I’m Like A Pirate, Sorta (What I’ve Learned From Surgery)

As regular readers know, on Monday I had eye surgery. I had hoped to be back up and ready to talk applesauce and last minute fall crop options but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen for a while.

Here’s what’s up: I was put under general anesthesia and my surgeon cut some of the muscles that control my eyeballs and then re-positioned those muscles into a more optimum position on the eye.

Typical recovery for something like this is 2 to 3 days if all goes well. All has not gone well for me. I have had a particularly dramatic inflammatory reaction to the surgery. This swelling has pulled my eye muscles out of alignment and prevented my eyes from seating back into a parallel position.

This eye pull has caused double vision. Whenever I look at anything, I see two of it. Looking at things while moving is particularly difficult. The double vision has led to headaches, nausea, and some difficulty with focused tasks, like reading and writing. In order to prevent the double vision from overwhelming my ability to do anything, I must cover one eye and block out the stimulus from that eye.

Currently I am sporting a fab pirate patch. Arrrrgggghh! I’m a pirate.

I’m only smiling because I’m on drugs.

Which reminds me,
Q: What is a pirate’s favorite vegetable?
A: An Arrrgghhgh-tichoke!

(See, this is kinda gardening related…sort of. Maybe.)

I won’t beat around the bush: this eye thing fucking sucks. This is far worse than two natural birth deliveries. It is scary, it is intimidating, it is debilitating, it is emotional. This is my eyesight, and right now it’s just not working right.

The good news is that my surgeon is really, fantastically good at what he does and very supportive. I’ve talked to him twice in the four days since my surgery and he’s talked me down from the ledge of panic each time. He assures me my eyes will straighten and the double vision will go away. But instead of a 2 or 3 day typical recovery time I’m looking at 2 to 3 weeks.

You guys know how I roll. How do you think I react to 2 or 3 weeks of more or less forced inactivity?

Not good, people, not good. It’s been an emotional few days around here. Every 6 hours or so I have a complete breakdown and start sobbing and then I fall asleep for awhile.

But there are some upsides, believe it or not.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Friends are Indispensable

A few of mine have borne the brunt of helping me out over this difficult period, and they have been really amazingly supportive. Thank you, my lovlies. You know who you are. They’ve let me nap, taken my son for entire days, gotten my daughter to and from the bus, brought me food and let me cry and vent and be scared.

They’ve lied and said, “oh that doesn’t look so bad” about my crossed and bloody eyes and they’ve been honest and said, “What you look like when you recover from surgery doesn’t matter for shit. So stop worrying about it.”

Homebrew Husband has been awesome. He has been unable to take any time off work right now but he has tirelessly been doing his job and then coming home and doing my job. The man has halved plums for the dehydrator every evening this week.

Interestingly, the majority of friends who’ve really come to bat for me at this time are, themselves, surgery survivors. I think this makes sense. It’s hard to relate to what someone is going through unless you’ve run up against your own version.

Say No To GoogleMD

One of my good friends is a major surgery veteran. She had hip surgery that kept her from walking for 6 weeks. The woman is a trooper. I’m not sure how she knew I’d spent 8 hours intermittently searching for terms like “eye surgery complications” on Google and YouTube, but she did. She told me to knock that shit off, and she’s right. Don’t do that. It’s torture. It doesn’t help anything. When it’s videos of eye surgery, it’s special torture.

Suck It Up. Ask For Help

This is where I have been a little better. I’ve reached out to a number of friends for little favors, and when friends have asked if they could help I’ve said, “Yeah, I’d like to take you up on that. Can you watch my son for 10 hours?” This is relatively difficult for me, being something of a control freak. But none of my friends have said, “Suck it up, half-blind girl. Don’t be a whiner. And stop bumping into me for godssake.”

Allow Yourself To Rest

Naps. Wow. I’ve slept more hours in the past 4 days than in the prior couple weeks I think. Everyone is willing to let me sleep. It’s quite a strange occurrence since over the past two year my son hasn’t been big on letting me sleep much at all.

Worried? Call Your Damn Doctor

Because this surgery has not healed as quickly as we hoped, and there have been some side-effects, I have called my doctor twice. He’s called in supplemental prescriptions and recommended herbal supplements (“I want you taking 12 fish oil capsules a day!”) to help with the inflammation and told me when I can begin stretching the eye muscles that were repositioned.

