably incredible to be active again, and I'm eternally grateful to my surgeon, Stephen D. McLeod, MD, for allowing me to see out of my left eye again!

Speaking of Dr. McLeod, I am seeing him tomorrow morning for another -- perhaps final -- check-up of my new eye. I still have some headaches, which are brutal when they breakthru, however I am heartened knowing that I'm getting stronger each day. And yes, I'm STILL waiting to get into the Headache Center at UCSF.

For those of you who have been asking, 22 years ago I was temporarily blinded in my left eye by a faulty, over-pressurized champagne bottle when the cork exploded directly into my eye from waist-high. I started regaining my vision within a couple weeks after the accident, however was told at that time that I would eventually go blind. The vision wasn't perfect after the accident, and continued to get worse over the years. In July of this year it became apparent that something was wrong as I couldn't see out of the eye & had incredible headaches. So five ophthalmologists and four surgeons later Dr. McLeod replaced the lens in my eye with and artificial one (not a transplant) the Tuesday after Labor Day Weekend. Unfortunately the champagne cork had caused a lot of damage to the inside of my eye. A lot of the zonules that normally hold the lens in place were either damaged or missing in my eye, so the surgery also created some damage and was less than pleasant. My recovery was hindered by inflammation of the eye and crippling headaches, and I'm still waiting to get into the UCSF Neurology Department to make sure there's nothing more sinister going on.

In the meantime I'm doing my very best to make lemonade out of lemons. And perhaps some limoncello, too!

performed by Lady GaGa

Onward & upward! ;-)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

World, what you got for me?

It's so beautiful here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've been an avid hiker for years, however have obviously been sidelined recently due to my eye surgery & ensuing headaches.

For the first time in weeks I have no doctors appointments and a free afternoon! I'm going to drive out to the coast & attempt my favorite hike in the Marin Headlands. I figure if I go slow, I can give it the old college try! There's nowhere else on this planet that revives me the way this trail does...

Happy Up Here
performed by Röyksopp
Happy Up Here by Röyksopp

Onward & upward! ;-)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Love is, to me, the sweetest drug...

It's amazing how busy one can be scheduling various doctors appointments!

While the headaches are still constant, there are some slight lulls that allow me to get some work done scheduling appointments & visiting various doctors, too. Being type-a, it feels SO good to have a sense of accomplishment, no matter how small. The pain seems to be exacerbated by use of my eyes, so driving, computing, etc. need to be planned accordingly. Driving (particularly with sunlight or headlights glaring) is a challenge, so I prefer to keep my voyages short in distance.

Although the headaches still reach a painful crescendo daily, once they subside, I can function a bit more than in the height of last month's severe pain. I'm more determined than ever to stay positive & find solace in small things. Music, books on CD, and the company of friends still make a huge impression.

The other day I ran into my neighbors, Susan & Jim Whipple. It was so fun to see them and catch up. They treated me to a lovely evening, which was such a welcome repose.

Tomorrow I'm back to The City for more appointments.

The Sweetest Drug
performed by Madcon

Onward & upward! ;-)

Friday, November 13, 2009

I'm glad I finally found you here...

Today is the first day in months that I finally think I'm going to 'round the proverbial bend. Finally! I've been living my own horrible version of Ground Hog Day, with these crippling, debilitating headaches. It's hard to put into words how all-consuming pain can be... You know it's bad when all you can do is cry, because nothing can stop the pain.

So I'm basically off all the Vicodin. Now I only take one (1) at the end of the day when the pain is the greatest. Each day that goes by without the drugs, I seem to be feeling a bit stronger. Even though I wasn't on it for an extended amount of time, I ingested SO much. For goodness' sake, I took #60 500mg pills in about 1 week's time! It wouldn't surprise me if I was overdosed.

My beloved friend, David Dillon, was in The City the past couple of days for a medical conference, so we got together and had a ball. It was so nice to see him! We always have such a nice time together. Just what I needed. While he was in meetings, I took it easy & rested, or canoodled with friends, so it worked out nicely for both of us. He's playing doctor, too, and has put me on 'MOXXOR' (http://moxxor.com), which is an all-natural supplement consisting of omega-3s extracted from New Zealand greenlip mussels, plus antioxidants.

So far, so good. The combination of being off the narcotics, seeing DD, and starting the omega-3s is working. While I'm not free of headaches, they are about 2-3 on a scale of 1-10, instead of 9-10. Believe me, I'll take that. Now I just need to continue resting, building my strength, and wait to get in to see the neurologists at UCSF to make sure there's not something more serious going on in my little brain.

performed by Toni Childs

Onward & upward! ;-)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I need your grace...


Today was busy with doctors' appointments.

First in The City I met Daniel F. Goodman, MD, who is a graduate of the University of Michigan! Go Blue! He gave his blessing on my new eye (as a second opinion), which is exactly what I anticipated. Dr. Goodman commended my surgeon, Stephen D. McLeod, MD, for doing a great job on my eye. Like my other eye doctors, Dr. Goodman wants me to see a neurologist for the crippling headaches.

This afternoon I met with my physician, Robert J. Bartz, MD, to get the referral to the neurology department at UCSF started (he was out of town last week). I've decided that I want to eliminate the Vicodin from my daily routine. It no longer has any effect on my pain, and I'm too concerned about what #6-8 500mg of it is doing to my liver. So with Dr. Bartz's guidance I'm going to scale back to 2x/day for the next week, then 1x/day, then none. Dr. Bartz has also ordered bloodwork to test my liver, kidney's & thyroid levels just to be sure. I should have the neurologist appointment set soon.

Tonight I met my friend, Brenda Leis, over a glass of juice. It was really nice to see her and get caught up. Spending time with friends is always a welcome reprieve. Now I'm curled up listening to Daphne duMaurier's 'Rebecca' on CD (read by Alexandra O'Karma). It's nice to rest my eyes...

Chasing Cars
performed by Snow Patrol

Onward & upward! ;-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

everything once dear to me...


Today has been a good day! I'm trying my best to take less Vicodin (6-8 a day, plus other medication is too much for my comfort). I've made it thru today until 4pm! That's a huge accomplishment, and now I'm seeing if only one vicodin will help, or if I still need 2 to curb the pain? Not that today was easy. The headaches, nausea, and dizziness are still there. I've just found that if I don't use my eyes too much for detail work, I'm able to get by longer without crippling pain.

