A memorable Thanksgiving

November is one of my favorite months. It always begins with an election, either local or statewide, next comes Veterans Day (which I’ve always seen as a day of honoring those who have served in the military and not just some random day off from work). Mid-month brings my birthday and a few days later our anniversary. Finally, there’s Thanksgiving and then the launch of the Christmas season.

This November has been somewhat unique. While I had a wonderful birthday and anniversary, the start of the month was disrupted by five days without power and a shattered car window, by-products of our Halloween Nor’easter. Then, just before Thanksgiving a specialist at Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary informed me that I had sustained a detached retina in my left eye. A dangerous condition that can lead to blindness if not treated promptly, the retina issue led to emergency surgery on Wednesday.

The procedure was done under local anesthesia which means I was wide awake but feeling no pain. Because they’re working on your eye, you can’t not look at it but you can’t really see much. It was a little like watching a black and white version of the old Disney cartoon Fantasia only without the classical music soundtrack. The procedure involved the use of a laser to repair the tear in the retina and then the insertion of gas into the eye to exert pressure against the repair, holding it in place until it heals. Because the gas wants to go up and because the retina is at the back of the eye, you have to lie face down for ten days while everything heals. That is indeed a challenge that takes some getting used to, but when it comes to your vision, you’re not going to cut corners.

Family and friends quickly mobilized to make my convalescence more tolerable. A friend of my mother’s already had a cot specifically designed for such recovery (it has a face-sized hole carved out). My son and my nephew designed a system that allows me to watch TV: They pointed a laptop computer’s webcam at the TV screen, attached a flat screen monitor to that laptop, and lay the screen on the floor underneath my cot. Looking down at the floor, I get a YouTube sized image of whatever is on TV. I’m not a big TV watcher, but I really enjoyed catching both NFL games yesterday and look forward to seeing the Red Wings v Bruins game this afternoon. By moving the laptop onto the floor and tilting the screen back, I can send email and write blog entries while lying face down, just as I am now.

So thanks to all my family and friends who have provided assistance and offers of assistance. And my apologies to those whose events I cannot attend during the coming days. Deciding to publicize a personal medical condition is a close call – who outside my family and close friends really cares? – but I see it as a chance to urge people not to mess around when it comes to your vision – it’s too important to not monitor regularly. Over the next week, I expect a steady stream of blog posts about the usual stuff with an occasional personal update interspersed.

10 Responses to A memorable Thanksgiving

  1. Paul@01852 says:

    It sounds like our trip last Saturday to BC might have been a bit dangerous to your recovery?! I hope you didn’t go against doctor’s orders just to accommodate us!

  2. DickH says:

    Deb, the classic description of the symptoms of a detached retina is like a window shade descending through your field of vision. In my case, I suddenly had this big black blob in front of my eye. At first I thought a bug of some kind had landed so I reached up to brush it away but there was nothing there. There’s no pain associated with it. When something like that happens, it’s important to get to an eye specialist quickly (as in go to the ER). There are many ways to treat it but they all work best when done promptly.

    As for the causes, it just happens. I was standing still talking to someone. It’s not like it occurs from heavy lifting or anything like that. Some things make you more susceptible to it, like being near sighted or having had cataract surgery.

  3. DickH says:

    An amusing side note: Several eye drops have been prescribed to promote healing. One is ATROPINE. Back in the US Army in the early 1980s, we all carried several spring loaded syringes filled with atropine. If you fell victim to a Soviet nerve gas attack, you were supposed to jam one of the syringes into your thigh because atropine was some kind of a nerve gas antidote. Now it’s being used in eye surgery after care.

  4. Deb Forgione says:

    Thank you Dick…. I hope you have a speedy recovery and back on your feet for a fabulous Holiday/New Year Season.

    PS Thanks for sharing . It helps us all to know the signs and symptons

  5. SeanT says:

    Wild story. Glad you got it taken care of, and you have such a caring family. Sorry to hear you’ll be prone for so long. I wish you a speedy recovery.