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.

Can’t Hurt, Might Help

After my last post, I received many messages urging me to go and see my retina specialist (rs). It is advice that I would have given anyone else in my position, but I did not listen to my own advice. It was only after others encouraged me to call, that I made an appointment.

My rs could not find any reason for my symptoms, which included a significant decrease in vision – down to 20/200 in my left eye. He did retina scans and an angiogram but did not see any bleeds or growth of abnormal blood vessels. In order to rule out an optic nerve problem, he referred me to a neuro-ophthalmologist.

My appointment with the new specialist was long, even longer than the four hour appointment that I had been warned about when my appointment was scheduled. She ran many tests and found no optic nerve damage. She sent me back to my rs. I did learn one new term. She mentioned that I might have a “Fuchs Spot.” After my appointment, I immediately googled fuchs spot. It seems to me that it is not much different from the damage done by scarring from my bleeds, except that there is currently no treatment.

Back to my rs, who did another scan and angiogram and again found no activity that would have caused the decrease in vision. It is probably just degeneration as a result on my ongoing myopia. Just in case, under the guise of “can’t hurt might help,” he gave me a shot of avastin in my left eye. He hopes it helps. There is not much more he can do right now. He does not believe that the degeneration will keep progressing, but thinks it will level off about where I am now. That is good, because I am still able to drive and use the computer without much trouble.

So, after all my worry, things are okay. I am at peace with whatever happens with my vision. A lot of people are praying for me. I pray the beautiful St. Lucy prayer every day and it gives me joy to remember that an ability to see with eyes of love and compassion is more important than having perfect vision with my physical eyes.

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