Two weeks Vitrectomy Post-op Visit

July 23rd was the two-week post-op visit with my surgeon. The visit was unproductive since the doctor could not see past the gas bubble in my eye to evaluate how well the hole was healing. He told me that it would probably take another week to ten days for the gas bubble to dissipate enough for him to view the area of the hole and told me to come back in ten days.

“Do I have to stay face-down for another ten days?” The horrific expression on my face definitely conveyed the pain I was in just ‘thinking’ about any more time spent face-down.

“Well, yes,” he answered, explaining that I should continue the face-down positioning for the next five days and beyond that, “..as much as possible.”

I hung my head in dismay while feeling the constant pain in my head and neck. I cannot do this anymore, I thought to myself.

Through the minimal vision that was returning to my eye, I thought I saw the familiar distortion of the hole – the hole which was supposed to have closed via surgery, but I did not mention this to the doctor during my visit since he could not see into my eye to verify my claim. Besides, if the hole truly was there, it would still be there in ten days. The doctor surely would not propose another course of action before he could verify what I already knew.

ladyMacular

Sample of eyesight with Macular Hole

Here is an example of what my eyesight was prior to surgery – my Macular Hole at Stage IV with unremarkable floaters:

ladyMacularPostOp

20 days post-op
Sample of eyesight after
Macular Hole Vitrectomy

After surgery, as the healing progresses, this is what my eyesight looks like twenty days post-op – Macular Hole is smaller than original, but still present, floaters have increased in number and saturation.

The dark half-circle at the lower portion of the photo is the gas bubble, which is very visible to my brain. It will eventually disappear as the bubble dissipates. I do not know if the floaters will subside, I doubt it. From what I have read, floaters don’t go away on their own, the only way to get rid of them is through surgery.

The ten-day office visit with my surgeon is three days away. I will inform him that I can still see the macular hole, although it is somewhat smaller. These are some of the questions I will ask my surgeon:

  • Will the macular hole deteriorate to its previous Stage IV state if I do not have another surgery? If so…
  • Will the Stage IV macular hole deteriorate to eventual blindness in that eye? If so…
  • Will it be complete blindness, white or black only, or will there be unidentifiable blurriness?
  • Can he perform the surgery as described in the 2011 article from Retina Today:
  • ***Note: the aforementioned article is very interesting if it is true thatΒ  100% of the doctor’s patients’ macular holes were healed without any face-down positioning!

I trust my doctor and his competency, and I would agree to another surgery if the recovery period did not require face-down positioning, but, for some reason, non-face-down positioning does not seem to be popularly practiced.

There is no one to blame for the hole not healing. There are no guarantees with any surgery. For whatever reason, this surgery did not work for me and I need to quit being grouchy and childlike. I need to be like Dilios from the movie 300:(quote courtesy IMDB)

Dilios

Β© Warner Bros.

[Dilios is putting a patch over his eye]
King Leonidas: Dilios, I trust that “scratch” hasn’t made you useless.

Dilios: Hardly, my lord, it’s just an eye. The gods saw fit to grace me with a spare.

Life is good! Now, to make an eye patch like Dilios wore. Kinda chic, don’t ya think? I could be ready for Halloween year-round!

BAR_LINE2

 

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23 responses to “Two weeks Vitrectomy Post-op Visit

  1. You have all my empathy and sympathy. My mother and a couple of friends all had this same issue and all had surgery, though none had to do the face down thing. Different surgeons, different protocol … but maybe you DO need to shop around a bit. I had to do that both for my breast surgery and reconstruction as well as for my heart surgeries. And I am very very very glad I did.

    I don’t know where you live, but I did my looking by personal reference … and also, for the heart surgery, by searching the internet at the best of the Boston hospitals for surgeons that specialized in minimally invasive procedures. It turned out I wasn’t a candidate for minimal anything, but I have the least scarring of anyone I’ve ever seen who had this surgery and the best healing with NO blood thinners required. That’s BIG. And the hospital was absolutely top notch.

    It’s worth checking, anyhow.

