Friday, 27 January 2012

WOOO - I'm free! 24 days since surgery!

I had a check-up today with the main surgeon who did the operation on me.

I had the dilating drops in as usual and he checked both eyes and the pressures in and them and....

I'M FINE! The eye has 'healed perfectly' (his words) and I don't have to be seen for 6 MONTHS. 6 whole months of freedom from eye prodding. Fantastic or what! I can also stop the drops I've been using :D

I asked my questions and:

I can wear contacts again - WOOO, I actually had some in my handbag and put them straight in. My vanity was not cured by 4 weeks in glasses!

I can go swimming, go on the water slides and rapids

I can go in the sauna (that we will have in our holiday lodge)

I can give birth naturally (should I want to have another child)

All positive, all good and no signs of a cataract.

Now I'm sorted with my eye and now my spare room is clear I will scan in all of the information that I was given and upload it into a blog post in case it is useful to anyone! Expect these posts over the next few days!

Thanks for reading

Monday, 23 January 2012

Maybe not a cataract! - Plus GRRR

Ok so maybe it isn't a cataract. After a lot of looking and testing my vision myself I realised that my left eye can't see very wellCLOSE-UP. Which means that when i've got my glasses on and am using both eyes seeing close up causes me to strain and if I don't strain then it's blurry. If I take my glasses off it is better but not perfect. If I hold something further away then I can read it with glasses but not without.

So I'm guessing I might now be a bit long-sighted in my left eye as well as short-sighted. Not great but not awful either. Though I've heard that cataract surgery can improve vision a lot in the eye it's done on so maybe if/when I do get a cataract my vision will get better again! For the time being I'm not getting new glasses. I'll just read things at a distance or peer with one eye...

The GRRRR is aimed at conjunctivitis. My littlest girl has it. Which means we'll probably all get it. I've no idea what this means for me and my eye! If I do get it I'll call the hospital and ask for advice. Typical though. And our washing machine which broke 2 weeks ago is STILL broken as we're still waiting for parts. So I can't even hot wash everything in the house to help make sure I don't get it.


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Think I'm getting a cataract,

The vision in my left eye is slightly blurry. Not awfully so but it feels different and when I look with my left eye my vision isn't good (with my glasses on). It could be just a vision change as a result of the operation but I thought that that was pretty much instant.

I've been doing some reading on cataracts. The RNIB site is useful. It describes it exactly as I described it to my husband - as though my glasses need cleaning even though they are clean.

Cataracts are listed as a common 'side affect' of a retinal operation and I was told that I would develop one at some point, but that it could be days, weeks, months etc. Today is 2 weeks and 1 day since the operation so I guess it could well be that.

I don't know whether to call the eye department or just wait until my appointment next Thursday? I might wait and see if it gets any worse or goes or changes.

This is what the RNIB say about surgery (taken from the link above)


Cataract surgery usually takes about 30 to 40 minutes and most people go home from hospital a few hours later. It is usually done with a local anaesthetic, which means you will be awake during the operation but you won't feel any pain. You can talk to the operating team if you need any assurance. The local anaesthetic may involve drops and an injection or just drops.
For your surgery, you will be given drops to dilate your pupil. Your face will be covered by a sheet, which helps to keep the area around your eye clean during the operation. To remove the cataract, the ophthalmologist needs to remove the natural lens in your eye and replace it with a plastic lens implant. The most common way to remove cataracts is called phacoemulsification. This technique uses high frequency sound energy to break up your natural lens with the cataract. Only really small cuts are used, so you don't need any stitches, and this helps to speed up your recovery from the surgery. Usually, the ophthalmologist uses a machine which acts as a microscope to get the best view of your eye as possible.
The lens in your eye is made up of different layers and the outside layer is called the lens capsule. During the operation, the ophthalmologist cuts through the front of the lens capsule so they can reach the lens inside. Using the same instrument, the ophthalmologist can break up your lens and the cataract inside your eye, and remove it using suction. Your lens capsule is kept in place so that the artificial lens implant can be placed inside it. The tiny implant is folded so that it can be put into the eye through the same instrument that is used to remove the cataract. Once it reaches the right position, the ophthalmologist unfolds the artificial lens so that it sits in the right place inside the lens capsule.
As you are awake during the operation, you will be able to hear what is happening in the operating room. You can also communicate with the ophthalmologist and the nurses who are on hand to reassure you. Because the eye is anaesthetised and your pupil is dilated, you may be able to see some lights and movement but not the details of the instruments used. You should not feel any pain in your eye.
A short time after your operation, your eye will be examined, to make sure the operation has been a success. Your eye will be covered with a dressing which stays in place when you go home, normally a few hours later. Your eye may begin to feel sore once the local anaesthetic starts to wear off. The pain isn't usually too bad and you can take a painkiller tablet, such as paracetamol, to help. The dressing, which is put on in the hospital, usually needs to stay on your eye overnight, but you should be able to take it off the following morning. Your eye may look red and you might develop some bruises but these will improve over the next few days.

