Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Opening Doors

by Sandy Whitaker

      Pets can do so much more than fulfill a life.  They can open doors and break down walls people put up towards each other.
      One day, a very uppity, and stylish young woman who had married an adored bachelor in our hometown was walking down the street.  We had all heard some stories of how she wasn't good enough for our hometown boy and thought she acted like she was too good for us.
      Our part time dog catcher had been trying to trap a stray dog roaming Main Street for days.  On this busy Saturday, screeching
tires were heard along with the yelping of the stray dog which rolled into a ditch.
      This young woman rushed to his side while the crowd cautioned her to stay away.  "It's a stray.  It will bite!"  Ignoring the spectators, she leaned close to the dog, cooing softly and asked for permission to touch it.
      The dog raised its head and gave her grateful eyes, so she petted it while asking someone to go into a store and call the vet.
Of course the vet didn't make house calls for a stray dogs, so she took off her jacket, rolled the dog in it and asked someone to take
her to the vet's office.
      She and the stray were hurried to a vet where I heard she stayed with the animal until he died.
      This may seem a sad wasted tale, but good things happened.
      The community quickly learned this was a shy young woman who had not found her place in the small community.  She didn't know how to reach out FOR help, but she knew how to reach out TO help.
      After that, she was asked to join clubs and often welcomed visitors to her home.  Her comfort level increased enough to show she was outgoing and fun to be around.
      It's quite possible this dying stray dog did more to open everyone's eyes than any other event could have.  Not only did the community benefit, but there is no way of knowing how many have benefited from her charity work.

               -- Sandy Whitaker   <whitacre @>

Sandy is a mom, grandmaand horse breeder living on a smallrural
Missouri farm with her husband and "critters".   She's inspired to
write real stories of humor, drama, and antics of people and animals
she has met and is hoping to illustrate and compile her children's
stories and be published.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Professional Explanation of My Eye Condition

The techy stuff about it:

Retina fold

    Macular Pucker
On this page:
Other Names
Macular pucker illustration

Illustration by

Epiretinal membrane, pre-retinal membrane, cellophane maculopathy, retina wrinkle, surface wrinkling retinopathy, pre-macular fibrosis, and internal limiting membrane disease.

What is a macular pucker?

A macular pucker is scar tissue that has formed on the eye's macula, located in the center of the eye's light-sensitive tissue called the retina. The macula provides the sharp, central vision we need for reading, driving, and seeing fine detail. A macular pucker can cause blurred and distorted central vision.

Most of the eye's interior is filled with vitreous, a gel-like substance that fills about 80 percent of the eye and helps it maintain a round shape. The vitreous contains millions of fine fibers that are attached to the surface of the retina. As we age, the vitreous slowly shrinks and pulls away from the retinal surface. This is called a vitreous detachment, and is normal. In most cases, there are no adverse effects, except for a small increase in floaters, which are little "cobwebs" or specks that seem to float about in your field of vision.

However, sometimes when the vitreous pulls away from the retina, there is microscopic damage to the retina's surface (Note: This is not a macular hole). When this happens, the retina begins a healing process to the damaged area and forms scar tissue, or an epi-retinal membrane, on the surface of the retina. This scar tissue is firmly attached to the retina surface. When the scar tissue contracts, it causes the retina to wrinkle, or pucker, usually without any effect on central vision. However, if the scar tissue has formed over the macula, our sharp, central vision becomes blurred and distorted.

What causes a macular pucker?

Most macular puckers are related to vitreous detachment, which usually occurs in people over age 50. As you age, you are at increased risk for macular pucker.

A macular pucker can also be triggered by certain eye diseases and disorders, such as a detached retina and inflammation of the eye (uveitis). Also, people with diabetes sometimes develop an eye disease called diabetic retinopathy, which can cause a macular pucker. A macular pucker can also be caused by trauma from either surgery or an eye injury.

What are the symptoms of a macular pucker?

Vision loss from a macular pucker can vary from no loss to severe loss, although severe vision loss is uncommon. People with a macular pucker may notice that their vision is blurry or mildly distorted, and straight lines can appear wavy. They may have difficulty in seeing fine detail and reading small print. There may be a gray area in the center of your vision, or perhaps even a blind spot.

Is a macular pucker the same as age-related macular degeneration?

No. A macular pucker and age-related macular degeneration are two separate and distinct conditions, although the symptoms for each are similar. An eye care professional will know the difference.

Can macular pucker get worse?

For most people, visual acuity remains stable and does not get progressively worse. Usually macular pucker affects one eye, although it may affect the other eye later.

Is a macular pucker similar to a macular hole?

A macular pucker and a macular hole are different conditions, although they both result from the same reason: The pulling on the retina from a shrinking vitreous. When the "pulling" causes microscopic damage, the retina can heal itself; scar tissue, or a macular pucker, can be the result. If the shrinking vitreous pulls too hard, it can tear the retina, creating a macular hole, which is more serious. Both conditions have similar symptoms - distorted and blurred vision. Also, a macular pucker will not "develop"into a macular hole. An eye care professional will know the difference.

Macular pucker surgery?
Pars plana vitrectomy illustration

Illustration by

A macular pucker usually requires no treatment. In many cases, the symptoms of vision distortion and blurriness are mild, and no treatment is necessary. People usually adjust to the mild visual distortion, since it does not affect activities of daily life, such as reading and driving. Eye drops, medications, nor nutritional supplements will improve vision distorted from macular pucker. Sometimes the scar tissue--which causes a macular pucker--separates from the retina, and the macular pucker clears up.