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  2. Thanks Marilyn. I am very, very curious about your mom and your friends who had this surgery. I don’t know how they had this exact surgery without the face-down restriction. Everything I’ve read, from reputable websites, like the National Eye Institute, indicate that most surgeons who perform this surgery for macular hole require the patients to maintain the face-down position for up to 2-3 weeks.

    I did, however, just read at the Mayo Clinic website, a very good article where they address the face-down positioning… “Currently, most surgeons employ face-down positioning for variable periods following macular hole repair surgery.”

    But, some patients, simply cannot maintain this positioning for the same reason as I have, so much pain.

    Going into this, even though I had done research, I did not even THINK to look for an alternative to face-down recovery because everything I read kept coming up with this same restriction.

    Friends have offered their eye surgery stories but they are NOT the same condition. My husband’s boss told my husband today that my surgery is “nothing”, that he had that surgery and was fine and up and about the next day…. yeah, he just had a detached retina.

    Another friend told me about her daughter’s eye surgery when she was in her 20’s… again, a totally different condition. So, I’m striking out when it comes to asking friends for referrals.

    I think I’ll do more research at the University, I live in Oklahoma, as well as there is an eye institute downtown too, that is where my friend’s daughter had her surgery 20+ years ago.

    Thanks for the reply, you’ve given me just the right boost I need to start phoning around to these other eye surgery places and ask if they perform the macular hole repair surgery with “broad internal limiting membrane (ILM) peeling, 20 percent sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) gas and no face-down positioning”.

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  3. I hope you don’t find this offensive or stupid but I want to recommend you keep your chin up but your head down.

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  4. You are indeed tough as nails, Swoosieque.

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  5. My friend Jim passed away about 10 years ago, but he had macular degeneration in both eyes and was going to lose his eyesight completely. I don’t remember which Boston hospital he went to, but he came up from New York because (I think it was Boston Eye and Ear) because they were they only ones who had the advanced technique he was looking for.. The surgery worked.

    My mother could not lie down. It was one eye, not both. The surgery didn’t entirely work and she had limited vision in the eye. But also, it was very early surgery, in the late 1970s because my mother died in 1983. So I’m sure they’ve come a long way since then. However,there always seem to be alternatives.

    Everytime I’ve been told there’s only one way, take it or leave it, I’ve left it and found the other way that didn’t exist. Just don’t give up.

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    • Thanks, I needed this encouragement. I’m feeling better about searching for another alternative, especially since I know that another way does exist!

      The surgeon I went to told me that this surgery for macular hole did not exist 30 years ago – people would just live with it. Hmmmm… I need to research if he is correct.

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  6. I’m just a really good searcher πŸ™‚

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  7. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.You write with such honesty and candor that I feel deeply touched. My heart reaches out to you.

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  8. Oh my goodness Swoosieque–what a mess this has been! I admit it was tough to read this, I am indeed squeemish and could not watch that video you linked a few posts ago. I hope all your questions get answered on your upcoming visit, and that improvement is in the cards.

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  9. I’m so glad I found your blog (googling for any and all info on failure of macular hole surgery) since I had the same surgery in Jan and while that the start it appeared to be healing well, the plug dissolved by the end of 2 months. Don’t know why and I’ve found that it does happen. At that time the doc said that because they didn’t know why it happened and couldn’t guarantee any rate of success if I tried again, and that there was a chance it would worsen my vision. So I said no, and made apt for 3 month follow up. That happened yesterday and he asked me what I had decided (? – wasn’t he at the meeting?) and suggested getting a 2nd opinion. I have an apt next week with another surgeon. I’m honestly not sure what to expect – or what I want to do. I had sort of made peace with my eyesight (23/400) and as long as it didn’t get worse I could live like this. But enough about me – just know you’re not alone and I have defintely felt your pain! I just wish I’d been smart enough to buy my massage chair – for some reason I though they were terribly expensive. Stay safe –

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    • Hi Lois, thanks so much for sharing your experience. I wish there had been more information from real-life patients when I was researching this surgery.

      When I went for my … I don’t remember what checkup it was, 2 weeks? 3 weeks??? The tests showed that the hole WAS closed. I was VERY, VERY disappointed with my results. Since that time, either my vision has improved or my memory is failing insofar as the quality of vision prior to surgery.