Great. Another eye operation. Another local. Another eye patch!  It says under the activities to avoid that swimming should be avoided. I'm going to centreparcs on holiday on 6th February so if it IS a cataract then I'm going to have to ask to have the surgery after that - I believe that timescale isn't so important with cataracts so that shouldn't be a problem.

Will keep you updated...

Monday, 16 January 2012



The gas bubble is no more! Have been watching it shrink all day until it was teeny weeny and now it is nowhere to be seen! It'll be 2 weeks tomorrow since I had the operation!

I'm so excited because:

a) It means there is nothing in my vision bobbing about
b) My eye-sight is the SAME as pre-operation! I had read that sometimes the operation can change your prescription and I was a bit stressed about having to get new glasses but my vision hasn't changed in any noticeable way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Excuse the exclamation marks, I am very happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't know when I'll blog again, maybe after my check-up (27 January) unless anything remarkable happens before then. I'm looking forward to forgetting the rather horrible start I had to the year and getting on with things :D

I have a list of questions for the opthomologist next time I see him though!

1. Can I wear contact lenses again now (please, pretty please)
2. Am I ok to go on water slides/rapids (we're going on holiday to Centre Parcs at the beginning of February)
3. Will I ever be safe to bungee jump/deep sea dive/sky dive/box (I've no plans to but you never know)
4. If I had more kids would a natural labour cause any more problems for my eyes

I might add to the list as I think of more!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Day 13 - the bubble is shrinking!

I've been noticing the gas bubble shrinking daily but now it seems really small! It is so hard to describe the size of it. I'm noticing it more because it is sticking up more, I guess because it is smaller? Looking straight ahead I can see more than half of it and at the angle I look at my laptop I can see pretty much all of it, it doesn't get in the way as such but it is a little annoying as it wobbles around and I see it out of the corner of my eye and then forget that that's what it is and keep trying to look at it.

I was told it would be 3-4 weeks before the bubble went completely but I guess that varies. I'm so excited about it going! I'll have full vision for the first time since Christmas when the vision in my left eye got worse - and prompted me to get seen. I've not driven yet since the operation but I think I'm just about ready to now and I don't feel like my vision is affected. If I look straight down and through the bubble it is double BUT it's small enough now for that not to matter - plus I don't drive with my head down (obviously) so I should be fine :D Will probably wait until next week to do it.

The redness is my eye is the same as yesterday - barely there. And I didn't sleep with my patch on last night (bad me) it was fine. But shhhh don't tell anyone!

Oh and I wore a little make-up today. No one noticed but I felt better!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Days 10-12

I've not been blogging as there isn't actually a huge amount to say. I think that that is a very good thing really. No pain, very little vision loss left - I can see the bubble at the bottom of my vision and if I tip my head forward I can see it all. It's not getting in the way too much now though.

My eye is only a little red now, just looks like it does when I get a bit of hayfever. I might even wear a bit of make-up next week and just avoid putting it under my eyes like I'd normally do.

