Monday, October 5, 2015
Left Eye Update
I had that eye surgery on October 30, 2013. It was successful in that I did not lose more vision. The watering and the struggle to see I was suffering receded for the most part. I am barely sighted in that eye.
I am a heart patient. I am ambulatory and basically well, but I am on water pills, hypertension meds and an anticoagulant called Warfarin (Coumadin) because of my heart condition. This is low level heart stuff, though all heart conditions are serious.
There are risks to Warfarin. Doctors wish you to be on the lowest possible doses of this medication. They weigh the risks of injury against the considerations of benefit. My heart is in a permanent condition of malfunction called atrial fibrillation. I am at hugely heightened risk of stroke because the fibrillation puts turbulence in the blood. It tends to generate blood clots (emboli). The embolus can clog veins. Emboli can travel to any location in the circulation, which is a closed loop system, there to stop the flow or perhaps even burst the capillary, all caused by atrial fibrillation.
Cue the left eye. As I was leaving a meeting place at about 6:40 on that evening in March of 2013, my left eye suddenly and without any sensation developed a very large blackness in its visual field. It turned out I had suffered a subretinal hemhorrage due to a burst capillary. This lifted the retina off the back of my eye in a blood blister. The surgery was to anchor the retina back down, clear out scar tissue and the like.
When the wound in the back of my eye occurred, I went immediately to an optometrist for a diagnosis and plan of what to do next. When he heard I was on Warfarin, he just hung his head for a moment. There was no question. This situation was caused by too high an anticoagulant concentration in my blood which allowed the hemhorrage to persist long enough to do such damage. The doctor hung his head because there was clean up to do but it almost certainly would not improve my vision.
Here is the pre-op post and poem I wrote before that surgery. Click here.
And here reprised is the poem I wrote and posted then.
The One Eyed Man
Let the rains arrive.
May they wash behind my ears
and sluice all my cracks
clean of sludge and grit,
splash my patchy skin with trust
so it sparkles fine
grained, love strewn and streaked,
heavy packed inside my veins
where it thrums and drums,
and still the front hums
displeasure at the sloppy
sight of my one eye.
October 25, 2013 2:24 PM
In the country of the blind, the one eyed man is king... However in the two eyed world the one eyed man is decidedly not on top.
The surgeon went into my eye from the front of course. He had to replace the lens even though there was nothing wrong with it because that was the only way to get enough access to trim and anchor down the torn retina. I had it described to me that the retina has the consistency and thickness of a single strip of soggy toilet tissue. It tears easily and is not amenable to manipulation without some damage. There was awkwardly placed scar tissue and scattered pieces of tissue and blood floating in the retinal fluid, the jelly that is transparent and serves to hold the retina in place. This jelly also keeps the shape of the eye stable under a certain pressure. That had to be removed and replaced by a specially crafted saline solution. The retina had to be anchored back down using laser light to seal it in place. The explosions of white light inside at the back of my left eye were startling. I was awake for all this, though sedated.
There was basically no hope for restoring sight in any real way, only stabilizing the wound and scarring so what little vision was left would not get worse. Under that limited hope, the surgery was a success. The optometrist did no harm. Above all, Doctor, do no harm.
Today, two years later, I still cannot see out of my left eye in any useful way. I ponder, "What if that was the only sight I had left to me?" I would not get around very well. I certainly would not be able to read. I would have to have assistance for many activities. I would have to hold my head in certain ways because what sight is left me is peripheral vision at the bottom of my former visual field. This means in actual terms, the top of my retina. The rest is basically gone and the clarity of what is left is not very good. For example, I can see the background of this screen but no print at all with my left eye.
My right eye, always the strongest of my pair, is as yet untouched. I still rarely suffer eyestrain headaches despite all the computer work, reading and TV watching I do. What is amazing in all this, there was almost no pain to any of it. Even the healing aftermath was only modestly irritating. So despite my loss, I consider myself a lucky man.