My little backyard garden withered away a bit during the winter months, but now it’s back in full force, weeds included. While I yanked out quite a few unwanted plants a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t get rid of some deep rooted dandelions, one of which flowered yesterday.
There was a perfect puff that I was excited to get a picture of (my macro lens might not be good for much, but it takes one hell of a dandelion shot), but of course as soon as I went outside with my camera the wind picked up and scattered the seeds into the sky. This was the only picture I got:
While I hope that the two dandelions in my yard aren’t going to sprout an army of impossible-to-uproot plants, they’ve been an unexpected source of fun. This weekend two little red-chested birds kept fluttering down and bouncing on the dandelion stems, sending puffs of seeds floating everywhere. I’m not sure what purpose this served, but it sure looked cute.
I took a few other macro shots while I was outside yesterday, of my fuchsia, strawberry flowers, and pineapple mint (easily the best mint there is!):
So I’m heading out to Beverly Hills today, where I will be getting PRK and collagen crosslinking. This is the culmination of a year’s worth of research and waiting.
Last year, on October 6, I was scheduled for Lasik. A last minute test revealed a small irregularity in the back of my cornea, which is something that people with keratoconus develop. This ended my hopes for Lasik, the appointment was cancelled, and I was terrified that I had a horrible progressive eye disorder.
I have seen multiple doctors and specialists, finally ending up at the Cornea Eye Institute in Beverly Hills, where there is a cornea specialist who sees keratoconus patients on a daily basis. The end result is that while I do not have keratoconus, I am probably at a higher risk for developing it.
I saw Dr. Rabinowitz in Beverly Hills for the first time in December of 2011. I went again in May 2012, and again in September 2012, each time to find out if he thought PRK would be a safe surgery for me. I got the go ahead in mid-September, and scheduled my appointment for October 4, at 2:30.
During this surgery, I will have PRK performed, and then because I am an at risk patient, my eyes will be crosslinked, which involves putting in riboflavin drops and exposing them to light in order to strengthen the tissue of my cornea. This will mean that my vision will improve (I have a pretty high prescription) and I will no longer be at risk of developing eye problems later.
Because it’s a surgery that is not often done in the United States, there is no real way to predict the outcome. I am hoping for 20/20 vision, but there is a good possibility that I will need a touch up procedure after several months to bring my vision to the level that I want. There is very little data on how collagen crosslinking affects the outcome of PRK.
I plan to update this each day with my progress, so that I will have a record of my healing. Hopefully I’ll be able to see the computer screen again after a few days – I did lug my Retina MacBook Pro with me for more screen real estate and bigger fonts.
Day 0: Today I am traveling, and I will visit the doctor for measurements and some tests when I land today around 2:30. From there, we will check in to the hotel and get settled in. I forgot to mention that my awesome mother-in-law is meeting me in Beverly Hills and will be staying with me for the duration. I have quite a few medications with me, and I brought my vitamins, plus other necessities. I hope that I’m prepared for everything.
Day 0 part 2: After arriving at LAX, we immediately drove to my doctor’s office, where I had my pre-surgery examination and testing done. I was having trouble with dry eyes after flying, so the optometrist checked my vision multiple times over to get exact numbers for the surgery. I felt confident with the results, and ended up testing at –7.75/–1.50 in my right eye and –6.75/–2.25 in my left eye. This is about on par with what my eye examination is on a typical day, but there’s always a small amount of fluctuation.
Day 1: My appointment was scheduled for 3:00, so I showed up at 2:00 to get the process started. They gave me valium to calm me down before the procedure, but I was still extremely nervous. After the valium kicked in, I had numbing drops put in place, and the rest of the PRK was a whirlwind. My eyes were held open with those metal eye things, which was easily the most uncomfortable part of the procedure. They used alcohol in my eyes to remove the epithelium and then scraped it away, and this was also a very weird sensation.
After that, I looked at the red light, and it took less than a minute for each eye. This part was entirely painless and not bad at all. If that had been the entirety of my surgery, it would have been over miraculously fast.
When the PRK was done, it was time for the cross linking. Normal cross linking is done with 30 minutes of riboflavin drops and light in each eye, but because I do not have keratoconus, I did 15 minutes in each eye.
I had to have the metal eye openers in my eyes again, which was really unpleasant, especially for a 15 minute stint. Every minute yellow riboflavin drops were put into my eyes (each eye was done individually) and I had to continually stare up at the UV light. The cross linking part sucked, honestly. Afterwards, mitomycin was used to prevent haze.
When I was done, I was pretty out of it, so it was time to return to the hotel to sleep. My eyes were dilated to prevent pain and to reduce swelling, and since I still had anesthetic drops, I wasn’t feeling anything. Peggy, my mother-in-law, filled my pain medication prescriptions, and I went to bed.
Day 2: I was next to blind when I woke up, and extremely light sensitive. This was a Friday, so I returned to my doctor’s office for my follow up appointment in the morning. Everything looked fine, but I was in some pain and uncomfortable, so I spent the day sleeping. Day 3 and Day 4, during the weekend, were very similar.
