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Coco’s Journal #26: The Silent Thief

Posted Feb 19 2009 6:31pm

December 24, 2008

The past two days have been a whirlwind of emotions and hurdles. One moment I thought it would be my last day to see everything, then waking up to the same what I’d seen before the procedure.

How did it get to the point where I feared being completely blind in that instant second to being reassured of it for just a little bit more?

VSO had sent me home through the holiday kindness of AXA insurance because of worries from all sides after I’d told them about the brown spot and half-moon blur. It was determined that Nigeria’s medical care was not appropriate for my Usher Syndrome conidition and that Canadian medical care was the best choice for me.

When I saw Dr Lapointe, my opthalmologist, she did a thorough examination using different ocular and vision tests, from field test to drops to color illumination lights. The field tests determined I was losing some degree in my field vision, and that the half-moon blur and brown spot in the middle was an unfortunate side effect of deteroriation from retinitis pigmentosa.  For that, there could be nothing done.

However, that was not what alarmed Dr. Lapointe. Through the final series of tests, she discovered a far more serious problem: angle closure glaucoma (google it up).

Angle closure glaucoma, basically, is a condition that suddenly robs one of their vision because the angle in the back of the eyeball, which transmits optical images to your brain, is getting narrower and then closes.

The side effect is said to be disturbing. When someone suffers from an attack of a full closed angle glaucoma, the feeling is compared to a heart attack. The pain is mainly around the eyeball area, leading to the brain. It can be very painful, but does not affect brain activity.

But if not treated within 12 hours, especially in foreign countries like Nigeria, I could have lost all ability to see, and suffering a blitz attack on my eye. The thing is, we’re all grateful that Dr. Lapointe diagnosed this problem before anything like an attack occured to me in Nigeria. The prospect of that is frightening, and it’s as if an angel is watching over me.

The laser treatment was less risky than the surgery done on cataract patients, they actually go under the knife. Laser is quick, a patient can go in and out of five minutes. No hospital stay. However, Dr Lapointe had not done this kind of procedure to eliminate glaucoma on a RP patient. To prevent an attack, I told her to go ahead. Despite that there was a possibility that it’d be taken away forever, like a silent thief. Maybe the laser was too strong for my retina and damaged whatever vision I had left? Catch-22 reared its ugly head.

I underwent laser treatment at the Ottawa General Hospital, I had an interpreter and my father also attended. Dr. Lapointe explained to me the procedure, and the information she had gathered from two retina specialists and one glaucoma specialist. We agreed upon a communication system to use in the dark examination room.

I would look into a machine, and there’d be a red laser aimed at the very  pupil of my eye. It’s been dilated large, and frozen. Dr Lapointe touches my knee one, two, three times and then presses. It’s code for electric shock.

I saw the red laser come into my pupil. My brain transmitted the image to an area of my brain that recognized red. I breathed in, out, in, out. Om, ahhhh. I had gone through a difficult 2 days thinking about everything I’d loved seeing/watching all my life, the faces of people I’d loved and who I’d never get to meet. Wishing I could see the Taj Mahal or the foot of the Amazon before I become fully blind might not be possible in a few seconds. I felt so scared. My heart was in my throat. Would I open my eyes and be able to see out? Would it be a repeat of 2004? Do I need to learn Braille again? All these people wishing me the best.

All of a sudden, I swear to you all, I felt such a strong surge of positive energy, coming in from all kinds of directions. The emails, the instant messages, the wall posts, and calls from strangers, high school and college friends, family, volunteers…. they were in the hundreds. I’m not kidding. There was that many. I was blown away. And that helped me get through the procedure because I know no matter what happens, I would still have all of you around me, taking care of each other and give me the strength to go on without sight.

One. Two. Three. BZZZZZZZZZ!

Whoa. That felt like a mini jackhammer hitting the back of my skull. Click. Click. Click. It went on for like, twenty seconds. I sat there, breating in, out, in, out.

A gentle squeeze on my shoulder signaled I was done. The doc took out the plastic, gelly thing that held my eyelids wide open. I closed my eyes right away, wiping the gel off the eye area.

Moment of truth.

I opened my eyes, and saw the silhouette of Dr. Lapointe in front of the dim light. I asked her to turn on the lights. The blinding flash pained my eyes at first, then they got used to it. I saw the doctor standing in front of me, her anxious face looking at me. I realized I could still see her face, dim blond hair and silver-rimmed glasses.

I turned around. I saw the interpreter. She looked the same as she did five minutes before.

My dad came in, and my brain registered the blue sweater he was wearing.

I could still see. Whoa.

I was elated. It was so close, it could have gone any way.

I have another appointment with Dr Lapointe tomorrow, and we’ll determine if the problem has been elimiated, and that the chances of me having glaucoma would go away forever.

It’s rare for someone with Usher Syndrome/Retinitis Pigmentosa to get glaucoma, it was a surprise I had it. This is to tell you that for anyone, it is important to see your opthalmologist and get everything checked out.

The outpouring of love and support has been extraordinary. I’m really humbled. Bless all.

