Important To Know The Symptoms And Dangers Surrounding Retinal Breaks And Detachments

I’ve been on quite a journey in the past six months. Although it did involve some travel, the journey has certainly not been a fun one. In fact, it’s been rather scary. I don’t yet know the outcome of this journey, but I’m hoping if I share its details others might avoid going down the same path.

It started last December, a few days before Christmas. I kept thinking a stray hair was hanging in my eyes and I’d try to brush it away. But it kept returning. I was busy that morning, so I didn’t think too much about it beyond how annoying it was. As the day progressed, the ‘stray hair’ grew into many rapidly flashing black lines, shooting and darting in and out of my left eye’s vision. Still thinking it more irritating than worrisome, I hoped it’d settle down before it drove me crazy.

But it didn’t settle down. It got worse. The black lines began exploding into zillions of bright little black dots, and my vision became blurry, as though Vaseline had been smeared over my eye. It was after medical facilities’ work hours, and although I try to avoid the hospital ER whenever possible, I didn’t know what else to do. After waiting about three hours, I saw a medical doctor, who looked into my eye and couldn’t see anything wrong, but she didn’t have the equipment needed to do a more thorough examination. She said she’d refer me to an ophthalmologist. By this time, the flashing lines had completely subsided, but I still had the opaque blurriness, filled with those teeny-tiny bright black dots.

I awoke with a massive opaque floater, still filled with all those black dots, constantly moving and swirling around, impeding most of my vision. An ophthalmologist’s office called with an appointment for two days later, which was the Friday before Christmas. At that appointment, both of my pupils were dilated, and the ophthalmologist confirmed that I had a retinal tear on the upper left side. I’ve supplemented the doctor’s explanation to give a clearer description.

As our eyes age, the clear vitreous gel that fills the central eye cavity liquefies and separates from the retina. This is a natural occurring event that happens in most people between the age of forty and seventy. When the gel separates, a person will often see floaters—dots, spots or curly lines, which move with the eye. Usually this quickly settles down and everything returns to normal. Sometimes, most often with people who are extremely nearsighted, the retina will tear or detach when the gel separates.

It’s really important to pay attention if this happens to you. I can’t stress that enough—if you experience these symptoms, get it checked out immediately. Go to or call your optometrist, there’s usually one on-call after hours. They’ll be able to check for a break (tear) or detachment and get you the help you need without delay. Some hospital ERs will call in an ophthalmologist, so check that option, as well. A detached retina is a medical emergency, and the longer you wait to have it repaired, the greater the chance of permanent vision loss.

The ophthalmologist had me meet him at the hospital that same day, where he repaired the retinal tear with laser surgery. I sat upright in a chair and leaned into an apparatus vaguely similar to what’s used to test eye pressure. My eye was held in place, somehow, preventing it from moving. The laser procedure wasn’t pleasant; there were lots of bright, flashing lights, but the pain was tolerable and it only took a few minutes to complete.

I was instructed to take it very easy for the next two weeks. No lifting anything, no exercise, no quick movements or turning my head abruptly. I walk fast, I wave my arms fast while I talk (fast), and I’m not big on lying around relaxing. Nor do I readily ask for help, so doing nothing for two weeks was a challenge, but I did the best I could to remember the doctor’s orders.

Two weeks later, at my follow-up visit, the ophthalmologist said the laser repair looked really good. I expressed my concerns about the opaque floater continuing to impair my vision. The black dots in the floater were less bright and there weren’t as many of them, but when combined with the large grey floater in my other eye, my sight was too unstable to chance driving. He felt the condition would improve somewhat over time, but I’d likely always have that new floater. Not what I wanted to hear, but I left his office thinking the worst was over. Little did I know I was only starting this frightening journey with my vision.

In the coming weeks, I’ll explain more about what I’m going through. I really hope by sharing my experience, I can help others learn the symptoms and dangers surrounding retinal breaks and detachments. Please stay tuned.

 

Monday Musings Welcomes Canadian Author, Susanne Matthews

Please help me welcome fellow author, Susanne Matthews, to Monday Musings. Today, Susanne is introducing us to her latest novel, a suspense romance, Sworn to Protect.

