Saturday, December 12, 2009

Four Months After Surgery

GREAT BIRTHDAY NEWS! (Or "Searchin' for my lost shaker of salt......")

I went back to the retina specialist on December 7 for another OCT scan. The macular hole is even smaller - now just a "sliver" as the doctor described. The doctor said he was "very happy with the results"! Needless to say, so was I. He wants me to come back in 3 months for another scan to see if there is even more improvement! He had me make an appointment with my opthamologist that referred me to him to see about the cataract that has gotten worse since the surgery. So, I have that appointment on December 17. I will then be adding cataract surgery to my macular hole postings. Hopefully, after that, I can blog about things like "life humor" or "great life lessons".

So, how did I celebrate this great birthday news, you ask? Being "environmentally correct", I decided to GO GREEN and have a green lime margarita! Ole! "Wastin' away again in......."

Monday, November 2, 2009

November 2, 2009

I'm all smiles today!

BETTER NEWS THAN I EXPECTED! The Retina Specialist did an Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) scan and the defect under where my macular hole was is reduced in size! Woo hoo! Glory be to the good Lord and the good doctor! I had a little cataract on that eye before the surgery, and he said now it is now more pronounced. He thinks my ophthalmologist might want to remove it soon. (I’ve been told that is no big deal – any knowledge on that procedure out there?) But first, he wants to see me again in 6 more weeks to take another scan to see if the defect has gotten yet smaller or even gone away. After that, he said I could go back to the opthamologist to get my vision acuity checked for new lens for my glasses. He prescribed some expen$ive drops to use twice daily that may further help the healing. God is good!

Let me know if you have any suggestions for designer frames. I want to get frames I LOVE this time! Guess I love to shop for ANYTHING! "Born to shop, forced to work!" That's my mantra....

I go back to the retina specialist on Dec. 7 (the day before my 67th birthday!). I'll get back with ya' then......happy trails to you until we meet again! Stay smiling....I will!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Eight Weeks After Surgery:

PRAISE THE LORD! IT'S BYE-BYE, BUBBLE! After 8 weeks, it's gone! It's actually gone! Yesterday morning it was a tiny black ball bouncing around at the bottom of my vision - and wallah - today it is gone! Yippee! I go back to the doctor on November 2 - four weeks from now. He'll do another OCT image to determine the final outcome with the nerve defect under the closed hole. After that I go back to the opthamologist for a new eyeglass prescription. It will be interesting to see the difference in the acuity 6 months before the macular hole and now.

I'm thanking God that this is almost over and praying that I never have another macular hole. Thanks to all of you for your prayers for my healing - for with God, all things are possible, whether it's Jonah in the whale or the hole in my macula.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Six Weeks After Surgery:

SO-SO NEWS is all I have at this point. I went to my retina specialist last Monday. I had suspicions that something wasn't quite good enough. I could still see straight lines looking curvy and trouble seeing the middle of words with my Evil Eye. I guess enough of the gas bubble had absorbed so that I could get an idea of what was in store vision-wise. The doctor took an OCT image of the previous macular hole. Good News - yes, it had indeed closed. Bad News - there is an area of a nerve defect (damage?) under where the hole closed. I was in such dismay and confusion that I didn't think to ask questions - which I definitely will when I go back in 6 weeks. Like, "Why the nerve defect?" "Is this a common result?" "Did I do something wrong?" "Do I need another surgery?" I won't know what the visual acuity measures in that eye until I am finished with the retina specialist and he sends me back to my opthamologist.

The Nasty Bubble still lingers on - making me feel like there is a black ball sitting on my cheek. It should be gone by the next time I go to the doctor.

So, all this hasn't made me very jovial. Thus, the blah blog. I thought in the beginning I was going to write an uplifting journey for others that get a macular hole after me. Put this story isn't over yet......?

Don't get me wrong. I am thankful to God for my precious eyesight because I know there are those without the ability to see the beauty of nature and loved ones in their lives. I will just have a little quirky thing about vision with my Evil Eye. Hopefully, the right eye will compensate so it is not a hindrance.

A Macular Hole (above)

How a Macular Hole Should Heal (above)

How My Macular Hole Healed

Notice the black area under the closed hole (arrow) which the doctor said was a nerve defect. I still don't understand.

