Hey guys! This is just a quick update. Those of you who have been with the blog for a long time might remember the eye surgery I had in 2011 and 2012. It was quite the journey but the surgery was to correct an amblyopia or strabismus (commonly referred to as a lazy eye). I had always had trouble seeing double and found it incredibly difficult to make eye contact with other people. Focusing in general was tough but I didn’t think there was anything you could do about it. Indeed I had eye doctors tell me there was nothing we could do about it (stupid doctors!).
It’s a real shame too because the problem is much easier to fix when kids are little but because of the doctors ignoring it I went untreated until I failed a vision test for my drivers license. I was supposed to look into a box and see a light but couldn’t see anything. This was caused by my strabismus issues.
I ended up finding Dr Petersen at Rocky Mountain Eye Care and it took 2 surgeries and then vision therapy from Utah Vision Therapy but the treatment seems to have worked. My doctor told me last week that I don’t need to see him again for another 2 years!
I made this video where I explain more of my journey and the treatment I received. Please pass it on to those you know and keep an eye out for kids that have signs. Thanks!
For the first time in my life I have glasses! They are just temporary until I finish vision therapy and can get my prism frames but they will help make the therapy more effective. Since I don’t need them for long I could get less quality and went to a great website called https://www.zennioptical.com/ The glasses only cost me about $35 including shipping!
What do you think? Do I pull off the whole cute nerd/sexy librarian look? Its going to take some getting used to. Its strange looking through boxes at the world. I will probably want contacts once I have my permanent prescription. I am sure I will get more used to it in time.
Its also hard to get used to the prescription. I’m so used to compensating that it feels strange to see things differently. I bet I’ll adjust quickly.
I just wanted to show all of you why I got the strabismus surgery and went through all that pain. Some of you may have wondered “I didn’t notice a weird thing in Rachel’s eye. Why did she go through that?”
Here’s why. Look at the difference between these 2 pictures. One taken in January, one yesterday.
It is almost painful for me to look at this photo. My alignment is so clearly off and it had serious impact on my mental, physical and social health. It made dating challenging, job interviews impossible, and even a barrage of other activities difficult.
Here is my face today:
Just wanted to share that with you because to me it is very exciting! I’m so grateful to my doctor and all the nurses, family and friends who supported me.
To read all my posts on this surgery check out these links.
So its been an interesting couple of weeks for me. Still have a ways to go before the sutures dissolve and I am back on the mend. I can’t wait until they dissolve because they itch! My eyes just feel like I have bad allergies. Puffy, sore, red, itchy. Once the sutures dissolve there will be 6-12 months of vision therapy to try and help things stay in their place. It’s going to be a long road but I’m excited! To see better. To see people better. What can be bigger than that?
Here I was 2 weeks ago:
Here I am today. I think you could say contrast!
I am very grateful for good doctors that treat both conditions and patients. I’m grateful for new and emerging technologies and how they bless my life. I’m grateful for my eyes and that they can see at all with all the problems. I hope they have it in them to see in a new way. Hope and pray.
The New Year is coming! I have one race left in October (which I am woefully unprepared for) but also Thanksgiving and Christmas on my own. And my new townhouse! That’s a lot of firsts! I can’t wait to see all of that with my new aligned equal eyes! Wahoo!
And I hope to someday be able to look all of my loved one’s in the eye and say ‘I love you more than you will ever know’.
Quick update on my condition. I am doing pretty well. Eyes feel more irritated now than anything else. Sore, puffy and putting off a lot of fluid. I honestly wish I could take the rest of next week off but I’m also getting stir crazy so work will be good also.
My Mom left this morning and I will miss her. What a treat to have a mother in my home, taking care of me. My Mother is so good at mothering. She is warm, kind, interesting and wonderful. We had a pleasant visit despite the surgery.
My best friend Emily came and visited today which was wonderful. I have been itching for company because I can’t really read or focus on TV for long so chatting with friends is so great. I wish we lived in a world where people paid visits on a regular basis. That was a nice tradition of the past. Now I think everyone has to have a reason or event to get together. Just visiting for the sake of visiting is a rarity.
Still, I’ve been grateful for my friends and especially their prayers on my behalf.
