Second blog today, maybe I will be successful with this after all. Today in lab, our topic was Neuro, and our SOAP Note assignment (practice taking health history, review of systems, physical exam, diagnoses, etc.) had to do with investigating a headache, associated with nausea and vomiting. Amongst the many other things to review and rule out, I immediately recalled my past, thinking of my own experience of headache, with nausea and vomiting. I realized (though not for the first time) that there are some aspects of certain periods in my life, that have rendered me very sensitive, emotional, and deeply affected. After some pretty thorough experience in the field of psych, I know that although it is ok to feel that way about these things, because they were very significant events in my life. I also know even though I have accepted things, that repressing everything will lead to more emotional distress, so that being said, I am going to talk about these things. This is my story…
When I was about 10 years old, I was diagnosed as having glaucoma in my left eye, which is a disease that is rarely seen in young people, especially kids, and it occurs when the drains in your eyes fail to adequately drain the fluid that is constantly being produced. This causes the pressure in the eye to increase. If the pressure gets too high, it will damage the optic nerve, and can lead to blindness.
This is how glaucoma vision looks, what it still looks like to me.
So with this diagnosis, I was started on a type of eye drop to help with the pressures. Over the next few years, I was put on more kinds of drops, and more frequently. When I was 14, they finally concluded that the drops were no longer working to control my pressures, and that I needed to have surgery, or I would go blind. The day after Easter that year, my mom, dad and I drove down to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in the University of Miami, and what they did was place a tiny tube in the back of my eye to facilitate drainage out the back way, and removed all the jelly-like substance in my eye, to prevent it from blocking the drain. Well that sucked. When I woke up, I was laying on my left side, in excruciating pain, and as much as I screamed at the dumb nurses, I don’t think they spoke English, and didn’t give me anything for post-operative pain. Idiots. For the first couple days, things were ok. Then, one night after I ate dinner, I couldn’t stop throwing up. My head was pounding, and my eye felt like a golf ball. Finally after non-stop dry heaving, my mother and I made the hour long trip down to UM once again, where they had some very bad news. Usually when they perform this surgery, they place stitches to hold the tube that dissolve on their own. This is usually in older people, that do not heal as fast, and don’t have as high a fluid production rate as younger people. I was a 14 year old, healthy, athletic girl, and I evidently had started the healing process much faster than they imagined. So the stitches that were holding the tube were blocking the drainage, and my eyes were still producing fluid, and it was building up. A normal eye pressure is like 15-18, mine was in the 50’s. The problem was that these stitches were in the back of my eye, so there rose the problem, how do we get them out?
Sort of what I had done...
One of the most significant things I remember was how terrible I felt. Every few minutes I would need to vomit (due to the imbalanced equilibrium), I couldn’t even drink water, and I had the worst headache I could ever imagine. So the doctors wanted to try to give me some relief, the only way by removing the fluid. Yes, they had to suck it out with a needle. Cross my heart, hope to die, I have had a needle stuck in my eye (this was my mom’s attempt at humor at the time). They told me it wouldn’t hurt, but do you think they even had a needle in their eye? Doubtful. Anyways, that helped tremendously, and for the first time in a couple days, I was able to eat something, McDONALDS. I was pretty much in heaven. Unfortunately, my bliss at being able to eat was short lived, and before I knew it, I was back to my misery. For the next several days, everyday, my mom and I made many trips back down to the hospital, without much luck. There were crappy resident doctors, that wanted to practice talking and asking questions, and didn’t realize how miserable I was. I felt like punching them. There was one doctor in particular, that was amazing. His name was Herbert, and my mom (again in an attempt at humor) nicknamed him Herbie, and his physical apprearance matched the name perfectly. Nerdy, glasses, the works. But he understood my despair, and did everything he could to help. For that I will be forever grateful. Now, the last resort to getting these stitches out was to try to laser fry them. That was just annoying as hell. It felt like I was looking a a blinking red light for hours. At last, that did not work either. This was a Thursday. I don’t recall how many days it had been, but the docs had run out of ideas, and they said OK tomorrow, if there is STILL no improvement, we need to do surgery. Obviously devastated. Come Friday morning at the crack of dawn, I recall not feeling AS sick on the way down there. They checked everything out, and by the grace of GOD, a freaking miracle, the stitches had totally vanished. Gone. Can you imagine the sense of relief? After so long of not eating, I had drastically lost weight, when I came back to school after being out a few weeks, I can’t imagine the assumptions. I missed a lot during this time, had apparently won a trip to Bush Gardens, missed a lot of work, and my grades did suffer (who wants to do homework when you’re heaving every few minutes??) But things got better, life was great, I met my wonderful boyfriend, had the best times with my best friend Ashley, yada yada. UNTIL…..