So the delay of a post on my blog wasn't "No news is good news ."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day 38 After Surgery

Gas Bubble - Ugh!
RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY: That's what we're saying in this part of Texas about now. It has rained for 2 days and we have flash flood warnings. Too much of a good thing! Well, I'm also saying, "Gas bubble, gas bubble go away!" This darn gas bubble in my eye is so annoying and distracting. The doctor said it would go away within 6 weeks, so I figure it should go away this Friday!!!!! Please! I don't know how my sight is going to be in that eye yet. When I close the good eye & try to see with just the Evil Eye, things are blurry and there's a central vision issue when I try to read. I've hated to post anything until I had something really good to say. I go back to the doctor tomorrow, so I guess I'll find out if the macular hole is gone and have the visual acuity checked. At least the good eye is compensating however, because with both eyes I have no complaint - except that @!#$!#% gas bubble and the little black floaters that dance around it. I'll post again tomorrow evening after the doctor does a status examination. Until then, I'll go look for my umbrella and try to coax my little doggie to go outside and do her business with raindrops falling on her head.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oops - this is a blog I forgot to post before my last post. It was still in draft form. So here it is for what it's worth:

BLIND FAITH: That's how you describe this vitrectomy surgery for a macular hole. Here's why:

1. You notice that one of your eyes has distorted central vision - faces look like aliens and straight lines are curvy. (What the....?@!)

2. You go see your opthamologist who sends you to a retina specialist the same day because this is a big-time problemo - and you are the proud owner of a MACULAR HOLE (a WHAT?!).

3. You have immediate painless out-patient eye surgery to close the hole before it gets worse.

4. What the surgeon does: He pokes holes in your eyes with equipment that sucks out the vitreous gel inside the eyeball - he smoothes over the macular hole - then he blows a gas bubble into your eyeball to press against the repaired hole & keep it shut. (The gas will dissapate over time & your own vitreous gel will replenish itself. - wallah!)

5. After the surgery you are subjected to the torture of having to remain face-down for at least five days. It's like being in a massage chair or table 24/7. Your eye feels fine - it is your strained neck and back that start absolutely killing you from the positioning. Not to mention the boredom of looking at the floor! (CHALLENGE #1)

6. Soon, you can look up, because supposedly and/or hopefully the gas bubble in your bad eye has pressed against the repaired hole long enough to keep the darn hole closed (like holding something you glue until it sets). Afterwards, this bubble keeps you from seeing anything, because, man, you can't see through it! Oh, yes, the bubble gets a little smaller each day, but the fact that you can't see anything on that side of your body, and the fact that your depth perception sucks - well, this could drive you C.R.A.Z.Y. (CHALLEGE #2)

7. But, it's mind over matter. You know you have an excellent surgeon. You know you have researched the results from this procedure ad nauseum and that you will see normal again - soon enough.

8. But, you have to have blind faith that this is going to happen. There's nothing you can do but wait. Six weeks isn't that long, is it? That's one report card for all us school teachers.

9. I do have faith - albeit blind faith - that my outcome will be good. In the meantime, I keep wanting to shut my luckily winkable bad eye, just so I can see "normal" - but I sure hate to do that in public. But you KNOW that you can do anything for a SHORT time - right? (How many times have I preached that to my kids?)

10. SO - when I can put the brush back into my fingernail polish on the first try - and hit the red order button at Sonic on the first try - I will THEN know - that my faith was rewarded, and I'm back to my old honery self - warts and all!

Do you think they'll want to put this description in the American Journal of Medicine? If so, I should have used the APA formatting and style guide to writing. Didn't and won't and shouldn't!

Day 24 After Surgery

NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS: I haven't posted in 10 days because there has been expected minimal change in my Evil Eye as I am going through the "waiting for the gas bubble to go away" stage. However, I have gone from seeing a sliver of the world at the top of my eye to now seeing a person standing in front of me from the neck up. A teacher friend was asking me at school last week how the vision was progressing. I looked at her and said, "Well, I can see you from the neck up." And she said, "Well, don't worry that you are seeing double now, because that's just my chin."

