Tag Archives: eye injury

Susan Speaks: How About an Eye Update?


It’s been forever since I’ve shared an eye update with you guys. That’s actually a good thing — it means there’s been nothing to say. The eye has been and remains stable.

And it was that way last week, too, when I saw the surgeon. He’s happy with how it’s healed, although he finally did admit I’ve got a handicap in the form of what’s called a Lamellar hole. It’s confusing to explain what exactly that is, but its presence explains a few problems I have with my vision: letters drop out of signs and the eye chart. And, something I noticed a year ago: I’ve developed a touch of face blindness.

Which means that if I’ve known you for years and I suddenly don’t recognize you, it’s not because you look terrible. It’s because I truly cannot see you well enough to make out your features. Or because my brain can’t interpret what my eyes are seeing, and can’t make the connection to the memory I carry of you. I’m not sure which; I haven’t asked that question.

The fact that I’ve got this slight face blindness is is really strange, given that the damage is to my non-dominant eye. You’d think that the dominance would overrule the distortion. Okay, *I* expect that. Except, it doesn’t seem to work that way.

Which leads us to another big question: how can I work as an editor if letters drop out of my vision?

That’s where it gets weirder: when I’m looking at my screens, my dominant eye kicks in and compensates. And the surgeon says, too, that my brain is learning to adapt to the dropped letters. I’m figuring out, he says — and I agree — how to look at things so that I can get a more complete picture. I’m learning how to look around the hole in my vision.

Bizarre, isn’t it? You’d think it’d be the other way around, that I’d struggle with the small stuff and have faces down cold.

But eyes, as we’ve all learned through this crazy adventure, are tricky, confusing, confounding, and amazing things. At one point during this whole ordeal, I looked at one of my surgeons — I think it was the cataract guy — and said that if I were 20 years younger, I’d go back to med school for ophthalmology. This is really cool stuff.

So what’s the upshot of all this? I get to see the surgeon once a year now, so long as I check in with my optometrist in between my annual surgeon visits, to make sure my eye pressure is behaving. That problem probably won’t ever go away, and so I need to stay on top of it to keep it from damaging my optic nerve. I’m willing to do that, even though it means having my eyes dilated twice a year and letting them touch my eye with that strange blue light. Like everything else, you get used to it.

Another upshot: this is what it is. It’s not nearly as bad as it could have — should have — been.

And I can work as well, if not better than ever. In some ways, I work more slowly, more thoroughly these days.

Just… if we see each other in public and I don’t seem to recognize you, don’t hesitate to say, “Hey, it’s Stevie.” (Except, you smartass, use your own name.) Like I said, it’s not you. It’s the strange gift of my right eye.


Susan Speaks: Been Awhile


I’ve heard from a couple people now that they’ve been looking for updates from me. What’s going on, they’re asking. How’s the eye?

I have no idea.

It’s in my head, it’s working. (And now that I think about it, having been through a severe eye injury, I don’t buy TWD’s season premiere, and you who watch know what I mean, but it made for a grand, romantic gesture, so I’ll shut up now.)

But the cataract is big and fat. And slurping down whatever it needs to get bigger and fatter by the day.

Every time it grows, I have less and less of an idea of how the original injury is healing. I have zero idea at this point how much vision I truly have, if the ripples on the retina have smoothed out as they seemed to be doing. Nothing. I have zero concept of what my vision is behind Fatso the Cataract.

The second surgeon was able to make time for me… in a month from now. So it’ll be six weeks between the time the appointment was made and when I see the guy. And who knows how long before the surgery.

But in the six weeks between the last time I was at the optometrist and the original surgeon, I lost a line on the eye chart. Doesn’t sound too terrible, but stop and think for a minute.

Forty-three weeks ago, I was faced with horror of losing my sight. And let me tell you, it’s a horror.

And here I am, losing sight.

This isn’t a comfortable place to be. Not even close.

Needless to say, life’s getting tough. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to work; I may have to switch out of my home office and my big screen on the desktop and work on the laptop for awhile. Strangely, the smaller screen is easier to see (maybe because I sit closer to it and even when standing at my desk, I’m not as close). For someone who freelances, and who is still down in income from the original accident, this is a problem, and not just because I am expecting five or six manuscripts to show up between now and whenever they arrive.

