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