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Day Trippin’

Cross my heart and hope to die
Stick a needle in my eye…

Lake Lanier June 2005
Lake Lanier June 2005

Even as a kid the above saying made me so squeamish whenever I uttered the words you can bet that I was beyond the shadow of a doubt telling the truth. A needle in my eye?? Ewwww, I thought then, and later as an adult, that I really would rather die than to have a needle in my eye.

It was exactly 10 years ago this week when my two younger sons, their Aunt Frances, and I went to Atlanta, Georgia for a vacation before my first eye surgery scheduled for July 12, 2005. I can remember that week well because it was only a couple of weeks prior that I was seen by the retina specialist who would be performing my vitrectomy surgery on my left eye (more on this in a bit).

I learned so much in those initial days of functioning with one eye. For example I didn’t know that, at least in Pennsylvania, it was legal to drive with one good eye. This was excellent news for the obvious reasons of maintaining my independence but also because Frances and I would take turns driving to her home in Atlanta.

Headin’ To The Beach

A couple of days into our vacation on a whim we decided to head to the beach. The only problem was we were miles away from the ocean so Frances gave us the option of driving to Florida or going to one of the local lakes.

After finding out it was going to take about 5 hours to get to Florida versus a little over 2 hours to get to the lake, the lake won. We packed up our swim gear and provisions then took a scenic drive to Lake Lanier.

Though I was a little bummed about not being able to go to ocean side in Florida, the beach we went to at Lake Lanier did not disappoint. The view was positively spectacular, the beach wasn’t overly crowded and we had a great time.

Remembering our visit to Lake Lanier inspired me to visit some of my favorite online retailers in search of beachwear. Since I am in need of swimwear for this summer it was fun to pick out some possibilities.

So today, if I were going to the beach I would take with me one of the following 2 swimsuit ensembles including cover-ups, floppy hats, sandals and beach totes:

Collage: Striped Floppy Straw Hat, Aerie Striped Shawl, Ellie Starfish Beach Bag, Fannie Rocket Dog Sandals, Summer at the Shore One-Piece Swimsuit in Red
clockwise from upper left: Striped Floppy Straw Hat, Aerie Striped Shawl, Ellie Starfish Beach Bag, Fannie Rocket Dog Sandals, Summer at the Shore One-Piece Swimsuit in Red
  • Number 1: Summer at the Shore One-Piece Swimsuit in Red | Modcloth – The halter ties in the back and the front is a v-neck with 4 small button closures in the center that begin at the breasts and end a couple of inches above the belly button. The back dips to just about the waist.
  • Aerie Striped Shawl | American Eagle – From the pictures on AE’s site this cover-up looks very soft, breezy, and big. The gray and white stripes appear to be 3 different thicknesses with two wider bands of gray in the front and back each surrounded by two wider bands of white stripes leaving the balance of the wrap (front, back, and short sleeves) in pin stripes.
  • Striped Floppy Straw Hat | Forever 21 – I love this perfectly nautical natural and navy striped hat. The brim is navy striped and at the base of the crown is a double knotted natural rope.
  • Ellie Starfish Beach Bag | – This is such a summery looking canvas striped bag with white knotted rope handle and a natural colored thick banded stripe on the bottom.
  • Fannie Rocket Dog | – These cute sandals are thong style with natural colored crocheted uppers lined in a tan piping.
Collage: Miraclesuit by Chico's Great Expectations Amici One-Piece Swimsuit, Cairo Chiffon Solid Colour Sarong, Tildon Metallic Floppy Straw Hat, Mercie Pink & Pepper Sandals, Straw Beach Tote,
L-R: Miraclesuit by Chico’s Great Expectations Amici One-Piece Swimsuit, Cairo Chiffon Solid Colour Sarong, Tildon Metallic Floppy Straw Hat, Mercie Pink & Pepper Sandals, Straw Beach Tote,
  • Number 2: Miraclesuit by Chico’s Great Expectations Amici One-Piece Swimsuit | Chico’s – The paisley design (only on the front) is turquoise colored with gold metallic accents against a black background. It begins under the right breast on a diagonal stopping at the waist on the front left. The remainder of the swimsuit is black.
  • Cairo Chiffon Solid Colour Sarong | – The flexibility of sarongs have always appealed to me. You can tie them at the waist to wear as a skirt, wrap them around you like a shawl, wrap and tuck them to create a wrap dress or take the long ends holding it behind you (under your arms) then cross your arms in front of you bringing the ends up to and around your neck (allowing one side to overlap the other) then tie the ends at the back of the neck for a cute dress.
  • Tildon Metallic Floppy Straw Hat | Nordstrom – Natural colored hat contains metallic threads that shimmer in the sunlight.
  • Straw Beach Tote |Chico’s – This bag is natural on top and light blue on the bottom and it has a single button closure centered on the top.
  • Mercie Pink & Pepper | – Coral thong style sandals with elastic ankle straps sparkle with rhinestone studded upper and side ankle straps.

