My New Reality After Retinal Surgery

In April 2017, I had surgery to repair a complicated retinal detachment, the consequence of a vitreous hemorrhage in my right eye. To bring awareness of the symptoms and dangers of retinal tears and detachments, I’ve been blogging about my experience. (Catch up here) The following notes are from my post-op diary. All observations refer to my right eye.

Two days post-op:

I can see undistinguishable shapes. My eye is swollen and bruised, the eyeball is bright red and there’s ugly blobs in both corners. I have lots of pain, both in the eye socket and the eyeball.

One week post-op appointment:

I told the ophthalmologist I still have double vision. With both eyes open, I see a blurry image angling off the left side of the clear image. He couldn’t say if this will improve.

When I asked about removing the silicon oil, which was injected in the eye cavity during surgery, he said it might never come out. I didn’t ask why.

My pupil always stays large, and he said the Combigan eye drops can cause this. It should improve about three weeks after I stop using the drops.

I’m still not allowed do anything for another week, then can slowly become more active until I’m back to regular routines in a month. I hate doing nothing all day, but the more I do, the more my eye hurts, and that can’t be good.

I see colours and shapes, but no details. My eye is less swollen, but still red. The doctor assured me the fatty stuff in the corners will eventually go away.

Amazing how strangers will ask what happened when I wear the shield in public.

Two weeks post-op:

My eyeball isn’t as tender, although it often feels like there’s grit in my eye. I get bad headaches, and any exertion intensifies the eye socket pain, which reminds me to slow down.

External bruising is fading, and the skin around my eye looks more normal. Eye redness is still visible.

A bump has developed on the outside edge of the iris. Blobby stuff is shrinking.

Four weeks post-op:

Despite not taking Combigan drops for two weeks, my pupil’s still nonreactive, and lights really bother me. I can recognize most shapes, but can’t see details. When I stand quickly, my right eye vision goes black, then slowly clears up. Hopefully it’s just the oil sloshing around. Eye pain isn’t as continuous.

Five week post-op appointment:

The ophthalmologist thinks my pupil should be more reactive by now, so it might never function normally again.

My right eye pressure (IOP) is too high at 32mmHG, while the left eye is 15mmHG, so he prescribed Azarga drops twice a day to lower the pressure. He’s concerned I might be developing secondary issues, but didn’t elaborate. I should’ve asked him to explain.

The earliest he’ll consider removing the oil is three and a half months post-op. I told him I’m pleased I haven’t lost my middle vision despite having had a complete detachment, and I feel I might have reasonable sight once the oil is removed. He told me not to have that expectation.

I asked if it’s the oil causing me to have momentary blackness when I stand up. He’s never heard of this before.

Seven weeks post-op:

I can now read the alarm clock using just my right eye—barely—so the vision has improved somewhat. Eye socket pain continues to diminish, except when I’m active.

Nine weeks post-op:

With reading glasses on, images on TV are sharper. This is the first time my right eye has responded to magnification.

Bubbles, which float above an oily looking horizontal line, are becoming more frequent and numerous. They move with my eye, bouncing around the upper half of my field of vision.

I get bad headaches when in bright sunshine, even if I’m wearing sunglasses. I rarely get eye socket pain anymore. My eye is still red and the small bump by the iris hasn’t gone away, but the blobby stuff has finally disappeared.

Eleven week post-op appointment:

I could see letters on the top line of the ophthalmologist’s eye chart, although I couldn’t distinguish what they were. My IOP is now balanced at 15mmHG in each eye. The ophthalmologist wants me to continue with the Azarga drops to control ocular hypertension.

Structurally, my eye looks really good, so at the end of August he’ll do a vitrectomy to remove the oil. He’ll replace the oil with air, which dissipates on its own in a matter of weeks. He explained the surgical dangers—possible redetachment, risk of infection, increased chance of forming cataracts. He said I’m already well down the road to needing cataract surgery, which surprised me because I’ve never been told that before.

I asked if the scleral buckle surrounding my eyeball might be pressing on nerves, causing my pupil to be nonreactive. He didn’t think so, but said nerves might’ve been damaged during surgery. He prescribed Pilocarpine eye drops to mechanically constrict the pupil, which will hopefully ease my light sensitivity.

