Wellness | Ophthalmologists and My Recovery

Photo Photo Jessica Lewis
Post by Earl Einarson

This post is in partnership with the Canadian Ophthalmological Society and their "See the Possibilities" campaign.

I wrote an article in July re: my road to recovery from my sight issues - this is the follow up.

Sunlight is streaming into our studio today. Large, bright swathes of light lay across the pale white floor and up the white walls. It’s overly bright, and my eyes adjust to light. I throw open the wall length semi opaque curtains and the light fills the room. Just a few hours ago it was dreary outside. Rain fell upon the roof and pattered against the windowsil. Now, the light is vibrant and filling, and it’s beautiful. Looking out at the quiet side street that lies before the studio is striking. It’s funny how simple things can be so fulfilling. The lush, dark green of the grass beaded with left over rain, the light sheen of the bright sun across the dark roadway, and the breaking blue of the sky. All taken by granted by all of us too often.

I’ve had a few months of this; this awareness of the everyday sights around me, and how – even in plain, everyday life, that we’re all involved in every day - there is a quiet beauty in it all. It all goes unnoticed by most of us, me included. But since my eye surgery several months ago, I’ve been much more aware of what I see everyday. I think I was aware of my surroundings before the surgery, but ever since it’s been hard not to stop and really appreciate the simple (but profound) act of sight. I could see, of course, during my eye issues – colors and shapes – but the issue of trying to navigate the world with my eye issues was challenging to the point that I couldn’t really enjoy the gift of sight. Please don’t misunderstand me, there are people who deal with more devastating issues than mine was, but my sight impairment was overshadowing my enjoyment of sight. But now, with that beautiful, rich sunlight pouring in through the windows, and the green of the grass and the rich blue of the sky above, it’s hard not to stop and just see and admire.

Since my surgery, it’s been a fast re-adjustment to my regained normal sight. Before the surgery I had been seeing doubles of everything; two distinct images of everything in my sight, and the two images did not sync up, so it was difficult to navigate the world. Stumbling down stairs, walking into doorways, now being able to read public signs, it was all making life very difficult and it impacted almost every facet of my life. It was life changing. My surgery was life changing. It impacted my life to the point of touching every part of my life. Sight is vital; without it life becomes onerous. It becomes full time problem solving, and the usual life problems don’t just disappear; there are still mortgages and rents, light bills and taxes, and getting kids to school on time. Life doesn’t slow down to accommodate your poor eyesight. So, post-op was literally life changing. I am truly grateful.

The surgery itself was not as difficult as I had imagined it would be. Jan drove me to the hospital and sat with me in the waiting room. She was a great support, and it’s nice to have your best friend with you when you’re nervous. The nurses took me into a waiting ward where I lay in a bed prior to going in to surgery. There were other patients there; the woman next to me was speaking to her sister about her anticipated outcome and how she was so happy that the day had come. I felt the same. It was a relief to be here in the hospital awaiting the ophthalmologist and surgery. I had worked with my ophthalmologist closely throughout the pre-surgery period, and he had been a great help and a voice of calm during that difficult time. My actual surgery was being performed by another ophthalmologist whom I had been referred to by my primary Ophthalmologist, and I had met with her and arranged the surgery. Both of the ophthalmologists had been very transparent and informative with me. All of this was new to me, my only prior contact with eye health had been through optometrists and my GP. Ophthalmologists are not only able to correct vision, but also restore it. They are the only eye care professionals who are medically trained doctors. Ophthalmologists can diagnose and treat all eye diseases, perform surgeries and prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems.

Photo Photo Jessica Lewis

During the pre-surgery meetings with my ophthalmologist, she had explained that they would be waking me mid-surgery and would have me give feedback on what I could see, and then they would re-adjust my vision if needed. I worried a bit about that part of the procedure, but it was not a problem, and in fact, was really hopeful, as I could see what a difference post-op would be. The entire surgery went well, and I could see differences immediately.

I had a post-op meeting with my ophthalmologist a couple of weeks after the surgery. By that time I had re-adjusted to seeing wall edges and one-person images during conversations quite well, and I was surprised at how fast my post-op sight became normalized again. It was fast. My mind had to re-adjust to seeing well again and not compensating constantly for what it couldn’t see well, but the process was only a week or two. And it was a joy to see well again. I could stop making hundreds of compensations throughout my days and focus on things I enjoyed again. My surgery was transformative. Prior to my surgery my everyday life was stressful and difficult. It was also isolating. It was a barrier between me and the rest of the world. It was also an unseen barrier. It taught me that there are people dealing with unseen issues. I’ve learned not to be judgmental if someone seems to be not moving or acting like you think they should be, they might be doing the best they can with what they have. If nothing else, I’ve learned that, and that’s a good lesson.

For more information on the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, visit seethepossibilities.ca and watch inspiring patient videos. 

Jan Halvarson

1 comment:

Boo21's Mom said...

I recently had cataract surgery (I’m quite a bit older than you and Jan) and while my sight impairment wasn’t as profound as yours, it was enough to prevent me from driving at night and enough to make me feel slightly off-balance most of the time. I know, to a lesser degree, just how you feel! It’s amazing and I am so thankful for the skill of my ophthalmologist.