I can hardly wait to lay by the side of the pool at the complex where I live. Right now the only deterrent to this plan is our yucky weather. Fingers crossed I’ll be posting pictures sometime in July.

Lake Lanier, Stone Mountain, Underground Atlanta, and tours of beautiful homes were only a few of many sites we took in during our Atlanta vacation. Though it was very enjoyable and a pleasant distraction there was an undercurrent of anxiety as the day of my surgery quickly approached.

Macular Holes & Gas Bubbles

Vitrectomy, this word would soon roll off my tongue like the word “the” as I would have the procedure done multiple times. Though I was apprehensive to have a gas bubble injected into my left eye, the operation itself was a breeze. The surgery was necessary to seal the hole in my macula (the tiny center of the retina responsible for reading, facial recognition, driving, and fine detail). To read the full story click HERE.

For a good post-op outcome I had to keep my head in a downward position for 1-2 weeks. You really can’t appreciate the term “pain in the neck” until you have to keep your head down for a stretch of time. The burning pain from my neck radiated to my shoulders and upper back.

Since the macular hole was a stage IV which was bigger than originally thought I remained in the head down position for about 3 weeks. Though the first procedure was not effective a second surgery in November of the same year brought about positive results.

While I was awake for my surgeries the medicine made me quite loopy and I really didn’t feel pain or discomfort when the surgeon inserted the various tools inside my eye to remove the vitreous gel (natural eye fluid) and replace with a gas bubble. It was a weird sensation though to see light from inside my eye and to even be able to talk with the surgeon during the procedures. But I was okay with this because the anesthesiologist knocked me out so that they could put in a block (to eliminate pain) then they woke me.

Stick a Needle In My Eye

The thing about sticking a needle in the eye was every bit as unnerving as I imagined when two years later I developed an epiretinal membrane (or macular pucker – a thin sheet of fibrous tissue formed on my macula ) in my right eye. Just 5 days later the macular pucker evolved into a small macular hole. Having been down this road before I knew the exact moment the macular hole developed so I wasted no time contacting my retinal specialist.

My friend Lori went with me to the appointment. I was totally prepared to be set up for yet another vitrectomy but my doctor had other ideas.

He told me about this experimental procedure he had only read about where a gas bubble is injected into the eye during the office visit. The benefit of this in-office procedure would be a shorter time of keeping my head down (only 5 days to be exact). “Fine, no problem” I thought because surely I’ll be sedated, so I asked the question.

“So I’ll be sedated?”. “No, you’ll be fine” the doctor said. To which I responded “I at least need a pill.” “Trust me” he said (whenever anyone tells you this head for the hills).

The doctor reclines my chair and inserts numbing drops into my eye. He inserts a brace of some sort to keep my eye open then he explains everything that is about to happen.

Thank goodness the vision in my right eye is distorted because this prevented me from being able to see the needle coming at me. I’m holding my breath and gripping the chair with one hand and Lori’s hand with the other.

Whoosh!!! “Uhhhh” I jump, the doctor jumps. As the needle penetrated the surface of the eye I actually heard it. This was one little tidbit he didn’t explain and unfortunately this meant he had to make a second attempt.

This time I was completely still. There’s no pain but all of the sudden I see these black bubbles filling my eye. As they block the light they merge together to form one big bubble.

He pulls out the needle and I felt like I was going to faint. I think my blood even stopped flowing because all of the sudden I feel like I can hear it rushing through my veins. I was so scared that afterwards I felt wobbly and nauseous.

By merit of me writing this post I survived the needle in my eye but I didn’t like it and don’t know that I could do it again. The outcome though was fabulous because my vision was totally restored.

Even though I am now legally blind I feel that everything my doctors did extended the length of my vision and for that I am so grateful.

“We hit the sunny beaches where we occupy ourselves keeping the sun off our skin, the saltwater off our bodies, and the sand out of our belongings.” ~Erma Bombeck

5 thoughts on “Day Trippin’

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  2. Pain in the neck fails to capture the torture that face down recovery can be lol. Can the eye doctors start handing out “I took a needle to the eye. What did you do today?” t-shirts? I think it would increase morale.

    Great attitude, Steph. I admire your resilience.

    1. Hahaha!! I like the t-shirt idea Susan. Yes, you haven’t lived until you’ve taken a needle to the eye lol. I can laugh about it now because I came out on the other side. So you know the neck pain huh?? Awful isn’t it?

      1. A real treat that recovery is, wink. And a needle to the eye is also something familiar but for a different eye issue. Good times.

        Liked the swimsuits!

      2. Yes indeedy good times. Glad you liked the swimsuits.

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