Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: Second Opinions

I wanted to encourage everyone to have second opinions when they receive a diagnosis. As most of you know, I recently was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). You can read more about this here and here. Although I am very young to have this diagnosis, it's not unheard of, especially with all of the other eye problems I have.

After the diagnosis of AMD, my life changed. AMD is always progressive and the course is unpredictable. So you have to prepare for life changes, such as not driving, not reading, using adaptive devices to perform routine tasks (such as using the computer), and facing a life of dependency upon others. Even if you're pretty independent, it changes your future; it changes how you think about your future. You can remain independent in some ways but not in others. You will ultimately lose your functional sight as there is no cure or treatment for the type of AMD I thought I had. I would be...blind.

I immediately began a protocol of supplements, cut back on my computer usage and reading, and began envisioning a future without my eyes. At church, I received the Sacrament of Healing, and was profoundly touched...I felt as though it gave me strength to let go and trust God. I believed that I could have a good life as a sight-impaired person. Many people (many of you) offered to pray for me and to send healing thoughts my way; I appreciated this so much.

LoveHubbie made an appointment for me with the best specialist he could find in our nearby metro area, Seattle. He said he thought I didn't have AMD...he just had a feeling. My long-time energy worker (Jin Shin Jyutsu) Frank agreed with him. Frank is right a lot of the time but tends to be overly optimistic about things in general (is there such a thing?). I thought they were both in denial, but thought I might get some good information on the prognosis from having the second opinion.

I had to wait two months to get in to see the specialist.

I went to Virginia Mason in Seattle, an excellent hospital. I was examined by two specialists in retinal diseases, so I really got a second and third opinion. Despite all of the benefits, it was hard for me as the retinal exam is pretty grueling and painful for me; in addition I am always sick for a couple of days after with migraines and eye pain. It seemed well worth it though for the prognosis. I felt really privileged to get in with these two doctors.

To my astonishment, they both agreed that I did not have AMD. Instead I had an assortment of minor and pretty normal age-related changes in my eye, but because I have so many other eye issues, the particular combination can mimic AMD. And any general ophthalmologist would diagnosis it as AMD, if she or he were careful. However, a specialist, with her many advanced tests, equipment, and experience in diagnosing retinal diseases--can differentiate AMD from other problems. This is what happened to me yesterday.

I don't have AMD! I can hardly believe it.

If I had never gone for a second opinion, I would never have known this.

My whole life has changed, again. And I am so grateful for my eyesight, and for the prayers and support of so many people. Thank you to all of you who prayed for me. Without the support and the prayers and the sacrament, I don't know what would have happened to me. I could have just as easily slipped into pessimism, resignation, and depression. Maybe I'd never even have gone for the second opinion. Your support means everything to me.

So, today--Wellness Wednesday--I want to remind you:
(1) To be grateful for your eyesight,
(2) To be grateful for your health,
(3) To believe in the power of prayer and healing thoughts, and
(4) To always, always, always get a second opinion on important diagnoses.

And I want to thank you again. Much love, O


Jane said...

Hi Olivia,

I've been off the blogging map these days. I'm at a very weird place in my life where I want to write desperately but just can't find the words to come out. I am so happy that you went for more opinions. I've noticed over the past month or so that my eyes are depending a lot more on glasses. Things I used to see clearly are now fuzzy. I've cut back a little on the computer (I'm on it all day at work). I know when I need to give my eyes their well deserved rest. Again, I am thrilled for you and agree absolutely that our vision is a blessed gift.

Much love to you.

kate i said...

This is such wonderful, wonderful news Olivia and I will remember your advice to get a second opinion if ever I should need to.

The gift of sight is truly one of those everyday miracles that we take for granted until we think we may lose it.

(I'm doing a happy dance for you!)

Olivia said...

Thank you, Jane. Yes, everyone around age 40-45 begins to have trouble with accommodation (focusing near and then far, back and forth) and it's "normal"...but it's so good to take good care of your eyes.

It's great to see you hear and share my good news with you.

I hope that you are able to write soon. Peace and love to you, Jane, xoO

Olivia said...

Thank you, kate. We can dance together with Lola the dancing dog. I think I'm going to play that video again :) xoO

Kate said...

I was so happy to hear about this on facebook and now here on your blog. Second opinions are really a good idea. I am gla you went for it. Wow you have had your life change in a big way twice this year, I am doing a happy dance for you too.


Olivia said...

Thanks so much Kate. That's JUST what it feels like---two major life changes--so huge!

Now with me and you and kate i dancing, I think we have a party! xoO

laundrygirl said...

I said it already but I am so grateful and so happy for you!

Olivia said...

I never get tired of hearing it Kristine! I'm still over the moon! Thank you for your prayers!! xoO

Kim Mailhot said...

Just so thrilled for you, Olivia. I can feel your relief, joy and gratitude all the way from here in NH ! Yay !

patti said...

This is such fantastic news O!!

Thank goodness for second opinions!

Take good care of yourself xx

Olivia said...

Thank you Kim and Patti, I love that you commented here and joined me in celebrating! Much love to you both, xoO