My surgeon happens to be really awesome at his job. All the parts of his job, not just the cutting people’s eyeballs part. Which means he has really taken the time to reassure me that things are ok and are – while not ideal in terms of healing – not something that I need to freak about over. He specifically told me to call him, on his personal cell no less, rather than freaking out for days at a time. He has reassured me that my specific surgery went really well and there were no indications that this was anything other than a larger-than-typical inflammatory reaction. After I talk to him, I feel better, and he doesn’t make me feel bad for needing to talk to him.

It’s Okay If Not Everyone Is Really There

Surgery, like a lot of things in life (childbirth comes to mind) is one of those things that you probably only really understand after you’ve personally been through or been close to. If some people aren’t lining up to help out, or don’t seem to get that this is “big deal” time, try not to take it personally because they honestly probably just aren’t aware of what you are going through.

In my particular case, and because I’ve tried not to make a big-f’ing-deal about this, a few people thought I was undergoing something equivalent to Lasik and didn’t recognize that this is more of a full anestesia and stitches-in-your-eyeball type thing. So, just try to gracefully accept assistance from those people who do get it.

On the flip side, recognize the gift that this experience gives you: the gift of having more understanding and compassion for people in your life when they go through something similar. When the time comes that you can be there for someone, you’ll better know how to help and how to empathize. I know I will.

Have you been through surgery? Got any advice?

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Comments

  1. Erica,
    Sorry to hear about the problems you’ve had with the surgery; I had a similar, double eye version of your surgery back 33 years ago (when I was 6) and came through it without issue. I am surprised you’ve had such severe swelling that it has caused double vision, headaches and nausea. I agree, Google/et al., is handy for some things; but it makes things worse when you’re trying to diagnose medical issues, there is too much to sift through and too much cruft. Your MD should be able to help you and if he/she can’t, get referred and address your issues with the specialist.

    That said, though it’s frustrating, take the time as a gift, to relax and also, enjoy the new acquaintance with your other senses that sight often overshadows like a sequoia overshadowing an apple tree (I have this exact situation in my yard).

    I hope you get well soon and get back to what you love soon.

    • Thanks Anthony, yup I bet we had the same thing – did you have an exo or esophoria? I had both eyes done as well and my surgeon is a pediatric ophthalmologist. When I go for check ups it’s so much fun – the waiting room is totally decked out in climbing toys for kids and there’s a bean bag room for watching movies on the flat screen. :) Totally pimped out kids Drs. office. Typically patients don’t have this kind of swelling reaction, and generally kids adapt to the angle changes a bit better, as I understand it. A lot of the nausea the first four days was exacerbated by the anesthesia, which I don’t respond particularly well to. :( Thanks so much.

  2. Sleep, sleep, sleep. It reduces the panic, the moody times, the urge to do unhealthy things like eat, and helps with healing. I love that you tell someone what you need when they say, “Call if I can do anything.” I have offered that because I really don’t know how to help, only to be turned down and then later have the person say they were in dire straits. Good luck.

  3. I’ve not had surgery as serious as what you’ve undergone, but I did have to have metal removed from my cornea when I was in college (twice actually, when it was discovered that they hadn’t gotten it all the first time). I had to wear an eyepatch for 3+ days. I remember the worst part was the lack of depth perception and the stuff my brain tried to fill in for the eye I wasn’t seeing out of (kind of like blue fireworks in my case). On the upside, when I did finally remove the eyepatch (in the dark-that eye is gonna be super sensitive to light at first) I felt like I had cat vision–I could see in the dark!

    My advice would be, take it slow, don’t expect too much of yourself, catch up on your sleep it’s good for healing, don’t spend too much time in front of the computer as looking at a computer screen with one eye is hard on the brain. Hang in there :)

    • In a lot of ways I think your surgery was more serious because mine doesn’t involve messing around inside the eye where the vision-stuff happens, only moving around things that are connected to the outside of the eye. You win! :) I had that cat eye experience last night when I unpatched into total darkness and could see everything. Granted, I could see TWO of everything, but still…

  4. Oh Erica, that sucks! I’m so sorry the procedure has been so rough for you. I have no experience or wisdom to share, but I hope you can continue to rest up and not go crazy in the meantime.