Book Blurb:

Four years ago, a car accident robbed Nancy Frost of her child and her mother, taking what was left of her marriage with it in the process. A forensic accountant, she agrees to look at a company’s books in a divorce case, trying to find hidden assets, but her meeting with the lawyer goes terribly wrong when the restaurant is attacked.

The moment US Marshal Neil Copeland discovers his wife has been shot in a Baltimore restaurant, he rushes to her side, determined not to let her down again. As the police investigate, evidence suggests the attack was a ploy to hide a specific hit. When a professional assassin tries to kill Nancy a second time, it’s clear that she was the target and whatever’s going on is a lot more complicated than they think.

When Nancy awakes after a month in an induced coma, not only does she not remember the attack on the restaurant, she doesn’t remember marrying Neil.

Faced with the challenge of protecting his wife from a powerful, faceless enemy, Neil must bring her up to date, dredging up all the sorrow that tore them apart in the first place, hoping something will jar her memory.

As he races against time, can he save her from an unknown assassin and convince her to give the love they once had a second chance?

Purchase link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072MHFQJF

Excerpt:

Unable to squelch her curiosity, Nancy put down the tear-soaked quilt, stood, and walked over to the extension on the bedside table. The number wasn’t a familiar one. She took a deep breath before picking up the receiver.

“Hello?” she answered, her voice husky.

“Nancy Frost?”

“Yes.” She didn’t recognized the man’s voice and hoped she hadn’t picked up on a telemarketer. It wasn’t a 1-800 number, but … Normally, she hated being rude to anyone, even annoying strangers at the end of a phone line; however, in her current mood, this guy might be in for a tongue lashing.

“This is Larry Jackson. I was speaking with Meredith Stone earlier, and she said you’d agreed to look at some financial records for me.”

The man’s voice was pleasant, but he sounded tired, and his words carried an undercurrent of frustration and anxiety.

“I’ll do what I can, Mr. Jackson,” she answered, trying to sound like the confident professional she needed to be.

Meredith might think she was the best in her field, but every time Nancy looked at a new set of books, doubt assailed her. What if she missed something critical?

“If there’s anything there, I’ll do my best to find it, but, as I’m sure Meredith told you, sometimes everything’s on the level. Unless there’s a second set of records hiding somewhere—”

“I wouldn’t put it past this sleaze ball,” Larry interrupted. “I just got off the phone with his lawyer. B. J. Pratt informed me they’re moving the meeting date up to Tuesday. I’d hoped to be able to give you more time, but he’s backing us into a corner. I’m sorry about this. I’ve emailed you the records we were given. Let me know if there’s anything missing.”

“Not a problem. I’ve come up against B. J. Pratt before. He won’t be happy you’re bringing me in on this.”

“That’s the best news I’ve heard all day.” Larry paused. “When can you have a look at them?”

“Later today. I’ll call you tomorrow if there’s anything suspicious.”

He chuckled, but she could sense his concern. “That’s all I’ll need, and don’t worry about the time and cost. The husband’s footing the bill.”

Nancy started. “Her husband’s paying to have me go through his company books and personal finances, and Pratt agreed to this?”

“They agreed to an independent audit and recommended a few local forensic auditors,” Larry answered, “but if they suggested them, I didn’t want to use them. Meredith tells me you’re the best there is, and that’s all I need to know. Pratt doesn’t know it’s you yet. I’ll let him know in the morning—maybe it’ll throw off his golf game.”

“It probably will,” she answered and chuckled, imagining the sour look on Pratt’s face. “I’ll get back to you tomorrow. Goodbye.”

Nancy hung up the phone, went into the bathroom, and washed her face. Staring at the haunted woman in the mirror forced her to admit the truth. She had to stop grieving before it killed her.

“This pity party is over.”

She wasn’t Cinderella, and there wasn’t a fairy godmother waiting to make all the terrible things in her life go away. Prince Charming had left the ball, taking his glass loafers with him. It was time for her to pick up her rags and get on with it. She reached for her purse and car keys. The first step was always the most difficult. Go big or go home.