I seem to get quite a few floaters and teeny black spots in my eyes but they come and go and change shape so I am guessing that they aren't permanent.

I'm still wearing my eye patch at night, I have a sore spot on my face where it seems to dig in as I sleep. I could wear a plaster over that bit but then I'd have even more sticky patches left on my poor face!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Day 9 - retinal check-up


I want to start with that because I've been a little panicky that it might not have worked or that I might have to have the procedure repeated.

At the hospital they did the usual sight test - and this time I could see enough with my left eye to read all the way to where I would be able to normally! The bubble is covering 30% of my vision, which is a lot easier to manage. They then put the dilating (drops of DOOM) in both eyes. DOOM because they sting. Feels worse than pouring neat shampoo in your eyes. Luckily the sting doesn't last that long!

The eye guy was the one who first diagnosed me a week or so ago and who assisted with the surgery last week. He told me that I was 'extremely brave' and that not many people would have opted for the local. Which is a little mean as when he first mentioned the operation he made it sound like a local was the sensible choice! Doh.

Anyway, the eye is doing well, the retina is sticking back nicely and all looks good. It will be a few months before they can say for definite that it is well stuck but fingers crossed it will be. I asked if there was anything I can't do and he said that bungee jumping and boxing probably weren't a good idea. That's my weekend plans gone then :p

My eye looks like this today:

I asked how long before I can wear contacts and he just said I needed to wait until it has healed. I know it's vain but at the moment I can't wear make-up AND I have to wear my glasses AND I have to shove my fringe to the side. Yuck.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Day 8 - (one week since surgery)

It is a week since I had my retinal detachment operation.

My eye looks like this:

I'm no longer taking any painkillers. Sometimes it feels a bit gritty and watery and I can feel it aching a little if I concentrate on something for a while (like crochet or my laptop screen). It also feels a little sore if I look in one direction a lot - like if I look as far as I can to the right then it feels a bit weird and achey.

I have the leaflets and various pieces of paper given to me by the hospital and once I've managed to get to my scanner (it's in the messy spare room) I'll scan it all in in case it is of use to someone.

The picture below is of my beautiful plastic eye patch. I wear this stunning accessory at night time (stuck on with the tape in the photo) in order to stop me rubbing my eye. I've got to wear it for the next few weeks. It's not nice to wear. It leaves sticky patches on my face, gets in the way and generally feels a bit awkward. But needs must I guess, I tried to go without it last night but found myself reaching to rub my eye and so realised that it is serving a purpose!

Tomorrow is check-up day. At 3.15pm I have an appointment with the guy who did the surgery and he'll be able to tell me whether things are going ok and healing as they should. Keep everything crossed for me! I will blog after the appointment and let you know how it goes!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Post-surgery vision

I've tried to re-create (in paint, so excuse the quality) what my vision has been like since the operation.

Think of picture 1 as being normal vision. 

2 - this is what it was like when I could open my eye after surgery. There was just a think strip I could see at the top of my eye and a thick black line. Below that it was completely black.

3 and 4 - over the next couple of days this line came down my vision a bit so I could see a bit more above the line.

5 - this is how my vision looks now (day 7) the line is lower and curved (so that I can tell that it is a bubble now as the edges are curved.

6 - if I tip my head forward then the bubble of gas comes so that I can see the whole circle, it covers most of my eye. I can't see through it exactly but it seems to make my vision double!


Today I was freed from posturing. I celebrated by taking a very long bubble bath, this really helped ease my sore muscles and was amazing.

My eye today looks like this:

As you can see it is loads better. A lot less red and a lot more open. It is still a bit sore but I'm not taking any painkillers at the moment so that might be why!

My eye feels gritty and gets quite watery and stings a little every now and then.

I'm going to write a separate post explaining my post op vision!

Days 2 - 7 - Posturing

Those 5 days were the LONGEST of my life.

