Thursday, July 1, 2010

After Surgery, Things are Looking Up

Editor's Note: Marketing Department writer Sandra Crockett had eye surgery in May at the Krieger Eye Institute and is sharing her experience with our blog readers. You can read about her preparing for surgery here.

It was all worth it. The four separate surgeries in May, two weeks apart by two Sinai physicians, were all worth it. The six weeks at home on medical leave from work? Worth it. The "no exercising" and "no driving" directive, the “roller coaster” of a ride that meant terrific vision some days, not so great other days? Worth it.

I’m six weeks out from my last surgery and my vision is vastly improved. I will even say it’s great.

I had glaucoma surgery and cataract surgery on both eyes (May 5 for the right eye and May 19 for the left eye). These surgeries caused a reoccurring autoimmune disease - called uveitis - to flare up big time. I knew and accepted this going in. I was warned – having to sign a document that I understood this would most likely happen – before the surgeries.

In fact, it was my years-long struggle with treating uveitis that caused the cataracts and glaucoma to develop at a somewhat younger age than usual. The cataracts were causing seriously impaired vision, and the glaucoma meant my eye pressure was dangerously high. I had been treated at other health facilities, with no good outcome, before I came to Sinai two years ago.

The uveitis could be brought under better control once the cataracts were gone and the eye pressure dropped, said my primary ophthalmologist, Gerami Seitzman, M.D.

I asked her what I could do pre- and post-surgery to facilitate the best surgical outcome. She said the best thing I could do was “have a positive attitude.”

It was kind of crazy right after the procedures on May 5. The next day, the huge bandage came off my right eye. There was an eye chart on the wall and Dr. Seitzman asked if I could make out anything or if it was “all just one big blur.” Turns out, everything was crystal clear! Better out of that right eye than I had seen in, well, I can’t ever remember seeing anything that clearly.

Dr. Seitzman told me great vision right away was unusual. I was thinking, maybe that “positive attitude” paid off. She cautioned that it might be “a roller coaster” and the next day could be different.

Boy, was she right. The following day things were blurry. And so it went for the next few weeks. And let’s not forget the medication! I needed eye drops for the uveitis, plus an antibiotic and oral steroids. The eye drops were administered in different dosages at different times of the day. For instance, one medication in the right eye every two hours. Another medication in the right eye four times a day. A high dose of oral steroids that kept me up at night. And that was just for the first week.

Then my left eye was operated on. I had an entirely different medication schedule for that eye. Finally, this week, I am using one eye drop twice a day in both eyes. And the oral steroids, thank goodness, are gone.

So six weeks out from the last surgery and things are looking good. Make that things are looking great! It is exactly like Dr. Seitzman told me. It took time and patience. For someone who got her first pair of glasses in the third grade, imagine my shock at learning I was now cleared to drive without them. Everyone who has had cataract surgery knows the joy of having the “veil” lifted from one’s vision.

I am hoping that I am done once and for all with the uveitis as well. Only time will tell. Right now, I am maintaining that positive attitude.
-Sandra Crockett

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