November 18, 2013

vision lost. vision gained.

the day after halloween, i was diagnosed with iritis in my right eye.

on halloween: insta-pirate costume wasn't just clever.

at that point, i'd been in pain for about a week and had been treating my eye with antibiotic drops, as prescribed at urgent care a few days prior. the nurse practitioner misdiagnosed it as pink eye and completely dismissed my concerns (why would we treat it with antibiotics when there's no discharge or proof that it's a bacterial infection? why is it so extremely painful and light-sensitive? why was my right pupil so constricted the night before?) but i was desperate for relief and felt that perhaps i was just making a big deal out of nothing, so i filled my prescription and went on my merry way.

i was pretty unhappy with the ciprofolxacin drops because i'm kind of weird and find the risk of taking cipro to be greater than the advantage, unless, maybe you have been exposed to anthrax but even then, maybe not - so i called urgent care to request a different prescription on halloween. i picked it up that afternoon and after two doses, everything was much, much worse.

i decided to stop using the drops and just suffered through the night in the dark because the pain from artificial light was more intense than that from sunlight. i took a bath and even the glow from the candle hurt.

the next day my husband made me an appointment with an actual eye doctor and took care of the kids so i could sleep. ALL DAY. it was the only way to escape the pain, which at that point, was constant and sharp, whether my eyes were open or closed (and now i know, iritis is so painful because light entering from the unaffected eye causes both pupils to react and omg, any movement of the affected iris is painful. also, when your eye hurts for days, don't go to urgent care. go straight to the optometrist or ophthalmologist.)

i was, of course, thinking the worst, like perhaps i had a brain-eating amoeba or parasite behind my eyeball (thanks google) but the doctor assured me that it was probably iritis, though she couldn't quite tell because i had a huge "retinal mass" and corneal ulcer, which she said was likely caused by the antibiotic drops. she started me on an aggressive therapy of steroid drops every hour and dilation drops three times a day. several follow-ups were scheduled and i went home with a sense of relief but also a heavy-duty sense of what. the. fuck.

before i knew what i was dealing with i'd already started to examine the emotional component because i can get a little woo-woo when i'm the only one awake in the middle of the night and it's just what i do when in massive pain that i didn't inflict myself. i'd been repeating the mantra "i must see rightly, it is only with the heart that one can see rightly" (to borrow from the little prince which IS that profound) and on the nights when the pain exceed a 10, i even started tapping. i still think EFT (or emotional freedom technique) is a little silly and i'm not consistent with it, at all, but it alleviates anxiety in the moment and distracted me from the pain a little bit.

after my appointment, i was sitting with the knowledge that had i kept suffering through the pain, tried to treat it myself, or continued to use the antibiotic drops, i could have lost my sight so i went further into the message, deeper with the questions.

i couldn't really open my eye for a few days and i was told i couldn't try to read or use the computer for a while, so i looked at it as an opportunity to rest and tend to small tasks that generally get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. i took stock of what treasures i had hidden away, what i needed, and what no longer served me.

i finally sorted through all my fancy junk.
"junque bags" coming soon...

about a week after the diagnosis i finally googled iritis and didn't like what i'd found. there were horror stories. there are support groups. this could be serious. it's the third leading cause of blindess in the US and could take forever to heal. it could come back. it's linked to genetic and autoimmune disorders. the reel started running but i'd already seen the eye doc about four times at this point and she assured me that about half the time, there's just no discernible cause and it's very likely my case was the result of horrible allergies + zyrtec drying my eyes out + me rubbing + dust and irritation. determined not to let fear get the best of me, i regained my faith in the holistic approach. very grateful that my eye was responding well to treatment and thankful that my family understood my need to rest, i knew i needed to continue exploring the emotional connection.

a lot of stuff has come to surface. i've made lots of lots of bad puns about the things that have come to light, insight gained, what i can (or cannot) see, where my focus has been and where it will be, and what has been made visible during this time where i haven't actually been able to see clearly.

i still talk real good about self-care and nourishment and then it's 1:00pm and all i've had is a cup of yogurt and two cups of coffee. i have a long way to go but i do know that this forced down-time has been a blessing and has imparted some lasting lessons in slowing down.

in the quiet and the slow, my husband and i had some good, strengthening conversations and what we want to do with our lives, our passions, and our values just came to us one night, then evolved into the most perfectest of plans that we wondered what took us so long. i'm so over-the-moon excited about what the future holds for our family (can't spill the beans yet, of course) and 2014 is going to be all about moving in the direction of our dreams.

currently, i am down to two drops of prednisone a day and i have another follow-up today. i still can't focus properly and everything at a distance is blurry. i can slightly make out letters, though, which is an improvement. i'm not sure if my vision will be permanently compromised but i do know the lessons from this experience are just beginning to unfold. even if my eyesight is never restored to it's previous state, my true sight is more secure, fully aligned with my soul desires and my purpose.

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