Everything was harder when my eyes were bothering me. I was having one of those mornings where I felt so down. I wanted to be productive, but it was impossible because I couldn’t really open my eyes.
I was still scratching a few scabby hives and decided to use the steroid drop because I desperately wanted my eyes to feel better. I wasn’t really sure that those eye drops had caused my itching problem.
When my phone rang, I was surprised – it was a nurse who worked with my dry eye doctor. I had forgotten that at my last appointment, my doctor mentioned a trial study with a new machine. It was non invasive and free. I told her I was definitely interested.
The nurse explained that the test procedure involved three treatments over a period of one month. She wondered if I was available that day or the next. I couldn’t believe it; it was the perfect thing for me to do on a day where I felt miserable. I told her I was more than ready. In only a few hours I might find some relief. There was nothing better than having hope again.
I hung up the phone and the first thing I wanted to do was share about it on my dry eye support group site. Within a few minutes, there were a dozen messages of encouragement. I was so touched and felt excited because perhaps this might help others once I shared about it.
I arrived promptly for my 11:30 a.m. appointment. The nurse ushered me in sweetly. I didn’t have to sign any papers or pay anything at all. I felt like a celebrity almost.
It was explained to me that I only needed to lie back and relax. My eyelids were going to be massaged with a tool that reached 108 degrees; the oil in my clogged meibomium glands would be softened and released. I closed my eyes; Beta-dyne was dabbed on first, followed by a thick gel. The machine looked like an electric toothbrush with space for my eyelashes.
The nurse explained that the Beta-dyne did bother some of the other prior patients. It was used to counter any bacteria that might be released from the glands.
She said there were 14 patients in the study. Only one person reported that the treatment did nothing while the others found great improvement with dry eyes and even their vision.
The whole experience was filled with hope. I needed hope badly and couldn’t believe the timing. I asked the nurse if it were possible for someone to take a picture. I explained that my dry eye support group was eager to hear about this.
The nurse was more than willing. She gave permission for lots of pictures and suggested I could even scan the brochure she had for me.
A timer went off after about 15 minutes. She switched to my other eye.
As she massaged my eyelids, she talked about many things related to dry eyes. I heard her mention the name of my cataract surgeon and felt myself flinch.
I was more than frustrated when I developed this condition after my surgery. I felt my surgeon was “done with me” and upset that he wasn’t more compassionate. But now, I heard that this surgeon suffered so much from Meibomium Gland Disease that he walked around the clinic with a microwaved potato wrapped in a paper towel over his eyes. That piece of information alone was very ironic for me.
It was time for me to sit up and blink. The room was blurry because of the gel. The nurse said that it would go away soon. She asked me how I felt. I didn’t know what to say – I wasn’t really sure. I wanted to say I felt fabulous, but it wasn’t the case. I felt a sting and mentioned it.
She said, “That’s probably from the Beta-dyne. Next time we don’t plan to use it. It bothered a lot of other patients but to be consistent in the study – I had to use it on you for the first treatment.”
For the rest of the day, I couldn’t believe how many wonderful comments were written on my dry eye post. I wrote back to everyone, but I had to be honest – I was a bit disappointed. My eyes were still bothering me.
However, I still had two more treatments – it was too soon to give up hope.
The next day, my eyes worsened. Now I had to consider that the treatment irritated them. It was very disappointing.
The nurse who performed the procedure sent me a message asking how I was doing. I was honest. She wrote back: “I am so sorry that you did not get relief. Thank you for not giving up. I hope that we have better luck at next week’s appointment.”
All of the messages from my support group helped me very much. I learned that another woman with dry eyes had an allergy problem with her eyelids similar to mine. She had discovered that her allergen was dust mites. I wondered if that could be my problem. It was definitely another avenue to investigate.
One member told me that she was pulling for me and wanted a link to this blog. My dry eye blog was simply a place where I could vent about my eye problems. It was therapy for me to freely share and complain.
Later on she wrote this to me:
“Judy, I just read most of this at work! It’s beautiful! My eyes definitely got tears at times. I’m going to go light a candle for you tonight.”
If she only knew how many tears her words brought me.
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