Day 3: I woke up with extremely red, sore eyes, which prompted me to email my doctor. I had turned on accessibility options on my phone so I could read messages and emails (with the text at the max size). My eyes were undilating, he said, which was causing the pain and redness. I was instructed to increase my antibiotic drops and return on Monday morning. Sunday, Day 4, was also spent with more pain, though the redness cleared up.
Day 5: Monday morning first thing I returned to the doctor because I was uncomfortable and the bandage contacts were moving around in my eyes a lot. I had them removed from my eyes and my epithelium was healed, though there was a rough spot on my right eye. I went out for awhile after this, but it was hard to keep my eyes open because of the light sensitivity.
Day 6: The vision in my left eye seemed to be clearing up, but my right eye was still doing very poorly. I returned to the doctor again, where he said that my eyes, especially my right eye, were extremely swollen and very dry. My right eye was measuring at 567 microns and my left was measuring at 480 microns, when both should have been at about 420 microns. I rested all day.
Day 7: On Wednesday, I went back to the doctor again, the final time before I would leave Beverly Hills. I wasn’t seeing better in my right eye, but my left eye was doing better so I was able to go out and see the LA Farmer’s Market and do some looking around today. I actually spent most of the day out and about without too much difficulty. My eyes were still swollen, and my right eye was very dry. I couldn’t read much on the eye chart, and while my left eye was at about 20/30, my right eye was 20/80. My doctor said that this could take a long time to resolve, and he expected my left eye to be at 20/25 and my right eye to be at 20/50 in a month. Bummer.
Day 8: I was glad to be going home, where I could get more rest in my own bed. I flew home at 1:45, and went straight to sleep. My right eye cleared up a little at this point, but I still couldn’t see much out of it.
Day 9: My first full day back at home. I spent it resting and catching up on some TV shows. I also mostly rested on Day 10 and Day 11, which was the weekend. I had a particularly bad day on Saturday, and woke up hardly able to see anything at all.
Day 12: I was able to start doing some work again today, but it is hard for me to read. I can see the TV okay, but my distance vision is blurry.
Day 13: My vision is fluctuating a lot. I had a very hard time reading the computer today, even with text enlarged. I had a very bad headache today, exacerbated by a lack of sleep.
Day 14: More trouble with reading, though overall my vision was better today. My eyes are very dry, especially my right eye, and I’m unable to keep them wet enough to be comfortable.
Day 15: It’s Thursday, October 18. My left eye is fairly clear, though I have some ghosting. My right eye is much blurrier, also with a lot of ghosting (meaning I see double images). My right eye is often clearer just after I use drops, and my eyes are extremely dry today, so drops don’t work for long. I emailed my doctor today and he said that I could resume Restasis. I’m currently done with antibiotic drops, but I am using Pred Forte 4x a day, Thera Tears approximately every 15 minutes, antibiotic gel at night, and eye ointment when I sleep. I have also added in GenTears Severe eye gel for when my eyes are unbearably dry. My eyes get very uncomfortable, but I’m not exactly in pain. If my eyes were not so dry, I think my vision in both would be a lot better. Dr. says I may need plugs. At this point, I can see to get through the day and I can see the computer well enough, but my distance vision is still blurry, and reading can be a chore. I’m hopeful that this will all clear up with more healing, though.
Day 16: I’m not having a great day today. My eyes are sore and everything is blurry. It doesn’t matter how many drops I use, my eyes remain dry. This is the first time that my eyes have actually hurt since I healed up. Hopefully the pain is due to dry eye and not a sign of something else, but nothing looks red or irritated. I’ll probably lay down with some ointment in my eyes later for a rest to see if that helps.
Week three: I have decided that updating this every day would be pointless, because there are so few improvements to my eyes now. I haven’t been back to the eye doctor, but tests at home indicate that I am seeing approximately 20/20 with my left eye. My right eye is not quite there yet, and both eyes can vary quite a bit with dryness and random fluctuations. Though I seem to be seeing okay, nothing is quite as crisp as it was when I was in glasses, and the ghosting has not cleared up at all yet. It’s definitely nice not wearing glasses though! When I first had the surgery, I wasn’t sure the pain would be worth it if I needed a touch up, but I know now that I don’t want to go back to wearing glasses, even with a small prescription. I still have very dry eyes, and I am still using steroid drops 4x a day. I expect my drops will be cut down when I go see my doctor next week, and I’ll update again after that. I am curious if I still have remaining refractive error, because it seems like I may still have some astigmatism.