I haven’t driven yet but I’m hopeful that I can drive to church tomorrow. We will see how I feel. I can see fine but it hurts when I focus for about 30 seconds. My eyes get sore and I tear up. It would be kind of like driving when crying. (It was funny yesterday I went to pick out colors with my Mom for my townhouse and a lady came in and looked at me like ‘why is she crying when picking out colors?’. I explained it was my eyes not my emotions!
Anyway, in conclusion, the recovery is going well. Still feel tired and eyes feel puffy, itchy and are very red. The itching really is the worst. It is so hard to not touch your eyes when they are itchy. I keep my eyes patched sometimes just to keep me from itching and touching it. I may call the doctor on Monday and see what he can do about the itching and puffiness.
Starting tonight I have to put my own eye drops in. It is challenging. That is a benefit of living with someone. Someone to put drops in!
Each day shows improvement and I’m grateful for that. Please continue to send those prayers my way. Not seeing double any more so I’m grateful for that!
I can’t write much because I can only focus for about 30 seconds at a time but I wanted to update my readers on my surgery. Last year I had a strabismus surgery where they create an incision in your eye and move it with a suture to try and align the eye. This helps you to not see double or have a lazy eye like I do.
Unfortunately my eye did not accept the new alignment and reverted back to most of its original position (was a 20 right left last year, down to 8 after surgery, back up to 14 this year, 25 up and down).
So I went in yesterday and my wonderful doctor, Dr. Peterson at Rocky Mountain Eye Care, performed the surgery. This time on both eyes with the sutures on my left eye instead of right like last year.
I was very impressed with everyone at the IHC Surgical Center in Murray. All of the nurses were very reassuring and kind. The anesthesiologist put in my IV because my veins wiggle so much and are so hard to find. I was grateful that the nurses didn’t poke and prod me like last year. The operating nurse was wonderful and very reassuring. We talked about Hawaii and how much I love it as I went under (not a bad way to enter the zzzz)
I also went with a different pain medication, perkiset, instead of lortab, and I responded much more favorably to it.
Wish I could say the same about the anesthesia. It makes me very nauseated. Even with the zofram I vomited when I woke up. Luckily I had a pretty good nurse who was a tough cookie. Instead of consoling or feeling bad she just said ‘get it out and you’ll feel better’. Its true. Anyway, it wasn’t pleasant waking up from surgery but my time in the recovery room wasn’t quite as long as last year.
I don’t know how anyone can go through a surgery for purely cosmetic reasons like plastic surgery. It is so miserable for me.
After about an hour they wheeled me into the recovery room and my Mom was there. She kindly came out to take care of me, which is such a treat. I told her I may have to undergo surgery every year to get 4 days of her all to myself. Thanks to my Dad for holding down the fort in Cali so my Mom could come.
Luckily I didn’t throw up in the car this time going to the doctors for the final suture adjustment. They have to do that after I’m awake to make it the most accurate. This was painful but my doctor is so reassuring and kind it helps. My only complaint was having to wait a long time when I was so uncomfortable but oh well.
So I got home and my sister Anna came up to help which was very nice and I had tons of well wishers and even a visitor (Thanks Melissa). I listened to audiobooks (reading wonderful memoir by Marcus Samuelson called Yes Chef) and guazed both eyes in spurts. The perkiset helps a lot with the pain. Its a strange pain kind of like a prickly burning feeling more than a stabbing pain. The sutures itch which is obviously uncomfortable and I found it difficult to sleep with my eyes burning but have been trying to rest as much as possible.
I’ve also been enjoying a few breaks from the diet. (I mean if there was ever a moment for comfort food this is it 🙂 ). Today I am going to have one of my favorite things in the world- Harmons fried chicken. A very rare but delicious treat. I also love frog eye salad and anything smooth. (My throat is still a little sore from the tube they insert during surgery.)
Today I feel some improvement and I am not as sick from the anesthesia as I was last year. Its hard because my world is still very fuzzy and my eyes are irritated and sore but I think I’m improving from last year.
Anyway, thanks so much for all of the love and support I have received. I have felt the prayers of people from all over the country building me up. I am so blessed. Please come on out and visit as I’m sure tomorrow and Saturday I will be quite bored but still needing to rest. 🙂
Please also continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I need them!
