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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Progress

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

20/30

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

onward...

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!
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