And driving? Ugh. Unfamiliar places after dark proved to be a poor option last weekend, even with GPS directions.

I am leaving messages for the second surgeon every week. Let me tell you this: when they send out that survey asking what I think, these people are being marked as horrible. I mean, I totally GET that they are doing me a favor by finding me an appointment in this calendar year. My original surgeon’s office had to call in a favor. I get it. I do. I should be grateful. I am.

But surely people cancel appointments, and surely they keep a list of people who need to get in sooner. And surely they can call me.

Because by the time the appointment comes, it’s going to be in an unfamiliar place. During the day, sure. But unfamiliar. And I may not be able to do it by myself.

So that’s how I am. Heading to end 2016 the way I began it: worried about my vision. Because as routine as a cataract removal is, mine won’t be. You can’t take an eye that’s been through as much as mine has been and expect even something simple to not have a chance to go sideways. That’s why I am stuck with this one particular surgeon: he operates on the same day as my guy, in the same hospital. If the original guy needs to come save my eye and/or my vision again, he needs to be right there.

Aren’t you glad you asked?


Susan Speaks: Thirty and Still Counting


Last week, I was set to stop counting. The surgeon had proclaimed my eye healed.

But guess what?

Far from it.

The eye is stable. It’s fully healed from the surgeries. Which means it’s time to figure out what’s going on in my left hand and why I can’t lay down. (You know. To do fun things like sleep.)

Now, my massage therapist and I have been working on this. We thought we knew what was up, and my massage therapist, the sports med guy said, was pretty darn good with what he did catch. The problem is that there’s more to it. And yes, it all comes back to the accident. And so, we’re at week thirty and still counting.

I guess when you fall twice on your left shoulder, it’s inevitable that you mess it up. And now, all these weeks later with zero medical attention, it’s not happy.

Neither, apparently, is my brain.

Now, if you go back, I’ve mentioned many times my frustration with the nurse in the first ER. I was sitting there, leaking eye goop, and could not, for the life of me, even begin to comprehend what a passcode on my phone was, let alone what the code could be. “Use my thumb,” I kept telling my best friend, who gave me a weird look and told me to keep thinking as I held my thumb up like he should detach it and carry it into the hallway with him so he could use my phone to call my family with updates.

The ER nurse, when I asked if I could be concussed, said, “Probably” and walked out of the room. And then it was all about the eye. As it should have been. The surgeon did not think it could be saved. The heroic battle was necessary. And damn if I don’t appreciate it.

Fast forward to the other day. My sports med guy, who has worked with our local concussion center, said he wasn’t surprised that the ER brushed off my brain. They don’t really address concussions, he said, because concussions either clear up in two weeks or else they linger. Most people figure out the headaches are a problem and don’t wait 29 weeks to see their doctor.

I, as well all well know, am not most people. A headache? After the migraines I used to get? Not even worth paying attention to. And so… I didn’t. Besides, I was still focused on the eye, then the arm, and I’ve got a business to run and kids to raise and Ultimate to watch to help me feel better about the world. What’s a headache?

Yeah. So.

PT begins on Thursday, and I’m grateful for a good friend who gave me a great referral and agreed that my plan to have it all treated under one roof was the right plan.

But as for my head? Well. Hmm. Wow.

When I called to make my appointment, they said, “Oh, it’s been seven months. We’re in no hurry to see you, then. How’s mid-August, AFTER you’ve been in PT for a month and after you’ve flown to Minnesota and spent another month taking two or three naps a day and wondering why you can’t work for more than thirty minutes at a time? Yeah. Okay. Good. Mid-August it is.”

Dude. Thirty weeks and still counting. I’m chafing to get all this behind me and resume my life.

But… I guess that’ll begin at week 34… unless the PTs can make something happen. Because how can they fix my arm if it makes my brain worse?

Week thirty. Still counting.


Susan Speaks: The Curse of the Red Boots



That’s a crummy picture of my feet yesterday.

I wasn’t feeling optimistic about the outcome of my latest appointment with the surgeon. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure what a “good” outcome or “good” news could be.