I went to the public library & picked up an audio copy of 'Rose' by Martin Cruz Smith, which has fascinating character studies within an interesting historical mystery. I tried re-reading the book recently, however the eye strain doesn't let me read more than a page or two at a time. When I was at the Univeristy of Michigan I utilized books on tape a lot, so I decided to revisit them again. I've been missing reading so much these past three months, and it's nice to get work done while listening to something interesting. I was always the kid in gradeschool who was too restless to sit thru 'Story Time' without being able to color... an early multi-tasker I suppose. It's been great to keep my mind focused away from feeling disabled, etc.

An acquaintance of mine who had successful double corneal transplants has highly recommended me to see Daniel F. Goodman, MD. I have an appointment tomorrow to meet with him for a second opinion. I'm still waiting to get in to see the neurologist, so I'm glad to have some traction here. It's so true that you have to really manage your own medical treatment & recovery.

For anyone who is new to my blog, I was blinded in my left eye by the cork of a faulty champagne bottle several years ago. Recently I underwent lens replacement surgery to help correct diminished (and double) vision by removing a 'traumatic cateract'. My recovery has taken much longer than anticipated. I've only been able to wear a contact in my new eye for less than a week (I was legally blind in the eye the past 2 months), so I've been experiencing excruciating headaches the past two months. My surgeon wants me to see a neurologist, so I'm waiting to get in. He's concerned that my eye isn't the only thing causing the headaches. In the mean time, I'm doing my best to heal, stay positive, and feel human.

To that end friends, exercise, music, and audiobooks are a wonderful, healing distraction. :-)

The Clockwise Witness
performed by Devotchka

Onward & upward!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I'm so human, it's okay for me to feel this way...

I am determined that although these headaches have got me down physically, I'm not going to let them keep me down emotionally. To that end, I'm doing everything within my power to stay positive & allow myself to heal & continue gaining strength against these crippling headaches.

Physically I'm focusing on eating the right combination of protein, slow-carbs, and fresh fruits & vegetables for what my body needs. I'm drinking lots of filtered water, taking vitamin & mineral supplements, and avoiding anything unhealthy like alcohol & sugar.

In addition to focusing on eating well, I'm trying my best to start exercising again. The headaches have been too crippling to get out much, however I swear my body & mind always feel much better after exercise. It's easier for me right now to walk with someone else; I tend to weave when I walk from dizziness (too much visual stimuli). My friend Sharyn Trevillyan stopped by the other evening and we went for a 1/2 mile walk in the hills of my neighborhood. The lights in the surrounding hillsides were lovely, as always. It was fun to see her and catch up, too.

Since I haven't exercised regularly in about 3-months, Epsom salt baths are fast becoming a mainstay in my life. My physician friends may know more about it than I do, however the claim that the magnesium sulfate reduces inflammation when absorbed by the skin feels incredible! I add essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender, and peppermint which makes for a nice way to rest my eyes for about 45 minutes.

Yesterday I spent the day with my best friend, Cheryl Knarr Rick, and her 3-year-old son, Alexander. We had a picnic lunch along the waterfront overlooking San Francisco & the Golden Gate Bridge, then went for a relaxing walk on a quiet street where Alexander rode his little Strider bicycle. It was the perfect day. Cher has always been the person in my life who is as companionable as solitude. I'm fortunate to have her has my bestfriend.

Since focusing too much with my eyes caused the headaches to get worse, I'm finding other alternatives to keep from getting bored (as my best friends know, I don't handle boredom well)! Music is helping greatly with that:

So Human
performed by Lady Sovereign
So Human by Lady Sovereign

(which is a quirky remake that I'm sure I might tire of, but am enjoying for the nostalgia)

Close to Me
performed by The Cure

Friday, November 6, 2009

no more cryin' here...

As of yesterday I have a new contact lens in my new eye! Unfortunatley the headaches are still incredible. I'm going to sleep with a headache, sometimes waking in the middle of the night with one, and am waking in the morning with one that builds steam as the morning progresses.

My surgeon, Stephen D. McLeod, MD, wants me to see a neurologist. As Dr. McLeod pointed out before my surgery, he wasn't sure that the traumatic cataract was causing the headaches. My contact lens doctor, Patick Casey, OD, also wants me to see a neurologist. Now that the traumatic cataract is gone, I shouldn't be having headaches, much less the intensity that they are. As Dr. Casey put it, it's never a good sign to wake with headaches.

So now I'm waiting for an appointment to see a neurologist at UCSF who specializes in headaches. Let's hope that these ^&*%$ headaches are caused from eye strain, not something more sinister.

Wash Away
performed by Joe Purdy


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

easy come and easy go...

Today I'm grounded as my little car is in the shop for a minor adjustment. It's a good thing, actually, as I need the rest from being up most of the night (I finally fell asleep after 3am & woke at 7am). It feels great to take it easy & enjoy being introspective.

As my dear, dear friend, Daniel Todd Lucht observed the other day, music is a fantastic distraction to me now (more then my normal obsession with it) because reading is out of the question with my vision (and TV & the computer are also tiring visually).

To that end, here's what's rattling around in my little head today:

Performed by Madcon
Beggin' by Madcon

It's a remake of an old Frankie Valli song...


r xxx

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You're the Sugar I Need...

Today is a new day.

I'm going to go enjoy my life. Narcotics in-hand, pain be damned!

Onward & Upward!

* * * * * * *

'Not Now'
Performed by Little Boots


Monday, November 2, 2009

'leave it to me, everything will be all right'... here's hoping

Not to sound like a broken record, however the constant pain is getting tiresome. EVERYTHING seems to cause a different headache.

Fortunately I now have time to rest, however my body isn't used to it yet. Believe me, I have every desire & motivation to do whatever I can to heal properly. Vision is SUCH an important part of my life; I don't want to lose it!

Recently I started altering my daily routine to accommodate wearing a contact lens in my new eye for a few hours a day. Since my eye is still inflamed internally (my schedule didn't permit me to rest much & my eye hasn't healed yet), I'm still taking my steroid eye drops, which means if I put in a drop, I have to wait about 4 hours before putting in a contact. Wearing a lens after so many weeks of being legally blind causes major headaches in it's own right. I'm going on Wednesday to UCSF to see Patrick Casey, OD, to be fitted for another new contact which will likely have a new script.

