The Results of Pinning My Hopes of Better Vision on Cataract Surgery

Last week I explained how my eye’s progress after a complex retinal detachment had mostly gone backwards in 2017. I faced the new year with worsening vision, a developing cataract and continued high ocular pressure. For those of you just joining this topic, you can find detailed information on the signs and dangers of retinal detachments, as well as the start of my journey, in my initial articles here, or catch up with my recent update here.

At my ophthalmologist appointment in mid-January 2018, I asked about having my eye cavity flushed again to remove more silicon oil residue, hoping this might improve my vision. He said cataract surgery was the priority, and he wouldn’t consider another flushing before then. He thought my eye looked good and he wouldn’t need to see me until after the cataract surgery.

When I got home, I realized my ocular pressure hadn’t been checked, nor had it come up in our conversation. Because I had an appointment at the end of that month with the ophthalmologist who’d be doing the cataract surgery, I decided to have him take a pressure reading. But not knowing was a worry, and I was disappointed it hadn’t been addressed that day.

At my appointment with the cataract ophthalmologist, I got the frustrating news of a probable nine-month wait for surgery. The ophthalmologist said my ocular pressure was elevated more than he liked, but he didn’t give a number. I told him I used Azarga eye drops twice a day to treat that. He didn’t have any further suggestions.

In April, I had measurement tests done, a routine procedure before cataract surgery. I didn’t see the ophthalmologist at that appointment. The blurriness and double vision were continuing to worsen, and I wondered if the cataract was causing this, and how bad it might become by the October surgery date.

In an unexpected turn of events, my cataract surgery was performed in July at the local hospital. It took approximately two hours, start to finish. Unlike my first two surgeries, applying the anesthetic didn’t involve inserting needles into my eye (yay!), and the surgery wasn’t painful. The surgeon kindly took the time to remove more silicon oil from my eye cavity during surgery. While my eye was only mildly uncomfortable afterward, I had a terrible headache and felt really off, so slept most of that afternoon. I blame this on the IV sedative given before surgery.

The next morning, the surgeon said the new lens looked great. Both he and I were surprised my sight hadn’t improved. He said it might still improve over time. He switched me from Azarga to Combigan eye drops to treat the elevated ocular pressure. I told him I’d just noticed my right eye was aligned slightly to the right instead of looking straight ahead. He said the surgery hadn’t caused this, and explained that when an eye doesn’t see well, the brain sometimes stops using it, causing it to wander off-center. This news, and the lack of progress with my vision, wasn’t encouraging. Ever the pragmatist, I decided to keep a positive mind-frame.

A week later, my ocular pressure had dropped slightly, so the cataract ophthalmologist had me continue with the Combigan drops and start another one, Latanoprost. Still no change in my eyesight.

Two weeks later, my ocular pressure was up to 37 (normal is 12-21), so the cataract ophthalmologist put me on a third eye drop, Brinzolamide. He said the gritty feeling in my eye was caused by dryness irritating my cornea, and suggested using lubricant drops. This was my last cataract check-up, and he forwarded his findings to my regular ophthalmologist, who I was scheduled to see in a few days.

So, a third surgery was behind me, and besides no longer having a cataract, my vision remained poor and unstable, and my ocular pressure remained high and untreatable. I had to face the stark reality of never regaining functional vision. My upcoming articles will address other challenges I had going forward. Click here for the next one.

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The Aftermath of a Complex Retinal Detachment

Two years ago this month, my life changed forever when I awoke one morning with no vision in my right eye. Back then, I posted a series of articles on my journey going forward, and rather than repeat everything again, you can read them, starting here, if you’re interested.

Basically, I’d experienced what’s called a vitreous hemorrhage. As our eyes age, the clear vitreous gel that fills the central eye cavity liquefies and separates from the retina. When the gel separates, floaters may appear—dots, spots or curly lines, which move with the eye. This usually resolves quickly and vision returns to normal. Sometimes the retina tears or detaches when the gel separates. In my case, the eye hemorrhaged and the cavity filled with blood. The damage was enough to detach and severely damage my retina. This resulted in complicated surgery, including a vitrectomy, attaching a scleral buckle and inserting silicon oil.