So, I am half-way through the period it takes the gas bubble to completely go away. Then, I will go back to the retina specialist and get a vision acuity check to determine how well the surgery went! That will be the true test of this amazing procedure modern medicine has to offer! Well, I'll be seeing you!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 16 After Surgery

I FEEL LIKE POPEYE: I don't smoke a pipe, but I do eat spinach - and I understand why Popeye must have kept one eye squinted. He must have also had a "vitrectomy" - the official name of my surgery.

Famous Popeye Quotes:

"I is disgustipated."

"Careful there, don't ruffle me feathers."

"Wrong is wrong, even when it helps ya." (Good quote to live by!)

"I yam what I yam."

"That's all I can stands, I can't stands no more!"

Me agrees with you Popeye! ~~ (I think he actually needed a good Speech-Language Pathologist for grammar and semantics!)

NO LAUGHING GAS!: The medical bracelet I have to wear says I can't have laughing gas for fear the gas bubble remaining might explode! Pretty thought, huh? Well, don't worry! No more dental work for me until this is way over! The bubble is shrinking, thank goodness. I can see a sliver of the world at the tip-top of my Evil Eye. The rest is a blur. I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, yippee!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 12 After Surgery

GREAT NEWS, GREAT NEWS! I got a double-whammy of Great News from the doctor yesterday. I can drive when the gas bubble breaks up enough that I feel confident behind the wheel and if I am cognizant of the fact that my depth perception is temporarily screwed up and that I cannot see anything on my left side. The other Great News is that I can wear eye makeup! How good does it get? Now, if any of you concerned people are worried about driving in the same vicinity as me, let me give you this warning: From 7:30 to 8:00 AM weekdays mornings, beware of erratic silver Honda Fit traveling east from Arlington to Duncanville, and the same going west from 4:00 - 4:30 PM. I wish I could get a bumper sticker that says, "Caution Eye Surgery Patient Driving!" so everyone would get out of my way like we do with those "student driver" signs.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day 10 After Surgery

SNAP OUT OF IT! This is my message to myself today. Brave up, Sharon, and take the car for a spin. (I'm dying to drive through Taco Bueno.) Hmm, my daughter suggested maybe I should wait until tomorrow to see what the doctor I'm pouting. I could call it a test run - I wouldn't have to be parking in any narrow parking spaces, would I?

I originally gave this Mary Englebreit magnet to a teacher friend at my school - stuck it on her door frame...and told her to read it whenever she got mad at her precious little evil 2nd graders (now, that's NOT an oxymoron!). So, I'm taking my own advice and going to try to quit thinking that I'm looking at the world through a thick layer of vaseline with my left (evil) eye. I think from now on, I'll just refer to it as The Evil Eye - you'll know which one I mean. Hopefully, it's just temporarily evil!!

Funny thing, while in the office of the retina specialist the day I got my Good News, Bad News - I sat next to a sweet, beautifully-dressed, whisp of a woman named Ruth and we struck up a conversation about our "eyes". She was about the age my mother would be now, if she were alive. She related that she had Macular Degeneration and I related that I had a Macular Hole. She looked at me with the sweetest expression, and said, "Oh, and you have such pretty blue eyes." When she left she looked back, and said, "I will pray for you, Sharon." And then that angel left the office. She let me realize that things could always be worse, and to be thankful for our blessings, even though we don't recognize them as that at first. Now, there's something about her name that reminds me of another Ruth, the one from the Bible....she was also a good person. I know my Ruth is out there, praying for me. And I'm praying for her.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


UNSOLICITED REST AND RELAXATION: Laptop, check! TV, check! Email, check! Twitter, check! Facebook, check! Blog, check! Audio books, check! Doggie by my side, check! Plenty of Diet Coke, check! How in the world would people make it when activities are suddenly and severely restricted without all the technology? I've even had phone calls from Dear Old Friends! Imagine that! Another example of Good News, Bad News. You know what the Bad News is, and the Good News is rekindled friendships. Sweet.

PLUCK AND LUCK (I'm going to stop there - get it?): With pluck I can do this, it's getting easier every day. With luck, the healing will be swift and sure. Thanks to all the well wishes and prayers from a lot of wonderful friends.

