I went to my eye doc for the first time in three weeks, yesterday. It’s been seven plus weeks out from my eye surgery and I feel like me again. There’s a little drop of gas left in my eye, but it doesn’t screw up my vision unless I look down. My central vision isn’t what it was before my eye started to fall apart, but it’s a lot better than it was before surgery. My macular hole is gone. My retinal tear has fully healed. My doc says my vision might continue to improve over the next six months. I’m ecstatic.
But it took a while to get there, a lot longer than anyone told me it would. A friend who had this surgery and who heard about my kvetching while I was recovering agreed. She said that the recovery from her vitrectomy for her macular hole was worse than the recovery from her hysterectomy. Ouch. I have no idea how common long drawn out recoveries are from this surgery. But they likely aren’t uncommon.
When I last went on and on about my eye on this blog, I was two weeks out from surgery. What would follow was the gradual (about 2 percent a day) loss of gas in my eye. I started to get a glimmer of vision in the top part of my eye at about week three. Every day the gas level would drop a little more and I could see more. That was the good side of things.
But there was continued fatigue, which lasted through the sixth week. There were incredibly painful sinus headaches that would wake me up in the middle of the night and drive me to tears. From weeks two through five, the headaches were so frequent that I continued to spend a lot of time in my massage chair during the day. Keeping my head down seemed to dull the pain. Every day I would wake up, pop two Tylenol tabs, and ride my morning headache out in that massage chair. My eye felt incredibly tight and strained, like it was in a vice that was squeezing it constantly. It was draining both emotionally and physically.
During the middle of week three, the gas level in my eye was down enough that I could see a significant amount through my right eye, but that meant my brain had to process this fuzzy visual info. I’d get dizzy if I walked around the neighborhood using both eyes. Also, my repaired eye was very sensitive to wind and cold and would tighten up even more than usual while I did my daily walk. These walks would induce severe headaches. I called up my doc and asked if I could temporarily use an eye patch, something he told me not to do originally. He relented and said it would be OK. The patch turned out to be very useful, especially for walking outside. I wouldn’t get dizzy. My eye wouldn’t cramp from the wind and cold as I walked and my headaches were back to being mostly manageable.
By week five, the all day headaches were gone. Instead, I’d have a headache when I woke up that was fairly mild and that would tend to disappear by about 11 AM. I didn’t need to use the massage chair anymore. The middle of the night headaches would happen every third day or so and were still nasty. But the eye strain and the feeling that a vice was squeezing my eye were gradually abating. I could sense I was getting a little better day by day. My wife said the pattern was that I’d have two days forward and one day back.
Then in the middle of week six, my energy started to return in a rush. I stopped having headaches in the middle of the night. The gas level in my eye obscured only about twenty percent of my vision. The eye strain was gone.
I started to work again during week six. I still couldn’t see all that well when I read, but I bought some cheap high power reading glasses to help me. By week seven I didn’t need the reading glasses anymore. I could read pretty well with my old progressive lenses.
All in all, it took six plus weeks to recover from this surgery. I’m overjoyed both to have energy and have pretty good eyesight in my repaired eye. Sitting around and dealing with pain every day was no fun. I haven’t had a headache in three days. I’m happy and grateful to be able to focus my brain on work again.