I’m thankful to all my friends, family, good doctor and nurses and my eyes. Here’s to hoping the surgery takes this year and I won’t need a repeat again. 🙂
Sorry if this isn’t quite up to my usual posts. I am touch typing it and my brain is still a little cloudy. Love you all.
I don’t know if there is anything worse than waiting. Especially waiting for something unpleasant. I suppose waiting for your wedding day might not be so bad but waiting for surgery is the worst! Trust me I know!
On Wednesday I have my strabismus surgery. I had it last year and the recovery wasn’t too bad, but the day of the surgery was brutal. Recovering from the anesthesia was the worst of it. They also gave me lortab which made me sick and nauseated. Hopefully this time now that they are changing that medicine my recovery from the anesthesia will be better. I really don’t know how people undergo surgery just for cosmetic reasons. The whole experience is awful. A few months ago I had a discussion on facebook with some people that acted like cosmetic surgery was no bigger deal than a hair cut. They clearly recover better than me!
My doctor also said my recovery from the surgery will be more challenging this time. I have scar tissue from last year that will cause more pain and redness. (Pleasant to think of hah! The mind reels!). This time I am going to do some eye therapy to try and make the surgery stick. I hope it does! Anyone out there had experience with eye therapy? Anyone out there had strabismus surgery and done anything to make it more effective afterwards? I would love to hear any of your experiences.
In the meantime I am waiting. I hate waiting. On my mission my mission president made me right a 20 page paper on patience (He saw the academic in me and the impatience!). I guess I am a bit of a control freak (aren’t most people in the end control freaks? Don’t most people want to have control over their lives?). That’s why I hate dating. No control.
Anyway, it sucks. Please come out and visit me Thursday-Sunday. Would love it. My Mother is coming into town tonight which is the joy of having surgery. I get to be taken care of by my mother. I have not been a needy kid and the downside of being from a family of 6 kids is that I rarely get the lone attention of my Mother and what girl doesn’t want that? Thanks Mom!
I also get meals on Wednesday and Thursday from the Relief Society. My first time! That’s the benefit of being in the family ward.
So how do you handle the waiting in your life? In the end, I suppose all we can do is put the waiting in God’s hands and ask Him for strength and patience. Like the scripture says “In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19).
Please send prayers my way that the surgery will work and that my Doctor will be inspired and watched over.
Well, I will end with a joke:
Things you never want to hear your surgeon say:
• Now where did I put that scalpel…. I KNOW I just had it a minute ago…..
• I need that hooky thing, you know the one with the little…..
• What the hell is THAT ???
• Ok, now where should I put this
• I’m sooooo tired I can hardly see straight
• Damn! lost one of my contact
• Wait a minute, if this is his spleen, then what’s that?
• Accept this sacrifice, O Great Lord of Darkness
• Bo! Bo! Come back with that! Bad Dog!
• There go the lights again…
• Ya’ know… there’s big money in kidneys… and this guy’s got two of ’em
• Are his relatives waiting outside?
• What do you mean, “You want a divorce”!!!
• FIRE! FIRE! Everyone get out!
• This scissor looks rusted
• Rats! Page 47 of the manual is missing!
• Isn’t this the one with the really lousy insurance?
• Now where did this spider come in from
• Hmm!! Looks like I removed the wrong one!!!!!
• Yes, nurse, hand me the whatchamagigger and the doohickey and hold this whatchamicallit, while I get a hold of the thingamabob. Thanks
So, I’ve been feeling an itch to travel lately. Let off some steam. I’ve been thinking about maybe a trip to the beach once my surgery has healed. Yes, I’ve decided to give the strabismus one more try. March 14th is the date. I’m not sure how I’m going to get through this one. Since there has to be someone to take me to the doctors to get the suture adjusted I need someone who can be with me for at least half the day. Hmmm….This is where being single is a challenge!
Anyway, it should be fun to reap the rewards of being in a family ward after surgery. Should be some yummy Relief Society meals (JK!). I just hope it works this time. I’m not goona lie. I’m a little scared. Going into it the second time is part relieving and part terrifying. I know some parts were easier than expected and some parts were harder. I wish I could just get it done tomorrow instead of waiting until March, 14. Wish me luck! Keep me in your prayers for this and many other reasons.
Anyone want to plan a trip to the beach? Say Spring break or Memorial Day? Just the thought of the ocean is bringing me peace. I love it so much!