I took 10 minutes to have a bath once a day and tried to eat sitting up in an odd 10 minutes when I could. Eating laying down did not sit well with my stomach and one day I was quite sick. This lead to a quick trip to the hospital to check my eye pressures and get me some anti-sickness tablets.

I have to put drops in 4 times a day for the next month (started this on day 2).

At the end of 5 days I was bored, fed up and so so sore on my left side. It was not at all comfortable. I ended up laying on a spare duvet to soften things up but it didn't help a great deal.

It was the hardest time of my life and I wouldn't wish it on anyone but in the long run it is just 5 days and it's to save my sight so it is definitely worth it,

DAY 2 - check-up

I spent a restful next morning in bed not doing a great deal (as I was struggling to wear my glasses and had forgotten to ask if I could wear a contact lens in my good eye (which I could and did afterwards!)

I then went to my eye appointment that afternoon.

A nurser took off the pad and wiped my eye until I was able to open it. It took a while and was a little sore but as I was keeping up with the co-codamol it wasn't that bad.

The guy who had done the surgery then saw me. He had a good look into my eye and checked the pressures.

It was at this point that he told me I'd need to spend the next 5 DAYS laying on my left side. For 50 minutes out of every hour, day and night.

I was shocked and upset at this, partly because me and Hubby were supposed to be going for a posh meal, show and stay as my birthday present to him and partly because I've 2 little girls and a Hubby with a job and it just seemed impossible. In the end my husband took a lot of time off of work and family rallied round to take care of the children.

This is my eye once the pad had been removed.

As you can see my eye was very swollen and the white bits were bright red rather than white!

Read on for my experience 'posturing' for 5 days...

DAY 1 - AFTER surgery (catch-up post)

I was allowed home after some tea and biscuits (about 45 minutes after coming out of theatre). The surgeon came out and spoke to me, he asked me to lay on my right hand side for 3 hours when I got home so that the fluid could drain from my eye and then to sleep on my back. I was given an appointment for the next day and told to keep my eye pad on until that time and not to touch it or do anything. I was given drops but told not to use them until I had been seen the next day. I couldn't open my left eye, nor did I try to!

I spent a long 3 hours on the sofa laying on my right side and I could feel the anaesthetic starting to wear off. At this point I took 2 paracetemol. After my 3 hours were up I went to bed which is where things get a bit hazy. My eye was really sore and I had a cracking headache. I remember shaking a lot, feeling sick and being in agony. It was so bad that I got my husband to call the hospital. They couldn't really suggest anything. As soon as I could I took some co-codamol. It was the worst pain I have ever felt, (and I've 2 kids so I've been through labour). I would recommend co-codamol straight away, before you get any feeling back and if I ever (God forbid) have to do it again then I will be taking co-codamol straight away.

Once the co-codamol kicked in I felt a lot better and was able to sleep fairly comfortably on my back. My eye kept leaking watery bloody fluid which was a bit annoying but was ok.

This is my eye in the pad. Excuse the grumpy face - it hurt my eye to smile!

Meant to also say that they did gas bubble surgery in the end which involved removing the vitreous and inserting gas in a bubble to push the retina back flat against the eye.

Posturing over - a quick update!

I plan on updating everything properly later, I'm just posting to say that as of this morning I have finished posturing! YAY!

It's not been easy, I'm sore on my left side and my house looks like a bomb has hit it! Hubby has tried but I think it's easy to tell who usually does the domestic stuff.

Eye-wise I still can't see out of the lower half of my left eye, well I can but not much and everything is double. I can see enough to get around and manage most things but my sense of perception has gone, I have trouble pouring drinks into glasses and things like that. But I'm getting there.

Once I've put the house to rights and had a long hot bath I'll write a few posts on my experiences.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Can't post at the moment

Have to posture for a while and can't see what i'm typing. Will write paper notes and type up when i can

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Day 1 - SURGERY - catch-up post!

I got to the hospital at 2.30pm and was taken to a waiting part with comfy chairs that had little units next to them so you could put your belongings in. There was also access to water, squash and some magazines.

