Health updates

I’m three weeks post-op and feeling pretty good! I still get tired more easily and require extra sleep, but being off work means I can take naps whenever I feel the need.

I have three weeks left on my short term disability leave and am trying not to think about work. Mostly my thinking is about how to find more satisfaction with my work and not about actual projects or business relationships. For now I let the thoughts float by, but don’t try to turn them into anything.

At my two-week check in with the surgeon advised that I could start slowly adding higher fiber foods into my diet. So far I’ve been careful not to add anything with small seeds, nuts, and cabbage-y foods. But eating whole apples and whole grain products (a little whole grain pasta and some whole grain bread) is so satisfying!

Due to the pre-op prep and post-op dietary restrictions I was off all alcohol for more than two weeks. Once I started adding alcohol back in — a drink with dinner most nights — I observed issues with my sleep patterns. The nights where I’ve had beer seem to go OK, but white wine, red wine, and hard liquor lead to me waking up and having trouble going back to sleep. Considering I live in wine country, it’s kind of disappointing that my tolerance for that beverage is not that good. I think I need to just stick to drinking herbal tea most evenings and enjoying a beer maybe once or twice a week.

In two weeks I get to visit the dentist and have two small cavities filled. To me this is a *big deal* since I haven’t had a cavity in more than 40 years. Yes, I have had no cavities since my adult teeth emerged! These two little cavities are in my molars, and the dentist said they likely happened due to me clenching and grinding my teeth at night.

At around 30 I had to start using a mouth guard every night due to pain in my jaws caused by clenching/grinding. I stopped using the mouth guard when I had orthodontia a few years ago and was just using my retainers at night. Since I had no jaw pain I thought perhaps my issues were cleared up. Apparently not. I’ve caused small cracks through a molar on each side of my lower jaw, and that’s where these little cavities have formed. Now I’m back to wearing a mouth guard and will have to deal with fillings for the first time in a very, very long time. Ugh.

At least my bad eye seems to be doing OK lately. My pressure has been stable for months, which means I can keep putting surgery off. I’m also getting used to relying more on my left eye for reading and fine work. Adjusting to not using my right eye for those things was really tough and caused a lot of discomfort and fatigue. I think I move my head a lot when reading now, but maybe that’s just me being self-conscious.

I’ll have a field of vision test next week to check whether I’ve had any more loss of peripheral vision in that eye, and I’m not due to see the glaucoma specialist again until April unless there are problems. I saw the local ophthalmologist last week and he confirmed that there are more visible changes to the eye. I’ve noticed this dark spot in my iris and I didn’t recall it being there before. The doc said that it is caused by the coloration from my iris being “rubbed away” and the eye muscle showing underneath it. I’ve noticed that I’m more sensitive to light changes in that eye, too, and he explained to me why. (I love this local ophthalmologist. He is so great at explaining stuff.) At least my pupil isn’t as distorted as it used to be; it was looking pretty creepy back when my pressure was higher.

How is your health?

More medical fun

I’ve been pre-occupied lately with more medical stuff. Some of it is the same old stuff with some new developments, and some of it is new.

First, the old stuff. I had to go back to the gynecologist for a check on all the shenanigans earlier this year. The timing was fortuitous, since after I had set the appointment I started bleeding again and could talk to her about that odd occurrence. With my levels of estrogen and progesterone being pretty much non-existent when tested in April this was unexpected, so now I get to have the endometrial biopsy. Hooray (not). At least this doctor believes in good drugs. I took some misoprostol last night to “prep the area,” and was instructed to take a hydrocodone before I arrive at the office. My neighbor and friend is driving me to the doctor’s office, so I won’t be a hazard to anyone on the road.

I don’t expect that there will be any problems found with the biopsy, but it’s recommended to make sure my bleeding isn’t caused by something bad. When I told the doc that I haven’t had any hot flashes in a couple of months, she said it was likely my ovaries produced some extra estrogen for a while, which is why this happened. Sadly, the hormonal pendulum seems to be swinging back the other direction because I’ve started having a few little hot flashes during the night and evenings. (I wonder why they happen so much more often in the evening? I’ll have to ask the doctor.)

The really shocking thing I’ve been working on absorbing is that I was diagnosed with a form of glaucoma called angle closure glaucoma. This all came about when I went in for what I thought would be a routine eye exam not quite two weeks ago. I had been experiencing some redness in my right eye, and had noticed that the eye was looking a little odd, but I didn’t imagine it was anything serious.

The optometrist told me that the intraocular pressure in my right eye was very high, that I needed to use some drops over the weekend to reduce the pressure, and to come back on Monday when another doc could evaluate me for glaucoma. I tried not to worry about it over the weekend and used the drops as prescribed. When I went back on Monday the second doctor repeated all the tests and referred me to an ophthalmologist, where I was seen later that day. Two doctors examined me there and that’s when I was given the diagnosis and told I needed laser surgery to correct it. The drops were working to reduce the intraocular pressure, so I needed to continue those for another week until the surgery could be scheduled.

Yesterday was the big day, and after a laser peripheral iridotomy, I now have an extra hole in my iris. It’s been amazing how quickly the procedure has worked to get my eye looking normal again. Due to the pressure, my pupil was distorted and the iris looked bigger in my right eye than my left. Within a few hours the pupil shape and iris were looking closer to normal again.

Unfortunately, I’ll never regain the vision I lost in the eye. The vision loss seems to be mostly peripheral, and I can’t say I really notice it very much. I’ve apparently had this angle closure issue for “a while” now, so the vision loss has happened slowly enough that it never triggered any alarms for me. After the laser procedure yesterday the doctor told me that the reason I have the angle closure issue is that I have plateau iris syndrome: the shape of my iris makes the drainage angles in my eyes very narrow and easily blocked. If the iridotomy alone doesn’t work, I’ll need another laser procedure to widen the angles. I’ll also need to get the left eye fixed, too, so I can minimize any vision loss in it.

I’ve been getting my eyes examined every year since I have a vision plan as part of my employer benefits. However, this issue of narrow angles is apparently only recognized when there is a special exam called a gonioscopy — which isn’t part of a standard eye exam — performed. I’m making a list of questions to ask the doctor during my follow-up visit, and I’ve also already let my sister know about this since plateau iris and glaucoma seem to run in families.

The lesson here is to get your eyes checked every year. And if you have any history of glaucoma in your family, you may even want to request a gonioscopy to confirm if you have narrow angles. If I had been diagnosed with the plateau iris condition sooner I could have had iridotomy years ago and perhaps saved more of my vision.