Final Treatment

I went to see the Retina Specialist today. I was not expecting good news. I have had a course of treatment with Avastin shots over the last several months, at first, it seemed as if my vision might be improving. Lately, though, i have noticed deterioration.

I had retina scans and then was prepped for another shot. I expressed my thought that the shots were not doing me any good. My doctor said that he was recommending “one final treatment.”

The deterioration is caused by scarring on my macula. There is really no further treat option at this time. I am not having active bleeding (which is a good thing) but am only experiencing the aftermath of old bleeds, plus damage done because my eye is so long.

My doctor reminded me that mine has always bern identified as a progressive condition. I am very thankful for the years of restored vision that the surgeries and Avastin treatments and prayers have given me. Now, I have to come to terms with the idea that my vision is not going to improve again, short of a miracle or a new medical discovery. I was at peace with low vision once before, but have become spoiled by my return to being fully sighted.

There is good news. I can still drive. My doctor is hesitant, but says that he trusts me to know if I need to stop. I am still able to do my job. I have tons of support from family and friends. Still, It was a hard day. I gave myself permission to have a short pity party. I treated myself gently today. I stayed home from work. I took a nap. My husband spent part of the day with me. He made me a nice lunch. We went for a nice walk in the park with our dogs.

Grace is at work in my heart. I know that many blessings can come from hardship and I pray that i can walk my path with faith and trust, wherever it leads. I know that this blog has given others hope and I thank those who have shared their stories with me and with each other. I turn to this blog again as a way to find strength and solidarity with the low-vision community and also as way to work through my feelings by writing and sharing them with others.

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Trying Something New

After hearing about my steadily-decreasing vision, several of my friends urged me to think about changing my diet to see whether part of my problem could be food-related. My daughter, a long-time vegetarian, was very persuasive. She had recently converted to a completely plant-based diet and suggested I do the same. She even provided resources and some vegan “propaganda” videos to watch.

I decided to begin a raw, organic, plant-based, gluten-free diet and maintain it until my next eye doctor appointment six weeks later. I had a lot of preconceived ideas about a plant-based diet. I thought that it would be hard. I thought that I would be hungry all the time. I thought that I would feel deprived. I am willing to try pretty-much anything to help my vision, so I was willing to do this.

My experience so far has been unexpectedly great. From almost the first day, I began to have more energy. I eat a lot and, so far, never feel deprived. Two and a half weeks in, I have lost my desire for meat (thanks, in part, to the anti-meat industry propaganda videos). There have been tons of goodies at work and I really haven’t been tempted to sneak even one bite. I feel really, really good. I realize how addicted I was to sugar and caffeine. I have lost a little weight, but that is really a bonus. My focus is not on weight loss. It is on healing my body from all the unhealthy food choices I have been eating.

My vegan food day begins with a green smoothie made with a base of kale or spinach, celantro, a cup of fruit juice or water, and a banana. I add in other ingredients to change the flavor. Cantaloupe is my favorite addition. Blueberries turn the smoothy a nasty color that is really hard for me to drink. I look forward to my morning smoothie and it truly keeps me full until lunch. Some people like juices better than smoothies, but juicers are expensive and we have a great blender, so I am happy with smoothies.

For lunch, it’s all raw veggies. Dark green, leafy veggies and carrots every day, because they have nutrients that are good for the eyes, plus whatever raw veggies we have on hand. I just make a plate of raw veggies or toss them inti a salad with a little lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. I usually have avocado every other day.

Dinner is a big salad with lots and lots of veggies. An avocado, if I didn’t have one for lunch. Some nuts. Homemade cashew cheese on homemade seed crackers. If I’m really hungry, I will have a small green smoothie with dinner.

I am not totally raw, though. Since I started I have gone out to eat a couple of times and ordered brown rice with roasted veggies (Uno) and Indian food. I considered these great treats and enjoyed them immensely. I have also ordered salads at restaurants, but I am sometimes disappointed to get a bowl of iceberg lettuce with few veggies. Because I have trouble reading menus in reastaurants, I generally look at the menu online before I go, so now I am on the lookout for veg-friendly dishes and usually know what I am going to order before I arrive at the restaurant. We have not been eating out much, though. We have all of these beautiful, organic foods in our refrigerator, so it isa pleasure to eat at home.

I have bern a big evening snacker all my life, but I have not needed an evening snack very often since beginning this new way of eating. A couple of times, I have made popcorn (hot air) or had a piece of fruit in the evening. I occasionally will eat one square of a dark chocolate bar as a treat. Mostly, I am still full from dinner when I go to bed.

So far, my experiment is a success because I feel great! I do not notice an increase in my vision, but the fact that my vision seems to have stabilized is a success. I will definitely stay on this plant-based diet until my next appointment with my eye doctor. Like the shot in the eye, it can’t hurt and might help. If It continues to go well and I continue to feel great, I can’t imagine that I will ever go back to my old way of eating.