  5. I’ve had ankle surgery, but I’m gonna guess that eye surgery sucks a whole lot more. I don’t have any advice for the recovery period, because I have a crappy, crappy memory and don’t actually remember that much of my recovery period. (Actually, I consider a bad memory a blessing in cases like this.)

    For me, the big thing I learned both from getting through surgery, and then subsquently forgetting most of the experience, is that these things don’t really scar you for life. (Well, not emotionally anyway. I do have some actual scars on my ankle.) I’m not trying to minimize what you’re going through now–even I remember enough about the recovery period to say that I wasn’t enjoying myself at all–but hopefully it’s a comfort to know that the recovery period truly is temporary. Not only will the initial problem that drove the surgery go away, the emotional scars of living with it and surviving the recovery period will go away too.

    • This is a wonderful reminder, thank you! “This too shall pass, the body shall heal.” I am also blessed with a TERRIBLE memory for anything kinda traumatic or painful. Probably in a few months I’ll vaguely remember being annoyed by this and that will be that. :)

  6. Ugh, sorry to hear about the complications! I hope things improve quickly and dramatically so that you can get back to feeling good and normal. Except the whole sleeping thing; maybe that can stick around a little longer!

  7. I feel for you! I also tend to suffer from excessive inflammation whenever I have surgery, and that completely sucks. It takes more time to recover, and the worry sets in. “Why am I still running a fever? What is this extra pain? Did you leave something in there???” Dumb. But that’s where my brain goes. For me, I’ve discovered that cutting down on grains and dairy seems to help reduce the inflammation effect and makes me feel much better and heal faster. I like the fish oil idea as well; I’ll have to try that if I ever have surgery again (fingers crossed, head shaking).

    I’m told cutting down on alcohol helps as well (holds hands over ears and sings a loud silly song).

    Stay away from the internet forums on health issues. I’ve given myself more than one panic attack while trying to educate myself. Just remember that the only people who feel the need to post are the ones who had a bad experience. Odds are in your favor.

    On another note, Wednesday was official talk like a pirate day, so you were right in the game: http://www.talklikeapirate.com/piratehome.html. Did you have your cup of Arrrrbucks and eat a nice limey side dish?

    In the words of Charlie Papazian, “Relax. Don’t Worry. Have a home-brew.”

  8. Oh you poor thing! Eye pain is so much harder to get away from than say pain in a knee. So glad to hear you have help, an in particular that DH is right in there. You two are blessed with such a good partnership. SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP. You probably have a huge sleep debt built up over the last 2 years. Now is the time to pay it back. Don’t Google the concept right now, :) And thank goodness you have a doctor who knows about things like salmon oil.

  9. Surgery sucks. period. And for an active type A type it must be especially hard to let go, but that’s what you have to do: let go, rest, heal, drink lots of water, rest more, let your posse lead. Good luck and I hope it’s a growth opportunity for you!

  10. I would TOTALLY help you out if I lived closer. :) I’ve had surgery as it turns out. Of course when I had surgery I was unfortunate enough to not get any help except from the husband figure. It would have been nice to have help. :(

  11. I was born using primarily one eye, but, as a youngster they tried to improve my weak eye by wearing a patch over the good eye… wowza, did my brain not like that twist. I found that I felt more comforted when I tilted my head; though I don’t know why it helped. :)

    I’ve noticed over the years when anesthesia has been used that my entire body reacts poorly. I bloat, swell, ache all over, feel nauseated, etc. The best thing I had found is to drink alot of water to clear it out of my system as fast as I could. The supplements the doctor recommended might help with that too.

    Do continue to be gentle on yourself, take deep breaths in calm, and rest your eyes. Hugs

  12. Tammie Haley says:

    I work in the eye department here at the hospital. I do know what you mean about the surgery, how it looks afterwards and how you feel about your vision. It will be tough to wait those 2-3 weeks! However, as someone who is also very interested in herbs and their medicinal value. Stopping by and talking to an herbalist could help with the speed of healing. One of the main things I would suggest first is a detox. I don’t know if you knew but surgery causes depression in some people. The drugs used during surgery are at fault. Plus just the healing process takes up a lot of nutrients and that alone can cause depression. That is why we are told to get lots of sleep, drink lots (I suggest herbal teas.) and taking epsom salt baths ( I would also throw in some rosebuds, calendula, oats, lavender, violets, meadowsweet, lemonbalm…..) These things help restore the balance of our bodies. I’m sure you are eating lots of pre and probiotics so that should really help with the absorption of the nutrients. I hope the recovery goes along a little quicker than you expect. Glad to hear you have so many people willing to help out. What a great community you have!