So, last May I had surgery on my eye to correct a strabismus problem. This is a problem where the eyes are misalligned and point in different directions. Usually one eye looks ahead and the other looks outward. This causes double vision, poor depth perception and a difficulty focusing.
There is no cure for a strabismus defect because it is neurological in its origins. In surgery they try to move the eye muscles and realign the eyes despite the problem signals in the brain. In 80% of cases the surgery works and the brain starts sending the right signals.
Unfortunately, I’m not in the 80%. Already after a mere 8 months my problem has regressed. (Before the surgery my alignment was off by 20 degrees, then it went down to 6, now it is back up to 14).
This leaves me with 2 choices-
I can try the surgery again. It is no more less or more likely to work a second time. Still 20% regress. 80% don’t and have success… This women has had the surgery 4 times http://hardluckasthma.blogspot.com/2010/06/strabismus-case-of-wandering-eye.html. A nurse at the doctors office has had it 7. These are unusual cases but there is that possibility. Each time 20% risk of it not working. Most surgeries don’t have that high a risk.
or I can get prism glasses- these are special lenses that bend light and help with the double vision. They do not correct eye alignment. As soon as the glasses are off the problem remains.
There are no long-term problems like loss of eye sight or something associated with the condition. It’s definitely a condition I could live with (I have for 31 years).
So now I must decide is it better to take a risk and have a potentially problem solved or do I go with a maintenance approach with the glasses? I don’t know if I will like glasses? Its like looking through your world through boxes and its hard to find frames that fit my huge head- most of them squeeze and cause headaches. This may sound silly but I also know I will have problems keeping track of my glasses.
On the other hand, surgery was a hard experience. It took me 2 days just to recover from the anesthesia. 4 days before I could drive and it was painful.
What would you do- would you take the risk?
It is covered by insurance multiple times as it is not viewed as a cosmetic surgery.
I knew bad news was coming at the doctor but I was still bummed to hear it. Darn it all!
Part of it is I just feel like I look weird. Maybe nobody else would notice but to me it was glaringly obvious in recent photos. This one was especially clear:
Although, this could be a way to get my mother to come visit just me again…Strabismus surgery every year! 😉 JK.
Hey, I just found out Abraham Lincoln had a strabismsus problem. Makes me feel like less of a freak show! At least
Wednesday- went into hospital at 9:45 and filled out forms and got registered. Once they called my name I went to the pre-op room. In this small room they go over the procedures and ask me a million questions, which will then be asked again and again throughout the day (my name, birthdate, what surgery I’m having, when was the last time I ate, etc). Next I had to get on my robe and other garments and get seated on the bed. Finally the nurses came in to try and ‘thread the IV’. Unfortunately I have very small veins and even drawing blood regularly takes a skilled phlebotomist several tries. Two different nurses tried on 5 pricks to no avail. (I took a photo of me with my hands all bandaged but it didn’t turn out.).
With no IV in they wheeled me into the operating room. Then I met the anesthesiologist who was a cheerful fellow who asked me more questions in a jolly way. Eventually he was able to thread the vein using a pediatric needle (I really do have small veins!). Then came the sleep…
Waking up from anesthesia is a weird experience. Its a foggy wake up where nothing makes sense. I immediately felt hot, sweaty and nauseated. In fact, within a minute I yelled for the nurse and threw up this thick gooey substance and it was all over me. (sorry for the overshare). She came and gave me a bag and tried to calm me down. At this point I wasnt even thinking about my eye. The nurse was able to change my robe and get me a hot cloth that helped sooth me and it was only then that I thought “ooh, my eye hurts!”. It hurts in a weird way. It kind of feels like a pressure mixed with a sting. Have you ever had a eye lash stuck in your eye? It feels a little like that but with all your eye lids.
After I was partly calm they moved me from post op to recovery where I could see my mom. What a welcome sight and to feel her hand on my hand. It was funny because she was so cold in the room that they gave her like 3 blankets. Me, on the other hand, was roasting- sweat sticking to the bed. The nurse tried to get me to drink cranberry juice and sprite but it was too sweet. I wish they had something better for diabetics besides sweet sodas. Finally I went with a diet pop but it didn’t help much. I tried to eat 2 crackers but did not feel well. After resting for many minutes (and receiving medicine through the iv) I was finally ready to put on my clothes which felt heavy against my sweaty, weary body. They rolled me out in a wheel chair and then I got into the car where I immediately got sick again and threw up.