      I still have an interruption to the central part of my vision, but, it IS better than what I had gone in with. The doctor told me that my vision will never be as good as it was before the macular hole, but, it is better than it would have been had I not chosen surgery.

      I have not had time to write on my blog because I have two very sick dogs and an extremely sickly husband. I am ready to pull my hair out with all of the doctor appointments and medications around here!

      I’ll be curious how the visit with your 2nd opinion doctor went. I hope you stop by and let me know. Thanks again! πŸ˜€

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  10. It’s been a while but I have not forgotten you or your blog – just real life and eye surgery taking up time….I did go for that second opinion – liked the doc very much and when he urged me to go forward I agreed even though he told me up front that chances for success were anywhere from 60-80%. (Of course, that fact he only asked for 5 days face down might have had something to do with it). Sort of surprised when I went to schedule the surgery (this was on a Thursday) that the scheduler announced that there had just been a cancellation and I could have surgery the following Monday. Lots of running around on Friday getting my primary care doc’s ok, labs, insurance oks, borrowing a massage chair, etc. Oh, and announcing to the boss et al that I was going to be out for the next 2 weeks (I really enjoyed that since my boss has just that week announced that one’s health was more important than anything and I knew he really couldn’t say a word.). So surgery – went fine besides waking up in the middle of it and getting yelled at (and I HAD told them it had happened the last time!). Doc used much longer lasting gas bubble this time (so long lasting that I’m at the end of my 6th week and the bubble is still there – right below my line of sight and driving me crazy!). But the face down time was much, much harder this time. I think it’s because last time I was just sure the surgery would work if I did what they said – this time I realized that it was NOT guaranteed. I have my follow up next week and I have no idea whether it worked or not. Glad to see you mentioned that you still had the hole in the middle – I do too and was afraid that meant the hole hadn’t closed. Of course that may be the case – I guess I’ll know next week. I’ll let you know – and I’ll remember I’m not alone in this.

    Peace – Lois

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lois! It’s great to hear from you.

      The hole DID eventually close in my eye, BUT there remains a DIP in my central vision because the way that the hole healed. It’s difficult to explain, I hope you understand.
      I’ll have to find the scan of that eye which shows the healing, but, you can actually see the “dip” in the healed part. Confusing…
      I’m happy though, and the Dr. said that it could keep on healing for up to 6 months. I sure hope that’s right!
      I will keep you in m y thoughts and prayers that the surgery worked ENTIRELY for you! ~ Sue

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  11. Elaine McClellan

    I had surgery for a macular hole 2 weeks ago (7/14/15) and did face down for the first 4 days then kept my head down and slept on my side with head pointed down. Although the line that you are supposed to start seeing at the top of your vision is there it is not receding as fast as I hoped. When I went for my 10 day checkup they said everything looked good but would not be able to see if the hole closed until my next apt on Aug 20 when they take a picture. The gas bubble in the eye is driving me nuts. I tried using an eye patch but my face and eye area is so sore that is hurts to wear it, I hope I am where I should be at 2 weeks post-op. I note your surgery was a year ago so you may not be checking your blogs any more. I would love to know if everything is now resolved without any problems.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I do still check my blog and intend to write after I reach a more stable point of emotions (my 37 yr. old son died on June 9th after a horrendous struggle with pancreatic cancer.)

      I don’t remember the particulars of that surgery, but, it did “heal.” The photos my surgeon took afterward positively showed that the hole closed, yet, I still have a slight distortion – nothing near the original state where all central vision was swirled and missing clarity.

      If I look straight ahead at a solid line with only my right eye (the macular hole eye) there will be a slight “dip” in the line, a slight distortion. But, I am happy with these results, the slight dip does not affect my sight while driving. So, it was worth it.

      My left eye suffered some type of problem while I was staying with my son and his family, requiring me to fly home and have surgery to it before it turned into a macular hole. I need to write about that before I forget all the particulars!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’ll be checking up to see how you are doing.

      As I recall, it took a long time for my gas bubble to dissipate too. And I think that I “cheated” at some points because positioning head-down 24/7 was painful for my neck!

      Thanks again!

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