Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Best laid plans of mice & men

There were a number of things I was planning on doing over spring break, including a massive spring cleaning, studying chemistry, reading a Pacific Northwest Geology textbook, going on a hike, and generally laying about in bed.
However, two days into spring break, my retina detached.
How awesome is that?!
It's fairly amusing actually - the timing is perfect (three days after my last final, and probably completely recovered from surgery by the first day), and the location is perfect (at my parent's house, with people to drive me about), I have insurance (we had thought it ended at 23, but it goes until 25!), and the only downside (other than, um, surgery and a possible permanent decrease in vision) is that I already used up my correction coverage getting glasses, so I'll have to get new lenses after the surgery. Luckily, my optometrist mentioned the risk of this at my appointment last year, so, when I saw flashes, I knew what was what, and got to the doctor 16 days sooner than the average American.
Booyah, average American!
The reason this happened to me is because I'm horribly, horribly near-sighted in one eye, and, while they're a bit unsure of this, it stretches the retina, which causes tears (I have 5 - jackpot!) Eye fluid then creeps behind the retina, and pushes it away from the back of the eye. It's a bit odd for a 23-year-old to have this happen, as it usually happens to old people.
Frankly, I'm going to blame last week's study marathon.
So, they're going to fix the holes, and then attach my retina to a piece of flexible plastic called a scleral band (a lot bigger than you'd think!) placed behind my eye. (Or above. Not entirely sure. Don't really care, as long as it works.) Which is some crazy, vaguely repulsive medicine.
I'm going to ask them to take pictures.
Speaking of pictures, this is a picture of my retina, before it went AWOL:

(This is a picture of what my retina looks like now:

Picture from here, as I neglected to get my doctor to email me a copy of yesterday's picture.)
That whole missing section on the left is where the retina has detached - just like mine. You can't see out of that portion of your eye - meaning that 1/4 of my vision has gone blind.

I'm just hoping that, afterward, I get to wear an eye-patch to class.
Might buy a pirate hat, too.


Josh said...

Thank you for this post.

I just found out, literally 2 /12 hours ago that I might have retinal deterioration. The doctor was not a specialist but she saw some stuff that she did not like at all. She showed me images and though they did not look as bad as yours they are definitely getting there. I've been recommended to a retinal specialist in Boston but I'm still freaking out about it, especially since it is both of my eyes. Anyway I hope I can be as positive as you were.

I also have a question for you, how did the surgery go? Was your vision ok, colors clarity ect? (I'm assuming with glasses of some sort)

Thanks again for the insight.

helena.heliotrope said...

Everything went well, and my vision is 95% normal now. Kind of bad late at night, and my eyes are very dry perpetually.
I'll post a long-term post-surgery update soon - I've been meaning to - but I know you might want to hear that now!