…39 years old, staying with my mother whilst recuperating from eye surgery number 5, living like a vampire because my eyes can’t take the light, and devouring ‘good eye food’ like there’s no tomorrow. Recent achievements have included the ability to get my own eye drops in first time and suppressing the tendency to jump out of my skin every time someone approaches me from the right-hand side, as I’ve now lost a fair bit of my peripheral vision. Here’s a brief timeline of events as to how I reached this stage…
- 17 April 2014 – Surgery No 1 at the Royal Surrey County Hospital Right vitrectomy (taking out the vitreous fluid), cryotherapy (freezing treatment to basically weld the retina back together), and a 4-week gas bubble inserted in my eye to hold it all together (which actually lasted for 9 weeks.) Cryotherapy to repair two large tears in the left retina. This was followed by an hour’s posturing twice a day, half an hour face-down, then half an hour on my left-hand side. All night on my left side. This continued for a few weeks.
- 30 June 2014 – Surgery No 2 at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, following a crazy 5am dash back to Surrey from Kent (Lucy’s Formula 1 driving skills strike again) to get back to the hospital after becoming aware that I was starting to lose vision from the top of my eye. Right vitrectomy, laser, and injection of silicone oil. The silicone oil acts like a permanent internal splint to hold the retina in place while it heals, as opposed to the gas bubble which gradually disperses and is replaced by natural fluid. The oil requires a further operation to have it removed at a later date, and is used in complex cases, or repeat detachments.
- July 2014 – Posturing. For a month. That’s right… the WHOLE month. I spent the WHOLE MONTH of July in my pjs. Well, there didn’t seem much point in getting dressed. Have you tried posturing with bra wires and the like digging in? Well, trust me, anything which adds to the discomfort of the whole posturing experience is to be avoided. I postured for half an hour face down with my head tipped slightly forward, half an hour on my left-hand side, and then was permitted a glorious 10-minute break before starting over again in the face-down position. For the last two weeks of July this routine was amended to 15 minutes face-down, 15 minutes on my left, and then a whole 30 minutes break! It was quite a novelty being able to finish eating my dinner in one sitting.
- 28 January 2015 – Surgery No 3 at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London By Autumn 2014 I’d been referred to Moorfields as a ‘tricky case’ by my consultant in Surrey. I could think of more pleasing adjectives than ‘tricky’ but figured that I’d certainly be in good hands at Moorfields. So onwards and upwards with the third surgery: right vitrectomy, removal of oil, laser, retinectomy (cutting away part of the retina), cryotherapy, and another lot of oil back in.
- 29 January 2015 – Posturing. For a week. Wehey! Only a week! And on my right-hand side; no face-down posturing! I was back at work after two weeks – what a result! 🙂
- 14 May 2015 – Surgery No 4 at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London This was planned surgery to remove the oil, but a small detachment was discovered bottom right when the oil was taken out, so this was treated: right vitrectomy, retinectomy, laser, and a short-acting gas bubble was placed. The quote, ‘Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn, and cauldron bubble’ took on a whole new meaning in my head at this stage.
- 15 May 2015 – Posturing. For a week to 10 days. Being a glutton for punishment / a paranoid wreck / one who is ever-hopeful of clinging onto a degree of decent vision (delete as necessary), I did the whole 10 days.
- 27 May 2015 – An early morning visit to Moorfields A&E following symptoms of increasing floaters the previous day. The verdict from the nice A&E doctor: ‘It’s not good news I’m afraid: your retina’s detached again.’ Not quite knowing whether to scream or cry, I opted for the latter. One good thing about eye hospitals is that there are always plenty of tissues handy.
- 28 May 2015 – Surgery No 5 at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London Right vitrectomy, 360 degree laser, cryotherapy, retinectomy, and silicone oil back in. ‘How do I have to posture?’, I asked the very patient surgeon once everything was complete. ‘No posturing this time’, he replied, cheerily. I’m not quite sure why he was so cheerful as he’d already had to deal with my pre-op inquisition and it was after 9pm at this point. ‘No posturing?’, I repeated, incredulously, ‘Are you sure? I’ll posture for a year if it’ll make the retina stick!’ ‘No, definitely no posturing. Things are different now and it won’t help. Just don’t lie on your back.’ Despite this, I still spent the next few days in my pyjamas as the prospect of getting up and dressed was too exhausting to contemplate.