My silicone oil is a year old today. I wondered whether I should sing ‘happy birthday’ to it, or perhaps bake a cake to mark the occasion. Naturally, I decided against giving it the bumps (The advice, “Don’t get a head trauma” still rings in my ears.). This is my third lot of oil. The first lot was in for seven months and the second was in for three and a half months. So that’s almost two years of peering at the world through a silicone oil filled eyeball. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining here. The oil is holding my retina in place, for which I’m exceedingly grateful. But, as one of my eye buddies once said, “I have a love-hate relationship with the silicone oil. I love it because it’s holding my retina but I hate it because of the crappy vision it gives me.”
As someone who’s pretty rubbish with numbers (it’s a source of some bemusement to me that I can remember huge chunks of ‘Hamlet’ with ease, and yet can’t recall my mum’s ‘phone number), I find it rather odd that I can remember all my surgery dates. This is also somewhat unfortunate, as in the past couple of weeks I’ve found myself almost re-living the emotions of a year ago. I had surgery to remove my second lot of silicone oil on 14 May 2015. Before that surgery, I was terrified yet also incredibly hopeful and excited at the prospect of regaining some decent vision. I knew that once the oil was removed there was a possibility that my retina would re-detach, but of course I didn’t think this would really happen. I mean, surely three detachments were more than enough for one person, right? I knew that I’d be living in fear of a re-detachment for a while, but I hoped that everything would go smoothly and the fear would lessen over time.
During the surgery to remove the oil, detachment number four was discovered. I cursed my sodding retina soundly, but remained hopeful. The detachment was fixed in surgery, a gas bubble was inserted, and posturing was prescribed. This was all familiar territory; I knew the drill, and I was determined that this time the retina WAS GOING TO STICK! I only had the short-acting gas on this occasion and when it began to disperse after only about a week, I was beside myself with excitement upon making the startling discovery that I was able to read again using my right eye. “Wehey!”, I thought to myself, in awe and wonder.
After four more days, my excitement was cruelly smothered by a heavy blanket of doom, as I made an emergency visit to Moorfields after experiencing some odd visual effects, and was given the grim news that my retina had detached yet again. Spectacularly detached. In two places. Within hours, the weird translucent areas I could see became darker as they gradually spread and transformed themselves into the dreaded ‘curtain’, which I could no longer see through.
Surgery number five took place on 28 May 2015, when quite a lot was done (a brief run-down can be found by reading ‘Where I’m at now‘) and silicone oil was put back in. So within the space of two weeks I went from having blurry vision with my oil-filled eye but still reasonable peripheral vision; to only being able to see light with the gas bubble; to pretty good vision returning once the gas started to disperse; to all kinds of bizarre visual effects once the retina started to re-detach; to blackness once the detachment progressed; and then back to very blurry vision through the oil with considerably reduced peripheral vision due to the 360 degree laser treatment. Exhausting and relentless emotional rollercoaster are the words which come to mind in describing my RD journey.
Anyway… I’m feeling in need of being cheered up now, so I’m off to put the kettle on and cut myself a large slice of silicone oil birthday cake.