About the author:

Amazon bestselling author Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She is of French-Canadian descent. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but with a penchant for happily ever after romances. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

Her first novel, Fire Angel, set the tone for an exciting new career.  While most of her books are romantic suspense, Susanne writes stories that range from contemporary to sci-fi and everything in between. She is a PAN member of the Romance Writers of America.

When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, or traveling to interesting places she can use as settings in her future books or as interesting entries for her blog, Living the Dream. During the summer she enjoys camping with her grandchildren and attending various outdoor concerts and fairs. In winter, she likes to cuddle by the fire and watch television.

Follow Susanne on her:  Website   Facebook page   Twitter @jandsmatt   Amazon author page  and  Goodreads author page

 

Once Again, I’m Shamelessly Begging For Your Votes

I’m pleased and honoured to announce that Visual Effects is up for an InD’tale Magazine RONE Award. As with Show No Weakness and It’s Complicated in previous years, I need votes, lots and lots of votes, to get my book in front of the judges, where it will be judged on its own merits.

I’m not a big fan of the voting process, and I don’t do well asking for help, but…I do need your help because it doesn’t matter how good my story may or may not be, without enough votes it won’t make it to the judges. Back in 2013, not only did Show No Weakness garner enough votes to make it to the judging round, it ended up winning in its category. In 2015, It’s Complicated was also voted through to the judges, qualifying it as a finalist. I’m really hopeful my family and friends will come through for me again by giving Visual Effects enough votes to move forward.

So I’m throwing myself on the mercy of all the people I know, which I wholeheartedly do, because I’m blessed to have the most supportive family and friends. Voting starts today, May 22nd, and runs all week. This is the link to InD’Tale’s website: http://indtale.com/2017-rone-awards-week-six

If you haven’t already, you must register with InD’Tale before you can vote. (If you voted before, you only need to log in with your password.) After you register, you’ll receive a confirmation email. If it doesn’t show up in your inbox, please check your junk mail folder for it. This email only confirms your registration, but doesn’t have a link to the contest. You must go back into the site (you can use my link) to log in and vote AFTER you’ve confirmed your registration in the email. It might sound tricky, but it really isn’t, and I do appreciate you for making the effort. Of course, for all of you who voted previously, you’re already registered, and it’s a breeze to simply log in and vote.

Edited: If you have problems finding the voting page from the home page, go to the top right side of their website to a link that says InD’Scribe/RONES and a drop down will show 2017 RONE Awards. Hover over that and another dropdown will show the weeks, then click on Week Six.

Then scroll all the way down, and you’ll find Visual Effects listed close to the bottom of the “Contemporary: Steamy” category. Unfortunately, Visual Effects isn’t all that steamy, so it might not appeal to the judges expecting more heat, but that’s the category it’s been placed in, and all I can do is hope for the best.

But before that can happen, it has to pass the voting round. So, please, take a moment or two and give your support (and vote!) to Visual Effects. I’ll be forever grateful.

Thank you!

An Ode to My Hubby on His Birthday

Happy Birthday, sweetheart. I wish we could celebrate this milestone birthday the way you deserve. Please accept a rain check to do something as special as you are, as soon as I’m able.

I’m not a poet, so none of this rhymes, but I mean every word.

Thank you for rushing me to Vancouver on such short notice after putting in a full day at work.

Thank you for battling Vancouver’s crazy traffic to take me to all my appointments without losing your cool…too much. 🙂

Thank you for taking such good care of Roxy and me. You might get a tad bossy at times (just a little bit), but I know you always have my best interests at heart.

Thank you for blowing a week of vacation to stay home and nursemaid me. It couldn’t have been very exciting, but I really appreciate it. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you.

Thank you for doing all the laundry (and other housework). Just because I tend to refold things and reorganize where you’ve put the towels doesn’t mean you’re not doing a great job.

While I’m not sure what the future holds for me, I do know you’ll be there by my side, bolstering me and encouraging me, no matter what happens. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your unwavering support. It means the world to me—and so do you.

I love you!

Release Day Blitz and Giveaway for Show No Weakness

I’m so pleased and excited that my first book baby is back on the market. Roane Publishing released Show No Weakness today and as part of the celebrations, we’re doing a giveaway.