So I wore my red Teva hiking boots. They have been cursed so far: I’ve worn them twice to the surgeon. The first time, I found out the pressure in my eye was too high and the visit dragged on and I wound up on the altitude sickness medicine that made me sick, loopy, and exhausted. All at once. The second time I wore the boots was the last visit, when the scar tissue and detachment were discovered.

Clearly, the boots are the problem.

Which is why I wore them. I was either sealing my fate or breaking the curse of the red boots.

To help push the situation in my favor, I paired my red boots (yes, on St. Paddy’s Day, even) with my favorite Metallica shirt. Because nothing says powerful good luck like a totally obscure band t-shirt that I can’t find a picture of in Google Images. (You Met old-school Met fans, it’s the shadow man, with a design that is cool until you look at the back, and then it’s effing cool)

The Curse of the Red Boots was broken by the Massive Magic of the Mighty Metallica.

The detachment is still there. It must be small because the fellow couldn’t see it. It’s not interfering with my vision, either.

Unless it turns into a tear, I’m going to live with it. No, the retina won’t die if it’s not pressed up against its snuggle bunny, the eye itself.

And the vision I’m swearing about? Should resolve itself over the next year. Yes, I said year. Do the nine weeks already under my belt count toward that year? Maybe. I didn’t ask. Don’t really care. Fifty-two weeks or forty-one… it’ll happen on its own time frame, although right now, I am healing ahead of schedule. (Hello, Mr. Cataract. We’ve been expecting you. Table for one?)

This brings new restrictions in my life. No more ice hockey, even though I haven’t played in over 20 years. No new contact sports, which really got ruled out when my hip went south. And eye protection, eye protection, eye protection. After all, I only have one good eye. I can’t risk it.

That brought me and the boy over to my eye doctor last night. We picked out a new pair of glasses (with clip-on polarized shades. I’m so excited!) and I have an appointment to adjust the prescription the right eye is peering through, with the intention of doing it a couple of times until things resolve. Yes, it’ll be expensive. But dammit, I’m worth it.

Actually, it’s not a question of worth. It’s that seeing life with the slightest of blurred edges is damn annoying and if we can fix it, we’re fixing it. And those clip-on shades? Best thing since Twinkies (the old recipe, thankyouverymuch) because frankly, wearing a pair of sunglasses over my current glasses is not a sexy look, and I have an inside line on my hottie coach. The team’s been practicing. They have a showcase this weekend which I have to miss ’cause I’m taking part of the boy’s team to a tournament. Hottie coach is back in town.

Susan’s gotta be at her best, man.

Which makes one wonder just how gentle my new life has to be lived. I mean… hot man? Restraint? Aren’t those oxymorons?

I’m just glad the curse of the red boots is over and I can wear them confidently again.


Susan Speaks: Teeter Totter


Nine weeks since the fall. Eight weeks since the first retinal repair.

I say first because I still don’t believe there won’t be a second one. And that’s got me on the world’s cruelest teeter totter. Will I need surgery? Won’t I? Am I okay? Is my vision worse? Can I live with this? Do I need to? Do I want to? If I have surgery, will I get more scar tissue and have to go through this again? Will I lose any, or more, vision? Have I even lost vision?

I don’t know if I’ll be having another major surgery or not. I’m trying not to dwell on it, I really am. But my best and favorite distraction — work — hasn’t been going so well.

Look, I get it. This is big, major stuff. Clients don’t know if I’ll be here, if I can see, if my usual eagle eye is still operational. And I’ve been blogging almost exclusively about the injury and the ordeal that recovery has turned into. Am I really in this upbeat mindset you are reading about?

Well, yes, I actually am. Until the word of the latest detachment and the vigil I’ve been forced to keep, anyway. I’ve actually had a few anxiety attacks, or the beginnings of some. I’ve never had one in my life, reminding me why I force myself to be upbeat and happy most of the time. Life is easier with a smile. I can say that for certain now that I’ve had a few cycles where thoughts just get more and more negative, as they swirl faster and faster until I feel like I’m drowning.