A single drop of Pilocarpine shrunk my pupil to a pinprick, and it took thirty-six hours to return to its dilated size. The constricted pupil didn’t reduce the glare or haloing from lights, and because a possible side effect of Pilocarpine is retinal detachment, I won’t risk using it again. The light sensitivities are likely an issue with the retina, not the pupil.

Fifteen weeks post-op:

Eye redness isn’t as noticeable, and I rarely have pain. Besides the dilated pupil and the small bump by my iris, there’s little external evidence of the surgery.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of invisible changes. Despite slight improvements, I have no functional vision in my right eye. I still have issues with double vision, light sensitivities and depth perception. Until the oil in my eye cavity is removed, I won’t know if it contributes to these problems. For now, I can only hope for continued progress, while accepting the possibility of a less positive outcome.

Next week, I’ll wrap up my series on torn and detached retinas. Jump to that post HERE.

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An Acute Retinal Detachment Is An Ophthalmologic Emergency – Learn The Dangers

In an effort to bring awareness to the symptoms and dangers of torn or detached retinas, I’ve been chronicling my own experiences with this serious issue. (Catch up here) In December 2016, I experienced a retinal tear in my left eye, which has left me with unstable vision. In April 2017, I had a vitreous hemorrhage in my right eye, and still don’t know the full outcome from that episode.

Important signs to be mindful of:

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. A vitreous hemorrhage can occur when blood vessels are damaged during the above process, filling the eye cavity with blood.

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Last week, I described the surgery to repair my detached retina. Following surgery, I needed to keep my head facing downward for 24 hours. I was so nervous about accidentally rolling onto my back, I didn’t sleep a wink that entire night. Early the next morning, I became incredibly nauseous and from that point on, I threw up nonstop.

Prior to my follow-up appointment, I was allowed to raise my head and remove the eye patch. My eye looked horrendous, but the pain was tolerable. I could see lightness and unrecognizable blurry shapes. Hubby helped me apply three different eye drops: Zymar, an antibiotic, used four times a day for one week. Combigan, to treat high eye pressure, used twice a day for two weeks. And Prednisolone, to treat symptoms of inflammation, used four times a day for four weeks.

In the crowded hotel elevator, I concentrated on protecting my eye from wayward elbows and not upchucking. Thankfully everyone got off before us because the moment I stepped off the elevator, I got sick. With my eye swollen shut and badly bruised, and vomiting into a plastic bag, I must’ve looked like I’d been on a bender that ended in a brawl.

The assistant surgeon at the clinic said vomiting was actually quite common after eye surgery. Something about how the brain interpreted high eye pressure. I wish I’d been forewarned, so I could’ve been prepared.

I asked if the retina had been detached and he said, “Oh yeah, a complete detachment. It was really bad.” He felt confident surgery had stabilized the eye and I should have a good outcome. There’s a difference between repairing the retina and restoring vision, however.

An acute retinal detachment is an ophthalmologic emergency. The longer the wait for surgery, the lower the chances of a positive outcome, because the retina becomes starved of oxygen without proper blood flow. This not only can lead to irreversible vision loss, the health of the entire eye is endangered. Stabilizing the eye and preventing redetachments are higher priorities than restoring functional vision. That doesn’t mean they don’t care whether I ever see again, it’s just not their main objective.

At my prior appointment, the ophthalmologist explained that after surgery either air, gas or silicon oil would be injected into my eye cavity. Air and gas both dissipate on their own over a matter of weeks. Oil, usually chosen as a last resort for complicated detachments, must be surgically removed. Because of the severity of my detachment, the surgeon opted for oil over air or gas. So yay, I’ll need another surgery requiring more needles in my eye.

Four procedures were used during surgery. A vitrectomy, which involves making small incisions in the eyeball so the surgeon, using a microscope and special lens, can insert micro-surgical instruments to clean the vitreous and blood from the middle eye cavity.

