There has been several people who have asked me how I lost my vision. This is the entire story of how it happened.
I was coming back to Japan after visiting my family for Thanksgiving holiday. A few days before I flew back, I started having sharp pain in my upper back that was sending pain down both of my arms. The pain was so unbearable that it made it impossible to sleep. So when I got back to Japan, I decided to go to the urgent care to get seen for the pain. They took x-rays of my spine and gave me pain medicine and said that nothing was wrong on the x-rays. So I left urgent care and went home to relax. But the pain medicine was not helping anything and I decided to go back to the urgent care because of how much pain I was in. This was right before Christmas. I remember the doctor putting pressure at the base of my skull and wanting to do a CT scan. when he put pressure at the base of my skull, my vision shifted. It was like seeing two things at one time. so the doctor decided he wanted to do a lumbar puncture, which is someone sticking a needle into your lower back to get spinal fluid and testing it. he said that he wanted to check to make sure I didn’t have meningitis. He said the color came out the way it should be but he was going to put it in a disc to see if it grew into anything. By this time my vision still never corrected itself and Christmas had already past. I later found out months later that it grew into a bacteria.
They said they would put me on quarters, which means in military terms, that I would stay home and not work for a week. However over the course of that week, the pain in my back kept getting worse and I went back to the emergency room at least five more times after that. And also a side effect of getting a lumbar puncture, is having extremely painful headaches. they gave me six or seven different pain medications that wasn’t helping me. This is probably the most pain I had ever been in. Since my vision was still seeing doubles, I had a hard time seeing messages on my phone. I told my leadership what was happening with my vision and one of them told me to wear an eyepatch and said that I needed to go to work to finish paperwork even when I couldn’t see the screen. Now by this time it is New Year’s and I had to wait until the holiday was over to go get my eyes checked out.
When I was able to go get my eyes seen on January 4, 2017 the doctor said that I had a hemorrhage behind both of my eyes. he was very concerned and wanted me to go off base to a Japanese hospital to have an MRI done. So they put me in an ambulance and drove me to Hachinohe, which was about 20 or 30 minutes away from the military base. When we got there, a translator was trying to tell the doctor what was happening and they were asking me on what dates did something happen. But since I could not see my phone to check what date it was, I couldn’t tell them. So they decided to do an MRI and said that I would only have to stay for two days. They told my closest friend that I would be able to go home the same day. However two days turned into a week. They put me and my own personal room after a week of being there. Then they said they wanted to do a procedure that I honestly didn’t understand because of the language barrier. I remember being put in a machine and my head was strapped down and the doctor said that I would feel heat on my face. However the heat was so excruciatingly painful that I started to cry during it. They didn’t tell me why I was having this done but when my friend came to visit me she saw the papers explaining the procedure. It said something about me having a blood clot in my skull somewhere. not once did the doctors ever tell me about this blood clog nor did they tell me that I was on blood thinners. They also weren’t telling me what medicine they were giving me. I was receiving seven pills three times a day. My leadership never once called my family to tell them what was happening. my close friend, who was the only one visiting me, got in contact with my family through Facebook to tell them why I haven’t been responding to their messages. After that procedure my vision was seeing doubles and also everything was really bright and undistinguishable. After four or five days, my friend came back to visit me and I told her I was sorry that the room was so dark and she told me that the lights were on in the room and the window was open. That’s when I knew my vision was getting way worse and I started to panic. I told the doctors every day that my vision was getting worse and they would talk amongst themselves in Japanese and then leave the room until the next day. I was in the hospital for three weeks until they decided to medically evacuate me to California for surgery. By this time my vision was completely gone.
As soon as I got to San Diego Naval base, they told me exactly what was happening with me. They told me that because of so much build up spinal fluid in my skull, the pressure got in behind my eyes and was pinching my optic nerves causing me not to see. my mom and dad were flown out to San Diego right before I had surgery. I told the doctors everything that happened in the Japanese hospital. They did another MRI and said that the Japanese doctors misdiagnosed me and said that I never had a blood clot in my skull. they also said that because they put me on blood thinners for a blood clot that I didn’t have, my body started to reject it and create an antibiotic against it. They said that I was never allowed to get that certain blood thinner again or my body would react very badly to it. The surgery they had to perform was going behind both of my eyes and cutting slits into it to drain out the built up pressure on my optic nerves. After about three or four days, I was trying to open my eyes to see what I could see. It was still mainly dark but I remember seeing my mom wearing a pink hoodie. Every day I was seeing things again and I was beyond happy. I was able to see my hands and feet again.After being in San Diego recovering all through February, I was able to fly back home to South Carolina.
They pretty much told me that the doctors in Japan and some of the doctors in San Diego also misdiagnosed me. So now when people ask me, “how did you lose your vision?”, I honestly say I don’t know because I have been kept in the dark about how exactly I lost my vision and what caused it. I don’t know what triggered me to have an hemorrhage behind my eyes and I also don’t know what side effect the procedure they did in Japan did to me.
All I know is that throughout the entire time of me losing my vision, I somehow managed to stay positive and hopeful even though losing it was extremely hard for me. It has now been eight months since I lost my vision and I can honestly say that I am still the same happy person I’ve always have been. my vision has not come back 100% but I am still able to see most things. I am legally blind but that doesn’t mean I still can’t see things. After all of this time, I can say that my medical condition is called idiopathic intracranial hypertension. This happens to women who are either obese or of childbearing age for no apparent reason. When left untreated, it can lead to vision loss and that is what happened with me because they did not catch it in time before the damage was done. When they told me, I was like I’m nowhere near obese and they said you don’t have to necessarily be obese. It can happen to women who are between the ages of 20 and 40. I was four months away from turning 21 years old when it happened. But like I’ve said before, please do not feel sorry for me because I don’t feel sorry for myself at all. Yes I have gone through the phases of being heartbroken and miserable about losing my vision, but now I have excepted that this happen for a reason and I can choose to embrace it or let it drain the life out of me. When someone asked me what do I see, I gave them an example of a TV. I can see a TV. I can see the basic shape of it.. But someone who has their entire vision might be able to see the buttons on the TV or fingerprints on the screen or see if there is a crack or chip in the TV. So if you see me walking around the house, you wouldn’t think that I was blind. I see most things but I can’t see everything. Glasses and surgery cannot fix the damage that has been done to my optic nerves
I hope this answers a lot of questions for people who were wondering how I lost my vision. I am getting medically retired out of the Air Force which sucks because I loved it, but I’m glad that I was in the military when this happened. I probably would not have gotten all of the same equipment and treatment that I have gotten so far if it wasn’t for that. I know this is a pretty long blog but I appreciate you taking the time out to read about my story. I also want to thank the family and friends that have been there every step of the way and for everyone who has said how strong I have been. Also, I would love to thank the Augusta blind rehab program that allowed me to learn how to be independent with this new lifestyle.
Quote by Isaac from the movie The Fault in Our Stars:
” I’m blind, but I’m not that blind.” 😎