The new addition of wearing a contact a few hours a day is a trip. It's as if I can feel my brain re-wiring itself when I first put it in. It feels as if someone is stirring my brain with a wooden spoon. I don't recommend it. :-(

This means that I have about four distinct (major) headaches a day. I'm without a lens when I first awake & put a drop in (Major Headache I). Then four hours later-ish I put the contact in the new eye (Major Headache II). After a few hours the eye strain takes a toll & I have to remove the new lens & put a drop in (Major Headache III). After a couple hours of adjustment, I get another headache with no lenses at all (Major Headache IV). Tonight I made the mistake of putting on my eye glasses at bedtime. Note to self: Never Again! That pain is so excruciating that I want to cry. In fact I started to cry, and decided to 'use my words' to work thru it instead.

My surgeon, Stephen D. McLeod, MD, recommends that I see a neurologist. The brain re-wires itself to accommodate vision, so the headaches are caused primarily by the brain trying to interpret what it is (or isn't) 'seeing'.

My physician, Robert J. Bartz, MD, doesn't want to put me on heavier narcotics, as he's concerned I could get addicted to them & then we'd have a different issue to deal with. This means I'm trying my best to tackle the 'breakthrough pain' with two vicodin when it occurs.

On the one hand, I feel very positive & determined to rest & take good care of myself in order to heal. On the other hand, if you're getting remotely tired of hearing about this saga, imagine how tedious it is to be living it! I wish I could just scoop the eye out, or take my head off, the pain is awful! As much as I dislike the idea, I may need to break out an eye patch for when I don't have a lens in my new eye. At least I have stylish ones! ;-)

Guess I'm feeling a little discouraged and wish someone could just tell me 'everything will be all right'. Instead I'll listen to Mark Kozelek sing it...

All Mixed Up
Written by Ric Ocasek
Performed by Red House Painters


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

curse Sir Walter Raleigh (he was such a stupid git)

The painkillers made it possible for me to function until yesterday.

Despite being on 2 vidocin every 4 hours, the breakthru pain was SO bad yesterday that I broke down in tears & had to leave work.

Fortunately my wonderful friend, John Saul, was able to swing by the resort & give me a ride home.

I spoke with my prescribing physician, Robert J. Bartz, MD, and will be seeing him on Friday.

Today I went in to UCSF to see my surgeon, Stephen D. McLeod, MD. He says my eye is 'coming along', however I still don't have a green light to wear a contact in my new eye until I'm off the steroid drops.

I know I need to sleep because I'm incredibly unhappy:

I'm SO tired of being in constant pain.

And I'm SO tired of people who feel it's okay to try and take their negative insecurities out on me. It's not okay to be a jerk, ever. I'm encountering too many people who are bitter, nasty, and small-minded, and I'm really sick of it. Just because I'm polite doesn't mean I'm not paying attention.

Thank goodness for my true friends. This is for you:

I'm So Tired, The Beatles


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

valley of the dolls

Today is sunny & pleasant. I just met with my GP, Robert J. Bartz, MD to discuss pain management. Thank goodness, because I've been in misery.

Last evening I was chatting on the phone with a friend when I was overcome with pain & had to get off the phone. It took what seemed like an eternity for a pain med to set-in & I was able to fall asleep. This morning I woke up with a different headache that continued to get worse as I started to move around.

So this morning Dr. Bartz prescribed an anti-inflammatory and a pain-killer, as well as something to help me sleep through the night.

Today I'm taking it easy, which feels good because I'm exhausted. It's my hope that the pain medications will help me get through the next month or two until my new eye heals & I can see again.

Until then I see a nap in my near future...

Onward & upward!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

hello mystery!

The medical profession is wonderful! I have an appointment to meet with my general physician, Robert J Bartz, MD, this coming Wednesday to discuss pain management. My surgeon, Stephen D. McLeod, MD, recommended that I start with my GP to see if something can be done for the crippling headaches I'm currently enduring. Fortunately Dr. Bartz called-in a script for some pain killers to get me thru the next few days. What a relief. Painkillers certainly have some merit when you're in constant, severe pain. The side-effects of nausea are tolerable in light of getting some slight relief in pain. Feels like a miracle, especially considering I haven't used painkillers thru this entire surgical process! I'm exhausted, but even though I can feel the pain it's somewhat muted. I'm still having trouble sleeping due to too much pain, however I'm optimistic that I can hope to see a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel soon. Considering I have at least another 3-weeks of being legally blind in my new eye, even the idea of hope is good.

Music has been a great distraction through this whole process. (That, and dark chocolate, but I regress...) Right now I'm enjoying 'Black & Blue' by Miike Snow:

Black & Blue
performed by Miike Snow
Black & Blue by Miike Snow

And I'm heading to take a nap...

Onward & upward!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

inflammation = legally blind

So yesterday I went back to UCSF to see my surgeon, Stephen D. McLeod, MD. I told Dr. McLeod that the headaches are becoming unmanageable, and that I am starting to wake up at 2 or 3am due to headaches. I suspect it's because I'm taking the steroid drops every 4 hours to control the internal inflammation, and when I'm sleeping it's a longer stretch of time without the medication.

Dr. McLeod said the inflammation is still considerable, and he wants my inflammation to reduce before letting me wear contacts (the risk of infection is too high because the contact can breed infection on the surface of my eye), and has to taper me off the drops first. This presents a challenge because I have to manage the headaches from being legally blind in the eye. You may recall that vision of 20/200 is considered legally blind if uncorrected, and mine is 20/400 in my new eye without a corrective lens. According to both Dr. McLeod and Dr. Casey, I cannot wear glasses as my retinal plane doesn't accommodate being able to see with glasses, only contacts.

Since my eye is still inflamed considerably, I will be legally blind in the eye for the next 3 weeks or so. This means I will be on 4x/day this week (10/14-10/21), 3x/day next week (10/21-10/28), 2x/day the following week (10/28-11/04), 1x/day the following week (11/4-11/11). I cannot wear my contact lens in my new eye until I am doing the drops only 2x/day. Even when I do start wearing the contact again, I have to wait a couple of hours both before and after the drops before putting the contact in to assure I don't get an infection. Dr. McLeod also mentioned that when I start tapering from 4-3 drops I will have to pay close attention to see if the tapering works; my eye may need the drops even longer. Let's hope I can taper off sooner rather than later.