You can visit any or all of the following blogs to enter the contest.

http://thereadingaddict-elf.blogspot.com/2017/04/show-no-weakness-by-joyce-m-holmes.html

http://terrirochenski.blogspot.ca/2017/04/new-release-show-no-weakness-guestpost.html

http://sylv.net/release-blitz-for-show-no-weakness-by-joyce-m-holmes/

http://reviewsbycacb.blogspot.ca/2017/04/giveaway-show-no-weakness-by-joyce-m.html

https://lizjosette.blogspot.ca/2017/04/release-blitz-show-no-weakness-by-joyce.html

http://thepenmuse.net/blitz-show-no-weakness-joyce-m-holmes/

https://carolcassada.com/2017/04/10/show-no-weakness-by-joyce-m-holmes/

http://londonsj.blogspot.ca/2017/04/show-no-weakness-by-joyce-m-holmes.html

https://redpennreviews.com/blog-tours/released-today-show-no-weakness/

I’ve updated my bookshelf with my lovely new cover and blurb, and have included some buy links. I’ll add Amazon as soon as it becomes available. You can check it out here.

I’ve also posted a fresh excerpt. To read it, click here.

Old Beauties of Cuba

I hope you like old cars, because the following is a tribute to all the beauties we saw while in Cuba. Cubans call them rustic, the rest of the world call them legendary. Classic, vintage, antique…Whatever moniker you give them, they’re must-see wonders, especially in Havana where they’re renown, but all over the island, as well.

I’ll start in Havana, because that’s where our Cuban journey started. Within minutes of stepping off the cruise ship, everywhere we looked, our gaze feasted on the impeccably restored relics of 1950s North America.

In and around old Havana.

Plaza de la Revolucion Square is a treasure trove of old beauties. It’s quite amazing to see the number of antique cars still running. Because of the US embargo in 1960, repair parts haven’t been available for quite some time. Cubans have had to manufacture their own replacements to keep these old gems operating.

Most are used as taxis or rentals for sightseeing tourists, and they do a brisk business.

Havana’s El Morro Fortress is another excellent place to view them.

And you’ll always find them cruising along the Malecon.

Some have more character than style.

I chuckled over this oldie. Despite having a body containing more bondo than metal, it still sported some impressive decorative chrome.

Not all the cars in Cuba are old classics. As is evident by the parked cars in the photo below, many are newer model vehicles, most notably Toyotas and Hyundais, as well as assorted SUVs.

And there are plenty of modest old Russian Ladas and equally battered Peugeots.

Cienfuegos has fewer old beauties, but the ones we saw were top-notch.

There are an abundance of boxy little cars, mostly Ladas and Peugeots, in Cienfuegos, too.

Santiago de Cuba also boasts some classic oldsters.

And some relatively modest ones.

This poor character certainly falls into the more bondo than metal category, but check out the chrome!

There’s many other means of transportation, besides the profusion of vintage vehicles, including modern, full-sized buses.

We noticed a number of Russian-era lorries, smaller trucks and modified SUVs jam-packed with locals. Perhaps transporting workers to and from job sites.

Motorcycles of all shapes and sizes are a common means of transportation on the island, although most popular in Santiago.

The majority of police officers we saw rode bikes as well.

Wherever you go on foot, you’ll be asked if you want a taxi. Most are of the 50s vintage, but many are typical newer model vehicles.

Then there’s the cute little yellow bugs, known as Coco-Taxis.

Touristy horse-drawn carriages are in abundance.

Horse and buggy are also used as a personal form of transportation by some locals, particularly in rural areas.

And that wraps up my Cuban trip. For those of you who followed me through to the end, I hope you enjoyed viewing my travels. For anyone interested in reading my previous Cuban posts, they start here and each post has a link at the end to the next one.

I’ll leave you with a few more old beauties of Cuba.

 

A Twenty-Two Hour Day To End A Fantastic Trip

Even though I’m seriously not a fan of early mornings, I was on deck before the sun came up, determined not to miss our cruise ship’s arrival in Havana. As a reward, I got to see this.

El Morro at sunrise.

Havana skyline before full light.

The cruise ship traveled slowly toward Havana Bay, as the sky gradually lightened.