My articles have been read upwards of a thousand times, and many people have reached out to compare stories. While I’m pleased to have offered reassurance or at least let them know they aren’t alone, a part of me is heartbroken that so many people have gone through this awful experience.

I stopped documenting my journey shortly before I had the silicon oil surgically removed. I wanted to have something constructive, some improvement, to share. So I kept waiting. I realize now, there won’t be a positive outcome for me. But it’s time to relay the rest of my cautionary tale, and reiterate once again to please take the best care of your eyes possible. It’s vitally important to recognize the symptoms and understand the dangers of torn or detached retinas. Don’t delay in getting medical attention if you have concerns.

At the end of August, 2017, I traveled to a nearby city, where the silicon oil was removed in a day-surgery procedure, which entails flushing the eye cavity numerous times to remove its contents. A local anesthetic was injected into my eye in two places, an intensely but fleetingly painful process. The actual flushing procedure only took about fifteen minutes. An air bubble was instilled into the eye cavity afterward.

Thankfully I didn’t have to do the awful head positioning that was required after my first surgery. There was minimal swelling and bruising around the eye compared to the previous surgery, and the pain was negligible. My eyeball was quite red and my vision was horrible, because of the air bubble. I had to patch my eye to read or watch TV. Walking was a challenge, too.

A week after surgery, the air bubble was only a third its original size. I had extreme and very clear nearsightedness, with anything more than a foot away just a blur. There were also lots of small black, very mobile, floaters. My ocular pressure was in the upper normal range, and I continued using an eye drop called Azarga, to control the high pressure.

Two weeks after surgery, the air bubble had completely dissipated. My distance vision was still nonexistent, beyond vague blurry shapes. My ophthalmologist had no suggestions for why my sight had worsen after the surgery. He said I was developing a small cataract that could be causing problems. Cataracts aren’t uncommon in situations like mine where numerous eye drops have been used over many months.

Four weeks after surgery, I still couldn’t see as well as before the oil was removed, but my vision had improved slightly. No change in the number of small black floaters. My eye pressure was beginning to climb back up above the normal range despite using Azarga.

Six weeks after surgery, my ophthalmologist conceded there may still be oil residue in my eye, causing the floaters and possibly affecting my vision. He said he’d consider flushing the eye cavity again if there was no further improvement. My eye pressure was up to 32, which is considerably high (normal is 12-21). Because I was already using Azarga to treat the condition, he opted to take a wait and see approach for a few months.

And that’s how 2017 ended for me. Oil removed, with possible residue remaining. Less vision than before I had the oil removed. A cataract developing, and the ocular pressure continuing to hover in the high range. None of this was cheery news, and I didn’t want to share my lack of positive progress for fear of discouraging others.

I’ve since had more surgeries and procedures, which I’ll explain in future posts, starting here.

 

Two Puppies, One Lap

It’s a given, if I’m sitting down, I have a dog on my lap. It’s been that way for years. For the last eight months, however, I’ve had two puppies and only one lap. We got Georgie (brown and white Chihuahua) first, and she’s always been a snuggler. When Bella (black and white Papillon/terrier) came along, Georgie had to learn to share. It was easy at first, because they were both very little.

As they got bigger, things got a little tighter, but we talking less than ten pounds total, so not really an issue.

They even share my lap in the car.

Sometimes, they’re content to snuggle beside me, as long as we’re all together.

And although mine is their go-to lap, they’re happy to cuddle with Hubby, too.

Or my boys, if they’re around.

When they were younger, Georgie and Bella would snuggle together in their bed if no lap was available.

As they got bigger, I thought they’d be more comfortable in their own beds. At first Bella didn’t agree. She’d move her bed next to Georgie’s, then sort of worm her way over.