Roughly about a year later, after no problems with anything, my right eye got kind of inflammed, probably due to my contacts or something, and we went to the doc, he gave me some anti-inflammatory drops and told me to be EXTREMELY careful to not let the infection spread. So I did, and by the end of the week, it went away. Then one night over the weekend, I woke up about 2am, because my left eye was so watery, I couldn’t even sleep. When I looked in the mirror, I saw my left eye had become very pink. I was like OH SHIT I let it spread, so I put the drops in, hoping it would go away and I wouldn’t get in trouble. I had a headache, thought I was hungry, so I made some spaghetti O’s. After a bit, I started to feel kind of nauseous, but I tried not to think any thing of it, and laid there and tried to sleep. The nausea got worse, so I grabbed a bowl or something to keep by my bed, just in case. At about 4am, I just remember thinking to myself, oh no, oh no, oh no, and blehhh. Yep. That sucked. A few minutes later, blehhh. Finally I was like shit, I woke my parents up and they started making all sorts of phone calls to the doctor, the ER whatever. I could not believe this shit was happening again. Went to my normal eye doctor, and as he was checking it out he’s like “Yep, your pressures way up there, but its weird because usually the eye gets really red when this kinda thing happens.” Oops, I wasn’t about to admit I had poured the bottle of anti inflammatory drops in my eye. Whatever. Things happened pretty fast after that, went back down to UM again, and what appeared to happen was that there had been some of that jelly stuff left over from the last surgery, and over time, it found its way to the drainage tube, got stuck, blocked the drainage, and there I was. It was looking like I was going to need another surgery. Shit! This was on a Saturday. The surgeon didn’t operate until Monday. Double shit! I obviously couldn’t stay in that misery again until then so what did they do? Yup, you guessed it. Slurrrrp. Sucked out the fluid again. The next couple days were pretty uneventful I think, had some explaining to do about why I would be mysteriously missing from school again, and then Monday morning, I went in for surgery. Now what really annoyed me about this was that since my mom was pissed about my recovery room experience the last time, they (and I point out I was not included in this decision) decided it would be best to do a local anesthetic since it wasn’t a “major” surgical procedure. The nurses made me drink this terrible pink drink from a syringe that was the worst thing I have ever tasted to this day, and I couldn’t even chase it or wash it down with water. Terrible. The last thing I knew, the lady that was preparing me for surgery in the OR says to me “Don’t tell your Dad, but this is what two beers feels like” She injected something into my IV and I was out. Turns out they ended up putting me under general anyway, without proper consent (wtf??) but nothing really terrible happened after that.
Wow, what a long story. I have probably left out a few things, (like I said, I have tried to kinda forget about that stuff) but if something seems confusing, let me know, I’ll explain better. I haven’t had any problems since then, thank the Lord, and I hope I never will again. My left eye vision is decent with contacts, but without them, its kind of like opening your eyes under water. I laugh when people tell me they are blind without their glasses. They have NO IDEA! I see my doctor every six months, and I make my mom go with me every time. She has been there with me through everything, and even though I’m an adult now, whatever, she was my life line during the worst times of my life, and in my gratitude (although she doesn’t feel this way) I make her come with me to all the appointments. I need her; she’s my best friend, my sense of security, my life line, I wouldn’t have come so far with out her. So this is my story, I always feel like there is an elephant in the room, when people are afraid to ask. Although I don’t mind explaining why things are the way they are now, it always felt too overwhelming to think about what happened, but I think it also helps people to understand who I am today, and why.