Dr. McLeod doesn’t prescribe pain killers, so he recommended I see a neurologist to manage the pain from not wearing a contact in my new eye. It is possible my normal physician may help with meds, however he will likely want to refer me to a neurologist, too. Hopefully I can find some solution to this pain; I'm taking at least 3 ibuprofen several times a day, and it's not always touching the pain. Fortunately I only have to manage the pain for the next month or so (assuming the tapering off the steroids goes as planned), however it's really bad and seems to be getting worse.

Onward & upward!

Take what you can from your dreams, make them as real as anything. ~Dave Matthews

pain, pain, go away...

The headaches are constant. My latest trick is waking up sometime between 2am and 3am due to headaches. Today is no exception; this stunt has been going on the past week. Trust me, late night television is no solace!

My hope is that the eye drops will decrease the swelling enough that I can start wearing a contact again in my new eye, which will hopefully help with the pain. Right now I have 20/25 vision in my good eye, and 20/400 vision in my new eye, which wrecks havoc headache-wise. I'm seeing my surgeon, Stephen D. McLeod, MD, this morning, and will have to ask for some pain relief suggestions for the first time since my surgery.

All the same, I'm determined to remain positive, even though constant pain & loss of sleep are challenging... helpful suggestions are welcome. :-)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

good thing I didn't throw out those eye drops...

Fortunately I have complete faith in my surgeon, Stephen D. McLeod, MD, & his team of doctors at UCSF, which is a great relief!

My eye is considerably inflamed internally, which explains the pain, swelling, and weird (diminished) tunnel vision. The weeping is less, however it's still going on some. It's a bizarre sensation to feel fluid coming out of your eyeball. So because of the inflamation, I'm back on eye drops (have been off them for the past week); a steroid drop 4x/day & a glaucoma drop 1x/day. My pressure was good (16), and the suture is still fine. Apparently Dr. McLeod placed the suture in such a way that it is supposed to reform the shape of my cornea. It's interesting how little I know about my own eye.

After my appointment my friend, Bradd Haley and I grabbed fresh bagels & coffee and went to the Palace of the Legion of Honor for a little scenic picnic. It was an incredibly gorgeous fall day in the City, and it was fun to see him, too.

So I'm going back next Wednesday to monitor the inflamation and my pressure again. Once the inflamation goes down (and assuming the pressure remains good), I'll be very curious to see what my final vision is.

In the mean time, no complaints about the pain. I know I'm in good hands with Dr. McLeod, and any pain I have is worth the final product -- a working 'bionic' eye! ;-)

Onward & upward.


So things have been going along swimmingly until now.

I am heading back into UCSF as my new eye is noticebly swollen and the vision is greatly diminished (almost like I'm looking down a tunnel).

What happened is that Monday evening I was in a squating position getting things out of my satchel when I sneezed 4 times in rapid succession. I suspect the pressure of the sneezes combined with the pressure of a squat didn't help, as my eye hurt from the sneezes & the eye has continued getting better.

Think it's time for the suture to come out!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Hi - I'm determined to continue getting stronger each day. :-)

To that end, I'm getting up at 6am each day to exercise before work. This week I'm off Wednesday & Thursday; I'm exhausted & need the time off. The headaches are still constant, however I'm learning how to deal with them a little better. I'm learning to hold on to things when necessary if I get dizzy walking. I shut my new eye when walking on stairs. I'm learning how to deal better with nausea. I have always worn sunglasses & a brimmed hat, now I make sure to also avoid bright lights (shielding my eyes with my hand if necessary). My night vision is terrible, so I'm not driving at night. I'm eating very healthy, taking supplements & drinking lots of water. I'm doing any little thing I can for progress's sake.

Tomorrow I'm heading to UCSF for two different eye appointments. One is a post-surgical appointment with Stephen D. McLeod, MD, and the other is with an Optometrist he wants me to see. Hopefully I can be fitted for contacts again, although I still have to build up strength in my new eye. Wearing a corrective lens with that eye gives me severe headaches after just 1 1/2 hours. It's like breaking a leg & then running a marathon. You have to build up to it!

I'm glad to have work behind me today and I'm heading to sleep soon.

And I'm staying positive & seeing some progress.

Onward & upward!


Sunday, September 27, 2009


Hi - I know it's been a short while since I last wrote. I'm doing okay and have no complications, fortunately. Being back at work is taking a lot of energy. In addition, the headaches are constant and varied.

This weekend I picked-up my new glasses and can see 20/30 out of my new eye! Yeah! While it's amazing, the headaches are intense. I have to remind myself that I haven 't been able to see this well out of the eye for more than 22 years. The past two weeks since the surgery I've been seeing 20/400 out of the eye, and the 5 weeks prior to surgery the eye was sheltered by an eye-patch, so it makes sense that it will take some adjusting. It didn't dawn on me at first that I should build-up to wearing the new specs, until my friend, Nina, brought it up. At the time I was in agony on the couch with pain radiating down my arms after wearing the new glasses for about 4-hours. So now I am wearing the new lenses for only an hour or so (primarily for driving) until I acclimate to them. In the interim I'm back to wearing a corrective lens in my good eye, and none in the new eye. What's cool is that my good eye compensates for my new eye, and I'm able to get by all right as long as I don't move my head too much. What a trip this whole healing process is, to say the least.

My night vision is terrible. Last week I went into the City to meet Greg & Neil. The sun set quicker than I anticipated & I simply couldn't see. I was on 19th Avenue just after Golden Gate Park (which is a busy parkway for those of you unfamiliar with San Francisco), and I had to pull over & call the boys after getting lost since I couldn't see where I was going! I was practically in tears, however fortunately the boys came to my rescue and we had a fun time later watching Pet Shop Boys at the Warfield! Even with my new glasses, I noticed tonight that I can't see well out of the new eye in darkness.

Wednesday I go back to see my surgeon, Stephen D. McLeod, MD at UCSF. In the meantime I'm still making a point of exercising, being healthy & sleeping well. Speaking of, I'm signing off! Time to put these tremendous headaches to rest!

Onward & upward... ;-)

Monday, September 21, 2009

...and upward!

My wonderful friend, Bob Birdsall, was in town from Chicago over the weekend. We got to canoodle together here in Marin, and I got to meet his brother Bill, as well as some friends they grew up with in the mid-west. It was a real pleasure hanging out with them. Dylan-the-Yorkie is staying with me again this week, and he enjoyed meeting everyone & playing as much as I did. I was able to test my energy levels, as well as my vision. One thing I learned is that being in the sun causes loss of vision, even with sunglasses, an UV eye cover & a brimmed hat. Fortunately Bobby & his friend Pat were able to drive me home both evenings. They had me laughing so hard that my eye hurt! There's certainly something to be said about the restorative power of laughter, good food, and good company!

