Sunday, November 16, 2008

18 Years - Part 3

Part 1 of this can be read here
Part 2 of this can be read here

It had been a very long and painful winter both emotionally and physically. The physical pain was excruciating for months - I took close to 500 painkillers (Tylenol 3 and Tylenol extra strength) in the 3 1/2 months after I got out of hospital. I followed the restrictions to the letter as I was terrified of ending up back in the hospital and loosing more sight. It was at least a couple of months before I allowed myself to sleep on my left side. For month's, I would wake up at least a couple of times a night just to see if I could still se out of both eyes, but especially out of the left. For over a year, I kept a bag packed in case of emergency because I had gone to the hospital without any personal items. I would leave it on my bed with a list of toiletries to be added. Then It would be ready if the unthinkable happened and I was readmitted.

My life had been turned completely upside down and there was no going back. I had to find new paths and directions for almost every aspect of my life. The emotional effects were almost overwhelming as I slowly came to terms with what I had lost in sight, freedom and independence. The sight I once had, is gone froever. I have found other ways to have my freedom and independence, but some of the emotional scars will never completely disappear.

I went from almost 40% corrected sight in my good eye, to just under 10% after surgery. I've lost more to glaucoma in the past few years and the corneas are in poor shape, so there are days that things get really blurry. I often see shadow images in my left eye which is very similar to double vision. I can tell which is real, but it is disorienting. I often see comet like trails with lights. My eyes are very light sensitive. The bright sun, fluorescent lights and even the new LED and compact lights all bother my eyes, At this point there are no procedures or surgeries that can be done to improve my vision. I see my ophthalmologist three or four times a year. I take my eye drops and make full use of the visual aids that I have.

For years, I played the "What if..," game. What if I hadn't gone on rides at the Ex? What if my old eye specialist had told us I was at risk? What if I had gone to the hospital sooner? It took me years to stop beating myself up over those questions. Through a lot of soul searching and therapy, I finally realized that given what I knew at the time, I had made the only decisions that I could have. I had to stop second guessing myself and accept the consequences and realities of the situation.

There is still a very real possibility that I may eventually loose what is left of my sight. I hope that never happens, but I have to be realistic and know that it can happen. I try not to focus on that, but it can be hard to ignore when you have to be so constantly aware of what you already can't see. I try to focus on the things I can see - the beauty of a sunrise/sunset, autumn leaves, rainbows, street lights and landmarks that help me get around. Most of all, seeing the people I love.

I hope you never find yourself in my position. I hope that you get your eyes tested on a regular basis. There are eye diseases, such as glaucoma, that are silent blinders - there are no visible symptems. By the time it is diagnosed, it may be too late. I hope that if you notice even a slight change in your vision that you don't hesitate to get it checked. Don't ever wait. Sight is a precious gift and you can't afford to waste any of it!

dn

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