Imagine getting a piece of plastic wrapped around and sewn to your eyeball. Then, your eyes gets frozen in several spots and filled all the way up with a gas bubble.
This summarizes the crazy surgery that saved my eyesight Thursday.
If you haven’t followed my story let me explain:
Everything started with a bit of blurry vision on March 29, 2019. Three days later I underwent vitreoretinal eye surgery. In short, my retina detached itself from the wall of my eye.
Surgery to push and hold my retina back in place was the only way to save my vision. My doctor did this using tools inside my eye and a laser. He left a gas bubble as a sort of scaffolding to hold my eye wallpaper (retina) in place while everything healed.
I completed my original surgery April 1, 2019
I shared some of my journey recovering over the last month. I discovered how much my eye had the capacity to swell. I learned more about the world of headaches due to eye pressure. My vision post surgery started off like looking through an aquarium. By last Tuesday my eye finally cleared up for the most part.
Then I noticed a little something on Tuesday
Just a little hint of blurriness at the bottom of my vision got me kind of concerned. I really second-guessed myself thinking maybe it’s just a swollen eyelid. But, I decided on Wednesday to call the doctors office. Of course they told me to come in.
The Dr. Appointment.
On Wednesday I apologized left and right thinking I made an appointment for nothing. Then the doctor looked in my eyes. 30 minutes later I learned the truth. My retina had torn and detached again.
A far more aggressive surgery represented the answer to this new tear. The doctor recommended going back into the eye and fixing the tear. After fixing the tear he planned to put a scleral buckle on the eye to hold everything in place.
Understanding Scleral Buckle Eye Surgery
When you think of the eyeball as an oval it helps with understanding scleral buckling. We want the retina (picture the back inside wallpaper of this oval) to stay in place.
In the first surgery the doctor tried simply pushing the retina back in place and putting in a gas bubble. This bubble held the retina in place and we hoped/prayed it would heal up and stay in place. This failed with me as the retina started to fall off again.
In the second surgery the doctor wrapped a piece of plastic around my oval eyeball. Then he tightened the plastic to squeeze the oval. This caused the walls of the eye to compress towards them retina. By also adding another gas bubble we want to sandwich my retina between a bubble and the wall of my eye. Lord willing it will heal in place and stay now. It has 6 weeks with bubble supporting everything and the buckle is permanent.
20 hours after I spoke with the doctor I rode in a friend’s car to the hospital.
The Day of Surgery
Checking in at 10:15 I quietly lamented the fact I had to fast. No coffee for me.
Heading to prep room with the world’s most talkative nurse I learned that all her other patients had at least 25 years on me. I so want my next health problem in a younger field!
In prep I had to brush my teeth since they learned that the breathing tube carries germs from your mouth to your lungs. Teeth brushing reduces risk of Pneumonia.
My eyeball had 2 surgeries lined up before it. The first guy had his retina detach when someone attacked and hit him. The next guy ignored his detaching retina and might not save his vision. (I don’t know what caused my detachment and am thankful I got things checked out.)
The anesthesia doc and the surgeon both got my sign off on the surgery. A permanent marker made sure everyone knew which eye needed fixing.
Finally surgery time arrived.
The nurse wheeled me away from my friendly nurse and through several doors. People walked past almost seeing me as a project more than a person. I don’t mean to complain but it feels weird getting wheeled into an environment where you are a body to be fixed.
Entering the surgery room felt surreal. I looked up seeing the massive lights and the nurses padded my arms with foam to make them comfortable. An oxygen mask arrived over my face and I breathed weird tasting air and then nothing….
Post surgery was horrible.
I think the problem lay in my personal reaction to General anesthesia. I woke up and my eye hurt and my whole body felt terrible. They tried several anti-nausea drugs to no avail. Finally they got me to stop throwing up and I eventually staggered into my clothing. My generous friend wheeled me out and took me home.
At home I continued throwing until late in the evening we arrived at an anti-nausea med that worked. About 9 PM I finally started sleeping and stayed in place until 8:20 am when I had to get up for my follow up appointment.
Looking in the mirror the day after surgery I saw blood coming out of my eye patch. The surgeon repeatedly told me there would be blood and bruising. He was right. My eye looked like someone replaced it with a bloody mass.
Thankfully due to stronger pain medication I don’t have much pain in the eye. The blood and gunk makes it uncomfortable but not painful.
Looking through my eye is like looking through wax paper. Almost opaque.
I love the fact I got the chance to save my vision. Regardless of the misery following my surgery I remain grateful. I will try to keep writing about this journey. For now, I’m going to rest my remaining eye.