Yes, it’s better to stop dwelling on what might be and focus instead on work. I’m left-eye dominant and it’s my right eye that I hurt, so my vision isn’t as badly impaired as if I’d hurt my dominant eye. That’s been the magic of this accident. I may prefer my friends to stand on my right, but my left eye leads the charge.

I was cleared to work seven weeks ago. I have been working… some. And I love what I do. I’m good at it. And it’s been such a blessed distraction, making me feel in control at a time when I’m at the mercy of a healing body. I’ve needed to work. And yes, it helps me remain positive.

So it kills me when I get this message from clients and others I’ve made commitments to: You have a lot on your plate right now and don’t me adding to it.

Yes, I do!!!

Like I said: work is stress relief. It makes me happy. It fills my bank account, and that in turn makes me happy, too. Working distracts me from myself, and I’m on such a teeter totter of emotions that work helps keep me either upbeat or even. No more of this downer stuff; I don’t like it!

None of us have a crystal ball. We don’t know what’s going to happen with my eye.

But we DO know I’m good at what I do. We know I’m pretty much homebound. I’ve got the time. My dominant eye is fine and carrying the load.

And if you take a step back and think, you’ll remember something: a bored Susan gets into trouble. And just wait until you guys see what I’ve been up to…


Susan Speaks: Pins and Needles


When this eye thing first began, I would wake up, terrified I had permanently lost my vision in the bad eye.

Of course, time is fixing that and I’ve been fairly optimistic that things are going well.

But a visit to the surgeon put a damper on my optimism. And I’m on pins and needles the next couple of weeks, waiting to see what will happen.

We’re about halfway in the worst-case scenario: scar tissue is forming in my eye. It’s puled the retina away from the surface of my eye, but right now, it’s an okay thing. No loss of vision. I could live the rest of my life like this. That’s what the surgeon said. I like this guy. I trust him.

The problem is what will happen if more scar tissue forms. That increases the chance that the retina will tear. And if it does… back to the OR I will go. (We even have a date reserved.)

So… back on the prayer lists, if you are so inclined.

I have some extra time over the next three weeks, if you need an edit. Frankly, I’d welcome the distraction. I need it right now. I love what I do, so working helps keep those pins and needles at bay and under control. And the income ain’t bad, either.


Susan Speaks: Frequently Asked About The Eye


I am trying to keep my computing time to work time, so from now on, whenever these questions pop into my inbox, I’m sending you the link to this post. Because do you really think I won’t update here and on Facebook when things change? Really?

No, I mean that. REALLY?????

Sigh. You did, didn’t you?

So. Here we go:

How’s the eye?
Well, it’s still in my head. It’s still got a gas bubble in it, so it’s like looking through a prism. That, in turn, is worse than being both seasick and drunk at the same time and no, at least in terms of my eye, those two things don’t cancel each other out. So there’s a lot of people out there thinking I’m winking at them when really, I’m just keeping the injured eye closed. Trust me: the world at large is not this good looking that I’m doing this much winking.

How do you feel?
I didn’t realize how sick the altitude sickness medicine made me until I stopped taking it. That’s when I stopped sleeping twelve hours or more a day, too. Which was kinda sad. I mean, you do a lot of healing when you’re sleeping that much. Of course, I don’t miss the huge number of crackers I had to eat to keep my stomach calm. Now that I’ve kicked the meds and the crackers out of my diet again, I feel overall better. Just lazy and a bit slow. And that part? I’m kind of enjoying. How often do YOU get ordered to sit on the couch and pretend you’re a woman of leisure hanging out in Bora Bora? Although, cripes, I hope the furniture in Bora Bora is more ergonomically perfect for a woman of my lack of height.

How can you be such a good sport about this?
Well, what choice do I have? Dude. I’m a single mom. I own a microbusiness. Before this happened, I hadn’t chosen an easy path through this thing called life, but one thing I have learned is that if you can’t laugh, it ain’t worth enduring. So I am making the choice to make jokes. My favorite was to a friend who was happy she could roller skate after a layoff of like twenty years. “Just like riding a bike,” I said on Facebook. “Wait. We all know what happened the last time I rode a bike. Nevermind.”

That may be my crowning moment, but I’m always looking to top it.

