Some things happen in life that cause one to stop and take time for contemplation and reflection. It has happened to me that last few days while here at the foot of the Sierras. Pam and I have traveled over 3,000 miles in the last month and it was time to park the Roadrunner and catch our breath. We are at a nice campground called The Lakes RV and Golf Resort.
While running an errand I had an episode with my left eye. It was a bit scary and I pulled over and tried to clear the cloudiness and blur from my eye. But it didn’t really work. There was no pain, but my vision immediately started cloud up and get blurry. Right then and there I started getting used to just looking out my right eye.
I was concerned but last April a similar incident happened. Then, the cloudiness cleared up day by day and pretty much resolved itself over the course of a few weeks. We were in Virginia Beach at the time and I when to an eye doctor to see what was going on. He basically said to keep tabs on it and not worry about it. So I didn't. Until it happened again last week.
That was on Thursday afternoon. By mid-morning on Friday I decided to call around to get hold of an optometrist who would take my TRICARE insurance. I got in to see him a little before noon and we didn't leave until almost 4 PM.
I described what happened as liquid spurting in around my eye that made me think of oil pockets. After about 30 minutes it settled and it was like I was trying to look through a mix of dish soap and dark brown smears. Like clear/brown dish soap on a glass. (Later I found out this was the result of the hemorrhage.)
The bottom line was I couldn’t see very well. I could make out general images. But when I took the first eye test, I was 20/20 in my right eye and 20/200 in the left. I think that is basically blind.
Now when something like that happens, one can get pretty philosophical about things. I contemplated the long term loss of my eyesight. With only one eye, it complicates things, but I know that a lot of folks have only one eye and they adapt. So I decided I will too — regardless of the prognosis.
The optometrist said I had a hemorrhage and maybe a retina detachment or tear. That possibility was serious business. He tried for a couple of hours on Friday afternoon to get me into see a retina specialist. But the best we could do was a Monday appointment at 1:00 in Fresno.
The retina specialist was quick and efficient and put some incredibly bright lights into my eyes after the pupils were dilated. He also did a ultrasound on my eye (yes - just like the one they do with pregnant women!). He confirmed I did not have a tear of retina detachment.
He prescribed the following treatment: No lifting heavy objects or exerting strain. Stop talking baby aspirin, sleep with a pillow or two. Gravity is my friend. I am not to put my head down for long periods of time.
Sadly — there is nothing definitive that we can point to for the cause. I don’t have diabetes, high blood pressure. I haven’t had a heart attack or had a blow to the head. I don’t have the 4-5 diseases the doctor questioned me about. I read 7 people out of 100,000 ever get an eye hemorrhage. That is interesting but I would like to know why this is happening. (Isn't that one of the universal health questions?)
But the fact that I had no tear or retinal detachment is great news! I have hope. And the fact that the murkiness in my eye seems to get a little better each day was another positive item.
But after a week now, I have very limited vision in my left eye. Progress is slow. A week ago it seemed as if I was looking through dish soap an inch thick. Now it seems as if it might be 1/8 of an inch. This is all what it ‘seems like’ because in both cases we’re probably talking about millimeters of substance. But the bottom line is that I still probably have 95% loss of vision in that eye at the moment.
I really believe I will regain it all back — but it will take time.
So in the meantime I am learning (or at least I try to remind myself):
- To try to quickly get perspective. Get a grip. This is not life and death. Its an inconvenience and may get worse but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Worst case might be we have to change our lifestyle and get off the road. We’re not there yet, but it is a possibility. If that happens, its been a great ride. Wonderful. Glorious. Fantastic. But we’re not at that point.
- To use my one good eye. It gets mentally tiring, but every day it is easier and easier. Sometimes I forget about ‘the cloudy eye’. Other times I find myself closing it and just using the good one. More adjustments will come I am sure.
- I am grateful for many things:
- The one good eye
- Overall generally good health.
- Strong wife who is helpful but doesn’t get too easily shook up over these things.
- Living to be this age. I am very aware my dad had heart disease and didn’t live to see his 63rd birthday. These days it is all a bonus.
- That it wasn’t worse — like a detached or torn retina.
- Hope — at any stage of life and when addressing serious issues one needs hope. And I have that and am thankful for it.
- Good timing. This happened after we had already traveled 3,000 + miles in the last month and are taking a two week hiatus.
- Supportive team. Our son reminded me his father-in-law is an optometrist, so I sent him the report from the first doctor. He concurred and echoed many of the same questions, concerns, diagnosis and treatment. Good to have a second opinion.
- To try not to be too self-focused. Really?? (this whole post is just about that…) But at the same time, I am trying to just relax and do things I normally do. And reach out to friends like always to see what they are up to.
- Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Neither is this life-style we love so much. I don’t think so, but if they eye doesn’t ever get any better, do we want to continue to drive around the country? Maybe. Maybe not.
- Patience. This will take time. Maybe a month or two or longer. After an initial followup in a few days, we will be seeing a recommended specialist for more follow-up in a couple of months.
- God is sovereign. Like all things that happen in life, I believe this happened for a reason. This is no surprise to Him, so talk to Him about it.
- To do what I can and not worry about what I can’t control. Enjoy what I can. Never complain.
- Don’t bother feeling sorry for yourself. I see so many people disabled and without the use of limbs. Others I know are fighting for their lives. This could be worse. Be a good example.
- Tell your family soon when you realize it is serious. Bad news doesn’t get better the longer you wait. They can handle it. Don’t exaggerate. Don’t minimize. Just tell them what you know and they can process it. Call them. Talk with them. This is one of those things our daughter said is “Not Textable” as in “Do not send me a text like this - I want to talk to you".
- Your friends would want to know, so if it appropriate, let them in on what is really going on.
- Dwell on those things that keep you thankful. I heard this once, “I complained about growing old until I remember those that were denied the privilege”.
- This is like the Roadrunner. Once we got the Roadrunner, I have told myself early on and a hundred times since, “It is all going to break sooner or later. Don’t act so surprised.” Aging will eventually take its toll. Thankfully I am in otherwise pretty good health.
Every day I think and ponder new things this is teaching me. Hopefully I will make good choices and this will run its course and the eye will heal itself. I believe it will and am ‘looking' forward to more adventures in the Roadrunner. This is a pretty special time in our lives and we are cherishing it.
Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!