As many of you know, I lost the sight in my right eye on November 28th, the result of a stroke to that eye. Blood flow was restored the next morning, and as a result, some sight has returned … about 3%. More may return over time, but I am told that the full extent of the injury won’t be known for weeks, maybe even months. In the interim, I am blind in that eye.
Many of you know, too, that prior to this newest problem, I had been dealing with a detached retina in the left eye. That journey began in February, 2010, Surgery in March, new surgery on May 20th, followed by corrective surgery May 27th to repair a problem with the surgery of the 20th. That surgery included incorporation of a silicone substance to hold the retina inn place. It was understood that the silicone needed to remain there for four to six months. In October it was removed. I also understood that some silicone might be adhered to my cataract lens (installed inn Dec 2007), and might therefore require the replacement of that lens to fully restore sight in that eye; sounded good! But even after the removal of the silicone, my vision was substantially wavy … just as it had been before the surgery. In fact, removal of the silicone provided no appreciable improvement to my left eye sight at all. So changing lens seemed to be my only solution.
But not so fast, my friend!
Fact: An exam by a surgeon specializing in cataracts suggested that the amount of silicone remaining on the lens was minimal.
Fact: The greater probability was that scar tissue on the retina was the culprit.
Fact: Exchanging lens my not help at all.
Prior to the stroke I my right eye, the end result of a lens exchange, while important, was not a major factor in my life. My right eye vision was 20/25 to 20/30. I was able to function visually in all arenas … work, driving, travel … you name it. But after the stroke … and virtual blindness in that eye … the future of my left eye became the future of me.
So on December 14th, I had surgery to replace the lens.
Prior to coming to Florida and joining his current practice, my surgeon had specialized in retina surgery up north. Though his current specialty is cataracts, he understood my visual situation. He also understood my personal one; that I lived alone; that my ability to continue to work was essential; that I wasn’t working for fun; I needed the money. I needed mobility. I needed my sight!
He was enormously empathetic. But he also explained the hardcore facts; that this procedure was not like the original one; that it was considerably more delicate and that he would not recommend it if there wasn’t ample evidence to suggest that my sight would be improved. Further testing was required. It suggested that a) my current sight was roughly 20/150, and b) it appeared that with the surgery and corrective glasses, we might obtain 20/60. He and I agreed: the risk was worth the effort.
The surgery occurred on December 14th. Tests on the 15th and again on the 21st indicated that the earlier predictions were correct. A prescription was written that day. The end result: On 12/23 I picked up glasses … two pair … which help my vision ... if only by degree.
I am wearing one now. One is for general wear, the other … this pair … for the computer which require me to be roughly 14 inches from the screen. Unfortunately, they do not correct the waviness. Thus reading and writing continue to be laborious. I am typing this in 14 pt so as to better see my work and correct my mistakes (I hope).Even then it is tough/
When I next see the surgeon (Jan 7th), I will discuss what options there are to correct the wave. I still have silicone in there as well. I can actually see it… them. They appear like clear dishes with a black ring around them. The main one looks to be about the size of a dime although I am sure it is substantially smaller. The only appear when I look down, and are not worth addition surgery to remove. But the waviness might be. In the weeks to come I will be investigating.
Which brings me to the future: Regardless of my present condition … or any potential means to improve it … life goes on, and I need to go on with it. So I am making plans … with the full realization that sometimes life plans things for you (or despite you. See the part about the stroke.). So here they are as of today:
Work: I intend to return to it this week, full time. Over the period since Nov 28, I have gone in a few times … three; four). I have also worked by phone, using my assistant as my eyes, giving her direction based on my new sight … my mind’s eye. Much of what I do is analytical. We gather and post data, mostly n EXCELL, and from that, we draw conclusions. All the forms we use, I created. I imbedded the formulas. And I’ve worked with them long enough to be able to visualize what we are listing; what it all means. So I can still do things that are productive. Although my new glasses are not as beneficial as I had hoped, they are better that that which proceeded them. So over time I will make them work. End result: I can continue to make a living
Transportation: Maybe one of the worst aspects of this whole ordeal is not being able to drive. And the surgeon has said that the odds of me ever driving again are slim. Since the stroke, I have had to rely on others to get me to and from the necessities … groceries, the doctors. My son and his wife had been fantastic. My buddies, Sol and Tom, have pinched in. My assistant, Donna, has picked me up for work a few times. And to top all of that, even my ex-wife … the mother of my son … has done her part, virtually filling in when none of the others can. (It pays to end on good terms. Of course, under the topic, “Time heals all wounds,” we been divorced for over 35 years.)
But the missing link is having a social life. My son and I have had dinner a couple of times. I’ve had lunch with my buddy, Sol, twice, and with Tom once. But all of these people have lives of their own; families, and little time to spare on me. Plus, I’ve was a social loner. I loved going out alone, letting the night bring its own surprises, going home that way too … but not always. It is who I was; who I am. That has to change. Suddenly I want it to. I am hopeful it will.
In the interim, soon I will be driven to work by one of a handful of employees who live within striking distance of me. Of course, I will pay them, buy their gas, and they will be able to park in my slot … which is closer in than the employee lot. Accordingly my hours will change, adjusted to theirs. But frankly, I consider that small stuff compared to the alternative, not working at all.
Writing: Somehow I will continue to write. In fact I am mentally planning writing about this whole experience … what it has been like, learning how to live with it, maintaining a positive outlook. But that can never occur, writing as I am now. Just this little piece … something I might do in an hour or so … has taken several hours over two days. So I have already investigating equipment for dictation and transcription. I have an acquaintance who studied medical transcription at our local Community College, so I know transcribers are close by. Therefore, this week I hope to learn from her what equipment they mostly use, so I can buy something the locals will be used to. And once done, my next effort will begin. I may call it, “How Do You Make The Journey When You Can’t See The Path?”
My son says I should call it, “They Told Me I’d Go Blind If I Didn’t Quit that.”
He’s proof that the acorn falls close to the tree.
See you soon!Rod