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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