Thursday, August 13, 2009

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment