Monday, December 22, 2008

Old Sahara Eyes

Do you ever feel like you are part of a weird science experiment? I mean, Life does wacky things for sure, but our bodies are unbelievable organisms that are often even wackier. 
As if MS isn't weird enough all by itself, I now seem to be experiencing strange, new symptoms courtesy of either my ever-bizarre body or else the lingering side effects of the Massive amounts of steroids I have recently consumed. 

So to update I finished my round of Solu-medrol, 3 days worth, and a lot of my symptoms have started to slowly subside. Others are still lingering, but I am hopeful they will move along shortly. However, I seem to have accumulated a few new symptoms, notably my severe Sahara Eyes. I have heard the term "dry eyes" before. I have experienced dry eyes before, usually during allergy season, or perhaps after a night of heavy drinking...I mean, I have Heard that people experience dry eyes after heavy drinking...I wouldn't know personally about such things ;-) Anyway, we are talking Severe dry eyes. I felt as if my eyes suddenly up and decided not to produce tears. At all. Nothing. Nada. No watering when I yawned or even when I held them open to try and force them to water. Dry as, well, the Sahara desert! 

This new fun started last Wednesday, so today the Ophthamologist was able to fit me in for an eye exam. Turns out I wasn't crazy. After a really weird test where they put a special piece of paper in your eye for 5 minutes to see how many tears you produce in that amount of time, the verdict: 0 Tears Produced. Seriously?!?! My eyes are actually producing NO water/tears whatsoever?? Yep, you heard right. 
Zero Tears. 
Oh Good Gracious. 
At some point, all you can do is laugh. Or I guess you can cry. In fact, I probably Should cry. It would put some water in my stupid Sahara eyes!!! 

This could all just be a side effect of the steroids I have come off of. OR it could be a side effect of any one of the 5 Million medications I am on. OR it could be some disease called Sjogren's Syndrome which is totally random plus I don't have time for any more diseases right now, thanks. So no one is exactly sure why my eyes up and decided to stop producing water, but the fact is I have got to get some moisture back in there. Turns out it can be dangerous to let severely dry eyes go without treatment. You can end up with scarred corneas or infections or some other awfulness. I have been dropping OTC (over the counter) drops in there 3-4 times an hour just to function. Otherwise I can barely keep them open for very long. But dropping eyedrops that often is really Really annoying, plus not really practical. I started a steroid eyedrop (which seems to make no sense if steroids caused this, but apparently I am wrong?). Then my doctor wants me to start using Restasis, a prescription eye drop designed to prompt the eyes to start making tears again. The bad news is that it can take a while to really start working. So in the meantime I am the Eyedropper Queen.

It is so hard to process all this new information and make the best decisions about what to do next. Every doctor has a different opinion and they are just opinions. it is my body and ultimately I have to decide what i want to do and how to deal with its many MANY quirks and shortcomings. I don't yet know if there are any downsides to Restasis, but i know that i don't want to take any more medications than I have to because they ALL come with their own host of side effects. So I rest my eyes alot and keep them closed. I put drops in, or that gel substance that feels like someone rubbed vaseline all over your eyeball. totally gross, but it actually feels pretty nice on a poor zero-tears dry eye. :-) 

Oh it's a mess. But what are you gonna do? 
As for me I'm gonna put on some red shoes and do my best to enjoy Christmas with my family, Old Sahara Eyes and all. :-) 

1 comment:

ArielaBrand said...

I was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome several years ago, and I, too, produce no tears.

First, you should see a rheumatologist and get tested for Sjogren's autoimmune antibodies, to make certain that you do, in fact, have Sjogren's. It seems that if you are cursed with one autoimmune disease, others will follow.

Your ophthalmologist should talk to you about punctal plugs which keep the moisture in your eyes from draining away. Although you don't have any of your own moisture, the plugs will keep the eye drops from draining. There are temporary and permanent plugs, and you should discuss the merits of each with your doctor. If your condition is the result of medications, then the dryness may be temporary requiring only temporary plugs.

My doctor recommended Systane eye drops, and I find them beneficial. (No, I have no financial interest in them.)

I would also recommend that your ophthalmologist check for blepharitis. This is a condition that can be caused by dry eyes. If your eyelids are crusty in the morning, then you probably have it. I was told to soak my closed eyelids with a warm compress for about five minutes, then use a cotton ball with some baby shampoo (avoid stinging)on the base of the eyelashes, and then rinse; do this twice a day and see if you feel a difference. That little bit of crust can really irritate your eyes. I found this to be extremely helpful and easy to do.

I wish you the best of luck and best of health.