I wouldn't wish a detached retina on my worst enemy. For the last two weeks I've gone through surgery, multiple medical exams, and had my eyes dilated so often I feared the sun's burning rays like a vampire. Worst of all, I had to keep my head facing the ground all day every day. My neck and upper body are still throbbing masses of pain.
Here's how it began. I was driving home on a Sunday afternoon when I noticed part of the peripheral vision in my right eye now consisted of a giant blind spot. It turns out having a shaded-curtain effect or expanding blindspot in your eye often means your retina is detaching from the underneath support tissue. If this goes untreated you can quickly lose all vision in that eye. I'm not sure why this happened, although I did once severely injure that eye.
Luckily my doctor promptly diagnosed the problem and immediately scheduled me for emergency surgery. The surgery was done on an outpatient basis and took about an hour. First they knocked me out for 30 minutes so the anesthesiologist could completely numb my eye – I guess doctors have learned that unconscious people don't object to having needles slid into their eyeball. As planned I woke up halfway through the surgery, meaning I could follow along as the doctor used a green laser in the 532 nanometer wavelength to reattach – or as I prefer to call it, to burn baby burn – my retina into the support tissue.
Even though my eye was sedated I could see bursts of light as the laser fired. I also discovered, much to my doctor's irritation, that waking up from general anesthesia makes my right leg undergo a series of myoclonic twitches. As my doctor said in an irritated, father-knows-best voice, "It's not a good thing to move your leg when a laser is in your eye." Gee, I never would have guessed. Not that I could do anything to stop the twitches.
The good news is that, leg spasms aside, the surgery went perfectly. To help my eye heal it was kept dilated for most of the following two weeks (doing so paralyzes the focusing muscles, which were inflamed from the surgery). In addition, a gas bubble was placed inside my eyeball. When my head was facing the ground, the gas bubble rose to the back of my eye and held the retina in place much like a band aid.
The only downside – I know, bad pun – is that for this "band aid" to work I had to look down all the time. That means walking while facing the ground, sitting while facing the ground, and sleeping while facing the ground. My neck and upper back quickly developed severe pains. I don't think I slept more than a few hours each night following the surgery.
I officially stopping looking down yesterday, but with an additional doctor visit and dealing with the pain in my neck this is the first time I can actually work at the computer. You see, between the looking down, neck pain, and dilated eye – wait, did I mention that the gas bubble jiggled in my eyeball like an angry bowl of water? – it was impossible to read books, watch TV, or play on the computer. About all I could do was meditate on life. If anyone notices that my attitude toward life now resembles that of David Carradine's character in Kung Fu, well, that's what too much meditation does.
Anyway, my eye is still healing and I should soon have all of my vision back. I've also healed enough to both return to work and to resume writing, blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking. Thanks to everyone who sent messages of support while I was out – please understand if I wasn't able to respond.
And if anyone is curious what my next story will be about, let's just say it'll be in the horror genre. Call it "The Detached Retina from Hell!"