  13. Feel better, Erica. I had an ovarian cyst removed when I was 20. It was scary and the recovery took weeks. Every time I stood up, I would throw up. So not cool. Thank goodness at the time I was living with my parents. Now I am 32 and I have a child and 6 pets! I would need all the help I could get. I love your last paragraph. The crap we go through in life does make us more compassionate and we should be thankful for the experience. It also teaches us a lot about ourselves. Thinking about you, especially while making peach preserves using your recipe. :)

  14. Here’s wishing you a speedy recovery! So sorry things are taking longer to heal what with the inflammation and all. Friends are awesome to lean on when things aren’t going well and you need help. Sending positive vibes your way for you and your family!

  15. Feeling lots of sympathy here. Not to turn this into a me-too-only-kinda-worse thing, but I totally get the frustration of being the one person in gajillions that has the sucky extra reaction. When I was 18, I had surgery for a deviated septum, was told I would have a couple of black eyes, and given an appointment two days later to come in for a check-up. Two days later my face had completely disappeared from swelling and bruising, and I was throwing up buckets of blood. After even more surgery, and an entire week in the hospital that never registered for me at all, I learned that I have Von Willebrand’s Disease, which is a rare form of Hemophilia that affects women. Yay. Lucky me. Actually, I am grateful, because I had to have surgery on my jaw three months later, and the herd of docs said that if I had the jaw surgery without them knowing about the bleeding disorder it would have been end of story. Dead, with no possibility of time off for good behavior. Praise God for deviated septums! :-) I’m also grateful not to have had kids and other major grown-up responsibilities.

    I know you are just trying to hang in there, and the last thing you probably want to think about is responsibilities to your fans, but I do want to add one thing: You really are awesome. I’m so happy that my husband and I ran into you in Oregon Garden and got turned on to NW Edible. I am learning so much from you, and enjoying every minute of it because of your knowledge, humor, and the way you make gardening for us newbies seem understandable and a lot less intimidating by breaking it down into digestible chunks. I know lots of folks feel this way, and can’t wait to see what you send out into the world with your new writing-for-money-like-a-real-perfessunal gig. Not trying to rush you back to the keyboard–sleep, rest, get hooked on soap operas, etc., but know we’ll all be waiting for you when you’re better! :-)

    • I have Von Willebrand’s also – I’m a type 2a. What are you?

      I was told it’s rare, but really, it isn’t as rare as they once thought. There’s Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 (usually the elderly get that).

      I just have to take antibiotics and clotting factors if I have surgery. :)

  16. Oh my goodness! Here I am gone for a while and wow! You poor thing!

    I’m a bit north of you in Tulip Country, but I’m down your direction frequently. Email me if you need anything. Particularly if you need some freaking Blackberry Jalapeno Bourbon Jam (aka Bar Room Brawl Jam) cause I’m covered up with that. But I’m good at doing laundry too. I know how much close up movement can hurt so I’m 100% willing to help. No surgery here, just crazy vertigo.

  17. FWIW. The eye seems to be the quickest healing of anything else on the body (evolution in action….. talk about an advantage) so it will get better. The important thing right now is to accept it, remain calm, and know things will get better.

  18. Tammie Haley says:

    I’m also very glad to hear your doctor told you to take fish oil. I would also suggest eyebright. As mentioned above….when you do take off the eye patch you will be very sensitive to light because the retina set itself up to be able to see better with very little light. I can take up to 1 full day to fully be ready for full sunlight. Please remember to wear sunglasses for at least the day you remove the eyepatch.

  19. Lori Cochran says:

    Okay, read all the sappy yes I had surgury, poor thing, blah blah blah. Yes I too had lumpectoy last week. BUT you MUST KNOW it was NATIONAL PIRATE DAY ON 9/19 AND YOU WERE THE BEST ONE I’VE SEEN POSTED! But next time put on your f…g hat and conjure up some Johnny Depp, he will heal in seconds dawling. HUGS! I’m not kidding one lil bit. xoxo

  20. Robin-Taine says:

    2 weeks ago, I lost my own sugery virginity! I am healing well, thankfully, but I totally get how difficult this must be for you! Please continue to be patient and take care…this time will pass and you will want your eyesight to fully heal! Good luck, and God bless!!

