A “Legally Blind” Photographer’s Journey & Her Happy Ending

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How does one transition from 20/20 vision over two years to becoming Legally Blind?

My journey began almost two years ago and although has a happy ending, it is still one I had to painfully travel. My one and only hope in writing this is if my story is shared with one person who may be currently traveling down the long and foggy road I had to, maybe, just maybe, I can share a way out for them. Although Lengthy, it is worth reading.

Let me start from the beginning:

On a flight home from Colorado in 2016, I had intense – and by that I mean horrific pain from cabin pressure behind my eyes and forehead for the majority of the flight. At one point, I looked at my husband and said, “If blood starts to come out of my eyes, please don’t be alarmed.” Once we landed, the pain behind my eyes went away but my forehead was so tender, it felt bruised for weeks.

Ok, Ok, before I go on, I know that many of us have suffered from sinus pressure on a plane. I have too in the past but THIS pressure was excruciating  and if people suffered like I did, there isn’t a soul out there that would board a plane!

That year, when I went to my eye Doctor for my annual exam, I was told my vision went from 20/40 to 20/80.  I was told it was because I was getting “Older” and it was a normal process for most people in their 40’s and 50’s to see a decrease in their visual acuity.

Ok, I was on board with that and although I wasn’t happy – I wasn’t too concerned – after all, I AM getting older…..

Then, In 2017, I decided to fly to Florida to spend some time with my parents in the Sunshine State and get away from the Michigan dull drum of cloudy skies. This time I made sure I was hydrated and took sudafed as suggested by my Doctor because of my Past flying experience. I really didn’t anticipate having any more issues and thought my flight home from Colorado was an isolated incident.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

On the first leg of my journey, the pressure in my head was even more intense than I had experienced before and once I landed in Georgia and before boarding the next flight, I called my parents and asked them to pray for me. I wasn’t sure I could handle another flight but I didn’t want to be a burden and have them drive from Florida to Georgia to pick me up – sooooo I boarded the next plane. That was a BIG mistake (damn ego). At one point during my flight, I felt my head “Explode” as the pain travelled from my forehead, over the top of my head and down my spine. I instantly felt paralyzed. “Move Julia, Move Julia”,  was all I kept repeating in my mind. Within 10 seconds, I moved my hand and realized it was a temporary feeling. The flight was torturous and I was exhausted by the time I landed. Knowing there was no way I would ever fly again-  I called my husband and asked him to make plans to fly to Florida so we could rent a car and drive back to Michigan after my vacation. Upon my return home,  I was told I experienced “Barotrauma” during my flight which is commonly caused by air travel or scuba diving.

Soon after I returned home, I began experiencing vertigo, dizziness, exhaustion, anxiety and walking imbalances that progressively got worst with time. Because of my particular disposition, the only people who knew what I was dealing with were my husband (obviously) and my parents. I continued with my Photography business and overcompensated MANY body movements to hide my symptoms during the day.  By the end of the day after shooting and editing for work, my symptoms only worsened. I slowly exited from Facebook and social media, began declining invitations for lunch/coffee and social events and became less active and was conscious of every step I took before I took it. I didn’t want anyone to know there was something wrong with me because I didn’t know what was wrong with me!

My next annual eye appointment results were shocking. My vision had  declined from 20/80 to 20/225 – YUP, I was now Legally blind. Even though I knew my vision had worsened – I was shocked. Once again, my Dr. told me my eyes were “Healthy” and it was the “accommodation” factor (brain not reacting quick enough to my eyes) that caused the vision loss and it was, once again, “Because I was getting OLD!”

At this point I’m thinking, “Shit, how old did I get in a year?”

Over the next two months, and after numerous appts, fitting me with my new prescription glasses was not improving my vision.  At one point, when I told the receptionist that my symptoms were getting worst with my new glasses, she replied, “Just wear your contacts then if the glasses aren’t working!”  My gut was telling me that there was something seriously wrong – I just didn’t know what it was.

