When I had my stroke, the after effect that lingered the longest was double vision. It lasted for about four months. I remember being driven to an outpatient appointment, and seeing two roads in front of me, and wondering if I’d ever drive again.
While I was in the hospital, still intubated, about five days after the stroke, the resident asked me to follow his light with my eyes. I couldn’t do it. I saw concern on his face.
What complicated this exact moment was that I didn’t have my glasses on. I’m blind as a bat to being with. I’ve been wearing corrective lenses since the second grade. I couldn’t exactly tell how bad my vision was until a family member found my glasses and brought them to me. I had my contacts in when the stroke occurred. As soon as I was awake, I realized no one noticed I was still wearing them and bothered to take them out. They stuck to my eyes like glue. I managed to remove them and no one understood what I was doing until I had them out.
Once I had my glasses, I realized how bad the issue with my vision was. Everything was double. I had a few compassionate people console me, saying it was likely temporary, but, it was frustrating that I couldn’t see or focus on a damn thing. I couldn’t text, I couldn’t email. I couldn’t scroll the internet while I was bored as hell, in the hospital and away from my family.
After a few weeks, I had a nurse that had not been assigned to me before. She suggested that I patch my eye, and rotate the patch from one eye to the other every two hours. She told me she had a patient with a similar issue and this helped her other patient.
I started doing this. At first, I used some gauze, but that kept falling off. Then, I used an actual patch, but that was really difficult with my glasses over top of it. Then, I found a patch on ETSY that actually fit over glasses. Once I bought a few of those, I was compliant with rotating the patch every two hours. Slowly, my vision started to come back.
My stroke was in April of 2017. At the end of July 2017, I had another surgery to put a stent at the base of my aneurysm. The aneurysm had a “wide neck” and they couldn’t fit coils in the neck. Therefore, there was a risk of it re-bleeding. The stent diverts blood away from the neck, and at my last angiogram, the aneurysm was completely devoid of blood.
I had to stay overnight after this stent procedure. In the morning, the resident rounded on me, and he asked me to follow the light with my eyes. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was the same one who initially asked me to do this when I woke up, still intubated. I was able to follow his command this time, though with some difficulty.
He said, “Are your eyes focusing better? They aren’t twerking like they were the last time.”
I shit you not, he said my eyes were twerking. I’ll never forget that. I imagined eyes standing in front of a stripper pole, shaking it and dancing.
I told him it was better, but not completely gone. I continued to patch and I had an appointment with a neuro-ophthalmologist in August of that year. I was told this MD might find a solution to my double vision, and it might include a prism lens on my glasses.
About two weeks before my appointment, my eyes seemed to magically heal, and I could see again. I kept the appointment with the neuro-ophthalmologist out of an abundance of caution. He gave me a quick exam, said I likely had some type of cranial nerve palsy from the stroke, and that, in time, it corrected itself.
About two months ago, I had my annual eye exam for new glasses and contacts. I told the doc I was having trouble seeing my computer at work. I’m almost 43 now, so I’ve had shitty vision for a long time. I was ordered bifocal eyeglasses, and was told to wear OTC reading glasses when I had my contacts in.
I’ve been doing this for a few months now. It’s not been going well. I usually get a headache in the middle of my work day. When I wear my glasses, I can’t see my smaller monitor very well. I’ve tried moving it forward and back. I’ve tried looking at the monitor with the bifocal part and with the non-bifocal part. I’ve tried wearing my contacts and the readers. This last option seems to be the best, but I get a raging headache by the middle of the day if I do this all day long. About two hours after my work day is over, the headache resolves, so I know this is all related to my vision.
I’m starting to consider a consult for LASIK. I was told when I was younger this likely wouldn’t be an option for me because my vision keeps getting worse every year, and they like to do LASIK on patients whose vision has stabilized and isn’t worsening. But, who knows if that logic has changed.
I’m so frustrated with not being able to see, or being able to see but developing a headache. This is triggering my anxiety because of the feelings and emotions I went through just after the stroke, when I had to walk around with an eye patch for four months.
The other issue with LASIK, aside from the cost, is stringing together enough days off to recuperate. This might be something I have to plan a year in advance given how shitty my schedule is at work.
I keep looking for something new, but it’s really slim pickings in my field. I feel like my profession is dying, but that’s a topic for a different day.
Today, I’m alternating between wearing my contacts and readers and just my contacts. That seems to be the best option. If I take the readers off every hour, I don’t get the raging headache, but I can’t see as well.
I wish I knew if this is just my eyes getting older, if it’s a residual effect from my stroke, or if I have a new aneurysm. The anxiety never really stops.