A couple of months ago, I showed up on time for an appointment with my retina doc. To say I was terrified is an understatement.
I woke up that morning thinking, “Today could be the day. It could be the day that I lose all vision in one of my eyes.” In fact, I was so afraid that I posted a shout out on facebook, something I never did, to ask friends and family to pray for a risky procedure I was about to have. Some thought that meant surgery.
Surgery might have felt better, more hopeful anyway.
The last time I had this procedure done, an intravitreal injection, I lost total vision in my left eye. This was kind of normal, for 30 seconds, up to 2 minutes. Only for me, everything stayed black…and I mean black, for far longer than it was supposed to. Even when it’s just a few minutes of thick darkness, believe me, it feels like forever. And you ask yourself, “What have I done?” But, the light did come back slowly, and then my vision got a little crazy for awhile. I also suffered permanent vision loss in that eye, and at the end of the entire thing I had scarring that to me looks like tree roots.
“How are you doing?” my doc asked me that morning.
“I showed up,” I said.
Then he explained to me a theory he had about what had happened before, one that made sense to me. He also told me how the procedure had changed and the medicine that was now used had been formulated specifically for use in eyes. (There had been a lot of off-label use of another medication in prior years.) The best part of this conversation was when he explained to me a back-up plan he had devised based on his theory.
I was still terrified. I was also somewhat relieved that he had a back-up plan we could try if things went awry.
This procedure began with sterilizing the area around my eye. I was not allowed to touch it, not to scratch, wipe something away…No touching allowed. I think there was a numbing shot of some sort, and then I think that he created a hole in my eye with a needle. (This could be inaccurate, but you’ll understand why I think that in a sec.)
Next came an eye patch, a big thick one with a soft rubberish texture that was placed over my eye and strapped to my head with a tight…very tight, elastic band. This created a strong pressure on my eye, literally pushing that patch into my eyeball. I sat, reclined comfortably, except for the pressure for 10 minutes, while the patch and the elastic band squeezed excess fluid out of my eye. (This was not a part of the procedure the first time.)
My doc’s theory was that the first time I had excess fluid in my eye already because of the swelling in my eye, to which he added more fluid via the injection of the medicine. His idea was that this created a buildup of pressure, causing everything to go black, and the kaleidoscope response I referred to in yesterday’s post.
Just to once again try to keep anyone from freaking out about this procedure in case they are headed there, this had Never happened to anyone else that any of my doctors had treated or knew about. That includes the specialists at Casey Eye Institute too. And collectively, they have done this procedure many, many times with no outcomes like mine.
The back up plan was that if everything went black again, and didn’t come back within the allotted time, he would apply the patch again with the pressure and squeeze fluid out until the pressure lowered enough for light to come back into the eye. (That is the gist of it anyway.)
After the application of pressure for 10 minutes, the medication was injected. It takes a little longer and definitely goes deeper than a regular kenalog shot on the surface of the eye. I assume this is because there is more space in the vitreous for more medication. Once this was done, my doc hung out with me and waited.
“Everything ok?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I responded, surprised. “Didn’t even go black, not at all.”
So, this is what it was supposed to be like! And…we didn’t even have to do the backup procedure! Hot diggity! (Do people still say that?…Well, I just did!)
“Back in a week?” he asked
So we waited and hoped. I’m pretty sure we both hoped, all hoped, the doc, my good friends, my family. Hope…that small four letter word that keeps us all going. It’s such a great word.
Remember…if you have a question, they are welcome. If you have had a similar experience or your own thoughts to share, please feel free to leave a comment.
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