Friday, June 24, 2016

Roadrunner Reflections: Lessons Through My Left Eye

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! 


  1. Great post ... although the reason behind it is not. Hopefully your sight will continue to improve ... as you say, there is hope. Last year I had sudden hearing loss in my left ear. I was good one moment; not so much the next. The doctor said it happens and no one knows why, and most people don't get the hearing back. I was lucky ... it turned out that I was amongst the small percentile that recovers completely, but the incident was a reminder not to take good health for granted.

  2. Excellent post. Sorry this happened to you, but then like you stated, God is sovereign and life happens. You have a good perspective on this. I recently discovered I have slightly higher than normal blood pressure. EKG shows PCBs. I have cardiologist appointment next week to determine if there is a problem or is this just a fluke anomaly. Needless to say , I am a bit anxious about this since there is no history of heart issues in my family. I guess that makes me unique. I'll be praying for you Randy and ask that you also pray for me. Together, we will move on just as God wants us to move on.

  3. Nice job on the post and upon reflecting on life itself. Keep up the positive attitude and things will work out one way or another. It is funny how we take things for granted until something gets taken away. Hoping that your eye clears up sooner than later.

  4. Great post! We have a friend that lost vision in the middle of the night. Dr told him it was a hemorrhage that could have been in the brain a stroke. He lost the sight with no recovery, but at least nothing in the brain. God is good, glad you're doing ok and can see even a little.

  5. Well done perspective Randy. My girlfriend Lisa had four surgeries on her left eye after suffering a detached retina. She echos many of your reflections and is still fully active even though the sight in her left eye is marginal.

  6. We must be related somewhere, I've had bad issues in my left eye and had to have emergency surgery to correct a partial retina detachment. Five weeks later I have full sight in the eye but still have about 30% of the gas bubble that the doctor put in my eye to hold the retina in place while it healed. Lots of eye drops and still some soreness but in a few more weeks it should be totally healed.

    Glad I caught it in time, now trying to figure out what caused this and what God is teaching me through the experience.

  7. So glad to hear things are resolving, albeit slowly. You have a great attitude that I am going to share with my Randy who is also having health issues. He needs to hear your great and positive attitude.

  8. Randy, back in November of last year I woke up and vision in my left eye was blurred but my left eye didn't hurt. I went to an Ophthalmologist who referred me to a Neuro-Opthamologist. After many tests, he concluded that I had Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. There was swelling in my optic nerve and was probably caused by a stroke in the optic nerve. At that time the vision in my left eye was 20/400 and he said it may improve a little, but not a lot. Depth perception is definitely affected but some peripheral vision in my left eye helps the depth perception some. When the swelling went down, my left eye vision improved "slightly" but 8 months later everything in my left eye vision is blurred. There are a lot of times I close my left eye when I want to read something more clearly because the left eye blurs the words some. If I am driving and my right eye itches or something is in it, I basically have to pull over because it would be dangerous for me to safely drive using my left eye only. All is good because my right eye is 20/20 with my glasses on, so I have no complaints at all. Life is good and you adjust as needed. Give yourself time and let yourself adjust without pushing yourself. Remember, God is good all the time and all the time...God Is Good! Take care.

    1. Thanks Mike - appreciate the note. Sorry to hear about the vision loss. Nice to know how well you are handling it. Thanks for the encouragement.

  9. Sorry sorry to hear about your eye, but a great positive attitude is a blessing. I hear of people who have willed and visualized healing -the mind is very powerful. Will also pray for you.

  10. Wonderful post. I love your attitude and faith. Some days I struggle with "life" but it really is all good regardless. We just need to keep the eternal picture in sight.

  11. oh Randy, I am so sorry about your eye. I must say, if something hits me sideways like this, I hope I can remember to return to this post of yours and read and re-read it. Such a wonderful uplifting perspective in the midst of something scary. I do have a friend who drives with one eye only working, but as you said, it is definitely tiring. Wishing you well and quick healing.

  12. I'm amazed and awed by how quickly you have processed all that is happening with your vision. I've had several surgeries in both eyes for detached retinas. It's amazing how your brain figures it all out and adjusts quickly. If your low vision persists be sure to seek out a low vision specialist (hopefully this won't be the case) They can really help you in so many ways with glasses and gadgets that make your life so much easier.

    It's ok to have a bit of a pity party too. I knew at the time there were so many people in worse shape then me but nonetheless what was happening was very challenging.

    I heard Michael J. Fox speak about his Parkinson disease. The reporter asked him how he had learned to cope so well. He said "I learned what". This helped me so much deal with what was happening.

    We will lift you up in our prayers and hope this is only a temporary inconvenience. Your post was really inspiring. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

  13. God's timing is perfect! If this had to happen, I'm glad it happened while you're parked for a few weeks. You've got an amazing outlook on this. Praying for you that it will resolve itself soon.

  14. Randy, sounds like you are in good hands (medically and otherwise). I've had my share of retinal problems as well, and I'm reminded everyday that I, too, am lucky in so many ways. Thanks for sharing your perspective and for providing me an outstanding example of how to live life the way God means for us to live. Hope your vision soon returns to normal as clear as your insight!