A silicone scleral buckle was sutured around the outer wall of the eyeball to create an indentation inside the eye. This pushes on the retina and effectively closes the break. Scleral buckles usually remain in place indefinitely.

A laser beam were directed at the retina to make tiny burns. These burns form scars which seals the retina.

And the last procedure involved injecting silicon oil into the eye cavity. The oil pushing against the retina improves the likelihood of it staying attached. While the oil’s in place, my vision will be poor, but using the oil may increase the overall visual prognosis.

The doctor stressed that I must take it very easy until told otherwise. He looked over at Hubby and told him he felt as though these instructions needed to be emphasized. I obviously have a tattoo across my forehead that says, This lady doesn’t know how to relax.

I’d need to wear an eye shield at bedtime for several weeks, and either the shield or sunglasses when going out, to protect the eye. Then I got some good news. As long as we took the longer, low elevation route, we could go home that day. It’s ironic that I’ve been bugging Hubby for years to take that slower, more scenic highway between the Okanagan and Vancouver, and when we finally did, I couldn’t enjoy it. I threw up all the way home and mostly kept my eyes closed.

I owe my hubby and son such a debt of gratitude. I don’t know how I would’ve managed without them. My son navigated us around to my various appointments, which saved us all kinds of time and stress, and he babysat Roxy so we didn’t have to leave her alone at the hotel. And poor Hubby! He taxied both my son and myself back and forth to all our appointments, while coping with big-city traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. He doted on me constantly, taking care of my every need. And he did it all with surprising patience and good humour.

My next post will give an update on my progress so far. I might include some photos. They won’t be as pretty as the ones I usually post, just to warn you. (Next post here)

A Belt, A Buckle and Suspenders – Surgery To Repair A Detached Retina

To repeat my introduction from last week: In December 2016, I experienced a retinal tear in my left eye, which has left me with unstable vision. In April 2017, I had a vitreous hemorrhage in my right eye, and still don’t know the full outcome from that episode. I want to reiterate the importance of recognizing and understanding the symptoms and dangers of torn or detached retinas.

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. A vitreous hemorrhage can occur when blood vessels are damaged during the above process, filling the eye cavity with blood.

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Catch up on my previous posts here.

After another restless night, on the morning of my surgery I woke up with a splitting headache. Lack of sleep and nervous tension, I imagine. Hubby had me at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital half an hour ahead of my appointment. At eight o’clock, I was taken to a curtained cubicle to change into a hospital gown. Eye drops were administered and I answered all the same medical questions I’d answered the previous day.

An anesthesiologist put an IV in my hand and explained he’d be injecting a local anesthetic into my eye in two places. He told me it wouldn’t hurt as much as getting the IV, which had actually stung quite a bit. The first injection into my eye was really unpleasant, but thankfully the pain was brief. My eye was frozen enough when he did the second injection that I didn’t feel anything.

Around 10:00, I was brought into surgery. The anesthesiologist touched my upper cheek and apologized for bruising me while freezing my eye. I assured him I bruise easily. A sheet was placed over my face, leaving only my eye exposed. I heard someone ask the retinal surgeon which procedures he’d be using. The doctor joked he’d be doing the belt, the buckle and suspenders, meaning he needed to do several procedures besides the scleral buckle.

During the procedure, I occasionally felt sensations in my eye, but no real pain. At one point the surgeon said, “Oh my God!” in a rather strained voice, then he asked for PFO. Seconds later, he repeated more urgently his request for PFO. Definitely not what I wanted to hear from the person operating on my eye, and I made a point to remember those words so I could ask what this meant.

After surgery, the surgeon told me I needed to get on my tummy right away, then he left. Because I didn’t get a chance to ask him about PFO, I’ll explain what my local ophthalmologist told me. PFO’s full name is Perfluoro-N-octane, and it’s a heavy liquid used to flatten the retina during complex detachment surgery. Although he couldn’t say for certain because he wasn’t there, he believes the surgeon must’ve been having difficulties getting my retina to stay flat.

