Please accept my apologies for being unable to notify you about my medical emergency and its impact on my posting. As the word ’emergency’ indicates, I got very little warning. As things were bad, they moved very quickly and I’m still under daily care.
Thanks to a dear friend, I am able to dictate this post to ensure you get it. My reason for posting while still undergoing care is because it’s not impossible that learning this could save you or a loved one your sight. I’m no ophthalmologist, so I can’t tell you all the ways you could go blind. But I can tell you about one.
Let me begin by saying that there is an extremely tiny chance that your situation would be anywhere near as serious as mine. Good doctors and modern medicine mean this isn’t something you have to be afraid of, just aware of. My case is rare, difficult, and extremely painful. Most people, if they react quickly, rather than facing blindness, have quick and relatively pain-free recoveries.
What I’m describing is a retinal detachment.
You can think of your retina as the pages of an open book, shaped into a curve and lining the inside surface of your eyeball. It serves many functions, and includes layers where your cones and rods are located (it’s all very fascinating).
Even in a normal case of a detached retina, it is important that you do not delay in going to an emergency ophthalmologist as soon as you notice your symptoms. Do not wait. Go now.
Potential symptoms include: sparkles in your vision; black flecks in your vision that block out the background completely (not to be mistaken for the floaters that all of us normally have); flashes of light in one or both eyes; blurred vision; gradually reduced peripheral (side) vision; a curtain or veil-like shadow over your visual field; a heavy feeling in your eye; straight lines that start to look curved; or, as I had, a disc or section of your vision completely blocked out. Pure black.
In a normal detached retina, a tiny hole will occur on the top page of the retina that receives light. The fluid of the eye will then get through this hole and create a blister. At this stage, this is where you are likely to experience your first symptoms. If you react quickly and head to emergency, ask to see an ophthalmologist. Trust me, they will get you in as quickly as they can.
If you’ve caught it quickly, the ophthalmologist will arrange for a painless laser operation to weld the hole closed. You may have blurry vision for a few months, but then you’ll be fine. Yay, modern medicine!
But if you wait, the fluid in the blister will slosh from side to side and turn that tiny hole into a tear—and you will also place several pages of your retina at risk. Obviously, spot welding a little hole in a single layer is much easier than welding an entire jagged canyon through many, or all, the layers.
These are the things you need to know to protect yourself and your family. This can happen to anyone at any age, although people playing sports or who experience impacts to the head are at even greater risk. Let me reiterate: if you act quickly, this is not something to be afraid of. If anything, you’ll feel like you’re in an episode of Star Trek. But delay, and you risk your sight.
The one thing you don’t want to be in a doctor’s office is ‘interesting’. This means you’ll be beneficial to teaching residents about rare cases. But rarely are those rare cases easy. I have some great stories to share with you about my fantastic doctors, as well as fear, pain, and mood management, as soon as I’m well enough to get back to writing—which I hope is very soon.
In the meantime, if any of you have been thinking about booking time—particularly telephone time—now would be a great time to schedule it, as it will be somewhat problematic for me to meet people in person for a while.
I’m sorry I can’t tell you exactly when I’ll be restarting, but I can assure you that time away from you has even further invigorated my spirit about my work. Despite the fact that I was worse off than many of the other patients that I met, their choices led them to have much more challenging interior experiences than mine.
Thank you for your patience, understanding, and dedication to my work. I very much look forward to reconnecting with you all very soon.