Usually if I’m on the computer, Georgie is on my lap, and Bella uses the nearby bed.

It gets tricky when, for some reason, Bella thinks she should also be up on my lap.

This only works if I’m scrolling Twitter or newsfeeds, and don’t need to type. When I’m using the keyboard, even Georgie usually gets down. Somehow she always manages to scoop the bed away from Bella, and Bella quietly moves to the mat by my feet. Which is strange because Bella is the bigger and more aggressive of the two.

On the rare occasion, Bella won’t move right away, so Georgie just sits there until she wins.

Every morning, they can be found on my lap right after Hubby leaves for work. I’m drinking coffee in my housecoat and catching up on the news headlines, and my two little girls are snuggled in tight. Makes it hard to get up and start my day. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my puppies!

 

Another Vacation Ends With A Whimper

On our final full day in Puerto Vallarta, we’d planned to relax at the resort. Maybe even laze around the pool. Hubby did do some poolside snoozing, but it wasn’t the way we’d envisioned.

The previous evening, he’d had more than his usual drink or two, and I commented that he might regret it. Not surprising, during the night he became ill. He continued feeling very sick the entire day, and spent it horizontal, leaving me to entertain myself between regular checks on him.

This big guy put on a show in the iguana tree that morning.

The estuary was covered in a mysterious ugly film.

This juvenile striated heron didn’t seem impressed with the nasty yuck either.

I killed time snapping pictures. Front entrance:

Palapa lobby:

Aires del Mar buffet:

Refreshment station by the buffet:

Fusion a la carte:

Snack bar by day, Guacamajazz a la carte by night:

Activity pool – our first room, on the fourth floor, is in the upper left-of-center behind the palm frond:

Adult pool:

The grounds are limited, though clean and attractive.

Our second room balcony, on the third floor, one down from the top.

Walkway along beach wall:

Hurakenna Bar:

To the beach:

Hallway to the lobby and outside:

We always used the stairs. With my vision issues, the spiral ones were tricky.

The set closest to our room were easier.

Cruise ship arriving:

The estuary water cleared up midafternoon.

Snowy egret’s cute yellow feet:

Cormorant striking a pose:

Canadian flag on the beach:

Attessa IV, the 328-foot yacht we’d previously seen on the way to the marina:

Mouth of estuary from the beach:

Cormorant still standing guard:

Second time spotting this yellow-crowned night-heron:

A juvenile night-heron was nearby:

Beach entertainment:

Hubby felt well enough to join me for dinner, although he only had soup.

Night lights of PV, poorly captured:

Palapa lobby lights:

The evening entertainment, Showtime, highlighted movies.

These guys got big cheers:

Three iguanas in the tree on our last morning:

With Hubby mostly recovered, I wanted to explore the beach on the other side of these rocks. I made it a couple of feet before freezing. Because of my distorted vision, I couldn’t judge whether to step up or down, take a big step or small. We reluctantly determined it wasn’t safe to proceed. I was super disappointed.

The plane ride home had severe turbulence, and to my complete mortification, I threw up for five hours straight. Hubby and the flight attendant were incredibly helpful and sympathetic. Obviously, Hubby’s illness the day before had been food poisoning or a stomach bug, and that same fate had struck me. That made it the fourth time happening to him on a trip and third time for me. Unfortunately, these were the only souvenirs I brought home:

Click here for my first post on our trip.

The Sculptures of Puerto Vallarta’s Malecón

We’ve visited Puerto Vallarta’s Malecón three times, with our kids in 2008, in 2012, and again last month. It was redesigned in 2011, making it more aesthetically pleasing and pedestrian friendly. With a recent extension, it runs southward for about a mile from 31 Octubre Street to Los Muertos Beach.

The first sculpture erected on the Malecón was “The Boy on the Little Seahorse” by Rafael Zamarripa (1976). It’s one of PV’s most recognizable landmarks.