  21. Oh no, that sucks, but the all the positive spin you put on it sounds wonderful. Great stuff to take out of a not-so-good experience. I have been thinking about you. I am not a good patient (despite being an RN, or perhaps, because of it!) and having all that down-time when you were not expecting it is an adjustment. And hopefully it will go quickly and smoothly. Love that your man has been doing the preserving for you. Gosh, can you even read at the moment? Maybe get some books-on-tape? What old series of Survivor? Best of luck for the rest of your recovery, Erica, I will be thinking of you and sending you good luck vibes…

  22. My deepest sympathies go out to you, Erica. Our eyes are perhaps the most fragile and terrifying body malfunction to contemplate. (Those who have had inner ear equilibrium problems may beg to differ with me on this.) All of the observations you have noted are valid. I suggest you add to that some sort of meditation process. Eyes closed, aware of breathing, finding your inner calm. There are hundreds, thousands of varying approaches to meditation; I’m sure you can find one that resonates for you. And remember, the only way around this is through it. Sending you loving kindness – metta.

  23. About five years ago I had knee surgery to try and correct for the causes of the chronic pain I’ve had since my mid-teens. There was slicing of bone and titanium hardware and all kinds of fun.

    The surgeon and his assistant told me recovery would take only a few days and I could expect to be back at work in a week or less.

    Imagine my surprise — or rather, my panic — when I discovered that I had zero control over my leg from the hip down. Like, I had to manually pick my leg up with my hands and move it. “Walking” involved a sort of dragging it along behind the crutches.

    This lasted for about three weeks. On the second day, overwhelmed with terror that something was horribly wrong and I would never be able to use my leg again, I finally called the surgeon’s office. The PA brushed it off with an “oh, that happens sometimes.” NICE OF YOU TO WARN ME.

    I felt *really* helpless, and I discovered the hard way that my partner, for all his other sterling qualities, was a terrible nurse. You are way more understanding about this than I was.

    I spent a crazy amount of time watching DVDs, a recommendation that may do you no good whatsoever. The pain was often beyond what even oxycodone could mitigate, so I didn’t sleep nearly as much as I’d have liked. Distraction can be crucial.

    I don’t know what your tastes in fiction are, if any, but here are two audiobook recommendations; both (well, technically three) are engrossing books with excellent readers:

    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton
    The Name of the Wind & The Wise Man’s Fear, read by Nick Podehl

    And I was serious about my offer to help. I’m just down by Shoreline. Drop me a note if there’s anything I can do.

  24. Erica, first I want to say, ” I get it and i’m so sorry you have to deal with this” It’s scary enough having an operation, then you add negative side effects and it can get down right spooky! I am a “surgery surviver” but most importantly i’m like you a ” bad side effects surviver” and I think there is a bit of a difference. It sounds like you are like me, you want to ‘know’ what they are going to do, and the internet is full of every possible thing that can work or go wrong. I agree with your friend. Once you are dealing with a complication the internet becomes a place of nightmares. My story? I am a veteran of 5 surgery’s to try to fix the damage done to my right hand and arm after a work related injury. Every step of the way, what could have gone wrong has. rare conditions, bad reactions, and who knew that I over scar! Anyway, I still have 2 to go and I am having to revisit all the ” what if’s” and I’m scared too. I guess the one thing I want you to know about this process is this. When it goes poorly, and we are forced to have to stop, take stock,ask for help,rest when we don’t want to, feel things we don’t want to, allow our friends and family TO help us, learn what needs to be at the top of our To-Do list, and get rid of the rest, the ‘gift’ is in the complication. Would you let all this happen for you, if you weren’t down for the count? You know to rest, to eat well, and all those things,I have no doubt. Lean into the process, as much as you can, it will teach you more than you can possibly know with out it. From one surviver of the ” oh shit’s” to you, I send my warmest regards, and healing thoughts.

  25. I am so sorry about your eye!

    I wanted to let you know I LOVE how your curse in your blog, it makes my day. :)

  26. No eye surgery for me, but had jaw surgery which busted my face into 7 peices and put five back. I swelled up like a pumpkin. My mother took me to get a massage. I warned them that I would knock them through a wall if they touched the wrong spots. They did a face and ECM massage, never hurt me and the swelling was gone the next day. My neck muscles were so tight there was no healing blood flow. Dr said I probably healed twice as fast just from the massage. Oh darn a reason to get a massage, right? That’s my advice anyhow. Can’t hurt. Worked for me.