THE EVIL EYE: The eye still looks and feels like I'm looking through a glob of opaque, gushy vaseline. So, story short, "feel good", just don't "look good". A girl needs her makeup, glitz, and bling, doesn't she? It's only a matter of time and I'll be back in all my Chico's, Brighton, Louis Vuitton, Clinique GLORY! "Hallelujah, hallelujah, halle-lu - u -jah!"

Friday, August 14, 2009

Day 8 - Eye looks good (it is dilated), but doesn't see good.

Day 8 After Surgery

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP!: Since I'm now able to look up, everything is looking up! It's still a blurry, hazy, gauzy, annoying view from my left eye. The right eye competes to override it, but cannot do so completely. Thus, I'm still bumping into things. This should get a little better each day, so that is a happy thought. I was thinking of my list of questions to ask the doctor: #1. When can I drive my cute little silver Honda Fit? #2. When can I start using my super black, lash thickening, lash lengthening killer Maybelline mascara? #3. When can I have a margarita? (Sure could use a #3 about now!) I can't think of any more concerns. : )

My poor little Maltese, Lizzie, was brought home to me today. She was boarded while my daughter was out of town, then stayed with my daughter, and cried & whimpered to come back home. She finally made herself sick and spent last night at the vet and cost me $150 to make her feel better. She's happy now, glued to my side on the couch. Funny, we could have won a look-alike contest this past week. What with both of our white bangs all a-flutter from my face-down positioning and her needing to be groomed. She and I both need a makeover. Hmmm....think Kathy Lee and Hoda would be interested?

Anyway, one of my good friends is driving me to the doctor Monday afternoon to get all my questions answered. She is such a good friend, that she said she would also go without makeup to make me feel better. She is SO a good friend! Of course, I took her up on the offer - wouldn't you? Nah, probably not.

Okay, I think I'll go look up the Pickles comic of the day. If you don't foll0w that one, you are missing out!!! That should lift my spirits up even further! (Almost as much as a margarita would!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 2 with Patch - Post-op Visit

Macular Hole Blog

Thought I'd start a blog about getting a macular hole and having eye surgery to correct it and all the post-op scenarios. After I get through this post-op recovery period and back to a normal life, I will switch to blogging about WHATEVER comes along. Guess I'll go back and try to re-create my macular hole situation from when it began a few weeks ago.

FIRST AWARENESS: I am a public school speech pathologist (probably the oldest one in the U.S.) and have been enjoying my summer vacation. About 3 weeks I would have moments of thinking my vision was crazy - lines were curvy and faces looked like something out of a fun-house distortion mirror. I would sit up, blink, and re-focus and all seemed okay. Then, I noticed that if I was rubbing my right eye, or if my right eye was covered by a drinking glass or something, the distorted vision would return. Ah-ha, I thought! I need to give myself a little test here. I covered my good right eye, and wallah, the world was full of distorted human creatures. I immediately called my opthamologist. She wanted to see me ASAP (for her), which was the following Monday. I went to my appointment fearing I had inherited the Macular Degeneration my mother had. I had spent countless hours on the internet researching my fate and was ready for the Bad News. But she instead gave me Good News (if you can call it that). I had a macular hole instead. She sent me straight to a retina specialist that same day. He confirmed her diagnosis and said I need immediate surgery to correct the hole or it would continue to get worse. My surgery was scheduled for that Friday. He had me contact a medical equipment company to order the torture devices I needed for five days of face-down positioning.

HOW THE HOLE IS REPAIRED: I am not a doctor, so this is just the Cliff Notes version of what I think happens. You go to a hospital for an outpatient surgery. You are put under anesthesia - thank God! The surgeon makes two incisions in your eyes to vacuum (my word) out the vitreous gel (jello-like stuff) that fills your eyeballs. This stuff had evidentally gone bad and pulled a hole in my retina - which is like the film of your vision. The hole is repaired someway and the eyeball is filled with a gas bubble. This bubble is to form pressure on the back of your eye so that the hole stays closed. A hole in your retina ruins your central vision, and hey, that's a big deal! Here comes the cruel part - you have to position yourself face-down to the floor for several days so the gas bubble will do its job. Otherwise, the surgery was in vain.