Besides, you all are having a lot more fun following along when I’m leading the charge into the field of funny. And don’t forget, my eye is full of LAUGHING GAS. It kinda goes with the healing.

What do the doctors say?
My surgeon, who I like a lot, says very little. So there is no prognosis, either short-term or long-term. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. See above about having fun with it.

Any verdict about a concussion?
Nope, and no one seems to care about it. My massage therapist earned his keep again last week (and not just because neither of us could remember when we last shaved our legs) when he discovered I’ve got a lovely case of whiplash. So this one, we’re just not going to know about. But I still have headaches and I still have other symptoms, but they could all be explained away by the eye, so… maybe? Probably?

It’s the not knowing that is making me nuts. In fact, it’s easier to accept we won’t know anything about the eye than it is to accept that we’ll never know for certain how this impacted my poor brain.

However, I have been told that this little escapade of mine has made me funny. Or funnier, depending on who you ask.

When can you drive again?
Well, think about it. Do you really WANT someone driving when her eye is full of laughing gas? Just beyond the risk that presents to my vision if I do something dumb, and just beyond the fact that I have to keep my eye closed so I don’t have the acid trip-drunk-seasick thing happening…

I know driving me and my kids around is a pain in the rear. I get that. Trust me. I used to do it on a daily basis. I can’t wait to do it again. But right now, we all have to wait. And be it in six more weeks or a year from now, I promise to either pay it back or pay it forward. This does not mean I’m going to go drive for Uber, btw.

If I had a shot for every time I’ve been asked about driving, I bet I’d stop complaining about that weird acid-seasick-drunk effect my healing eye gives me. And not just because I’d be too pickled to care.

Can I bring you dinner?
This is a dicey one. For one, I’m independent as hell and the kids and I love to cook.

But here’s the bigger problem: people have shown up on my doorstep with food. Which is super nice, except… I have other health issues. And most people have shown up with some variant of red sauce, pasta, and/or beef, pork, or lamb. All of these foods (except for maybe the tomato sauce, but the jury’s out about me and nightshades) promote inflammation, and I have an inflammation issue already. So these good-hearted gestures are really doing a lot of damage, and at a time when I can’t exercise to offset some of the effects.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the gesture. I do. But… my favorite foodie care package came from Dawn, who took the time to ask what I was craving. She came up short on a quart from Bruster’s (not that I blame her), but she delivered trail mix from Aldi, who makes the best trail mix ever, and my most favorite food item yet: a bag of baby carrots!

It sounds kinda crazy, but the snack foods — and healthy, anti-inflammatory foods, at that — have been the biggest blessing. That’s because I eat more than one meal a day. And I am a snacker, so a handful of trail mix, a handful of carrots… Oh, every day, I say a silent thank you to Dawn for her ingenuity.

I did also ask for super ripe cantaloupe at room temperature, perfectly crisp and chilled watermelon that’s been cut into cubes and snaps when you bite into it and then turns into juice on your tongue, and blueberries. The blueberries were delivered, thanks to a friend who was running to the grocery for me anyway. The rest, I think we’ll have to wait to summer for.

So what DO you need?
Honestly? Company. Pick up dinner (oh, how I could go for my local Chinese takeout) and bring it over and hang out with me while we eat. Together. Or lunch. Lunch is good. Come get me and let’s go out for a quick meal – but it’s got to be quick, and it’s got to be somewhere I can show up in my sweats. Because, dude, I’m allowed to be lazy, so I’m milking this. And it’s got to be quick because I swear the whole world is staring at me and yes, I’m the rare and beautiful Cyclops right now, but… like I said, there just ain’t that many good-looking people in the world who are worth winking at. Besides, I do get tired easily. After all, I’m busy healing! (I hope)

Which brings me to the final question:
Why did you get over the hot young thing?
I didn’t.

It’s the off-season.

Drooling, lusting, sighing, and off-color jokes will resume closer to my birthday. However, any of you who encounter him (and I’m looking at my nineteen-year-old pro athlete here) are free to tell him to quit wasting his time on my Twitter feed and friend me on Facebook instead. Because as most of you know: we’re having a good time over there. Think what he’s missing out on!