I got back to the cubicle at 11:00, so surgery took approximately one hour. I had a shield covering my eye, and the nurse instructed me on the importance of keeping my head postured down for the next 24 hours. Silicon oil had been inserted into my eye cavity during surgery—more on that in my next post—and facing downward, even while sleeping, ensures the oil bubble floats to the back of the eye to keep the retina flattened.

Hubby arrived soon after to take me back to the hotel. He picked up some straws, so I could still drink with my head down, and he also bought a selection of tempting foods. Despite missing breakfast and lunch, I felt too queasy to eat much. I had surprisingly little eye pain, but between the pounding headache I’d woken up with and my arthritic neck complaining about the position I had to keep it in, I was extremely uncomfortable. I alternated between lying on my stomach with my forehead resting on a pillow, which gave my neck a break but tensed up my shoulders and back, and sitting with my face supported in my hands and my elbows braced on my knees.

Next week, I’ll go over all the procedures used during surgery, and explain what I was told in my follow-up appointment the next morning. (Next week’s post)

Whirlwind Day of Appointments in Vancouver

A quick recap on my series of eye health posts. (Start from beginning here) In December 2016 I experienced a retinal tear in my left eye, which has left me with unstable vision. In April 2017, I had a vitreous hemorrhage in my right eye, and still don’t know the full outcome from that episode. I want to reiterate the importance of recognizing and understanding the symptoms and dangers of torn or detached retinas.

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. A vitreous hemorrhage can occur when blood vessels are damaged during the above process, filling the eye cavity with blood.

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

I ended my last post with our rushed trip to Vancouver to see a retinal surgeon. We had a nice view from our hotel suite, and I wished we were there under better circumstances.

The eye clinic was huge and crowded, but operated like a well-organized production line. I filled out some paperwork, then had drops put in my eyes and various tests done. After a thorough examination, the retinal surgeon explained he could see enough of my retina to confirm it was severely detached, so I told him the ultrasound had shown the retina was okay. He said that might’ve been true at the time, but it had since detached, with potentially dire consequences. He didn’t offer false hope, but promised he’d do everything he could to restore as much of my vision as possible.

I asked if now that both eyes had experienced the vitreous gel separation, there’d be no danger of this happening to me again. He replied that some retinas keep falling off even after being reattached several times. This worried me because my left retina has had to be repaired twice since tearing.

He told me it could take a full year to know the quality of vision I’d end up with. I asked if that meant the sight in my left eye might still improve and he said no, but I’d probably adjust to the blurry vision. Damn, eh? Got my hopes up for a moment.

I filled out reams of paperwork and received pamphlets explaining what a vitreous hemorrhage and a detached retina were, and which procedures would be used during surgery. One procedure is called a Vitrectomy. This involves making small incisions in the eyeball so the surgeon, using a microscope and special lens, can insert micro-surgical instruments to clean the vitreous and blood from the middle eye cavity.

The other procedure entails sewing a silicone scleral buckle around the outer wall of the eyeball to create an indentation inside the eye. This pushes on the retina and effectively closes the break. Scleral buckles usually remain on the eye indefinitely.

After all that cheery news, I had to have my blood pressure checked (Surprise, surprise, it was way higher than normal). After lunch, Hubby dropped me at another clinic to have an electrocardiogram. I’m not sure if this is standard procedure for all the eye clinic’s surgery patients or if it’s because I have an aortic valve insufficiency. Regardless, the test was performed quickly, with no problems detected.

We picked Roxy up from our son’s place and headed to Kit’s Beach for some relaxation.

About 25,000 pot smokers, who’d gathered at Sunset Beach for the 420 cannabis rally, began disbanding about the same time we were returning to our hotel. Extra police presence with road blocks to monitor those partiers, combined with the usual rush hour traffic and few left-hand turn lights, meant it took us two hours to travel what should’ve taken thirty minutes. It was certainly frustrating, but rather than getting all worked up, it became almost a game to us – let’s see if this street will take us where we want to go.

After dinner, we did a dry run to Mount Saint Joseph Hospital, where I’d have my surgery the next morning. Hubby likes to be prepared, and he didn’t want anything unexpected making me late for my appointment. Thankfully, the crazy traffic had dissipated and the trip there and back took no time.

