The Straw, Best Invention Ever!

This was originally posted to my old blog on February 20, 2014

*As usual, the following is written from my memory of the events.  Some things may be inaccurate due to faulty memories.  In any case, this is how I remember it:

On February 18th I had the first of , hopefully, only three eye surgeries.  These surgeries are meant to help clean up and prevent more damage from Diabetic Retinopathy.

It all started many years ago, about seventeen years, I think.  I was young and had good health insurance, but I was wild and didn’t care about taking care of my health.  I went in for a routine yearly eye exam and was told that I had the beginnings of retinopathy in my right eye, but it wouldn’t become a problem if I took care of my diabetes.

Fast forward about twelve years, I had been living with no health insurance for  about six years or so and my vision was becoming very blurry, especially in my right eye.  The only place I knew I could go without health insurance was Lenscrafters.  Come to find out, for nearly two hundred dollars you can get the whole nine yards of exam..including a retinal exam.  This was when I found out the retinopathy was now in both eyes and actively causing hemorrhages and retinal damage which was what was making my vision blotchy and blurry.  Well, at this time I definitely couldn’t afford surgery so I just got new glasses and lived on as is, hoping I could get insurance before I went completely blind.

In the years to come I would experience some strange things like the time I was laying on the couch watching T.V. when suddenly I saw a couple of blobs in my vision, it was like watching a lava lamp inside my right eye.  I went to the bathroom, turned on the light and looked in the mirror to see if I could see anything in my eye.  I couldn’t but with the light on, I now could tell it was blood floating around in my eye.  It took several weeks for the blood to go away and all the while I kept wanting to blink it out of my line of sight!

Fast forward about four years or so.  It is January 2014, time to renew my driver license.  Lucky me, I have to do the written exam and eye exam.  I stand at the counter with my glasses on and read the exam chart flawlessly.  I cover my right eye and again read the chart flawlessly.  I now cover my left eye and can not read anything, it is total blur.  The girl takes me over to another eye test and I fail that one with my right eye as well.  I am told to see an ophthalmologist and have a form filled out in order to get my license back.  Yippe…

Since now I do have insurance, in February I go in and see an Ophthalmologist and since it has been roughly five years since my last exam and I know I have retinopathy, they do a complete eye exam.  The doctor finds all kinds of lovely damage in both eyes and tells me to come back in a week and see a retina specialist.  One week later I return and see the specialist.  I must take a moment here to let you all know that Dr. Allan Hunter at Eye-Q Vision Center in Fresno/Selma California is the most kind and gentle and awesome eye doctor I have ever known.  The exam was not the most comfortable experience but his attitude and calming nature made it all the more bearable. He explained that I needed immediate surgery on both eyes and since the right eye was the worst for wear, it would be done first…in four days, followed by the left eye sometime later. The right eye surgery would be the more invasive, the left eye only laser.  Wow.

The following Monday I had to go in to have an Avastin injection in my right eye.  As far as I understood it was supposed to shrink up or dry out some membranes and make it easier to clean up the eye.  The injection, even though they numbed my eye, hurt a bit, and my eye was irritated for nearly 24 hours after, all scratchy and burny, etc.

On Tuesday afternoon I went in for the surgery.  The prep was your usual interrogation about medicines, illnesses, family history, pregnancy test, blood test, eye drops galore, IV.  Then they put me to sleep for only about five minuets while they did the “painful” stuff, numbing and paralyzing my eye and surrounding tissues and muscles.  As soon as I woke up I was in the operating room strapped down to a pillow with my eye clamped open but I couldn’t see or feel anything.  Then the surgery started and it was fascinating.  I couldn’t see outside my eye, but I could see everything going on inside it.  I could see the cutting tool, the scissors, the infusion tool, the vacuum, the blood swirling around in pretty little clouds and then being sucked away, the scar tissue being cut away and pulled by the little clam tool.  A purely amazing thing to watch.  The only bad part was when I did feel pain.  There were a few times when he went in near my sinus/nasal area and it hurt a little.  And there was a moment when the infusion machine stopped working and my eye began to collapse…that hurt.  All in all the surgery was only supposed to last an hour or so, it lasted three hours and they didn’t even finish everything!

He’s going to go back in later and finish my right eye and then do my left…

Because they had to detach my retina, they had to put a gas bubble in my eye.  So as I am healing I have to keep my eyes to the floor at all times in order to keep the gas to the back of my eye to hold the retina in place as it heals.  This is how I discovered that straws are the best invention ever.  I can drink without having to lift my head!  LOL

So here I am two days after surgery,  my eyelids are so very bruised and swollen, I can’t see a thing, and my eye is so bloodshot it looks frightening.  The good thing is that I have very minimal pain.

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Author: Tamra K. Garcia

Stephen King says to "Write what you know." I know diabetes, I know me; so this is what I write about.

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