Thursday, December 4, 2008

Iritis anyone?

I have this bizarre problem with my eyes called iritis. It is very painful. One of my eyes (sometimes both) becomes very sensitive to light. Movement of the eye can be painful -- almost like the eyeball has rusty gears moving it around slowly and painfully. Or like the eyeball is suspended via an over-stretched rubber band that might just snap at any second. Horrible. If/when iritis goes untreated and it worsens, any type of light feels like a stabbing pain in the eye. It is miserable.

Last December I had a bad case of iritis. I called Kaiser and explained that I was having terrible eye pain. The appointment center person told me I needed to leave work and get over to see a family practitioner right away. So I hurried over to the Kaiser facility in West LA to see the doctor. I was immediately peeved when they wanted to weigh me (why in the hell do you need to weigh me to fix my eyes?!). The nurse was a rather big and pretty lady, so I thought she might be the quiet and sensitive type. Wrong. And of course the scale was right next to two men working on a computer. When I stood on the scale the nurse blurted out my weight. !!! Horror factor eleven!!! And one of the guys muttered, "AMAZON!". $%@#&*!

So the visit was not going so well, but next stop was to see the doctor. As you can imagine, FP's don't have all the equipment that a good eye doctor would. So this FP took a look in my eye for a nanosecond and then prescribed some eye drops for me and told me to see an Ophthalmologist ASAP. I picked up the prescription and used it as directed, hoping for any relief whatsoever from the pain. Then I went back to work.

My eye got worse and worse and worse and worse, until I was in agonizing pain and had to leave work early. I cannot even explain how badly my eye hurt: any sort of light was like a shiv ramming into my eye. When I got in the car to begin my hour-long drive home, it was night-time and all of the on-coming traffic's headlights had me in agony. I had to put sunglasses on OVER my glasses in order to drive home, and I cried in pain the whole way.

Once I got home I did not know what to do. I shut all the lights out in my apartment except ONE and then I went to bed. I woke up shortly thereafter as the ONE LIGHT IN THE HOUSE that was approximately 50 feet away behind several different sets of walls WAS KILLING MY EYE. Horrible pain! Absolutely horrible! So I started bawling and worrying that I could not wait another 12 hours to see the Opthalmologist. I called Kaiser and explained everything. The very sympathetic person on the phone told me to GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM IMMEDIATELY.

Have you ever been to an emergency room? Horrendous. A total madhouse of activity, and a waiting room full of miserable people. The receptionist was singing between phone calls and admissions. Singing. R&B type (AWFUL) music. Full volume. Very disconcerting.

After a bit a nurse called my name and started the fury-inducing process of weighing me and checking my blood pressure. Shortly thereafter a doctor saw me. She could tell I was in agony, and apologized over and over again that she needed to shine a light into my eye. I involuntarily whimpered and tried not to cry from the pain. HUGE-HORRIFIC-GARGANTUAN-MORTAL-WOUND-PAIN!!!!! By then it was nearly 11pm and she telephoned the on-call Ophthalmologist and asked him to get to the hospital to see me, stat.

As the doctor's office and the entire building he worked from were shut down for the evening, I had to get a ride from a Kaiser security guy to the building. VERY SCARY. I was petrified and felt so vulnerable. Alone and in pain with a scary unknown man who was leading me to a dark, vacant, massive hospital building!!! Ack!!!!! He drove me over to the building, and took me up the elevator to the 7th floor. All the lights were out. Panic!!!! He flipped on a few overhead lights in a waiting room and left me alone to wait for the doctor.

Dr. Wang showed up within 15 minutes or so, and by then it was about 12:30am. He looked rather perturbed that he had to trek on over to the hospital to see me. Dr. Wang examined my eyes (again with the lights!), although he had a tough time even getting my eye open, as it was swollen shut in pain. Dr. Wang quietly mentioned that he had never seen such a bad case. He confirmed that I had iritis again and that the problem had been compounded considerably by the eye drops that were prescribed to me earlier in the day. Apparently I was allergic to them. *%^&!##! So he gave me steroid drops and told me to take them every hour on the hour and to return the next day. The nice thing about those drops was that they provided immediate relief, leaving my eye with a cool soothing sensation. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Mind you, not all better, but some better. And when you are in this much pain any relief is welcome! 

So I went back to the doctor the next day, and he said it was getting better but that I needed to wear glasses (grrrr -- i much prefer contacts) for the next several weeks while I continued taking the steroid drops and my eye continued to heal. He also mentioned that he wanted to take several tests and a chest x-ray to make sure I did not have any of the awful diseases that iritis can be symptomatic of, including tuberculosis and lupus (gulp!). Of course that made me worry, as who wants a disease to deal with!

A couple weeks later after all the test results were in, Dr. Wang told me that I checked out ok. Needing further clarification I asked, "So you mean I don't have lupus?" To which he responded "Not at this time." !!!!!!!!  What kind of statement is THAT?!?!?!? Just be happy for me! Tell me I am fine! Grrr!!! Anywhoo, I think it took about 6 weeks and a few follow up appointments, but my eye finally got better.