A massive yacht left the harbour as our ship approached. While Hubby admired the yacht’s sleek lines, I fretted that it was headed into our path.

Although our ship’s engines were cut, it still had some forward momentum and the yacht crossed way too close for my comfort.

No wake as we wait for the pilot boat.

A fisherman in his teeny-tiny boat checks out our gigantic ship.

The sun rises above Castillo del Morro.

The sun’s arrival brought Havana’s colourful skyline to life. Modern Havana.

New blends with old.

Old Havana

Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro, on the harbour’s east side.

Castillo del Morro lighthouse

The Battery of the Twelve Apostles

Castillo del Morro

Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña

Hubby couldn’t resist another photo of the Christ statue.

The Malecon runs along the harbour’s west side.

Castillo de la Real Fuerza

Approaching Terminal Sierra Maestra.

The pilot boat’s job is almost done.

One last look at the mouth of Havana Bay.

Terminal Sierra Maestra

Skyline shots from deck nine.

Statue of Mercury, the god of commerce, on domed roof of the Produce Exchange building.

An underwater tunnel connects Havana’s east and west sides at the mouth of the bay. Each time we took it, I had to pretend we weren’t in a tunnel built almost sixty years ago, with forty feet of water above us. Our bus to Varadero couldn’t cross that half-mile of darkness fast enough for me.

Pit stop at Peñón del Fraile.

Royal Palm trees are native to the island, and we saw vast valleys of them.

Matanzas is situated between Varadero and Havana.

It’s known as the City of Bridges

We arrived at the Varadero airport at 12:30. Our flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 6:40, and we couldn’t even check our luggage until 3:30, giving us lots of time to kill. The check-in area only had six chairs and, of course, they were all taken. During our search for something to eat, we found three tables with chairs and, yay, two chairs were available. Nothing to eat, but at least we could sit.

I stretched my legs quite often, but Hubby refused to budge from those chairs. Three long hours later, we checked our luggage and headed to security. The immigration wickets empty directly into the screening area – which was complete chaos. With no defined queue lines; people just herded into the general area closest to where they’d exited immigration. Naturally, our ‘line’ moved the slowest.

After clearing security, we went directly to find food. It’s almost comical, but mostly annoying, how every vendor in the airport would accept US dollars (we’d cashed in our CUCs), but not one of them could make change. If we wanted it, we paid extra.

The departure screens didn’t show a gate number for our flight, and there wasn’t anyone from Transat to direct us. About 6:00, long after we should’ve already boarded, a gate was finally assigned. With all the noisy pandemonium around us, we couldn’t hear the announcements, and it was only by chance that I noticed people queueing up at an unmarked side door, near our assigned gate. I convinced Hubby we needed to check it out and, sure enough, it was our flight departing. Don’t know what would’ve happened if I hadn’t spotted that lineup.

We arrived in Vancouver at midnight and breezed through the self-check customs. The city had just been hit with a substantial snowfall, and we shivered in the dark, waiting for the hotel shuttle.

I checked in while Hubby retrieved our suitcase from our snow-covered car. By the time we’d thawed out my pjs and got to bed, it was 1:30. With the time change, that made it twenty-two hours since we’d awoken that morning.

Some final thoughts on the trip:

Cuba should improve the way it welcomes tourists. We crossed through Havana’s immigration six times and twice at Varadero’s airport. Each time, I was treated with varying degrees of unfriendly suspicion, which occasionally bordered on hostile. Those experiences left me feeling uncomfortable and unwelcome. Only the immigration personnel at Santiago de Cuba went out of their way to greet us with smiles and friendliness. I understand that entering another country is a privilege, not a right, and custom personnel have an important job to do, but if Cuba intends to encourage tourism, less mistrust and more civility would go a long way.

If you want the beach, drinks and sun experience, Mexico is probably a cheaper and easier destination. But if you’re interested in learning about Cuba’s tumultuous history of genocide, slavery, invasions and counter-invasions, replete with centuries of revolution, and combine that with incredible architecture, along with the sun, sand and scenery, Cuba is a must-see. And we’re so happy we went.

If you love vintage cars, join me next Monday to discover the old beauties of Cuba. Click here to jump to that post.