Diagnosis of a Detached Retina

Diagnosis of Retinal Hole

I met with an Opthamologist at UCLA in late May who did a through exam and then referred me to one of their Retinal Specialists.  Since they are a pretty busy facility, my initial appointment would be with one of the teaching Fellows.  I was fine with that.  I was feeling a sense of urgency and would have welcomed anyone looking at it.  The flashing lights happened daily, sometimes several times a day and eventhough my past Opthamologist was content doing “watchful waiting” – I was not.  I wanted to have a specialist look at it and tell me what they thought.

In June I met with the Retinal Fellow at UCLA.  He did a thorough exam and then stepped back and said something that I’ll never forget.  “I would just like to page Dr. Prasad, our Retinal Specialist”.  The Fellow was very calm and professional but something about his clipped tone just then told me he was seeing something he wanted the head Doctor to take a look at.  I was in luck.  Dr. Prasad was in the building.  In about 15 minutes he showed up in the exam room and introduced himself and then with the Fellow looking on, Dr. Prasad examined my right eye.  He was very thorough.  Then he stepped back.  “It looks like you have a tiny hole in your retina and perhaps some fluid behind it.  We need to take care of that right away”.  I was stunned.  “Is that an operation?  Isn’t that an emergency?”  I rushed the sentences together.

He told me it would need an operation and although it didn’t need to be done that day, it needed to be done in the next seven days.  Dr. Prasad then took me into a lab room where he sat me in front of a computer that could take a picture of my retina.  Within moments he had the image of what he was looking for.  A definite hole and fluid building up in the retina.  “We need to get you scheduled for surgery “, he said.  I had been pretty stoic up till then but now it was hitting me.  My eye had a serious problem.  My past Opthamologist had not seen it and had just been doing watchful waiting.  I had noticed a decline in light and peripheral vision in the right eye and I knew something wasn’t right.  I just needed someone to confirm it.  Thank goodness I had made the call to UCLA that day.

We went back to the Opthamology waiting room where Dr. Prasad instructed his staff to schedule me for retinal surgery as soon as the next available opening.  As luck would have it, there was an opening at the end of the week.  As soon as it was scheduled I excused myself to the restroom where I ran into a stall and sobbed.  I had wanted answers, I had sought out a specialist to look at my eye and now, with diagnosis in hand – it was a little more than I could deal with.  I texted my husband to tell him what had happened and we spent the next 10 minutes texting back and forth.  I was in no mood to talk just yet but I just needed to know he was there.  We’ve been married a long time and he knew when I just needed someone to listen.

When I had calmed down I drove back home.  My husband and I went on the internet and spent the next week preparing for the surgery.   As we soon learned, it’s not the surgery that’s hard on the patient – it’s the recovery.  I learned that following surgery I would have an eye patch and most likely would have to spend days face down or at the very least, on my side.  The reason being that a gas bubble would be placed in the eye to hold the newly reattached retina in place against the back of the eye.  From what I read, the recovery can be pretty grueling with the requirement to lie flat at all times either on your face or side.  I did everything I could to prepare.  Bills were paid, laundry done, special pillows were ordered, I stocked the freezer with frozen meals and I called all my friends and family.  I went around the house setting up recovery areas in different rooms of the house.  I knew that trying to just stay in the bedroom would not work so I made sure I had little stations in the bedroom, living room and family room  – stocked with kleenex, wipes, sanitzer, charging cords and wastebaskets.  That way I’d have a place to move to every few hours if I needed a new vantage point during recovery.  I was ready.

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