Our hectic day ended with this lovely sunset.

Next week, I’ll share my eye surgery experience. (next post here)

Knowing The Facts Can Be Scary, But Not Knowing Is Worse

For the past two weeks I’ve been blogging about my eye issues. (Catch up here) In December 2016, I experienced a torn retina in my left eye, and in April 2017, I had a vitreous hemorrhage in my right eye. The purpose of these posts is to bring awareness to the symptoms and dangers of torn or detached retinas. Because they’re so important to recognize and understand, I’ll repeat the warning signs.

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. A vitreous hemorrhage can occur when blood vessels are damaged during the above process, filling the eye cavity with blood.

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

After having an ultrasound that indicated the vitreous hemorrhage hadn’t injured my retina, I thought I’d gotten away lucky. That attitude changed with a sombre phone call from the ophthalmologist early the next morning. He said even though the ultrasound showed no damage, this was an extremely serious situation. With the amount of blood in my eye, the retina was in imminent danger of severe injury and I needed surgery to remove the blood.

He referred me to a retinal surgeon, but because this was the Wednesday before the Easter long weekend, the soonest I could get an appointment was the following Tuesday. That was quite the nerve-wracking week for me. I functioned best with my right eye covered, essentially blocking out the horrible churning mess that had stolen my vision. The eye patch I bought was really uncomfortable, so while at home I used a sleep mask set at an angle across my forehead to cover my right eye. Goofy looking, but effective.

The retinal surgeon was very concerned about my eye’s condition and confirmed I’d need surgery as soon as possible. He advised me to use care with my activities, and to avoid leaning forward. Holding my head upright meant carefully crouching multiple times a day when tending to my little blind dog.

The doctor also said the retina tear in my left eye, from last December, hadn’t healed, and I had another smaller break, as well. He did laser surgery, right there and then. It was a much different experience from my first one. Instead of sitting up with my eye held stationary, I reclined in the chair and tried to hold my eye still. I hope to never go through that again. It was horrific. Not only were the flashing lights almost unbearably bright, the pain was brutal, and the process lasted far longer than the other one had.

I had a killer headache the rest of the day, which I attributed to the intense laser procedure. My right eye’s vision also changed that evening, going from a swirling opaque mass with black lines running through it to solid black with small slices of sight. Quite frightening, but everything about this situation was frightening.

The next morning, the surgeon’s office called to ask if I was willing to go to Vancouver for surgery. For some reason, there are no retinal surgeons operating out of our hospital, yet there are two (including the one I just saw) in a smaller city about two hours away. Unfortunately both of these surgeons were fully booked, so Vancouver was my only option—provided they could find an available surgeon there.

I got the call at three o’clock that afternoon telling me I had an appointment in Vancouver early the next morning, with surgery booked the day after that. It was a bit of a mad panic, throwing clothes into a suitcase, gathering necessities for my little dog, figuring out where to stay. My youngest son, who lives in Vancouver, found us a hotel that accepts pets. Two hours later, we began the five-hour drive to the coast.

These gorgeous flowers greeted us in our hotel room, a very thoughtful and fragrant gift from my boy. The entire suite smelled glorious.

Roxy settled in her little bed and went right to sleep.

I wish I’d also had a sound night’s sleep, but despite the comfy king-bed, I hardly closed my eyes. Too much worrying and wondering.

Next Monday, I’ll share both the serious and lighter side of our jam-packed Thursday in Vancouver. (Click for next post)

Two of the Longest, Most Stressful Days of My Life

As I explained last week (link), in December 2016, I experienced a torn retina in my left eye. Because it’s so important to recognize and understand the signs and symptoms of a torn or detached retina, I’ll repeat them.

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. If you experience these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Since my retinal tear, there’s permanent residual debris in my eye that comes and goes without warning. When the opaque floaters are not there, my sight from that eye is very good. When the floaters appear, my vision gets blurry. For the first several weeks, the floaters were filled with a multitude of bright black dots, and I didn’t feel safe to drive. I resumed driving in mid-February, once the floaters had shrunk and the dots had mostly disappeared.