  27. Damn auto correct. Face and neck massage. No idea what a ECM massage is. Lol!

  28. I’ve had lens replacement on both eyes and would suggest music – I like lying down with music going more than trying to sleep and that was the point when it really sank in that your eyes move together – reading hurts too much.

    I also had a wash and blow dry at the hairdressers. Nicer than trying to do it yourself, plus the smooth shiny hairdressers version of my hair always makes me feel better!

    And it’s perfectly valid to freak out about problems. Glad you’ve got a doc you can call to help with that.

  29. Sending positive thoughts and prayers your way for full recovery. Having some health issues myself,I realise what a humbling effect it can have on a person. Please don’t hesitate to ask for help from loved ones when you need it. It is good for all concerned, the patient and the helper!

    Get well soon ~hugs~
    Peggy

  30. Okay, this might be kinda long & if you get bored part way, just delete it okay?!! : )

    In Feb. 2010, I found by glancing to the left at my husband walking towards me, I had diplopia, (double vision), but only when looking to the left. Within a months time, I had double vision no matter which way I moved my eyes, plus my eyes were now hurting whenever and whichever way I moved my eyeballs.
    After seeing my GP then an eye specialist & having a mild stroke being ruled out, and having more tests, the results showed I had thyroid eye disease/ Graves Disease/ Graves Opthalmopathy, & Prebtibial Myxedema (Graves Dermopathy), with the dermopathy affecting the lower part of both my legs and feet. All in all, it was quite the diagnosis to digest.

    My first eye treatment to hopefully correct my double vision was radiation, which for me being somewhat claustraphobic, was a nightmare because of the suffocating face mask that had to be first, formed to fit your face while having to lie on a metal table not being able to move until the mask hardened onto the features of my face, & then having to wear the mask from hell that was then clamped to the metal table so freaking tight, passing out from a panic attack & from not being able to breath because of the panic attack, every time I had a treatment, was not out of the question.

    The radiation didn’t work, going to childrens hospital numerous times for prisms didn’t work, an eye patch just like yours made me vomit whenever I wore it, & since my double vision was getting so severe, I ended up having the same eye muscle repositioning surgery you’ve had, in the spring of 2011. It was important that the surgery wasn’t done too soon after diagnosis.

    Anyway.. I can tell you from experience, who ever told you your recovery time from your eye muscle surgery would be 2-3 days, is freaking nuts!
    I was a mess for the first week, and not doing much better the second week. After the second week things slowly started to improve but until my stitches disolved completely, around the 6 week, my eyes, with that feeling of being full of sand or grit from the stitches, were super uncomfortable.

    Since having my surgery, I now have singular binocular vision in the primary, or straight ahead position, meaning, if I was looking at your face while chatting with you, I’d see your face as a single object. But, if I keep my head in the primary/straight ahead positition & try to move my eyeballs upwards, downwards, & to the left or right, I still have double vision and discomfort, and probably always will.

    I’ve had to train myself to move my entire head in the direction I want to look, because if I don’t, simple things like walking through intersections, watching for traffic, walk on the sidewalk with other pedestrians, climbing up and down stairs, getting on the bus, etc, I give the impression of a weaving drunk not able to keep her balance, & I oftentimes feel like a weaving drunk not able to keep her balance.
    I don’t go anywhere on my own without a cane, as I need the cane to help stop the feeling I might fall or lose my footing.
    Even though my eyes have improved, I can no longer rely on them for keeping my balance. I’ve fallen numerous times, even breaking a hip bone that has thankfully, healed save for a floating bone fragment that moves the wrong way causing me pain off and on. I’m also constantly bumping into things such as walls, doorways, chairs, & stools that look to be in a different place to my eyes, but, in reality are usually right in front of me.

    This past August, I had eyelid retraction surgery on both upper & lower lids, as my eyelids would no longer close completely, due to my thyroid/Graves eye disease causing my eyeballs, especially my left eyeball, to bulge outward. It was probably one of the most unpleasant experiences I’ve ever had surgery wise, as there was no mild sedation as I had thought there would be, just freezing from what seemed at the time, a gazillion needles!

