While I have been working on an expanded draft of Beyond the Baobab to submit to my agent – and not paying any attention to this website or blog! – this has also been happening …
Sunday, September 21st 2014
After an evening out with friends, I look down at my laptop and see a greyish blank where my vision should be in my left eye. Since the collapse of my vitreous a couple of years ago, and the resultant floaters large enough to obscure my vision at times, I have been primed about what to expect should my retina detach. I know what this is, and I contact the eye doctor on call. We set up an appointment to see him first thing in the morning.
Monday, September 22nd 2014
The optometrist suspects a further collapse of the vitreous, and sends me to an ophthalmologist for a second opinion. He diagnoses a detached retina and a hole in the retina. As I leave his office, he says, almost in passing, “Don’t have any lunch, just in case.” I am referred to a retinal specialist, who says, “Your vision, with prescription lenses, is good and it’s my job to keep it that way.” He schedules emergency surgery, saying, “You did the right thing to come in.”
At 4 o’ clock I look up at the clock in the O.R., and think, “Well, this isn’t how I expected to spend my afternoon.” Under a local anesthetic, the retinal specialist performs a vitrectomy: he suctions out the vitreous gel from my eye, reattaches the retina and repairs the hole with laser, and injects a gas bubble into my eye to replace the vitreous gel.
Tuesday September 23rd and 30th, and October 7th 2014
I return to the retinal specialist for post-op check ups.
Friday, October 10th 2014
The gas bubble, which has been getting smaller and small as its been gradually replaced by the new vitreous gel my body has been manufacturing, finally disappears. I can remove the medical bracelet saying, “WARNING: Gas bubble in eye … change in atmospheric pressure may cause an increase in IOP resulting in blindness …” In order words, I couldn’t fly.
Thursday, October 30th 2014
The retinal specialist gives me the go-ahead to fly to Africa.
Tuesday, November 4th 2014
Leave for Cape Town.
Tuesday, November 18th 2014
In Johannesburg, I notice that the vision in my left eye is blurred and distorted. I take a calculated risk, and decide to go ahead and fly back to the States on Wednesday 19th. The minute we touch down in Washington D.C. on Friday 21st I call the retinal specialist, and set up an appointment for Monday.
Monday, November 24th 2014
The retinal specialist breaks the news that I have fallen into the small percentage of people who develop post operative scar tissue on the retina.
Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
I find myself back in the O.R. under local anesthetic in order for the retinal specialist to remove the scar tissue and reattach the retina with laser. The good news is that the damage hasn’t reached my macular.
Tuesday, December 2nd 2014
I return to the retinal specialist for a one-week check up. He exclaims. The scar tissue is “proliferating aggressively.” So I’m back in the O.R., this time under general anesthetic, for a three-hour surgery. The retinal special must perform the procedures he had tried to avoid the first time around: he uses laser again to reattach the retina, he attaches a scleral buckle around my eyeball to relieve the traction on the retina, and he fills my eye with silicone oil. Post op, I have to maintain a face down position so that the oil will push against the retina to keep it in place. The scleral buckle will probably be left in place permanently, but the oil has to be surgically removed.
Tuesday, April 14th 2015
The retinal specialist will remove the silicone oil, and we will keep our fingers crossed that the retina doesn’t re-detach.
Then … we can begin the process of trying to correct the double vision that is the result of the trauma to my eye …