Long post alert! I didn’t think I would have a part three, but alas, here we are!
On the day of my last appointment, I woke up bright and early, ready for the day’s adventure. I got dressed, packed some snacks and then began my journey to Charleston, West Virginia with my husband. The trip was about an hour and a half but the straight, smooth and winding road – with no traffic made it a very pleasant trip. I enjoyed the natural scenery as well as the different buildings and images plastered all across the city once we arrived. We got there just in time for the appointment, but got lost in the building a couple of times.
After the routine sign-in with the nurse at the reception, I sat down quietly waiting for my turn. I looked around me and realized that I was surrounded by a couple of older White people – after five years in America, I am still not used to sometimes being the only Black person in a room. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting anything different.
After waiting for a few minutes, it got to my turn and this time, I went in with my husband. He was here to watch me go through that awful ordeal again. After a lot of running around, it was finally time to get the test done…I dreaded this moment because of my experience the first time. I explained to the nurses what my experience was the last time and they promised to do things differently this time. Their plan was to slowly insert the dye into my body, which would allow my body to adjust to it so I wouldn’t feel sick.
The first dose of dye injected into my body went well, I felt nothing and I had a little glimmer of hope and thought to myself, “this might actually work” …WRONG. I felt nauseous all over again and out came all my breakfast again…ewwwwwwwwww. That was HORRIBLE. I kept tapping my leg and just shaking. I hated every part of it. From the corner of my eye, I could see my husband looking, sitting at the edge of his seat very anxious. But the nurses had me covered, they were so kind, sweet and very patient with me. They told me that I was one of the first people to actually throw up during this process. After I felt better the pictures were taken and then I was sent off to the consulting room, with an awful taste lingering in my mouth.
From the images, the doctor explained that ALL the blood vessels at the back of my eye were dead – I could see it all clearly. Everything was black! I immediately got worried. At first, I thought all this was happening in my left eye, but it turned out that my right eye was also affected.
Simply put, because of my sickle cell condition, the red blood cells became sickle and blocked those vessels from getting blood and obviously oxygen. So, they died…which is natural, right? As human beings if we do not have enough oxygen, we will die so that is exactly what happened. What happened next was, because of this rather unfortunate situation, they began to form their own blood vessels. This is not good, as I mentioned in my previous post, because those new vessels can break or tear away and can cause scarring which could lead to my eyes bleeding and that could cause me to go blind. If this happened, the doctor explained they would have to operate on my eye, something we both wanted to avoid.
Another interesting but worrying twist to this whole drama was how all this was related to pregnancy. The doctor explained that the hormones that are producing those new blood vessels were the same hormones that help with the growth of a baby. Interestingly, he cautioned me not to get pregnant for the next eight to ten weeks, or at least till I had sorted out my eye issues. This was necessary because if I begin to produce more of these hormones, it could worsen my eye problems and complicate matters. Honestly, I was not expecting this at all – it just felt like a bomb, and drummed in the point of how the sickle cell condition continues to affect my life.
My next question was, what do I do to solve the problem. He then suggested laser treatment to prevent new vessels from growing. After my appointment, I shared the information with my family. They were, and still are very supportive. In fact, my mother-in – law and my mother went on a mission to find the best care for me.
As I write, I have not had the laser treatment done yet. I am actually taking some medication I got from Ghana. Gosh, honestly, the struggle to take this medication has been real. The way I hate taking medication, you can just imagine what I have to deal with. Some of them I had to take 10 at a time, three times a day…..chai. In all of this, I knew I had to no choice.
All this was done for me by my mother and my mother-in-law. I decided to do the medication route first to see what happens to my eye, then we will determine if I need the laser treatment. I am hopeful that it will all work out and my eye will be totally fine but one thing the doctor said to me and that really hit me was “Vanessa, you are not a low risk patient.” I think I forget that a lot and that was a reminder that I should not take things lightly when it comes to my health.
I am hopeful that it will all work out and my eye will be totally fine but one thing the doctor said to me and that really hit me was “Vanessa, you are not a low risk patient.”
Before I started taking the medication, I had pain, especially in my left eye, and when this happens, my husband usually gives me a cold towel to put on it. That usually works and if it didn’t I have to close my eyes for a long time…basically sleep if I have to before I get some relief. I can see well but at the same time all this action is happening at the back of the eye, progressing towards the good part of the eye…hopefully the treatment works before it gets there, but we shall see.
This is the final part of my eye appointment stories but the eye treatment is not yet over. I will continue to update you on any developments and what steps I am taking to make sure that I keep my eyesight. I am done with my first round of my medication (Thank God!!!), so I need to check my if it worked.
Please pray for me, so nothing happens to my vision. I am actually very calm about everything. God has and is always faithful. My family has been very, very, very supportive and I am just happy and grateful that I have them. Right now, I am just taking it a day at a time and I am very positive that it will all work out well. Au revoir!