Thursday, March 27, 2014

Got to love a "Stick in the Eye"

March has been quite the exciting month for me!  Some of you have noticed there have been periods where I said I couldn't read and couldn't respond to Facebook or e-mails.  Here is the skinny.

From a background point of view I have one "good" eye and one "bad" eye.  The bad eye had an undetected retina detachment that "healed" on its own and developed some significant complications.  One day I developed a significant number of "floaters" for no apparent reason.  I went to my optometrist who assured me the floaters were "no big deal" and happen naturally as you age.

But he was wrong.  I had a torn retina.  He missed it.  And it developed into a detached retina.  No good.

As a result I had some fairly significant eye surgery several years later to attempt to save my vision.  Surgery went well.  I later developed a cataract due to the surgery I had that surgically fixed the cataract . . . easy surgery.  But bottom-line my right eye isn't all that great!!  LOL!

So when all of a sudden on Friday night, February 28th I developed a sharp increase in floaters in my left (good) eye combined with light flashes I knew immediately what was happening.  I called my opthamologist (note . . . not an optometrist!) and he told me to meet him at his office early the next morning.

After a quick but thorough exam, the Dr told me I had a tear in my retina and we needed to immediately secure it.  They call it eye surgery but it wasn't nearly as intrusive as my right eye surgery.  This was done with a laser and the eye was not opened in any way.

Essentially, the doctor used the laser to "spot-weld" a number of rings around the tear so that the edges were secured and no fluid would leak through the tear . . . thus causing a detachment.  After about 120 laser welds, the job was done and I drove home.  But the eye was quite painful the rest of the day..  Post-surgery instructions were to be a chair slug . . . no reading, limit walking, nothing that would jar me in any way.  All I could do was watch TV.

My doctor wanted a retina specialist to check me the next Tuesday.  So the next Tuesday I went to UNC Eye Center for a check.  The retina specialists said my doctor had done a good job and that everything looked good.  And surprisingly they said I could start reading again!  And they wanted to see me in two weeks. I had planned to take pictures at the Graveyard 100 the coming weekend and they thought that would be fine!!

One aside . . . a retina exam is no fun at all.  The first three phases aren't too bad, but the last phase I call "Stick in the Eye" where they honestly use a stick in the eye to add pressure so they can see the far side.  They do this around the full 360° in about 30° steps.  Believe me . . . this suck every bit as much as ir sounds!!  VERY PAINFUL!

Saturday morning as I was starting to take pictures . . . a HUGE number of floaters appeared!  I immediately call my doctor . . . for some reason I didn't have the phone number of the UNC retina specialist.  My doctor was concerned but since I wasn't having flashes he thought I was okay.  The number of floaters was huge . . . like a ZILLION little floaters!  I described it as though I was looking through a really, really dirty windshield!  Still . . . my doctor didn't suggest I come in.

So I just dealt with all the floaters.  And there were a ton of them!  But no flashes at all.

So I waited until my follow-up appointment at UNC on March 18th.  After what I thought would be a simple "check-up"  I was told I had three more tears, one of which was very significant and needed immediate surgery . . . which we did.  250 spot-welds.  This involved two separate "Stick in the Eye"rounds . . . yea . . . that sucked!  Plus, the laser hurts!!

The drive home (1 hour and 30 minutes) was honestly hell!!  Pain was intense.  Finally made it home and downed some serious pain meds!  And by bedtime the pain was manageable!  Tough time.

Next morning was fine but at about noon I had a new influx of floaters!!  I immediately call my doctors.  Due to some unusual circumstances I didn't actually talk with them until 5 pm and they asked me to immediately come to the UNC ER.

Long story short . . . I finally left the ER at about 3 am after two additional "Stick in the Eye" reviews.  After two separate exams by two different retina specialists they decided I had a minor detachment without a tear.  And I was told no reading, no NOTHING for at least a week!  UGH!

So after a week . . . another re-examination indicates healing from both surgeries are healing well and I am reading again!  They say I can walk but have to wait another week to resume running.  Doctors say they have never seen 4 retina tears in the same eye within a 3 week period . . . so I guess I'm special.  But they have no promises for me.  More tears could happen.  Or I may never have another tear.  They just don't know.

Lessons for Everyone
  • Most folks never have to deal with a retina tear or detachment.
  • The cause is simply getting older.  Not running, not diet . . . nothing except aging!
  • If you see an increase in floaters OR light flashes in the periphery of you eye . . . you need to IMMEDIATELY contact you eye doctor.  Don't delay.  At all!  Call immediately!  Your future vision may well depend on it!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I really witnessed an ass-kickin' today . . .

Honestly . . . something like this is nothing you want to see.  Ever!  There is nothing pretty or exciting about an old fashioned ass-kickin!  I was embarrassed to have seen it.