A lovely nurse introduced herself, gave me a leaflet on the operation - and the option to read it there and then or after. I was told that the operation probably wouldn't be until 4pm ish. I had my first lot of eye drops, just in the eye that would be operated in. 2 types of drops, they dilated my pupil but not sure what else they were for. The picture below shows how one eye was dilated but not the other - weird look or what!

I had 4 sets of drops in all before going through into the theatre.

Before I went through I had some measurements taken of my eyes - I was warned that the operation means there is a high chance of developing a cataract at a later date and the measurements would help when that time comes. I also saw both surgeons before hand who looked at the back of my eye to check the area and discuss the best way to operate. They decided on the gas buckle. They mentioned again how unlucky I was but the surgeon seemed sure that it wouldn't happen in the other eye though he has promised they'll keep an eye on it.

The actual surgery:

I went through and laid on a bed that had a head shaped head rest to make it easy to keep my head still. A blanket was put over me. The surgeon came and put some more drops into my eye and then a device to keep my eye open was popped in, it felt a bit sore and uncomfortable but not painful.

Then came the anaesthetic. I was (helpfully?) told that this was the worst bit and that if I could do this then the rest would be a breeze. They put some more drops in - possibly iodine - and then they injected my eye with the anaesthetic. I felt a lot of pressure - as though my eye ball was being pushed out of the back of my head. It didn't hurt as such but it was not pleasant. As soon as that was done the vision in my left eye went.

I was pushed on the bed through to the actual theatre room. They covered my face with a blue sticky sheet that literally stuck to my skin, they pulled part of the sheet away to get to my eye. They put a little oxygen tube under the sheet so that I didn't get too hot or stuffy under there. I think this helped relax me too as it made it really easy to breathe and stay calm.

They put some more anaesthetic in, it felt similar to the first time but not as intense. I think I had 3 lots of this in total although I could be wrong.

The surgeons then set to work. I plucked up the courage to keep my right eye open although all I could really see was the blue of the sheet over my face, I saw occasional bits of light and dark but I couldn't really make anything out. I had already decided that my coping mechanism would be to write out this blog post in my head and so that's what I did. I thought of ways to describe it and tried to take in what was going on.

I couldn't feel anything, there was a little bit of pressure here and there - that I was warned about each time and some water running down my cheek. I could sometimes hear different machinery, some whirring and some snipping but it didn't feel like it was really happening to my eye. I was listening to them talk, they discussed a little how rare I was, and how awkward the tears were, and they found two new tears - one of which had caused the detachment. These and the old tear were frozen - I think they called the machine 'cryo' as the surgeon requested the 'cryo' on and off at various points.

The surgery lasted 1 hour and 10 minutes from the moment I went through the doors to the theatre. The surgery itself did not hurt and wasn't as scary as I thought it might be. I was calm throughout and didn't feel worried at all. I was comfortable too. In the theatre a big white pad was taped over my eye.

See the next post for my after surgery day 1 experience!

Thanks for reading


Day 1 - Surgery Day - (written on Day 2)

I didn't feel up to writing yesterday in the end. I didn't get home until 6.30pm and then I had to lay on my side until 9pm and then I was in too much paint to type!

I will do a proper write up of the operation later hopefully. My eye has a dressing on until I've seen the eye guy today at 3.15pm when he'll take it off. Until then my glasses can't sit on my nose properly so I can see very little.

I'll just say for now that the surgery wasn't too bad and that the feeling afterwards is definitely worse!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Why I am blogging...

I wanted to write about why I've chosen to blog about retinal detachment.

Once I'd been diagnosed and found out about the operation the first thing I did was turn to the internet for information, help and support. I couldn't really find what I was looking for. I've found lots of information on the medical terms, on the different ways of repairing a retinal detachment, on the symptoms and on the causes but not a lot on what it feels like after the operation, on what the recovery is like or what I can expect my life to be like after.

