Wednesday, November 16, 2016

On Realizing You Are Losing Your Sight To An Inflammatory Eye Disease

Dear Lit Loves,

I usually dedicate my posts on this blog to my creative efforts centered on the self-publication of my first memoir entitled Brave Soul Rising:  Tales From The Trenches of An Uncharmed Life.  And that part of my life is like a roller coaster.  One day I discover that an editor from a local newspaper is going to do a story on me and the book and I am beyond thrilled.  Then I learned that one reader who won a copy of my book and who I mailed a free, signed copy to assessed the book as a "2" on a scale of "1 to 5" on a literary site where readers and writers congregate.  And you most likely realize that a "5" book rating is the best and a "1" rating is not good.  Fortunately, I have received some stellar reviews on Amazon which I utilized to publish my book so this tells me as a writer that people either really like and identify with the book or they obviously feel the opposite which is okay as everyone is entitled to their opinion. 
     So after watching my book's sales, ratings, and reviews for a couple of weeks, I go for an appointment with a glaucoma expert at a major university glaucoma clinic.  I have an eye condition in my right eye called Uveitis and it is basically inflammation of the colored portion of the eye called the iris, the ciliary body behind the iris, and the choroid which lies between the iris and retina. This eye disorder has already caused me to have cataract surgery at age 32 and then three surgeries to implant a device within the right eye to drain the fluid from the eye and prevent the fluid from accumulating in the eye area and causing my eye pressure to sky rocket.  Those implant surgeries were performed when I was 39 and 40 years of age.  As a patient you always hope that you are getting the best care and making the decisions that will ultimately save your eyesight and prevent you from losing it.
    Yesterday, I went to visit my new glaucoma specialist at a major university glaucoma center now that I live once again in my home state of North Carolina.  And it was during my eye exam that I realized I could no longer see 20/30 in the right eye.  Now my sight in the right eye measures 20/50.  Fortunately, my left eye is not affected my Uveitis so it generally registers at 20/20 or 20/25.  The panic hit when I covered my left eye and the eye technician asked me how many fingers of his I saw when looking only from my right eye.  I saw absolutely no fingers when he was holding them up to the left of the right eye.  Zip.  Nada.  I suddenly realized I have lost that visual portion of my right eye.  Fortunately, I still have my peripheral vision in the right eye which is comforting.  When I was sent to take a Humphrey Visual Field test where you look through a lens and watch for a flashing light to appear, I knew I wasn't seeing the flashing lights as well when only viewed from my right eye because when my right eye was covered and I was told to click a device whenever I saw the flashing lights when viewed from just my left eye, I was clicking the button signaling a flashing light sighting many more times than I had clicked it when viewing those same flashing lights from the right eye only.  Fear started to set in and honestly, a stone cold sadness.
     And when I was called back for my test results, it was apparent that my optic nerve pictures showed thinning which means loss of vision and my Humphrey Visual Field Test demonstrated the blind areas showing up profusely in the right eye.  The good news is I can still see well enough to read, write, and drive.  I do not have any signs of the eye disease in the left eye which I rely on heavily for visual acuity.  It was deeply depressing to know that even though I have done all that I can to prevent vision loss in my right eye such as getting the best medical experts and going to the best hospitals, I am inevitably still going to lose sight in my right eye.  Fortunately, my glaucoma specialist assured me this blindness will progress slowly, but somehow I still had hoped to prevent this from happening in the first place and even though I did everything I could to obtain and receive the best treatment, the worst resulting symptom of this eye disease has started and I will not ever be able to retrieve that portion of my right visual field.  It's gone. It's sort of like the death of a portion of a vital organ of the body.  And the realization stings and angers me, but ultimately, I have to learn to live with this new reality and the uncertainty that comes with it.  So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I am currently reading Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron.  I must say that I profoundly pray that book has some real words of wisdom and guidance on navigating this new reality.

Till my next post,
Grace (Amy)