Things that Helped Me After Eye Surgery

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Being bedridden after eye surgery is pretty awful as it is. Don’t make it worse by forgetting to take care of yourself. I was lucky to have my mother around for every eye surgery to make sure I was getting my drops and staying in the right positions to ensure that my retinas reattached. She also figured out some extra solutions that made me more comfortable.

Remember, I’m not a doctor, and this isn’t medical advice. It’s just a list of the things that helped me deal with healing during many surgeries for lattice degeneration, and I hope you find it useful. I also titled it something that is hopefully easy to search because I know I looked it up in 2009/2010 for help, and I didn’t find much.

There are a lot of different things you can do to make your house more comfortable as you recover. Here are a few things that really helped me out and a few things I wish I had at the time.

  • A good body pillow — My mother went online and found me a long full-body pillow that was meant to help with pregnancy. Since I was only allowed to be in certain positions (on my face or on one side) to ensure that the oil/gas depending on the surgery kept my retina flat. The body pillow makes it much easier to be on one side all of the time as your eye heals.
  • A very soft, big blanket — Because my eye was so painful, I had trouble coping with any other slight discomfort. I also wasn’t supposed to move so pulling the blanket down to cover my feet or itching wasn’t a good idea.
  • A futon (or floor mat) — This isn’t something I had, but I wish I did. Now that I live in Japan, it is common to sleep on floor mats. They’re basically like slightly thicker comforters that you can sleep on. I spent a great deal of my recovery being on the floor since it was solid, and a mattress is just too soft to accommodate my constant nausea (I often declared that it felt like I was on a boat and couldn’t get off).
  • A bed attachment — Once I graduated from living on the floor, my mother found a service in Pittsburgh that installed modifications for post-eye-op patients. You know the face part of a massage bed? It was one of those that slid into the end of the mattress and stuck off the side of the bed. I hadn’t slept well in so long for fear that I would toss and turn. This attachment helped to keep me in the right position overnight.
Me in my chair aka my world at the time.
  • A seated massage chair — You’ve probably seen these in the mall. They’re seats with pads and a place to put your face so that you can get a back massage. Again, my mother rented one of these from the post-eye-op people. Before that, I had to sit in a chair with my head down or be in bed/on the floor. This gave me the ability to sit in a third position. They also gave me a mirror to place on the chair that allowed me to watch television by watching the mirror.
  • A detachable shower head — I wasn’t allowed to stand up and take a shower for a few reasons (couldn’t get water in my eye, was too woozy to stand for long, shouldn’t be in a position to re-detach my retina for that long). So I had to take baths. The problem with that was washing my hair was really stressful. It often hurt to lower my head down to the water slowly, and when I did, I had to be careful that my eye didn’t get wet. In the beginning, I wore a bathing suit, and my mom helped me wash my hair, but I think a shower head I could have brought down to my level would have been extremely helpful.

Here are the top few things I found really useful as I recovered:

  • Getting acupuncture — WOW was this helpful. I wasn’t sleeping and was always stressed waiting and watching to see if I was losing vision again. Gripped by the fear that I would miss it and catch the detachment too late, I would spend sleepless nights checking my eyes. Again, my mother realized that this wasn’t helping me to heal. She researched helpful alternatives to medicine and found me the most incredible acupuncturist. Every session gave me more chances to sleep during the treatment and after I went home.
  • Buy ALL the sunglasses — Get the ones that actually protect your eyes from the light. So many sunglasses are just for fashion (I made the mistake of buying a lot of those) and they don’t help with light sensitivity. As my eyes both went through some really gruesome stages of healing, sunglasses also helped me to hide that. Yes, it’s cosmetic, but I felt very self-conscious, and sunglasses gave me more confidence.
  • Sea Bands! — Alright, so another pregnant lady trick that worked for me. I was so nauseous as I said. These bands go on your wrists and constantly push on a pressure point to keep your insides from churning. You can find them in most pharmacies.
  • Eye patches and eye masks — A lot of my life is still spent hiding from the light. Being light sensitive is really painful. Get a good supply of patches (wouldn’t recommend drug store brands they’re really rigid) and sleep masks to help block out the light. Now, the light show that happens behind my eyes with green and white flashes? That can’t be stopped.

This is something I still struggle with every day. Here are a few things I use, but once I hit my vision wall for the day, that’s pretty much it for me. Still, these suggestions make it a bit easier.

  • A tablet — This helps me because a phone is too small and a computer is too heavy. I get sick of holding my phone up to my nose, and this helps.
  • A screen reader — I use the Mac pre-installed screen reader to read most documents I create for work. Since I can’t see tiny typos or missed words, this brings them to my attention. Yes, it’s frustrating and makes everything longer and often it reads things I don’t need (the link is a shade of dodger blue), but it’s much better than nothing.
  • Grammarly — If you have any sort of computer-based career this is very useful. You can use it to proofread emails, documents, forms, and so many other things you write. It’s done a world of good for my confidence as I work.

That’s all I can think of right now. One other thing to note (and sorry to be a downer) is that losing your eyesight is both stressful and expensive. I’m constantly trying to save money for fear that everything will fall apart and I won’t be able to work for a while. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, trapped, and uncertain about how to plan for today let alone your future, you aren’t alone.

If you think I missed something on the list or you want to add something that worked for you, please comment! I am always looking for ways to make my vision loss a bit easier!

Visually impaired author and adventurer

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