A lot of what I have found has been contradictory and a lot has been based on retinal detachments in other countries, I've found very little information about the UK's procedures, about whether everyone has to 'posture' and what exactly this might mean and no information on what I can expect from my eyes for the rest of my life. I've been given no information to read by my hospital and I was told very little at the hospital so the internet is my only source of knowledge.

I want this blog to be useful to other people who google the same things as me. I hope to post links to useful sites, descriptions of procedures and my day to day recovery from retinal detachment.

If you've found this blog while searching online please feel free to contact me, comment on my posts and I'll try and reply asap.

Tomorrow is operation day. I'm nervous. I hope to blog tomorrow or the day after but of course it will depend on how things go. Wish me luck!


P.S, excuse the plain-ness of the blog, I hope to make it look prettier in time!

My story so far...

When I was 16 I went to the opticians with my Mum to see about getting contact lenses. They performed an eye health check and it was then that the optician thought he could see something in one of my eyes. He made an immediate referral to my doctor who then referred my straight to the hospital - just a few days later I found myself sat in the opthomology department of my local hospital.

Over the course of 2 days I had about 10 different people look at my eyes - and I had my first experiences with the drops that widen the pupil (and sting like crazy). They were having trouble working out what they could see and it was a retinal specialist who diagnosed it in the end. I had a retinal tear in my eye. The reason it took so long to diagnose was probably partly due to the fact that it is something generally found in the over 60s.

A couple of days after that I had a laser treatment to seal the edges of the tear. It was an uncomfortable experience but not painful. It took about 20 minutes and involved sitting with my chin on one of the chin rest devices and having lasers shot into the back of the eye. Other than the bright lights making my eyes water and it feeling a little odd it was fine.

I had regular check-ups and 2 years later they found a similar tear but this time in my right eye. I underwent the same laser procedure for this and again had follow-up appointments, at this stage I was on the 'SOS' register so that if I experienced symptoms of a retinal detachment I could be seen within 24 hours. After a couple of years I was told I no longer needed regular appointments and that I should just be aware of the symptoms. Not much else was said on the matter and I hadn't thought much of it for a good few years.

Then, on boxing day (2011), I got another of my fairly regular migraines, and with them an aura. I've been having migraines like this for a couple of years but didn't think much of it. After the migraine went I noticed that some of my vision had gone in my left eye. I remembered thinking a couple of weeks before that there was something blocking just a little bit of my vision but I'd presumed I was imagining it. I called the hospital the next day and mentioned the SOS list, only to be told that I couldn't be on it if I hadn't been seen within the year and that I'd need a doctor's referral.

Friday 30th December 2011 I went to the doctor and explained my problem. He called the hospital who straight away got me an appointment for 2pm that day. I went along to the hospital fully expecting to be told that I was imagining it or that it was just because I've got bad eyesight or something. I had the usual pupil-dilating drops and was seen by one of the retinal specialists.

After looking for a while he reported that the reason I was experiencing vision loss in the lower left of my left eye was that in the top right (vision flips things so this does make sense) there was a pocket of fluid that was slowly detaching my retina.

The retinal specialist made a few calls and called me in to tell me that I needed a retinal detachment operation straight away. Ideally he'd have liked to do in the next day, he then mentioned that his usual day for operations was a Tuesday and I quickly said that this would be better for me - I needed time to make arrangements for help with my toddlers, for Hubby to get some time off work and I wanted to see in the New Year and my Husband's birthday before undergoing the surgery.

SO here I am on the 2nd January 2012, trying to mentally prepare for the surgery that is happening tomorrow. I'm due at the hospital at 2.30pm.

I made the decision to have a local anaesthetic, partly because I dislike hospitals and partly because the idea of a general anaesthetic scares me. I've been called brave and crazy for opting to do it this way as it means I'll be awake for the whole procedure and I'll be aware of what they are doing. I've been reassured that I won't see anything except maybe some lights and that I'll feel no pain.

I'll write another post in a little while explaining just why I'm writing this in a blog!

Thanks for reading