Week Four: I went up to Beverly Hills yesterday for my one month check up. My vision in my left eye is 20/20 with no correction, but my right eye is 20/25 with -.50/-.75. That bit of astigmatism is what is preventing me from seeing clearly out of the right eye. I asked about it, and the doctor told me that it would clear up, so I guess all I can do is wait and see. It’s nice to hear that my left eye is 20/20 – hope it stays that way, and I hope that my right eye’s astigmatism goes away as it heals, because it is enough to affect my vision significantly, especially when I read. After a bunch of tests, I did not have any other problems at all, and I also do not have any haze. I was not given plugs, and he says that my dry eye will heal up. Because I don’t have haze, I think, my steroids were changed. Instead of Pred Forte 4x a day, I will now be using Lotemax, a weaker steroid, twice a day for the foreseeable future. As always, my eyes are dry and a bit sore today, and I’m seeing better out of the left side. I haven’t noticed improvement out of the right eye for a good two weeks now, but I’m hoping that the new steroids will allow it to heal up some. I don’t have another eye appointment until January, but I’ll update this after using the drops for a week.
Week 6 (November 20): I basically have nothing new to report. I’m still not seeing clearly out of my right eye, and I still have ghosting/halos in both eyes when reading light text on a dark background or looking at lights. My vision continues to fluctuate on a daily basis. For example, today my left eye is doing much worse than normal. It’s sore, so I assume this is due to dryness. Both of my eyes are very dry, and I use preservative free eye drops multiple times a day. I’ve switched to Systane Ultra instead of Theratears, which seems to help. I’m also currently using Lotemax twice a day (when I wake up and before bed), antibiotic ointment, and night time gel.
Week 8 (December 4): It’s now been exactly two months since I had my eye surgery. My vision is about the same as the last time I updated (approximately 20/20). My eyes are still dry, but it isn’t quite as bad, and I think the ghosting is improving bit by bit too. I’m still on Lotemax two times a day, I’m still using preservative free tears, and I’m still using GenTeal severe nighttime gel. I’ll go back to the doctor in January, but at this point, I’m not having too many problems aside from the dryness. I do think there’s some lingering astigmatism.
Week 14 (January 17): I had my three month follow up appointment yesterday. My vision in my left eye is better than 20/20, while my vision in my right eye is 20/25. Since my left eye is dominant, my overall vision is 20/20, though I do notice the discrepancy between my eyes simply because my left eye has such sharp, crisp vision. The vision in my right eye has shifted, and I am now a bit farsighted in that eye, which means it is slightly overcorrected. It is currently reading at +0.50, when it was -.50/-.75.
There is still astigmatism in that eye and I neglected to get an exact reading – when I asked about it, he said there was “barely any.” I think it is the lingering astigmatism that makes the vision in my right eye slightly worse, but it’s hard to tell what’s going on with that eye (my vision in that eye will change between blinks). I will definitely ask about it at my 6 month appointment and get some concrete numbers. My vision in both eyes, especially my right eye, still fluctuates a bit on a daily basis, especially when my eyes are dry, I do not get enough sleep, or my eyes get tired. I never had any haze or problems with my healing, so I was taken off of steroid drops as of today. My eyes get dry, but it is not as bad as before. I continue to use Restasis, Systane Ultra Preservative Free Drops as needed, and GenTeal severe nighttime gel when I go to sleep. My right eye will likely continue to shift and the doctor says that the overcorrection may fix itself. Let’s hope. Also, as far as night vision – I have not experienced any decline in my night vision. I don’t really see huge starbursts, just minor ones, and I do see halos around lights. It isn’t bad though. I also sometimes see some glare, especially in my left eye, but those are all things that I expect will get better as I continue to heal. I’ll report back in a few weeks after the steroids have had time to sufficiently wear off.
John and I went on our first trip in the bay area. We visited the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Half Moon Bay to see the tide pools and the seals.
The tide pools actually weren’t very impressive, without a lot to see, but there were some awesome tree-lined walking paths that were great for photographing.
There were definitely some amazing colors in the trees, though it was freezing cold. I didn’t dress warmly enough.
After we walked around here for a couple of hours we had lunch, then visited a farm, where they sold roses, vegetables, carnivorous plants, and orchids. I got a couple orchids, one yellow and one white which have survived so far.
It was a fun trip. I think we’ll visit Santa Cruz next, or maybe some other hiking trails.
Here’s the entire photo gallery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pixelcat/sets/72157630850313526/
This weekend we had the carpet removed and new flooring installed, so we were finally unable to unpack the rest of the stuff. I thought I’d share how the new apartment looks so far.
This is the living room. It’s really huge. The boxes belong to John, he hasn’t fully unpacked yet.
Here’s the kitchen.
My room, aka “office,” starting with the bathroom. I didn’t take a picture of the bedroom because it’s messy. And unexciting.
Lots of storage space. The only negative is that there’s really not enough natural light because the patio outside is entirely shaded. I only have one lamp right now, but I’ll need to get another.
Here’s the backyard. So far I’ve planted a little cherry tree and a blackberry bush, but I’ve also got a blueberry bush and a raspberry bush to plant.
This is the side of the yard. It’s huge for an apartment.
Eight different herbs.
This is my new patio furniture, I got it this weekend at Pier 1.
And Molly, enjoying the floors.