Feeling awful we drove to the doctor’s office for the final adjustment to be done. I was nervous about this but with the anesthesia gel it wasn’t too bad. I told my doctor that getting my eye brow’s waxed hurts worse! He is such a good doctor and just a kind man. I am lucky to have found him. The nurse who helped us at the doctor’s had the same surgery but she told me she needed it 6 times throughout her life! I guess she was born with crossed eyes and it took many tries to get alignment. Wow! I can’t imagine going through this 6 times. She did also say that my doctor was the one who could finally get the alignment right. It seems like he is the best at this particular surgery and it is comforting to know you are in the hands of the best.
Finally after all that I could go home, take some lortab and rest. Surprisingly looking at a laptop up close was easier than a far-away tv. This is why I was able to post on facebook the day of the surgery. It was especially easy because I used a patch for the first day which helped me to focus and helped the eye to heal. Now things are fuzzier that I have to use both eyes.
My visiting teacher Brianna brought over Rumbi grill on Wednesday which I am so grateful for. Since we didn’t get home until after 4 it was so wonderful to have food brought to us. Thank you so much. She even made sure my mom had gluten-free sauce and that we all had brown rice.
Thursday- After a night of interrupted but good sleep I woke up feeling groggy and a little hung over from the anesthesia. I also felt tons of body aches after surgery. My neck, back and chest were all very sore. I felt like I had been in a car accident and was experiencing whiplash. My mom thinks it may be something to do with the position they put me in for operating. Who knows?
The whole rest of the day I wore the patch to help me see and to help me from poking at the eye. We decided my pirate name is One Eyed McGee. The eye hurt but there were also accompanying head aches that would take over my whole head. Thank goodness for Lortab! I just have 12 pills to get me through the worst of it because I know how dangerous it can be. On Thursday I was grateful for it. It was so nice having my mother here to talk with and help me take the medicine. The eye drops are very important and I have to remember to take them 4 times a day.
Friday- Most of the grogginess is gone and doctor says I have to take off the patch for the day. This makes things double and can be painful- particularly when my eye tries to move. It is more like a pressure accompanied by a bit of a sting. Still, there is definite improvement today. We decide to visit my grandma (I figured sitting there not that different from sitting in my apartment). That was a pleasant visit but I did get tired towards the end. I think it will take a couple of days to be back to my usual effervescent self!
Not wearing the patch is hard. I feel there is liquid coming and want to dab my eye or pick at it. It takes all of my strength to leave it alone. I don’t want infection to develop. I must admit that despite my best efforts the skin under my eye is a little raw from the gauze rubbing against it. today I must do better on that. It’s just very tempting but I really dont’ want an infection.
Saturday- Today I feel pretty good. I woke up with my eye caked over in fluid and the like, which I have read is common. I do feel the sting and the throbbing are a little better. I feel confident I should be able to drive tomorrow to take my mom to the airport. Today we are going to try going out with friends for lunch and maybe going to Ikea. We will see. Now I look like a one-eyed vampire. The strangest thing is I cannot open my right eye completely because of the sutures- so one eye looks big and the other freakishly small. Oh well! All part of the healing process.
Today I am transitioning off of lortab to Tylenol and ibuprofen. I know how dangerous lortab can be and do not want to become an addict. Still, it was nice to have for a few days to relieve pain.
I am confident of my healing moving forward. Thank you for all the support and encouragement I have received. Its been quite the journey but soon I will be able to see differently than ever before. I will be curious to hear your feedback about my eye contact and other things you see as improvements post surgery. My friend Melissa said she could already see a new alignment and that she thought I looked prettier! That made my day. Nothing like being told your pretty when you look like a one-eyed vampire! I really am curious to know if you see anything different in my face and how I interact with you. My eye contact should at least be better.
If any of you are going through surgery- particularly this surgery- know it will be rough but you will get through it. Lean on the support of those you loved and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I am so grateful to those who have helped me especially my Mom.
To healing and getting stronger each day! Please keep the prayers and thoughts coming. Love, Rachel