THE GAS BUBBLE: The gas bubble inserted into your eye has a few precautions. You cannot fly in an airplane for at least 6 weeks or until it dissolves, so there goes my trip to Paris! You cannot go to high altitudes, so there goes my ski trip to Switzerland! You cannot have nitreous oxide (laughing gas) until it goes away - and would you believe I just had it 3 weeks ago during a four hour root canal? So, now I'll have to wait to get my crown until I can laugh again. I also have to wear a neon green wrist bracelet that warns medical personnel of my gas bubble and carry a card in my wallet. I might explode, huh? Not pretty.

GETTING THE TORTURE EQUIPMENT DELIVERED FOR AFTER THE SURGERY: A medical equipment company delivered some modified massage chair equipment to facilitate the face-down positioning I was ordered to assume for five days. This included a chair with a face-down cresent pillow and a tray for placing a special mirror to watch TV or look into a friend's eyes for conversation. You also eat and drink off that table. What fun! Finger-foods and straws are the special of the day! Plenty of Theragesic applied regularly on your back and neck will help with the pain from the positioning. My daughter thought to bring that, luckily! They also bring an insert to place at the end of your bed between your mattress and boxsprings. To that they insert another massage table-like cresent pillow & frame. You can either hang your arms off the bed by placing a pillow on top of the tray that comes with it. Or you can keep your arms straight behind you like a torpedo - either way is painfully uncomfortable. This equipment costs $160 per week to rent! Medicare hasn't covered this cost since 2003. I'm fortunate I could afford it because I couldn't have assumed the mandated face-down positioning without it!! But what is Medicare thinking? If a patient has to have macular hole surgery, and is unable to maintain the face-down position so that it is successful, it will cost Medicare a lot more than that to pay for another surgery, or whatever they do for blind people. I'll have to write Barack about this, comrade.

THE OUTPATIENT SURGERY: One of my daughters took me to the hospital and stayed with me for three days afterwards. I could't have made it without her! The surgery is only about an hour, then you wake up in recovery and they send you home to several days of hell while you are face-down 24/7. Good News: the eye does not have any pain at all! Bad News: the face-down positioning will kill your neck and back and drive you stark-raving mad. The eye was a little swollen and a little red, but this is going away daily. Luckily, I didn't have to have stitches in the incisions into my eyeball because they were so small. That makes me happy.

NEXT-DAY POST-OP VISIT WITH SURGEON: My daughter took me back to see the doctor the next morning. He gave me two eyedrops to use - one was once a day and the other was four times per day. He said all went well. Then, I went home and felt sorry for myself.

WHAT WILL HELP.....A LITTLE: I got some audio books from the public library that saved me during those 5 days and nights of face-down torture. I also squinted through a few movies on my laptop and with the mirror on my chair. I tried to crochet, but kept getting the hook in the wrong hole. Reading is not fun when everything looks blurry. I also listened to National Public Radio a lot - which I do all the time, anyway. I used my laptop to email, facebook, and twitter with my friends. I did a lot of venting and complaining, I must admit. They love me anyway, I hope.

FAST FORWARD TO DAY FIVE: Okay, now I'm blogging in real time. This is the first day I don't have to be in the face-down position. THANK THE LORD!!! But what about the VISION??? Not good yet. I was used to the good eye compensating for the bad eye prior to the surgery. Now, I not only see out of the good eye, but the bad eye adds a distorted, blurry, haze to everything. I find myself wanting to close that eye. It has interfered with my depth perception. I don't think I can drive yet. I thought I was putting a glass of orange juice on the coffee table, but was off an inch, & it hit the floor. I also had trouble getting the eyedrops back in the opening of the baggie. I KNOW all this is temporary - and she be resolved in six weeks, as the gas bubble is reabsorbed and goes away.

I was supposed to go back to work this week, but am now shooting for next week. I go see the doctor on Monday, then I'll know what I can and cannot do. A friend is driving me to the doctor because I don't feel that is a safe thing to do yet. My main two questions - can I drive and can I wear eye makeup yet?

This has cramped my style and put my everyday life on hold. I wish I could blink and it would be October already.

By the way, I love my surgeon. He looks like Dr. Greene on ER.