“Puerto Vallarta” has been erected beside it, making it a very busy photo spot.

The spiraling “The Millennia” by Mathis Lídice (2001) stands at the north-end of the Malecón.

My crew, in 2008. I’m on the right, with the frizzy hair.

Amazingly, an albatross is perched atop the sculpture in both my 2012 and 2019 photos!

2012:

2019:

“Good Fortune Unicorn” by Anibal Riebeling (2011)

“Nostalgia” by Ramiz Barquet (1984) was one of the earliest sculptures on the Malecón.

“The Subtle Rock Eater” by Jonas Gutierrez (2006)

“The Roundabout of the Sea” by Alejandro Colunga (1997). Also a popular photo op.

“In Search of Reason” by Sergio Bustamante (1999)

Tourists often foolishly climb the ladder, and apparently in 2008, so did my bratty kid.

“Triton and the Mermaid” by Carlos Espino (1990)

“The Friendship Fountain” by James “Bud” Bottoms (1987)

“Vallarta Dancers” by Jim Demetro (2006). It’s had a paint job since we last saw it.

2012:

2019:

“Standing on End” by Blu Maritza Vasquez (2007). Resembles giant sea urchins.

My guys, in 2008.

San Pascual Bailon, patron saint of cooks, by Ramiz Barquet (2008). To honor chefs worldwide.

“Origin & Destiny” by Pedro Torres Tello (2011)

“Angel of Hope and Messenger of Peace” by Héctor Manuel Montes (2008). We missed the sculpture this trip, but photographed it in 2008.

“The Washer Woman” by Jim Demetro (2008)

“The Fishermen” by Jim Demetro & Christina Demetro (2018). A new piece on the southern extension of the Malecon.

Not really a sculpture, perhaps this tree and presents are only around during the Christmas season.

We hardly saw any sand art this trip, just these two.

And this old guy, who was a little worse for wear.

I’ve only included the sculptures we saw along the Malecón; there’s more we didn’t see. We saw the following sculptures at nearby locations:

“Come on Bernardo!” by Jim Demetro (2014). It’s a newer sculpture, at Lázaro Cárdenas Park off Los Muertos Beach.

Ignacio L. Vallarta, PV’s namesake, by Miguel Miramontes Carmona (1964) in Plaza de Armas.

“Solar Framework” by Antonio Nava (1987) by the Cuale River bridge to the island.

“Minstrel’s Corner” by Ramiz Barquet (1999) on Galeana Street.

“The Fisherman” by Ramiz Barquet (1996) at the intersection of Libertad, Agustin Ramirez and Insurgentes in downtown Puerto Vallarta.

I got much of my information from these two websites, which give an interesting and detailed background on each sculpture.

http://visit-vallarta.com/discover/landmarks/malecon-boardwalk-sculptures/

https://www.puertovallarta.net/what_to_do/sculptures-statues-around-puerto-vallarta

For my vacation wrap-up click here. Catch up from the trip’s beginning here.

 

Looking For One Thing And Finding Something Better…

With no iguanas in the trees near our balcony at Las Palmas the next morning, I focused my camera on this snowy egret in the estuary below.

Of course I zoomed in…

Later that morning, we watched the Papantla Flyers perform on the Malecón.

My instructions to find Matamoros Lighthouse, our destination, were to go up Galeana Street, then turn right on Matamoros Street.

With no lighthouse in sight, Hubby wondered if we were going the wrong way on Matamoros, so we turned back. (The directions were actually correct, but we never did find the lighthouse.) We climbed the steep streets in a northeastern direction, and quite by chance happened upon this staircase.

It leads to Mirador de La Cruz (Lookout of the Cross), which was also on our to-do list. It’s a residential neighbourhood, with the stairs running alongside people’s homes.

Donkeys!

Lots of concrete steps.

And then more, these ones twisting and turning precipitously.

We rested a couple of times, for water and to take in the view. Safely navigating the stairs were more difficult for me than climbing them. Going down actually proved harder than going up.