One Saturday at the beginning of April, quite a few bright black dots appeared in my vision. I still occasionally get small black dots in my left eye, so I wasn’t concerned. As the dots grew in number and size, I closed my right eye to have a good look at them. To my surprise, there weren’t any. I closed my left eye, and there they were, floating around in my right eye.

These were just black dots, not the shooting, flashing episode I had with my left eye. And when I saw the ophthalmologist last December, he told me the gel in my right eye likely had already separated, causing the grey floater I’ve had for years. So I was more mystified than alarmed by this event.

But on Sunday, I developed the telltale opaque blurriness filled with tiny bright dots, as well as larger shooting black spots, indicating the same issue as I’d had with my left eye. Because of my experience last time with the hospital ER not having the equipment to examine my eye, I decided to wait and call the ophthalmologist in the morning.

I woke up Monday morning with no vision in my right eye, just a massive opaque mass with swirling black lines throughout it. The ophthalmologist’s office told me this was a different issue, so I needed a new referral. I couldn’t see well enough to drive to my optometrist’s office, so I called my doctor’s office, which is walking distance. I explained in detail what had happened to the receptionist, and how I needed a referral to an ophthalmologist. She agreed this needed to be checked, but said they couldn’t see me until the next afternoon. I hung up feeling stunned and close to tears.

Knowing what I do now, I had several options I could’ve and should’ve taken. I should’ve called my hubby and asked him to come home. I should’ve called the optometrist’s office; they would’ve understood the gravity of the situation. Or at the very least, I should’ve insisted I see my doctor right away. Instead, I did nothing, but worry.

Coincidently one of my books happened to be released that same day. Release days are usually full of joy and excitement. And they’re busy, with tweets and facebook posts, visiting several hosting websites and answering any comments. Somehow I managed to do all that, but it wasn’t fun or exciting. It was stressful and challenging. My vision was so impaired, I struggled to see the computer monitor and figuring out the websites’ security procedures was beyond frustrating.

Later that afternoon, I tried using a sleep mask to block the enormous mass, which swirled sickeningly every time my eye moved. I positioned it across my forehead so only my right eye was covered, and I’m sure I looked silly, but it enabled me to function.

I’m not a dramatic person, and I don’t waste time or energy feeling sorry for myself. But that day, I uncharacteristically struggled with my feelings. I was terrified, stressed, and frustrated. In desperation, I went online seeking information to explain my condition. Big mistake. Every medical website emphasized the importance of immediate medical attention for detached retinas. This was an emergency, and every hour that went by without treatment increased the chances of permanent vision loss. I was practically hyperventilating with panic by the time I forced myself off the computer.

At my doctor’s appointment the next day, I sat for forty-five minutes while other people got called in before me. Finally, I told the receptionist I really needed to see the doctor, before it got too late to see a specialist that day. She seemed surprised about my situation, even though I’d clearly spelled it out to her over the phone the previous day. Within minutes, my doctor had arranged an immediate appointment with the on-call ophthalmologist—not the same one I’d seen in December.

As I waited for the drops to dilate my pupils, I slowly began to relax because I was finally getting the medical attention I needed. The ophthalmologist said he could see the retinal break I’d had in my left eye and another smaller one, as well. He explained that I had what’s called a vitreous hemorrhage in my right eye.

There are several reasons for getting a vitreous hemorrhage. Most likely, in my case, the vitreous gel had liquefied as it did in my left eye, but when it separated from the retina, blood vessels were damaged, causing the hemorrhage. I bleed easily, sometimes serious enough to require blood transfusions, so I wasn’t surprised to hear I had a major bleed in my eye.

There was so much blood in my eye cavity, he couldn’t see the retina, so I needed an ultrasound done. That evening, I had a simple procedure at the hospital, where an ultrasound wand was passed over my closed lids while I was lying down. Within minutes, the radiologist told me there was no sign of a torn or detached retina. I still didn’t know how the blood would be removed from my eye or when I’d get my vision back, but I left the hospital with a smile on my face, feeling as if the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.

Next week, I’ll pick up with the phone call from the ophthalmologist the following morning, explaining my options to me. (Link to next post)