After my previous appointment at Moorfields back in July, when I was granted a six month reprieve from further surgery as my consultant believed it would be best to simply monitor my pesky peepers for a while, I practically skipped out of the hospital in delight and relief. The six months whooshed by all too quickly and before I knew it, my next appointment was looming ominously on the horizon. As the days passed, my nervousness grew and niggling headaches became a regular feature of my days; not helped by my job, which involves sitting at a computer screen for much of the day. However, I told myself that hopefully all would be well and that with any luck they would simply grant me another six month reprieve. So off I set for Moorfields on Monday morning along with my sister, both of us feeling fairly hopeful.
We descended to the clinic in the basement of the hospital, clutching cardboard cups of comforting tea, by now well accustomed to the forthcoming hours of waiting and people-watching through blurred, dilated eyes. Strangely, most of the chairs were vacant, so we selected a prime spot which afforded us a look-out point to observe which consultants were on duty as well as being able to keep an eye on the whiteboard behind the reception desk, which at that time was predicting a two-hour wait. I’d just got settled and started to blow on my tea when my name was called, causing me to almost drop the cup in surprise. My sister and I looked at each other with startled faces and off I went for the first check with the nurse. I was encouraged by the fact that I was able to slowly read the second two letters on the eye chart with my right eye, but my proud grin fell when the pressure check revealed a pressure of 24 in my right eye and 20 in the left. Normal eye pressure is between 11 and 21. During the stable period of the past year or so, the pressure in my right eye has varied between 17 and 19, so 24 was somewhat unusual. Surprisingly, there wasn’t too much time to fret about it, as we only had to wait a few more minutes once the dilating drops had taken effect before I was called through to the consultant in record time.
Once again, I was asked the dreaded question, “How do you feel about having more surgery?” Once again, I suppressed the urge to scream and hide under the nearest desk and instead admitted that I’m utterly terrified at the prospect of further surgery, but will do whatever they advise is clinically best. Of course, unfortunately things are rarely that clear-cut. As things stand at the moment, if they were to remove the oil, the retina would certainly re-detach. So the plan is to remove the oil and carry out further work in the form of another retinectomy (i.e. cutting away part of the retina which won’t lie flat), more laser, sorting out abnormal blood vessels, and then either more oil or long-acting gas back in. With the oil in, there’s less chance of a full re-detachment as the oil holds the retina in place and doesn’t disperse as the gas does. For this reason, I love the oil. It’s like my little security blanket. But silicone oil in the eye also brings the risk of certain side-effects, such as high pressure which could then lead to glaucoma, emulsification of the oil, and scarring of the cornea. These potential side-effects frighten me as much as the possibility of re-detachments, as it’s my understanding that ultimately they would also lead to further sight loss.
After examination, extensive discussion, and a further consultation with ‘The Prof’, it was decided that I should return in three months. Although not immediately worried about the rise in pressure, both surgeons noted that it will need to be monitored and that they will need to take the oil out if it starts to creep up. Of course, I’ve known about the potential complications of the oil for some time, so it wasn’t as if this was a surprise. However, it was certainly a pretty major blow. No longer is it myself and my silicone oil against the world. Instead, it appears that my friend may be turning traitor. So it seems that I’m once again occupying that most uncomfortable of areas, between a rock and a hard place, which I wrote about some time ago. The only difference is that this time it seems likely that the issue will be decided by my pressure readings. 😦