During my Optometry escapades, and by the Grace of God, my mom’s friend shared that her sister had experienced the same symptoms as I was experiencing until she was helped by a group called “Vision Specialists” in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. After her diagnosis and “New Glasses”,  she was living life vivaciously.  Apparently, the group of vision specialists that “rocked her world”,  specialized in testing for disorders caused by trauma and brain injuries.

After much persuasion and research online ( at this point, I really couldn’t allow myself to believe a simple pair of glasses with prisms would change my life), I finally made an appt.

Well, once again I was wrong and YES, it HAS changed my Life!

After 3 1/2 hours of tests, I found out I had a “stroke” behind my eyes from the pressure of my flight resulting in Binocular Vision Dysfunction. The blood vessels and veins were mangled. My eyes were no longer working together and my brain couldn’t make sense of its world causing my symptoms and my body to react in a constant “Fight or Flight” mode all day long. Adding to my problems is the fact that I am a photographer always trying to focus from near to far hundreds of times a day (not to mention the countless hours of editing I do on a computer).

Once I was fitted with my new glasses and Prisms (which are placed within my glasses) to “trick” my brain into thinking my eyes are working together, I began crying. It was a physical reaction to the fact that my whole body and eyes instantly relaxed for the first time in two years! I cried for almost 15 minutes straight and trust me, I am NOT a crier. Apparently, the specialists experience the same reaction from many of their patients  and had plenty of Kleenex to offer me (Oh, Happy Day)!

It has now been a whole week since I received the blessing of my new glasses correcting my disorder. All, and I mean ALL of my symptoms have vanished. I feel like someone waived a magic wand over me and turned back time making me feel like I was 20 all over again (ok, maybe that’s a stretch, I’ll say 30 LOL).  My energy has returned, I haven’t had any bouts of dizziness or vertigo and I can walk straight again. I hopped on my bike and rode 5 miles yesterday morning without worrying I would fall. I am also having fun feeling energized even AFTER a full day of shooting & editing and my desire to just shoot  for the “Helluvit” has returned!

Although it may sound too good to be true, it isn’t.

If you have anyone you may know that is experiencing ANY of the symptoms I shared, has suffered any type of injuries, wears glasses that make them feel dizzy etc or even have ADHD – Please share this website with them where they can read about the group of eye specialists that changed MY life! They can also take an online Pre-“Test” if they so desire.

I wonder how many people are out there seeking answers, not being diagnosed correctly, and taking medications unnecessarily for symptoms without identifying the true underlying issue. (Met a woman from Petoskey in the waiting room who was in bed for two years and had seen 12 specialists before being led to the Bloomfield Hills Group. Now, it has been 4 years since she got HER new glasses and she never had another symptom again!)

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about my experience. People fly from all over the world to see this group so it often takes a while to get an appointment.

Thanks for stopping in and taking the time to read my story!

Praying it helps!

Cheers,

Julia

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Wow Julia, you are blessed! I am so happy to read about the outcome of your horrible experience. So very glad that you were led to Vision Specialists in Bloomfield Hills. I have always enjoyed your photographs and your blog, here’s to many more.

    Like

  2. Thank you for sharing your story, I’m sure it will help others with this debilitating condition find relief. Thank God you found this. Our prayers are with you on your recovery journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Julia, I’m so sorry to hear of your troubles. GOD must be watching over you to have guided you to the vision group that helped. I’ll pray that you continue to have good eye sight for years to come.

    That certainly sounds like something i can’t imagine.

    Your friend,

    Pete

    On Thu, May 10, 2018, 10:08 AM Photography Folktales wrote:

    > FolkArt Photog posted: ” How does one transition from 20/20 vision over > two years to becoming Legally Blind? My journey began almost two years ago > and although has a happy ending, it is still one I had to painfully travel. > My one and only hope in writing this is if my story is s” >

    Like

    • Thanks so much Pete-I share your same hope😊 I DO know whatever life throws at me- I’m never alone😀 until then- I’m going to enjoy some landscape photography😍

      Like

  4. I’m so glad you shared your story..if it can reach someone n help them that would be Awesome! ..so glad you found this clinic n that you’re doing so good..you are a special lady w many special gifts!..xoxo my friend..😊💖

    Liked by 1 person

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