Aside from a myriad of headaches from vision strain, I don't have any pain in my new eye, and I'm able to function. After seeing an optometrist on Friday to be fitted for a new lens, my eye started weeping. It continued doing so for about 24-hours, which was weird & a little concerning. Fortunately I was able to speak with one of my physicians at UCSF, and we kept a proverbial eye on the situation and it's healed again.

As far as energy, I'm slower than normal, however I'm working hard to gain strength each day. I'm exercising daily, eating healthy, drinking lots of water, and getting plenty of sleep. As for my eyes, I am wearing one contact in my good eye, and none in my new eye, which makes for unusual vision. My good eye is dominating my new eye, so I'm able to get around, although my vision is diminished. While I am still sensitive to light in general, I no longer feel shooting pain in my left eye, so I'm not having to wear the eye patch unless the eye hurts from strain, which is nice. Functioning with an eye-patch is difficult, and I don't think I have the strength yet to take-on that challenge. Knock on wood that I won't have to. The coolest thing is that if you look at my new eye, every now and then you can catch a weird glimmer if the light hits it right. It's totally a trip! It seems to happen if my eye is twitching, and I see funny internally when it occurs!

Since I'm running out of PTO time, I tested my skills behind the wheel this weekend to make sure I can drive, because I'm going to have to return to work. I'm able to drive in the daytime okay. My new eye doesn't like direct sunlight, however, so I tend to shut that eye to avoid glare if necessary. My vision is too poor to attempt driving at night. I'm planning to go back to work tomorrow. Hopefully it won't wear me out too much. I know I can drive safely to work in the morning when I have more energy. I just hope I'm not too exhausted at the end of the day to drive home safely. Time will tell. In the mean time, I'm resting up for my work week.

Onward & upward...


Thursday, September 17, 2009

AMAZING ophthalmic medical article! 'Eye Tooth' Procedure Restores Woman's Sight: http://tinyurl.com/nmjr4g


The pressure in my eye is starting to go down slightly. I still can't see out of the eye yet. The pain from the pressure is starting to abate. I've been having so many various headaches for months now, that sometimes it's hard to know what's what. A new pain is almost welcome, because it takes your mind off of the ones you've been enduring; that is until the new pain gets arduous. I'm still in some discomfort, however I'm glad that the pain of the pressure is getting better. It's hard to imagine that I went through this lens transplant with no pain killers. I'm not a fan of pain, at all. The surgeon doesn't prescribe pain killers. They don't want you to mask the pain, as pain is an indicator of complications, I suppose.

I'm starting to regain some strength, and am making an effort to exercise which feels good, despite tiring me out. I'm no where near courageous enough to drive yet. My reflexes are dulled, which makes my confidence lag. It was difficult enough the month before my surgery to wear the eye patch; you don't realize how exhausting that is until you experience it. Honestly, I am not strong enough right now to undertake that venture yet! I'm focusing on exercising (I'm increasing my walks daily), being healthy, and sleeping well. Fortunately I can see some progress each day now. As the pain/discomfort decrease, I suspect I'll start to get better and better.

Onward & upward!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

do these pants make my EYE look fat!?!

Okay, so I just returned from seeing Stephen D. McLeod, MD at UCSF.

My eye pressure today is 27 (normal is 14, plus or minus 2). It feels enlarged; it's more uncomfortable than painful, fortunately. When you look at both of my eyes, the left eye is visibly larger than the right one! My dear friend, Pat Sweeney, drove me to the hospital and we've been joking all morning. She told the tech that she was trying to sterilize a needle with the cigarette lighter in her car while driving in order to poke my eye to reduce the pressure! The tech had to absorb that for a minute before realizing we were kidding.

Dr. McLeod is very pleased with where the new lens is positioned in my left eye. He was very happy to say it's "on optic"! He reported that my VITREOUS has separated from my RETINA (which is very different from retinal detachment). Vitreous detachment is the separation of the eye's internal clear gel from the eye wall or retinal. Dr. McLeod said it's sometimes common after surgery for the vitreous to detach. On rare occasions retinal detachment can occur, which is dangerous. He doubts that will occur, however told me what to watch for just in case.

While there are many things that may contribute to increased eye pressure, mine may be caused in part by the inflamation in my eye as it's healing both from the surgery and the vitreous separation. Dr. McLeod prescribed new eye drops to help relieve the pressure. He's also taking me off the antibiotics, and decreasing my steroid drops. This new cocktail should help shrink my humongous eye by reducing the pressure. Yeah! The pressure in the eye is likely affecting my vision, as the lens capsule is shifting according to the pressure. As long as my new lens is where it needs to be, I'm a happy camper! That means that as my eye returns to normal pressure, my vision should improve.

We talked about how I presently cannot see out of the eye, and am uncomfortable driving, etc. Dr. McLeod doesn't want me to drive until I regain more confidence and can actually see to drive. (Remember, 20/200 uncorrected is legally blind, and my left eye is currently 20/400.) He referred me to an optometrist at UCSF, whom I have a call in to, to be fitted for a soft contact lens soon. He said I may start exercising again, which is nice. He is leaving the suture in my eye to help hold the new lens in place. The wild thing is that I still cannot see where the suture is, and my eye looks completely normal (except for it's miracle-grow size)! A lot of friends (particularly men) have asked if my eye is still all bloodshot. Surprisingly it's looked normal the entire time!

Since my case is not a cut-and-dry cataract case, my eye is expected to take longer to heal. I'm a 'special case' (in addition to being a 'drama queen', but we all know that!). The doctor estimated my recovery will be about 1 month, as opposed to 1 week. Remember, my eye sustained all sorts of damage internally from the champagne cork striking it dead-on. The winery told me that the entire lot of sparkling wine that season was improperly pressurized, and they had many faulty bottles. All I know was that I witnessed one cork strike the top of a two-story A-frame the week prior to my accident. That force hit my left eye square from waist-high. So, while the current pressure in my eye doesn't feel great, it sure beats that pain it went through with the accident, and I know I'm in good hands with Dr. McLeod.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The love inside, you take it with you. ~Patrick Swayze in 'Ghost'

Monday, September 14, 2009

holding pattern

So, I went in to UCSF today to try and figure out why my vision in my left has been declining so rapidly since the first day after my surgery.

