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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Altered Vision

My vision has changed since MS first attacked. It has changed several times on several levels since I first got sick.

First, there was the vertigo that came with my first exacerbation. During that time, I saw the room crooked. Everything looked like it was at an angle. Over time, it got worse and before I went to the ER for the second time there was a day I could barely see at all. I also saw double of just about everything. When they went to dismiss me from the ER the seond time the doctor had two heads. I told him this and he became the first person to suggest that I might have MS.

The first time I saw the neurologist my vision was terrible. I could not see things in my periphery and everything was blurry. My eyes never stopped fluttering. Needless to say, I didn't drive for over a month when my vision was terrible.

While my external vision was at its worst, my internal vision was at its best. I had to change the view on my computer just to type and prop my head up on pillows but the writing that flowed out filled me with clarity, even while I could not clearly see the screen in front of me.

When I went back to the neurologist after taking steroids, my vision was beginning to clear but my eyes still fluttered around the periphery. I suspect that they still do.

My vision has changed many times since my diagnoses. Sometimes all I can see is what is beautiful in others. Sometimes I can see what is beautiful in me. Other times, I can only see my flaws and those apparent in those around me or in our world.

My vision of myself has certainly altered. I can even see a difference in the mirror. At times I literally cannot see the details of my face at all. At other times if I look closely I can see new details in my face. I look older around the eyes. Sometimes I look really sick and tired. It seems it takes more work for me to look good and I find myself loathe to even exert the effort to look less worn and tired.

It seems I cannot focus the way I used to both with my eyes and my attention. I tire easily. My eyes don't want to focus on anything that is not directly in front of me. I don't see things well when I first look at them. I must force myself to focus. Things in my periphery startle me. I see shadows of activity but I am uncertain what they are. When I change my direction, I must allow time for my eyes to adjust or I get dizzy and see a blur. Driving seems ok but I worry about being cut off by someone from the side who I don't see well. There are often little blind spots in my vision.

I wonder at times if I am just imagining these shifts (the external, not the internal which is very real) but they seem to be happening more frequently. It seems that working causes the need for me to shift my vision more often than vacation did. I find myself getting dizzy and headachy. My neck hurts. This weekend I found myself dizzy for nearly two days. There seems to be little cure for this except sleep. After sleeping 12 hours, my dizziness faded and yet my eyes still feel strange and exhausted. There is now an almost continual pressure behind my eyes and in my skull. While I labor with the external changes, the internal changes continue. I look in the mirror and wonder about the woman I see.


Weeble Girl said...

Nadja, I always appreciate your comments on my site. It's horrible to have MS but to "know" someone else in the cyber world who has it and teaches high risk/high need students makes me feel a teensy bit alone.

I haven't ever had any issues with my vision and I am so lucky in that aspect. I had horrible dizziness for about three months when I first suspected MS. That was an awful time for me trying to move around the room, stay upright, and teach.

I (used to) love teaching but it is so labor-intensive and when I come home I just want to NOT do school but it's impossible. I have been working on my lesson plans for the week for about three-four hours or so now and I'm not done.

I'm just going to bed and I'll try again tomorrow.

Best to you,

Denver Refashionista said...

Thanks for the comment. I am feeling similar about teaching. I also am burnt when I get home and I find myself trying so hard to do a 50+ hour a week job in 40 hours or less. I feel like my concentration and lesson quality is sliding a bit as a result and I hate to not be over-prepared all the time. I am learning to improvise a bit though and that actually may be helping me tailor my lessons to the group even better so it may not be all bad...


It's interesting how you describe the ever-changing internal vision you experience. I find, too, that things simply 'look' different at times, but then wonder if I just imagined it.

Regarding external vision, I have always had issues with my eyesight. I was the 4-year old child in Kindergarten who wore glasses.

I wonder if an opthamologist could advise you on lenses which might help with eye strain (if that is causes any of your difficulties). For folks who regularly see double, I think that specially made prism lenses are used (maybe).

Over the many years, I know that when corrections needed to be updated that I had increased difficulties with many aspects of eye/head stuff.

Lanette said...

It sounds like your symptoms are increasing due to your working than when you were on vacation. Ah, if we could all only be rich and not have to work!

I feel like I sometimes see things move in my periphery that are not there. I'll be on the computer in a totally dark room otherwise, and I'll think I saw something run across the floor or on the wall. It's strange. Very intermittent and occasional, but, strange. Not like a "floater" but an actual object.

I was diagnosed with Optic Neuritis and still to this day even though my vision is back to 20/20, I get pain behind that left eye on occasion and pressure and often wonder what changes are going on internally...

I get it.


I (knock on wood) have never experienced optic neuritis, but I have/do get blurring of my left eye if I get too hot. You do a wonderful job here explaining 'vision'.

I find I can usually live with most losses of a physical nature. I may not like them, but I CAN live with them. It is the losses that occur in my sense of self and who I once was that are more difficult to deal with. Because THESE losses can't be seen...only felt.

Linda D. in Seattle

Denver Refashionista said...

Lanette, I think you make a great point. Going back to work and moving faste has brought this to the forefront of my attention. Like you, it seems my vision has never entirely gone back. I think it's ok once I can focus but my eyes are slow to focus and I also see movement in my periphery at times. Thanks for the comment.

Denver Refashionista said...

Linda, you're so right. "I find I can usually live with most losses of a physical nature. I may not like them, but I CAN live with them. It is the losses that occur in my sense of self and who I once was that are more difficult to deal with. Because THESE losses can't be seen...only felt."

The last part of what you said actually made me cry because I can really relate. I deal with the physical issues one way or another but trying to figure out who I am and what I want now is really hard at times.

Blinders Off said...

I too am knocking on wood that I have not had serious vision problems yet. I have had blurry eyes mainly behind medication.

I have accepted everything, but vision problems that MS can do to my body. I honestly do not know what I will do. To have a peace of mind I see an optometrist who specialized in treating MS patients.

I can relate to the loss you speak of, I discovered trying to figure out who I am and what I want is like being born again.

I am doing what I want now and I am still discovering new things about me. It is a process that is scary and exciting, hang in there your path will reveal itself to you soon.