Well, it is December, and here we go again. The iritis is back. ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. This time the iritis has has lasted nearly 8 weeks, and I've been taking steroid drops to treat the pain and wearing glasses instead of contacts to give my eyes a break while they heal (yup, this time I am having pain in BOTH eyes). And even after all this time, all these doctor visits, and all these drops, it doesn't really seem to be getting better. I am not sure if I am becoming immune to the drops or what, but I have yet another doctor appointment tomorrow to have my eyes examined. Hopefully they can fix me up. I am wishing for a magical cure! Will keep my fingers crossed. I have been told that once you get iritis you are likely to get it again and again. And they say stress can play a major factor in recurring bouts of iritis. Great. How does one NOT stress? 

Oh please oh please oh please let him fix my eyes!


zukanya said...

Hi. I have the exact same problem and I am mailing the url of this page to all my family members so that they understand that I AM NOT exaggerating when I say a light behind 'several walls', to quote you, does hurt!

I am travelling on work right now and my iritis has recurred - the problem is I'm using those steroid drops, but I'm not carrying my lenses...

Anonymous said...

Hi, I also have recurring iritis and found a cure that works for me and can stop my outbreak within hours. I take the inexpensive generic antihistamine Hydroxyzine HCL 25mg. It's a prescription drug, not over the counter. When an outbreak occurs I take a pill. If pain persists in 2 hrs I take another pill. Pain usually recedes for 4 hrs at a time so I take a pill every 4 hrs once pain is in control. The outbreak stops within 12-24 hours. Side effect of pill is drowsiness. I have used these pills to stop an outbreak at its outset, never during a full blown attack, so I don't know what relief you'll get if you're days or weeks into an episode. CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR. You will know if this works within hours and can save yourself weeks of pain. Hope this helps.

Posh Adornment said...

Get yourself a GOOD classical homeopath. this can be treated with homeopathic medicine but you need a doctor who knows their stuff. Write me if you want a reference.

Jala Pfaff said...

Wow, you poor thing. This sounds so awful.

Unrelatedly, I just discovered your blog and am really enjoying it! Cheers.

Anonymous said...

I also have had reoccurring iritis. I had it for about twelve years running. I was very lucky I found two excellent competent ophthalmologists that knew how to treat iritis. They explained that iritis is an immune disorder and should be treated very carefully. Usually you will have other immune disorder symptoms. It is caused when small amounts of white blood cells become logged between the iris and the lens. This situation irritates the iris and the iris tries to cramp shut. It is like have sand in your bathing suit only for the eye. My first serious attack left me with a blood red eye that felt like someone was pushing a dull nail into the center of my eye. This left me curled up on the floor in the fetal position. No one can even begin to understand the pain you experienced unless they have an acute iritis attack for themselves. Some people seem to be able to tolerate severe eye pain more than others.
I’m not qualified to give medical advice I’ve only been an iritis sufferer. If I could only give you one piece of advice it would be this. Get yourself in front of the best Ophthalmologist/Eye Surgeon you can find in your area! DO NOT self medicate! The doctor I go to is Dr. Zimmerman and he can be found at the Moran Eye Clinic at the University of Utah Medical Center here in Salt Lake City, Utah. The steroid drops the doctor gave you are important in removing the white blood cells I mentioned before. If you use the steroid drops for the wrong condition, say conjuctitis, you could cause yourself serious eye damage. By the way, conjuctitis has many of the same systems but it is an eye infection where iritis is an eye condition. You never want to give an infection a steroid. That’s like throwing gas on a fire.
There are three medications that save me when I have had an attack. Ibuprofen (for pain due to irritation and redness), Pred Mild (steroid drops to promote healing), and Prednisolone (Iris dialator to stop the iris from cramping). This protocol requires me to use these three meds in a prescribed manor and dosage. It takes a few months to complete the series and at least three or more visits to Dr. Zimmerman for medication and condition management.
I mentioned previously that I have had iritis. I currently do not. I once asked my doctor why this condition occurs. His response was that I probably always had the propensity for iritis and maybe age and/or life style brought the condition to the surface. I did my home work on the cause of immune disorders and found that a weakened immune system can cause many serious health conditions. I found that my iritis attacks followed the same pattern as my hay fever attacks. Here is how I believe I stopped my iritis. I change my life style drastically. I changed my diet to only healthy foods (no white sugar and no white flower) and lost 75 pounds. I went to the gym at least four days out of a given week and worked out hard enough to break a constant sweat. My iritis has never returned to this day.
My solution:
1. Get the best specialized medical help possible. Someone who understands iritis.
2. Do exactly what your doctor tells you to do. Don’t get creative and never self medicate!
3. When your current condition is completely stabilized change your life style.
4. Eat better and exercise. Exercise and get more oxygen in to the blood. Drink more water. Most of us go around in acute dehydration all the time.
5. Be patient and positive. Success is duplicatable!
Good luck.

preet said...
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