Tactile love, namaste.
Coco

info:
http://www.healthprofessor.com/landers/macular_degeneration.php?keywords=glaucom =
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_angle_glaucoma

December 24, 2008

The past two days have been a whirlwind of emotions and hurdles. One moment I thought it would be my last day to see everything, then waking up to the same what I’d seen before the procedure.

How did it get to the point where I feared being completely blind in that instant second to being reassured of it for just a little bit more?

VSO had sent me home through the holiday kindness of AXA insurance because of worries from all sides after I’d told them about the brown spot and half-moon blur. It was determined that Nigeria’s medical care was not appropriate for my Usher Syndrome conidition and that Canadian medical care was the best choice for me.

When I saw Dr Lapointe, my opthalmologist, she did a thorough examination using different ocular and vision tests, from field test to drops to color illumination lights. The field tests determined I was losing some degree in my field vision, and that the half-moon blur and brown spot in the middle was an unfortunate side effect of deteroriation from retinitis pigmentosa.  For that, there could be nothing done.

However, that was not what alarmed Dr. Lapointe. Through the final series of tests, she discovered a far more serious problem: angle closure glaucoma (google it up).

Angle closure glaucoma, basically, is a condition that suddenly robs one of their vision because the angle in the back of the eyeball, which transmits optical images to your brain, is getting narrower and then closes.

The side effect is said to be disturbing. When someone suffers from an attack of a full closed angle glaucoma, the feeling is compared to a heart attack. The pain is mainly around the eyeball area, leading to the brain. It can be very painful, but does not affect brain activity.

But if not treated within 12 hours, especially in foreign countries like Nigeria, I could have lost all ability to see, and suffering a blitz attack on my eye. The thing is, we’re all grateful that Dr. Lapointe diagnosed this problem before anything like an attack occured to me in Nigeria. The prospect of that is frightening, and it’s as if an angel is watching over me.

The laser treatment was less risky than the surgery done on cataract patients, they actually go under the knife. Laser is quick, a patient can go in and out of five minutes. No hospital stay. However, Dr Lapointe had not done this kind of procedure to eliminate glaucoma on a RP patient. To prevent an attack, I told her to go ahead. Despite that there was a possibility that it’d be taken away forever, like a silent thief. Maybe the laser was too strong for my retina and damaged whatever vision I had left? Catch-22 reared its ugly head.

I underwent laser treatment at the Ottawa General Hospital, I had an interpreter and my father also attended. Dr. Lapointe explained to me the procedure, and the information she had gathered from two retina specialists and one glaucoma specialist. We agreed upon a communication system to use in the dark examination room.

I would look into a machine, and there’d be a red laser aimed at the very  pupil of my eye. It’s been dilated large, and frozen. Dr Lapointe touches my knee one, two, three times and then presses. It’s code for electric shock.

I saw the red laser come into my pupil. My brain transmitted the image to an area of my brain that recognized red. I breathed in, out, in, out. Om, ahhhh. I had gone through a difficult 2 days thinking about everything I’d loved seeing/watching all my life, the faces of people I’d loved and who I’d never get to meet. Wishing I could see the Taj Mahal or the foot of the Amazon before I become fully blind might not be possible in a few seconds. I felt so scared. My heart was in my throat. Would I open my eyes and be able to see out? Would it be a repeat of 2004? Do I need to learn Braille again? All these people wishing me the best.

All of a sudden, I swear to you all, I felt such a strong surge of positive energy, coming in from all kinds of directions. The emails, the instant messages, the wall posts, and calls from strangers, high school and college friends, family, volunteers…. they were in the hundreds. I’m not kidding. There was that many. I was blown away. And that helped me get through the procedure because I know no matter what happens, I would still have all of you around me, taking care of each other and give me the strength to go on without sight.

One. Two. Three. BZZZZZZZZZ!

Whoa. That felt like a mini jackhammer hitting the back of my skull. Click. Click. Click. It went on for like, twenty seconds. I sat there, breating in, out, in, out.

A gentle squeeze on my shoulder signaled I was done. The doc took out the plastic, gelly thing that held my eyelids wide open. I closed my eyes right away, wiping the gel off the eye area.

Moment of truth.

I opened my eyes, and saw the silhouette of Dr. Lapointe in front of the dim light. I asked her to turn on the lights. The blinding flash pained my eyes at first, then they got used to it. I saw the doctor standing in front of me, her anxious face looking at me. I realized I could still see her face, dim blond hair and silver-rimmed glasses.

I turned around. I saw the interpreter. She looked the same as she did five minutes before.

My dad came in, and my brain registered the blue sweater he was wearing.

I could still see. Whoa.

I was elated. It was so close, it could have gone any way.

I have another appointment with Dr Lapointe tomorrow, and we’ll determine if the problem has been elimiated, and that the chances of me having glaucoma would go away forever.

It’s rare for someone with Usher Syndrome/Retinitis Pigmentosa to get glaucoma, it was a surprise I had it. This is to tell you that for anyone, it is important to see your opthalmologist and get everything checked out.

The outpouring of love and support has been extraordinary. I’m really humbled. Bless all.

Tactile love, namaste.
Coco

info:
http://www.healthprofessor.com/landers/macular_degeneration.php?keywords=glaucom =
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_angle_glaucoma

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