  • The day after surgery my eye pressure was 15 (14 is normal, with an allowance of 2, give-or-take), and my vision was 20/80.
  • Today my eye pressure is 20, and my vision is 20/400 (uncorrected, 20/200 is considered legally blind).

The good news is that the surgical resident was able to adjust my sight to 20/30 with his ophthalmic equipment. The bad news is that he cannot give me a script to see with for at least a month while my eye is continuing to heal/adjust, so right now I cannot see out of my left eye and have to wear an eye patch 24/7. Prior to surgery I only had to wear the eye patch when it was sunny out. :-(

The surgical resident was not able to address why my eye pressure is increased, nor why my vision went from 20/80-to-20/400 in just a few days. Nor was he able to address whether my eye will continue to decline. He was only able to tell me that they weren't sure why my vision was so bad to begin with; that even prior to surgery my eye had stumped several doctors.

I will return to see my surgeon, Stephen D. McLeod, MD, on Wednesday, September 16.

The tech who measured my eyes told me that I should have gone into the hospital when my eye was red, swollen, and in pain last week, especially since I was seeing floaters. She mentioned that they might have been able to take me back into surgery to figure out what was wrong. Granted, she is a tech, not an ophthalmologist.

A million thanks to Bradd Haley for taking me to the hospital today, and spending the afternoon with me. Thanks for the tenderness.

I'm going to go to sleep early tonight. I'm tired. And tomorrow is another day.

Onward & upward... (let's hope).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

the latest

Hi! What's going on? I'm slow moving, yet moving all the same.

My vision is fairly diminished in my left eye, and I suspect that the lens may have moved the two days after surgery when it hurt so much; or at least that's what it felt like. I was hoping that the vision would improve as the swelling went down. Not so. The swelling is fine now, however the vision is not good. I'm going in to my doctor's office tomorrow instead of Wednesday. Not that there's anything they can do at this point, however I think they need to see it since the vision is diminished considerably since the first day after surgery. I've been taking my drops religiously, and they have helped with the swelling & pain/discomfort. The eye physically looks good. The bruising from the IV is more noticeable than any indications in my eye, which is weird, yet good.

My eye isn't in much pain now, which is a welcome relief. The changes in vision, however, tire me out. When I'm wearing a contact in my good eye, the bad eye is blurry since the vision has declined; when I wear my glasses, the 'script in the left eye is too strong. While I tire pretty easily, I feel that I am gaining some strength physically. I can tell I'm getting better, as I'm getting bored & have some energy to think about things to do. My energy seems to come in bursts. The length of these energy bouts seems to be getting longer, however I definitely don't have my normal strength & endurance. The two days after surgery wiped me out. I'm trying to take good care of myself to make sure I heal well. I'm having to remind myself that it's okay to rest, and that I really may need to take it easy in order to get stronger.

My house is filled with gorgeous flowers: roses, irises, stargazer lillys, and gladiolas (my favorite). They are arranged beautifully together, and decorate the whole house so nicely. Thanks to all of you for the lovely flowers that I love! Thanks also to my dear friend, Pat Sweeney, for her visit today. We had a fun afternoon together, which always helps!

After my appointment tomorrow, I'll send out another update.

Onward & upward...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Post-Op Recovery

Yesterday's post-op appointment with Dr. McLeod went well. I was surprised to be able to see 20/80 with the new eye, particularly so soon after the lens transplant. That's already a huge improvement in my vision! I was still dialated after the surgery, so my eye wasn't happy with all the bright lights. I felt like a vampire shrinking from the light most of the day. They told me that my eye should continue to improve & only get better. If it increases drastically in redness, pain, change in vision, I need to go back into the hospital. The eye continued to improve yesterday, which is very exciting. I am putting in eye drops every few hours; one is an antibiotic, another is a steroid.

This morning my eye is red, swollen, and my vision is decreased. Hopefully it's because it's the morning. Yesterday I was putting my drops in every three hours, and I slept for 11 hours (guess I needed that!) last night, so perhaps this is just a reaction from not having my drops for such a long stretch. I think I'll wait another hour or so to see if flushing my eye with saline & putting my drops in helps reduce the pain & swelling.

Onward & upward.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

pre- post-op

Good morning. I made it through surgery fine yesterday. Thanks to Dr. McLeod and his team!

It was much more painful during surgery than I anticipated, so I've not exactly been chipper. Dr. McLeod explained that some of the zonules that hold the lens in place were missing and/or damaged in my eye from my accident, which made the surgery uncomfortable as fluid kept moving around, which normally doesn't happen. Dr. McLeod mentioned a couple of times that he hopes this surgery will improve my vision & stop my headaches, however he wasn't convinced that it will.

Bradd and Heather were wonderful for picking me up from the hospital yesterday & depositing me safely home. Thanks again guys! And Happy Birthday Bradd! I've been resting / sleeping / recuperating ever since, with little energy to spare. The pain isn't searing, just dull and consistent. They taped my left eye shut, so it is uncomfortable to use my good eye as the taped one moves in conjunction. Needless to say, I'm not doing much!

Nina is taking me shortly back to UCSF where Dr. McLeod will examine my eye with the new lens to see what my outcome is. My post-op appointment is at 8:30am.

I'll write an update later today after finding out what's going on.

Thanks again for your well-wishes!

Onward & upward!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pre-Op Countdown

Tuesday, September 8, 2009, 9:30am:

So I'm starting to write now, as I have time on my hands, and I'm not sure how I'll feel about writing later in the day! I'm through with my first test of the day in 533, and am now waiting in the 'Surgery Center' in 400...

By the way, thanks to all my fantastic friends who have been contacting me with well-wishes. It makes a huge difference to face anything when you're in a good mood!

The weekend was perfect -- exactly what 'the doctor ordered'. Great weather, great company, great times! It was the perfect combination of social & rest: The UM game with friends on Saturday, the Sausalito Art Festival ALL weekend, and canoodling while listening to fun music!

Johnny Boy was a perfect mensch this morning, giving me huge hugs with my ride to the hospital. We both laughed that it was like being dropped-off for your first day of school. He bundled me up, hugged & kissed me, then sent me off to the crosswalk with my pink-raspberry multi-rhinestoned eye-patch in place along with my glasses! LOL! I promised to call him when it's all over to let him know I'm all-good, as I waved my goodbye. Thanks again, John. I really appreciate it! (Oh, and of course it's John Saul who's my Johnny Boy!)