Rarely, vision deteriorates to the point where it affects daily routine activities. However, when this happens, surgery may be recommended. This procedure is called a vitrectomy, in which the vitreous gel is removed to prevent it from pulling on the retina and replaced with a salt solution (Because the vitreous is mostly water, you will notice no change between the salt solution and the normal vitreous). Also, the scar tissue which causes the wrinkling is removed. A vitrectomy is usually performed under local anesthesia.

After the operation, you will need to wear an eye patch for a few days or weeks to protect the eye. You will also need to use medicated eye drops to protect against infection.

How successful is this surgery?

Surgery to repair a macular pucker is very delicate, and while vision improves in most cases, it does not usually return to normal. On average, about half of the vision lost from a macular pucker is restored; some people have significantly more vision restored, some less. In most cases, vision distortion is significantly reduced. Recovery of vision can take up to three months. Patients should talk with their eye care professional about whether treatment is appropriate.

What are the risks of surgery?

The most common complication of a vitrectomy is an increase in the rate of cataract development. Cataract surgery may be needed within a few years after the vitrectomy. Other, less common complications are retinal detachment either during or after surgery, and infection after surgery. Also, the macular pucker may grow back, but this is rare.


Research studies are being conducted to determine other treatments for macular pucker. Please note that both of the procedures described below need additional clinical testing. We suggestyou share this information with your eye care professional.

Some physicians are researching the use of a surgical procedure in which scar tissue is peeled off without performing the vitrectomy.

Other doctors are researching a new surgical technique to remove the internal limiting membrane (a layer of the retina) for patients with both macular pucker and macular hole. This surgical technique is called Fluidic Internal Limiting Membrane Separation (FILMS). After a vitrectomy, fluid is injected between the membrane and the retina that causes the membrane, along with the scar tissue, to lift away. It is then removed with forceps.


The following organizations may be able to provide additional information on macular pucker:

National Eye Institute
2020 Vision Place
Bethesda, MD 20892-3655
(301) 496-5248

American Academy of Ophthalmology
P.O. Box 7424
San Francisco, CA 94120-7424
(415) 561-8500
Distributes a fact sheet on macular pucker for patients.

For additional information, you may wish to contact a local library.

Courtesy of the National Eye Institute


Retina Fold

Same Entry as the other journal because I want this to be read by as many people as possible, not that I have that many journal readers.....


I am not doing so well. I went to the eye doctor (specialist) and got drops, for my regular checkup.  I keep a close guard on my eyes as my Mom had macular degeneration and became blind and my sister has glaucoma.

The doctor said to me that I have a "retina fold" on my left eye.  That explains the vision change I have noticed and it's been bothering me for a few months.  I was hoping it was that my cataract had grown, but that is not it.

The whole point is, this isn't correctible.  It can't be "fixed."  Cataracts can, & I will eventually have surgery on both of mine when they are ready.

But I will never see like I did before this DAMN retina fold, with or without glasses.

I know I am assuming the worst, but I can't help my mood, I am scared. Everything I like to do requires my eyes!

If anyone has this or has heard of this, or would just like to offer me some aid in dealing with the acceptance of this condition, please, oh please email me.  I am in the pits.  I don't know if I can take any more things being wrong with me.

Yeah, I know I am full of myself right now, but I can't seem to help it.  I have so many things that can't be fixed.  My neck, my back, my feet, and you know I am sick of it.

I also am bright enough to realize I should be counting my blessings and looking at all the conditions and diseases that I do NOT have. And I will, I promise I will.  Just right now, I am like a little kid stomping my feet and saying, "I don't like this, I don't like this one bit!"


Love, Merry

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Baby Jack

If at all possible we will go see "Jack" as soon as we can get there after he is born. If Dave is working a different direction or part of the state, we may have to wait.  I don't drive in bigger towns than Mason City, anymore.   (I use to, but am not use to it anymore, and can't turn my neck much anymore (because of my neck and back problems) so don't think I should push myself to drive more. I drive enough to get to the store, the doctor, the drug store, the hospital or the mall downtown. But Mason City is only 29,000 people!  Cedar Rapids is about 2 X that, and a little over 2 hours away and I don't think I could or should drive there (though I would have at one time.)
I think I am going to forever think of this baby as "Jack" now that Tim started that.  It started as a joke, a nickname for Tim and Patti to call him, until he was born. But I think of "Jack" all the time.  I think when I first see him, no matter what THEY name him,  I will say, "Oh Jack, I love you!  Welcome to our world!"  LOL   I can't wait to see and meet "Jack!!"  Maybe he will always be "Jack" to me?? LOL  Yep, this is getting exciting!
Well, I am getting a bit pleasingly plump (HA like there is no such thing to me about gaining ANY weight that is "PLEASING" to me in any way!!),like Grandma's use to be at least-- but it wasn't part of my plan in becoming a grandmother, but that's a whole other issue.
Love ya!!!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

2nd Ultrasound

Hi Journal Friends!
Our son Tim just called me, 2nd ultra sound showed the boy parts.  He is 2 lb. now.  "Jack" (baby's nickname) is moving a lot, too!  The due date has been moved up to May 18.  Everything is perfect, right on schedule and all seems normal.  Patti got a shot because of the blood difference, already.  When I had Tim, they didn't have shots for those blood difference (antibody) differences. (That's why I can't give blood.) (or so I was told). Modern medicine can be wonderful, future problems prevented (like with future pregnancies, etc.)  Everything is starting to be REAL real to me now!  Patti is doing just fine.
My husband Dave is in Sioux City, IA.  The dogs and I are "batching it."  LOL He said it is warmer there, heck it is warmer almost everywhere.  It has been in the - temps at least at night for 15 days here.
Hope you are all as well as possible!