WestEdge Gallery | To See or Not to See
Artist, retinal detachment, torn retina, paintings, sculpture
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To See or Not to See

A year and a half ago my eyes decided they had seen enough. A week of flashing in my peripheral vision revealed I had a dozen retinal tears and a detachment in my right eye. I was sent in for an emergency laser/cryotherapy combo, which is hands down the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my long life. The usual route of full surgery was out – I didn’t have insurance at the time. The specialist said he could offer an alternative in-office laser/cryo procedure instead, which had a slightly lower success rate but was only a fraction of the cost. Three horrible hours later, I was throwing up from the unrelenting pain radiating from my eye to my brain. The gas bubble he inserted into my eye to help the retina heal required I lie on my left side 24/7,  for 2 weeks. I came out on the other side with a battlefield of floaters but at least my vision was somewhat salvaged.

My sight is getting better and worse at the same time. I’m not sure what this means for my art, my life as I know it, and my living as an artist.

Then I hit the lottery, my left eye joined in on the fun about six months later. Thankfully, I only needed laser this time. Check out the attached video of one of the more simple in-office procedures, warning if you have a weak stomach. It still sucked and my eye looked like it had gone through a blender for a week, but was nowhere near as torturous as the cryo. After three more laser procedures, I was told I was out of the woods! No more laser and no more cryo! My vision was terrible from the debris left in both eyes but I was trying to get used to it and working my ass off to get back to fully functional. Turns out, I had gone legally blind in my left eye at 20/240 for a few months but it’s amazing what we’ll try to convince ourselves is OK. I knew I was seeing mainly shapes, and that people no longer had faces, but we just keep moving forward, right?

I’m a competitive person and apparently my eyes share that trait – a couple months after being told I was done with the tears and detachments, my left eye wanted to outdo my right so it went full detachment! This time I was rushed to Scripps for a full eye popping, scraping, pulling, buckle insertion and lots and lots more laser. I was awake for the first five procedures, but this time, lucky for me, I was going under.  They gave me the best martini I’ve ever had, I was out in a blink and in what seemed like the next moment, I was awake. Then the torture started. My eye’s natural gel was full of inflammatory bodies and the doctor said it was contributing to the issues. So he had removed that and replaced it with oil  – which means you have to position just right, like I did with the gas bubble. I had to lie face down the first night then on my right side, 24/7, for seven days. It sounds easy, but it’s a bitch! I just got passed that stage and now have three months of right or left side, but not 24/7, just when I’m lying down. The oil can save the retina but in the process, destroys the lens. My sight is getting better and worse at the same time. I have at least three more surgeries ahead of me. I’m not sure what this means for my art, my life as I know it and my living as an artist, I guess only the future knows. My artist friend Nadine said knowing me I’ll probably end up making sculptures in the dark! She could be right.

If you see me and I don’t say hi or wave hello it’s most likely because I don’t like you! Haha!

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