Dr. McLeod's practice assistant, Maricris Macalalag, was as wonderful as ever. She's always bubbly and positive, yet also efficient & knowledgeable. A great combination for her line of work! Thanks for being you, Maricris!

Now I'm just entertaining myself in the 'Surgery Center'. I got here early, as my A-Scan this morning was relatively quick. I LOVE technology! I'm hanging-out on my computer listening to music on my mp3-player & staying happy.

After such a great weekend, I feel well-rested & positive. On top of that, I have 5 days to recover before going back to work. While that doesn't seem like much, it can't be any worse than trying to function well with constant, varied, headaches and an eye-patch that causes it's own problems. By now I feel fairly confident about driving, even at night, with the patch on, although it took a while to feel that way. My confidence was shot initially, and I kept having to tell myself that intellectually I know how to drive. That seemed to help do the trick, as my little car is now safely parked in my carport with no scratches! It's funny, however it was actually easier to drive than to walk with the eye-patch on. I know, right!?! Never realized that intellectually you can drive easier than walk! Not to sound like a fool, however, the reality is that a car can't trip!

Wearing an eye-patch makes it vital to physically look where you are walking to avoid falling down. Add to the that complication of having your visual field thrown-off by objects such as people, trees, or simply anything that narrows your field-of-vision, and it's challenging to walk. Getting incredibly dizzy while walking with an eye-patch on is a given. At this point in my life, I tend to look at slight dizziness as a cheap buzz, however extreme dizziness to the point of vomiting is not fun! Doorways are particularly difficult, especially when someone stands & blocks the doorway partially. What I intellectually think is 8-inches away may really be 4-or-12inches away instead. That doesn't sound like much until you try walking through a narrow doorway when you're incredibly dizzy & nauseous. Not fun.

Time's up... they just called me into pre-operation prep. Will write more when I feel up to it after my surgery. Wish me success!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day Weekend has always been one of my most favorite weekends. Even when I lived in Michigan it was a fav. The weather is always pleasant & everyone seems to be in a good, mellow mood.

The Sausalito Art Festival (www.sausalitoartfestival.org) is held each Labor Day Weekend, and it's amazing. Juried artists from around the world exhibit spectacular art, and they always have great music, wine, champagne, margaritas, and food. My friend, Molly Lipsher, is exhibiting this year, too. Her stuff is beautiful, and I love hearing her speak of where each painting was created. Check out her site: www.mollylipsher.com

A lot of people have asked how I'm doing. I'm doing just fine! I'm as ready as I can be for my surgery tomorrow. I'm fortunate to have been able to rest this weekend, as well as spend time with friends. I've done a little research about the details of lens replacement, and feel very confident in my surgeon, Stephen D. McLeod, MD, too. I'm actually excited to have my eye repaired!

A few people have inquired about what my surgery will entail. While I don't want to go into too much detail, my surgeon will replace my damaged lens with an artificial one (not a transplant). It makes better sense when you see a visual of the anatomy of the eye, so I'm including one here:

My good friend, Johnny Boy, will drop me off at the hospital early for pre-surgical testing tomorrow, then I go into pre-op. My surgery is at 11:40am, and should last about 90 minutes, with a couple of hours recovery. They are using Intravenous (IV) Anesthesia, as opposed to General, so I should be right-as-rain fairly quickly. My good friend, Bradd, is then picking me up to take me home. He should have his hands full! It's also his birthday, so he's getting a double treat! LOL! We should be home from the hospital around 5'ish. Then my good friend Nina will stay with me through the night. Dr. McLeod said my recovery should be fairly quick, compared to other types of surgery. I go in early Wednesday for a post-operative appointment, then get to recover in full without doctors flashing bright lights for a week! And that's that!

Thanks to everyone for your calls, cards, emails, music recommendations, etc. Your support means a lot to me! I'm good as gold, and hope to be even better with my bionic eye!

Onward & upward.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward. ~Spanish Proverb.

Happy Labor Day!

Monday, August 31, 2009

In the spirit of making lemonade out of lemons, check out my new site: www.little-bear-productions.com.

My new site with designer eye-patches

My new company, Eye Candy eye-patches, is live on the internet!

Be sure to stop by www.little-bear-productions.com to have a peak at the designer eye-patches, and don't forget to forward the link to anyone who wears an eye-patch.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Good news! Surgery still-on for September 8th: http://ping.fm/nUeQX

hurry up and wait...

Okay, so today has turned out well in the end and we’re going ahead with the eye surgery on September 8th. Thank goodness, because I don't think I could wait until November. Driving & functioning with an eye-patch -- even a stylish one -- is draining & more difficult than it appears!

There was a lot of debate this morning at UCSF with one of the technicians about whether or not the tests she was performing would have enough time to properly measure my eyes for surgery. To start my day, I had to wait over an hour for the technician to realize that I was waiting for my appointment, then I was told that the test wouldn’t be accurate because I was supposed to go 3-weeks without my contacts in both of my eyes (I had taken out my left contact only for 1 week, as I had been instructed). If I indeed need to wait two more weeks to do the scan, I would miss my surgery. And the surgeon’s schedule has only a tentative gap in October. The only definite choice is to wait until his next appointment in November. Boo.

The scan today was to measure my current lens in my eye via ultrasound so they could make sure they have the correct replacement lens in-stock for my surgery. Apparently although a Toric contact lens is technically a soft lens, it changes the shape of my cornea, which could give them an incorrect reading. For obvious reasons, the surgeon needs as accurate a reading as possible, because once the replacement lens goes in, it’s in. We had much discussion about whether or not the three weeks measurement is absolutely necessary, whether both eyes need three weeks (both of which alternatives would cause my surgery to be moved), whether they could do the scan the day of surgery (my preference), whether coming in next week would make a difference (only 2 weeks w/o a contact in my left eye & one week w/o a contact in my right eye), etc. My concern was making sure the lens is accurately measured & available the day of surgery. Dr. McLeod was in with patients, so I had to wait a bit more before the ultrasound technician and his surgical consultant, Maricris, could speak with him for his opinion. Fortunately the initial scan revealed that my lens is fairly standard, so they do not have to special order a lens to fit. And Dr. McLeod said we can do the scan the day of my surgery, I just have to come in early. Yeah! I love it when things come together! So we are proceeding with my eye surgery on September 8th.

