Wide-eyed Wonder: an artist's musings on three-dimensional vision

Some are color blind. I am stereo blind.

Archive for March 2012

BRAO prevention

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Before updating on my journey from Flatland, I must diverge. My loss of vision in my right eye was entirely preventable, and I posted a note titled “Blood Clot Prevention” on Facebook on the one-year anniversary of my loss, with the goal of educating women everywhere about the dangers of BHRT (bio-identical hormone replacement therapy):

One year ago, I went to the emergency room thinking I was having a retinal detachment in my right eye, and that I was catching it early and would be “spot welded” and have fully restored vision. Not so. Over the next 12 hours, I watched a brown cloud descend where the blood supply to my retina was blocked by a blood clot that had plugged my artery. The lost blood supply was to a little over half of my retina, affecting my central vision. (A full explanation was posted to my vision therapy friends here http://.sovoto.com/group/adultstrabismicpatientsforum/forum/topics/brao-my-new-challenge )

One year later, the “window shade” remains almost as low as it had descended. Lesson learned: while the percentage of women who throw clots from bio-identical hormone therapy is very small, it’s still a risk.

To honor the anniversary, I flushed the rest of my unused Women’s International Pharmacy BHRT pills down the toilet (after peeing on them. Yep.) I quit taking them the day I lost my vision. A few days later, I called the pharmacist to report my BRAO and she simply said “I’m sorry.” I doubt Women’s International Pharmacy is keeping track of their “statistics” which is extremely unfortunate.

I tried to quit my BHRT  at age 50, and went to my primary care doctor 6 weeks later for what I thought was a horrible case of hemorrhoids. Not the case. Apparently one in ten post-menopausal women (which I have been since age 35) can develop a hideous auto-immune disease called “lichen schlerosis.”

My doctor said “Get back on your estrogen.” When I expressed concern about the risk, she quoted the bio-identical propaganda that there was next to zero risk and I could take the same dose the rest of my life. So what if I had taken it for 15 years already? The prospect of living with lichen sclerosis was 100%. I dutifully went back on my BHRT at the full dose for a 35 year old and the LS cleared up.

Two and a half years later, I throw the rogue clot and … BRAO! Not only did I lose half a retina, but I gained the prospect of untold LS misery without the estrogen. All subsequent hospital tests came back negative, so the BHRT was the sole cause of my clot.

My “catch 22” was a teaching moment for the wonderful residents at Summa hospital, as I had to quit the estrogen cold turkey and discuss alternative treatments for the painful and unmentionable LS. The internal medicine specialist Dr. Rex Wilford was amazingly supportive, and explored another suspect auto-immune enhancing disorder with me: gluten.

“You will have to eat wheat” he said (for any gluten intolerance bloodwork to show up positive.) I had cut back on wheat about a year earlier after reading a Scientific American article on Celiac disease  as a possible cause for my three un-related auto-immune diseases: Hashimoto’s (hypothyroidism), rheumatoid arthritis flare ups and lichen schlerosis.

For two weeks, I ate all the bread I wanted (including Einstein’s bagels, woot, woot!) and could hardly walk from the lichen schlerosis flare-up. $200 worth of ineffective prescription creams later, I got my blood draw (which tested positive for Celiac) and immediately went off wheat. The schlerosis cleared up within 48 hours!

Hindsight is always 20-20. NEVER take a prescription drug that pushes nature around when simple dietary changes are what my body is asking for.

Had I known this, I would probably still be in vision therapy making steady progress towards seeing the world with two whole eyes.

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Written by Lynda Rimke

March 31, 2012 at 6:57 pm