To say that I'm giddy with gratitude would be an understatement! I'm blissfully happy that I can see the words I'm typing right now with both of my beautiful and wondrous eyes!
As some of you know, especially those of you that follow me on Facebook and Instagram, my husband and I just enjoyed an extended weekend visit to Italy. We had three glorious days of great food, wine and culture. Little did I know at the time, that I was rapidly losing sight in my left eye.
It began on Thursday morning. I'd best describe it as an extreme case of sleepy eye, but it lasted throughout the day. I had a floating cloud, almost like a curtain appearing and disappearing with every blink - very annoying! This kept up for the remainder of our time there. There was no pain, just an annoying irritation of not being able to see properly due to this blur floating across my eye.
Back in Norway and heading to bed on Sunday night, I noticed a vertical flash of white light from the corner of my eye as I was going to bed. I didn't think much of it, surprisingly, but decided I'd try to see the doctor the next day if I could get in.
Thankfully I was not called in to substitute teach on Monday and again thankfully, I got an appointment to see my doctor. She insisted that I needed to see a specialist and got me in within an hour. So I drove to another part of town and was thoroughly examined by an optometrist who immediately sent me to the hospital for emergency laser surgery. She was convinced that the retina of my eye was already 1/4 of the way detached. She showed me the colourful pictures she had taken on my eye, and explained that I had a tear and a hole in my retina. The laser surgery would in effect weld this area to prevent it from tearing further and completely detaching. The medical terms were somewhat difficult to understand given the language barrier, but I could understand the urgency of it.
Everything happened so swiftly, and I'm grateful for that because the implications of it all didn't really start hitting me until I left the hospital. The reality of the situation was that if I had left it untreated, I may have gone blind in that eye in a very short time.
The reason the tear and hole happened in the first place is related to the size of the back of my eyeball, as well as my age (53 yrs). People with extreme nearsightedness or Degenerative Myopia (a term I have never heard before) have a greater distance between the cornea and the lens of the eye when it comes to focusing. This distance creates rapid nearsightedness and can causes strain that with age can eventually result in a tear in the retina, that then can result in a hole through which I experienced the flashing.
People like me with myopic eyes are more prone to retina detachment. In fact, now that I've experienced it in one eye, it's quite possible I will also have it in the other at some point as well.
I'm still left with the blurriness and the floating curtain, but I'm told that my brain will eventually not see it anymore; that my eyesight will adjust to it being there and I won't have a focusing issue. This could take anywhere from 6 months to a couple of years.
The thing that shocks me most about this is the lack of urgency I felt about the symptoms. The reason I was so relaxed about it is because I didn't know what was going on. I've been seeing optometrists since I was 6 or 7 years old. In all that time, not one doctor has ever explained that I may at some point experience retinal detachment.
I'm horrified to think what might have happened if I had been called to work this week. I would have ignored the annoyance until I had a day free to see the doctor, and by that time I could have been blind!
So when I say I'm blissful for how things turned out, I'm really not kidding. I'm a very lucky woman - #1. to live in Norway where the healthcare system works quickly; and #2. to have seen my doctor on Monday.
I just finished recording an interview with CBC Radio One for "On the Go" that will air tomorrow or Friday. I'm glad that Maggie Gillis contacted me to talk about my experience because I truly believe there are others out there that may someday find themselves in my situation, and without knowing would potentially ignore the symptoms, as I almost did.
When I picked up the paintbrush yesterday, I had tears of joy in my eyes. I painted this piece below as a way to process the shock and the frightening prospect of what almost happened. By the way, it has the same colours that I saw on the x-rays of my eyes at the specialist's office.
I'm calling it "Bliss" because that's the feeling I am experiencing right now. I'm so eternally grateful.