A lot of people are asking how I’m doing? And honestly, I think I’m doing pretty well, all things considered. I'm in a good space emotionally & physically (despite the headaches). I also think I'm doing well because I dealt with the fear of going blind so many years ago when the champagne cork accident first occurred. Plus, the myriad of daily headaches & physical strain have been so intense, that I'm eager to get this over with.

My most difficult part recently was when one doctor said she couldn't adjust my vision & I would have to settle for not seeing. THAT was a bad day because I was thinking I was going blind based on an earlier doctor's prediction. Then I decided not to take that as fact & started digging further & got hooked-up with the right doctors. Thanks again to all of my friends who helped me find the right specialists through their networking efforts! Now I'm actually excited to have the eye surgery! I'd much rather have a bionic eye than lose my vision; who wouldn't!?! ;-)

A lot of people have also been asking if I’m scared? Honestly, I’m not afraid at all. Perhaps I should be, however I’m not! I feel positive and hopeful. I figure my surgeon is a type-A personality who likes challenges, right!?! While your (healthy) eyes are boring to him, I’m banking on the fact that he LOVES that mine is a mess. Type-A’s are by nature competitive, and like to rise-to-the-occasion. So he can be my guest to open it up & get ‘under-the-hood’ and do his thing!! I've seen three specialists and four surgeons who specialize in retinal & corneal stuff at UCSF, so I feel really confident with the whole thing, and particularly with Dr. McLeod. I’m not allowing myself to be afraid of what ‘could’ go wrong. Right now I’m too focused on staying positive and being healthy in all aspects of my life.

Thanks to everyone for their encouragement & support. And a million thanks to Nina Morse & Bradd Haley for helping me get safely to-and-from the hospital for all this testing!

Onward & upward! ;-)

still waiting for 1st pre-op appt @ UCSF. May have to postpone eye surgery to November... Unhappy. :-(
Prosperity tries the fortunate, adversity the great. ~Rose Kennedy

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential. ~Winston Churchill

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

lens replacement surgery scheduled!

Great news! I just returned from the University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF), and we've finally scheduled my surgery to replace the lens in my left eye for Tuesday, September 8, 2009! This is fantastic news in that optic nerve damage has now been ruled out.

Today I met with Stephen D. McLeod, MD, who is the Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology in the UCSF School of Medicine. I feel really good about this because UCSF is rated among the top 10 ophthalmology programs in the USA, and it has the largest surgical eye care program in Northern California.

Ready for a biology refresher? So, the LENS of the eye helps focus light onto the RETINA, which sends visual signals to the brain. Retinal problems are delicate, however as long as the OPTIC NERVE is okay, then things are good. A TRAUMATIC CATARACT occurs after blunt force trauma to the eye. In my case, the champagne cork struck my eye directly which caused a CHOROIDAL RUPTURE (a rupture in the layer of blood vessels and connective tissue between the SCLERA (the white of the eye) and the retina), and a RETINAL CONTUSION. I only had the slightest bruising on my brow-bone, so my eyeball took the full impact! Dr. McLeod suspects that my MACULA was likely damaged in the accident, too. The macula is a central area of the retina with a lot of CONES that mediate clear detailed vision. This is likely why doctors were only able to adjust my vision to 20/40 after I started regaining my vision after the accident.

Way back when the champagne cork struck my eye, I was grateful to have 20/40 vision in that eye, believe me! Immediately after the accident I was blind in my left eye for about 2 weeks until the blood from the bruising reabsorbed. Then I endured severe migraines for the next two years, particularly when it was sunny. I hated wearing an eye patch, however I needed to then, particularly in winter when sunlight would reflect off the snow in Michigan. Some jerk even made a nasty comment about my eye-patch. I had recently cut my hair shorter, and he had the nerve to say to me, "You used to be so pretty, what happened to you?" Needless to say, I put him in his place.

While my vision hasn't ever been perfect since the accident, I noticed it getting progressively worse about 5-6 years ago. I went to an Ophthalmologist at that time, however he wasn't able to do much other than give me a new eyeglass / contacts script. Now my left eye is so blurry that I get constant headaches from eye strain. I also have severe double vision in my left eye, and extreme sensitivity to light in that eye. While I still hate eye-patches, it actually feels a lot better to wear one than not. The largest draw-backs of wearing an eye patch for me are: loss of depth-perception, motion-sickness, loss of peripheral vision on my left side, and people staring. Having been an artist most of my life, I'm getting a kick-out-of creating designer eye-patches. It helps lighten-up the fact that I have to wear one, and makes some people less uncomfortable when they see someone wearing an eye-patch. There are still the jerks who visibly recoil when they see someone wearing a patch, however that's their problem, not mine!

Although I initially requested to be considered for a multi-focal lens (such as Crysalens), Dr. McLeod ruled it out today. According to Dr. McLeod, multi-focal lenses only work well when the patient had 20/20 vision to start with. In addition, there may likely be additional damage within my retina that will only be visible once he opens it up, that only a more stable lens can be supported in.

So I have two pre-surgical appointments on August 26th, and then will have my lens transplant on September 8th, 2009. Dr. McLeod only performs surgery twice a month, and his Practice Assistant, Maricris Macalalag, was fantastic about getting me in so quickly (just shy of 3-weeks from today); his next surgical appointment is in November. Since I'm wearing an eye-patch and having to drive on the US-101 daily, it's definitely preferable to get the surgery over with!

My traumatic cataract is relatively small, however it is in the center of my lens. Dr. McLeod doesn't think it's the sole reason for how bad my vision is in my left eye, however it does explain some of it. Tramatic cataracts frequently have a STELLATE or ROSETTE-shape, which explains my extreme sensitivity to light and possibly the double-vision. His plan is to replace my lens with the vision set for reading. Since I'm not a good candidate for a multi-focal lens, he has to determine in advance what vision to re-set my eye to. He feels that because my right eye is healthy and in good shape, my brain will be able to adjust to having my left eye focused for reading, and the good eye will compensate. Otherwise, if he sets my bad eye to distance vision, I will have to wear reading glasses. This way I will no longer need to wear a contact lens in my left eye, and I may be a candidate for corrective eye surgery in my right eye in the future! Cool! Twenty-two years ago I was told by my Neuro-Ophthalmologist -- with no uncertainty -- that I would one-day go blind. Today I was told for the first time ever that I may not need glasses in the future! Hard to fathom since I've worn corrective lenses since I was ten-years-old!! Yeah Dr. McLeod!!!

Onward & upward!