    Much to my chargin, on my follow up visit with my surgeon, I was told I would have to have to have my eyelid retraction surgery re-done on my left upper lid and my right lower lid, as my surgeon moved one too far down, and the other not far enough up. Both of which I knew might have to be corrected, but I was really hoping with time, they would improve on their own.
    So, my re-do eyelid surgery is Oct. 12th & I’m not at all looking forward to it. I’ve pretty well gotten to the point I don’t want one more doctor touching my eyes, but know in reality, that’s probably never going to happen.

    Erica, was your surgery for double vision or another eye problem? I only ask as double vision is rare after eye muscle surgery, but d0 know it is also not to be taken lightly.
    Did your eye surgeon give your antibiotic eye drops such as Tobradex? They’re a big help as far as I’m concerned. I was prescribed Tobradex, 4 drops a day after my eye muscle surgery and 4 times daily after my eyelid retraction surgery as well, but that has since been dropped to twice daily until the drops are finished.

    Please, please, do not take the advice of using eyebright. The side effects of using eyebright if you’ve had any type of procedure done on your eyes can damage your eyes & eyesight for good. Check with your GP & your eye surgeon before you even think of using eyebright, PLEASE!
    As for herbal remedies/supplements, after trying so many through the years & finding it’s pretty well a crap shoot that you’re actually buying a pure herbal remedy, or that you’re buying a herbal remedy thats mixed with unknown fillers instead. I’m not a big fan of them anymore, but, that’s just me.

    As for looking up info on google. I agree and don’t agree. There is a lot of missinformation out there but there’s also a lot of good information out there that can be helpful when you’re in the dark about medical stuff. When I was first diagnosed, I went out of my way to research my disease as I wanted to know what was ahead for me, what quality of life would I have, stuff like that.
    I dont’ bother with junky websites or fly by the night medical websites selling meds, & medical chat boards where every Tom Dick and Harry has a miracle cure for whatever ails you, and instead, I search out Australian & British medical journals/websites & some Italian medical journals/websites as they’re miles ahead of US and Canada when it comes to finding & having up to date information.

    I have 32 printed pages from the Department of endoctrinogia, University of Pisa, Italy, titled, ‘Management of Graves Ophthalmopathy: Reality and Perspectives, via The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, via the Endocrine Society, as well as multiple pages on Pretibial Myxedema (Dermopathy of Graves Disease) from the same source.
    I took my papers to my eye surgeons ( I have 3) as well as my thyroid doc, and GP as I wanted their advice as to if the material I’d found was something they’d recomend. My thyroid doc, my GP & one of my eye surgeons printed copies of the Endocrine Society material for themselves, so you see, sometimes google can be very helpful!

    I also searched out how my eyelid retraction surgery was done as I wanted to know what to expect. I was lucky enough to find written material as well as a video of the surgery being performed on a patient & have to say, the video more than anything, was very helpful when I had my eye lid retraction surgery, as I knew each step my surgeon was taking. The only thing I didn’t know from the video, was how badly the cauterizing pen the doc was using on my eyelids smelled. Hoo boy!

    A million healing hugs coming your way Erica!
    Stay strong, & keep telling yourself,
    “This too, shall pass!”

  31. Oh wow, I really didn’t realise how serious the surgery was going to be, but so sorry that the recovery is turning out to be so much worse than predicted. Great that your surgeon has been so reassuring though.

    I’ve had surgery a couple of times, but nothing too major – appendicitis and an (unrelated, years earlier) laparoscopy. But in both cases my husband was able to be home/take care of kids (and me) for a couple of days. I can imagine how hard it would be to be post-surgery and still taking care of kids -miserable even with a ‘normal’ recovery!

    Anyway, all the best, take it easy (as if you have a choice!) for the next few weeks. Audiobooks are good :)

  32. I am so sorry you’re dealing with all of this! Lots of good thoughts headed your way, and I’m so glad you have a good support system there.

  33. Erica,
    I really hope you get better and better. That is a hard thing to go thru, the decision to have the surgery and then having it! I had surgery on my eye when I was 16 and wore the patch for a few weeks. It was really embarrassing for a 16yo. Rest and enjoy your network of friends taking care of thing for you. You need to heal and gain strength, surgery does take it out of you. Blessed be.