Things started innocently enough!  This was to be my first day back running after my torn retina so I was excited to be going for a run again . . . 11 days off was frustrating to go through, so to return today (with my doctor's blessing!) was something I had been excitedly anticipating.

Now to be totally honest with all you young runners . . . things change as you get older.  Recovery times just plain take longer.  That's true from both a hard run and from injuries.  And building back endurance takes longer too!

So I was anxious to get back running!  I have races to do!!

Today's weather was simply awesome!  I started at about 9am so the temperatures were in the low 60s, no wind, and I was running again!!  Sure there were the little aches and pains I've come to expect . . . hip tightens, foot starts hurting some, plus I was coming back so nothing should feel great yet!

But spirits were high and my mood was "over the top"!  I had no idea what I was about to witness . . .

My first hint that something strange was in the air came at about 3/4 of a mile into the run.  I had finished two fairly big hills and was going to my first turn-around when I just had a strange feeling that I was going to experience something troubling . . . just couldn't put my finger on the feeling . . . but I sort of knew something bad was about to happen.

I kept running . . . constantly checking my vision just to be sure the ol' retina was behaving . . . and it was!  My vision isn't very good right now.  It's like I have literally 10,000 little bitty "floaters . . . it's like looking through a really dirty windshield . . . or maybe looking through a screen!  My doctor says this is nothing to worry about and my vision will improve.  So I kept running . . .

At about 1.7 miles I started looking around . . . feeling impending doom.  Just an odd feeling and I was looking around for trouble.  The neighborhood is a nice neighborhood and trouble honestly seemed far-fetched . . . but the feeling was strong.

But no one was out!  Nobody was walking, nobody was working in their yard, nobody was running . . . just me and the road.  And then . . . I knew what was about to happen.

At 1.75 miles into my run I had to walk.  Maybe it was mental . . . or maybe it was physical.  But either way . . . the ass-kickin' had begun.  Come on . . . walking at 1.75 miles.  Oh my . . .

I tried to "out run" the worst of the beating . . . but that tactic proved pretty stupid!  After walking 30 yards or so, I started running again.  Made it 1/2 mile . . . then another walk . . . and more ass-kickin' blows to the gut.  Running again . . . but not as far this time.  More walking.

By the end I was running 3 minutes and walking 1 . . . all on a 4.6 mile run.

And mentally I knew what an ass-kickin' it had really been.  Honestly . . . it was just plain embarrassing!

But tomorrow is another day . . .and my resolve is strong.  You NEVER have two bad runs in a row.  Ever!

But I've got to admit I'm starting to question just how realistic participating in Vol State is!  I mean really . . . can I build up enough strength to complete 314 miles in 10 days?  Is this even possible?  Really?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I'm thinking this blog needs a new name.

Honestly . . . looking back over the recent past all I see are medical issues.  Primarily my injured foot (which is feeling WAY better now!)

Maybe The blog needs to bee called something like "A Whiner's Guide to Medical Set-backs" or maybe "Easy Ways to Avoid Running" or something similar!  Seriously!  This is getting just plain embarrassing!  I can't seem to get any training in at all due to injuries.

Most recently . . . a torn retina in my "good" eye!

Last Friday about 6 pm after showering from a 6.5 mile treadmill run, I started seeing a bunch of "floaters" in my left eye plus bright flashes of light in the periphery of my vision.  I've been through this with my right eye maybe 10 years ago so I was pretty sure I knew what was going on so I called my eye doctor and met him at his office the next morning.

Sure enough, he quickly determined I had a torn retina and we went back to their laser where he "tacked" around the tear in order to try and stop any retina detachment . . . a MUCH more serious injury!

While a tad painful, the laser surgery went quickly and I drove home.  My instructions were to do "nothing" and be a slug!  No exercising at all and no reading.  WHAT?  No reading?  No computer?  No e-mails?  No Facebook?

I had no idea just how addicted I was!!  But my doctor was adamant that I read NOTHING until they could verify the laser tacking had been successful and my eye started healing.  All I could do was watch TV!

But I survived!  My doctor made me an appointment at the UNC Eye Center for Tuesday.  After their exam, they told me there were two more tears but those were in a "good" area and they didn't feel like an additional laser surgery was needed. 

Plus, they told me the surgery my doctor did was good and they could see healing so I could resume reading!!!!  Hot Damn!!!  But no running and anything what would jar my eye until next Tuesday.   But I can do that!

I asked what had likely caused the tear . . .  thinking that maybe my run had caused it but the doctor assured me that the run was NOT the cause . . . getting OLD was the cause!! 

So . . . I resume running Tuesday!!  7 weeks is PLENTY of time to be ready for the VA 24 . . . right??  Maybe there is even time to work in one more injury!!

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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.