Happy Friday!!! So I realized that although you guys know me, you don't KNOW me. And there's one thing that I really haven't shared because I don't really like talking about it so much, but it's a huge part of my life, so I think it's time for me to share with you a big part of who I am.
If you look really closely at this picture above, you can see that my right eyelid hangs lower than my left eyelid. It's not just a cosmetic difference. This is due to having two surgeries on my right eye.
For the past five years, I have had glaucoma. I was diagnosed four years ago after I had significant damage to my right eye. I can only see about 15% of my visual field in my right eye which essentially means I have absolutely no depth perception. Every time I get visual field tests done, I leave almost in tears from how bad my right eye is. It's been a struggle and has actually landed me in the hospital once (more on that one later).
Now some of you may be saying, "what's glaucoma??" Well, glaucoma is a disorder of the eye generally caused by high intraoccular pressure (aka, too much liquid inside the eye). It causes a deterioration of the optic nerve and, therefore, a loss of vision. It's very rare for someone as young as I am to have glaucoma. I'm actually my ophthalmologist's youngest patient (a fact that I now take pride in).
When I was first diagnosed, I was so upset. There is no way, as of yet, to reverse the damage done due to glaucoma. You can only stop it from getting worse, hence the surgeries. I had my first glaucoma surgery in December of 2008. My doctor, who I still go to, is amazing! When I finished with the surgery, there were some complications (very likely due to my age) and we had to go back in. I had my second surgery in February of 2009 and I'm happy to say that my eye pressure is stable now, meaning I don't have to worry as much about more damage occurring.
This is also the reason I wear glasses. I can't wear contacts. After the surgery, I found out that I now have astigmatism in my right eye and so they don't make contacts for astigmatism with my high prescription (to put a number on it, it's been anywhere between 10 and 12...) I had worn contacts for almost seven years when I had to go back to glasses and I was very upset.
Four years later, my glaucoma has just become a part of who I am. It still bothers me that I didn't catch it earlier, but there's nothing I can do about it now, so it was really just best to get over it and move on. I try to live my life to the fullest, even without all of my vision and, for the most part, it really doesn't bother me. I don't think my glaucoma defines me, I just think it's a part of who I am.
And before I go, because I know you guys will ask if I don't, I'll tell you about when my glaucoma put me in the hospital. As many of you know, I'm a chemist and so, I work with chemicals, some more harmful than others. Well, one night, I was working on a project in one of my teaching labs and this project required me to inject a chemical called diethylamine through a plastic topper in to the container that I was using. Well, I have no depth perception and instead of sticking the needle in to the container, I stuck it in to my thumb. Now, if it had been a clean needle, it wouldn't have mattered (in fact I did that once before that night as well... yea, I'm clumsy). Unfortunately, diethylamine is a chemical that essentially turns fat in to soap, so the fat on the pad of my thumb turned in to soap inside my body. My friend drove me to the hospital and sat with me (cuz yea, he's that cool) while they told me that they might have to amputate my thumb. It was awesome! (and by awesome, I mean incredibly scary).
I did, however, learn something about the ER that day. If you tell them that you injected yourself with a random chemical that they don't know what it does, they'll rush you in and look up the chemical on wikipedia... True story!