A trolley track ran beside the stairs, but was no longer in use.

Over 250 steps later, we reached La Cruz.

View from behind.

The mirador is one of the highest points in Puerto Vallarta. First, more stairs to climb.

It offers an incredible view of the city and the Bay of Banderas with the Sierra Madre Mountains in the background. My panorama shots didn’t do it justice.

From south to north

Lone sailboat

Close-ups of the city

Sad how graffiti marred every pillar on the mirador, and so much else.

Back at street level, we watched these young men push a heavy load up the steep grade, and didn’t envy them the task.

Around the corner, we stopped to greet a cat family.

Mirador de La Cruz from the Malecón (little bump left of the antenna)

Zoomed in

For a moment, I thought these kites were real people. (I’m visually impaired, but still…haha)

Large albatross resting on top of the Millennia sculpture at the north-end of the Malecón.

Beach birds

Many of Puerto Vallarta’s buses have been modernized and are air-conditioned.

We usually ended up on the rattly old hot ones.

Boulevard Francisco Medina Ascencio is wide and busy, making it an adventure to cross. Helpful motorcyclists would toot their horns and wave to us when it was safe to proceed from one lane to the next.

We stopped to listen to a band playing Long Cool Woman and Born To Be Wild outside a restaurant along the way.

A cruise ship leaving dock that evening.

We enjoyed the Latin Night dancing.

Click here for my showcasing the sculptures of the Malecon. Catch up on our trip from the beginning here.

Exploring Puerto Vallarta’s Old Town

Another morning, another iguana viewing from our balcony at Las Palmas by the Sea.

We caught the Centro bus to Old Town midmorning, giving ourselves plenty of time to arrive before the noon-hour start to the free walking tour with Turismo Puerto Vallarta. We used the early arrival to explore the surrounding area.

Plaza de Armas.

Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the background.

Ignacio L. Vallarta, namesake of the city, in the Plaza de Armas.

Los Arcos Amphitheater, on the Malecón.

Sights along the Malecón.

Hubby loves photographing pelicans in flight.

Juarez Street

Hubby’s postie hat on a Mexican mailbox.

Municipal Tourism Office, Juarez Street.

Entrance to Palacio Municipal – Old City Hall.

Palacio Municipal

Manuel Lepe, Mexico’s national artist, has several public murals displayed in his native Puerto Vallarta. This one hangs in the stairwell of the Palacio Municipal.

Puerto Vallarta’s coat of arms.

Manuel Lepe mural, at the Plaza de Armas.

Our tour guide, Julian, was a font of local information. At age 68, he does five 2-hour walking tours a week, receiving tips instead of a wage.

Another Manuel Lepe mural, this one on the Malecón.

We wandered through the flea market on La Isla Rio Cuale.

Trump’s not real popular in Mexico.

Swinging bridge connecting La Isla Rio Cuale to Downtown.

Streets of Downtown.

Casa Kimberly, Elizabeth Taylor’s house, on the hill above town.

Stairs leading up to Gringo Gulch and Old Town.

Iguana snoozing in a tree beside the stairs.

Plaque outside Casa Kimberly.

Richard Burton and Liz Taylor.

A lovely white bridge connects Casa Kimberly to the house across the street from it, which was also owned by Liz Taylor.

The streets of Old Town are narrow and paved with crumbling cobblestones. There’s lots of stairs to traverse too, some in poor condition.

The tour ends at the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We didn’t peek inside, but I took several exterior shots, to see what my new camera is capable of.

Back in our room at the resort…

Clouds gathered in the evening, creating a dramatic sunset.

The evening’s entertainment, Show de Circo, was cute and funny rather than a showcase of talent.

Although, I imagine working all those hoola hoops took some talent.

My photos didn’t turn out, but still looked cool.

The pup in the elephant suit was precious.

Click here for my next post on what happened when we looked for one thing and found something much better. Start from the trip’s beginning here.