  34. Hello,
    I’m sorry to hear about the complication of your surgery and I do wish you a speedy recovery. You are a spot on when you said that people can not relate to your pain/suffering unless they have gone through the same path. I myself went through many surgeries due to a car accident I had many years ago. I was 20 and in my country they couldn’t do all the necessary operations, so I had to go to UK for more surgeries. I was granted a visa on the same day but my dad who was going to come with me wasn’t, so I had to travel alone and do all the operations while alone. I didn’t know anyone in UK and it was so so hard waking up after a major surgery and there is no one there to hold your hand and tell you that all will be ok. The worst part was when other patients received visitors bringing in flowers and food. Honestly there are no words to describe what I went through.

    Many years later, I made many friends and London became home to me but still I found out that it is very difficult for people to relate to your pain and panic (I still have some problems due to the accident) if they haven’t gone through a similar experience. I do understand very much your panic, as I do still go though the same very often. No one can understand how scary it is when your eyesight is effected. You live in a permanent state of worry and fear and panic.

    For me, it is still hard but every day I wake up and open my eyes and can see the beautiful world around me, I feel happy. I try to not to think about tomorrow.

    Sincere wishes to get well soon.
    Kind Regards
    Cyrene

    • Oh, I forgot to say what really helped and still help me is listening to audio books. Over the years I have accumulated a collection of them. I get fiction audio books because I write myself, so that I give myself a break from reading. Audio books can be quite expensive but in your case as it is something temporarily you can get a couple to listen to while recovering. I strongly recommend Agatha Christie read by David Suchet, so fun and relaxing :)

  35. Erica, I just wanted to say ‘hi’ and wish you a speedy recovery. Take care of yourself and rest. I’ll busy myself reading old posts and hope to ‘see’ you back very soon.

  36. A good audio book, a hot bath and a pint of Hagen Daz peach sorbet.
    P.S. I have a sword and a Jack Sparrow hat if you want to borrow it. :)

  37. Some years ago, I also had eye surgery on one eye. It hurt so bad that I wasn’t able to open either eye. My daughter had to lead me around and feed me. I slept in a comfy rocking chair, which really helped comfort me. My daughter slept on the couch next to me for over a week, until I was able to open my “good” eye. It takes a bit of time, but you will feel better again. Much love and good thoughts to you during your healing process.

  38. You know, earlier this week or last week was “Talk like a Pirate day” you didn’t have to take it soooo seriously to celebrate :)

    Get better fast!

  39. My son has amblyopia too…he has to wear a patch for four hours a day every day…we instituted pirate time and things are going very well. We are trying to avoid any surgery (not an option for adults…or you’d get to be a long term pirate too!) and so far everything is going well. Good luck with the patch and healing…and great job at making it fun.

  40. Hi Erica,
    Hope you are recovering and feeling better. Just wanted to give you a ‘high five’, I really enjoy your blog and share it with my friends. You have inspired me in so many ways. Keep your spirits up and don’t forget how many ‘web friends’ you have.
    Take Care!

  41. Just found your awesome site! Rest BOTH of your eyes girlfriend… will tell you my story much later.

  42. I don’t think I would trust a doctor that calls fish an herb…

  43. Hi there – found you from MMM! Hope you are continuing to heal every day. No fun, for sure – but just remember to count your blessings! I’ve been hearing impaired since I was 6 years old and wear 2 hearing aids – now THAT is a bummer! But I’m always counting my blessings……….#1) that I can wear hearing aids that help me enormously, and #2) that we can afford the price of these quite expensive, digital, in-the-ear “diamonds” (as I like to call them!! ha ha). But seriously, take it easy and I’m sure your body will continue to heal your eye! Can’t rush these things as much as we’d like to sometimes – lay low and enjoy the down time for now!

  44. You’re a gutzy woman, Erica. I admire your style. Wish you the best of luck. Having lost an eye, I appreciate what you are going through, but, you’ll be fine. You’re tough!

  45. Samantha says:

    Hi Erica,
    I love your gardening blog and just saw this post about your eye surgery. I woke up one morning 6 weeks ago with diplopia and am now seeing a couple different pediatric opthamologists (and a neurologist tomorrow) to figure out what’s going on. So far no one has any clue what is causing this (no head trauma, no stroke, no diabetes, no MS…). They say I’m not a candidate for surgery until at least 6-12 months have past. But the notion of them cutting the muscles/nerves around my eye really freaks me out. I’d really like to hear more about your experience with this if you have the time to email me. ~Samantha

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