Signs of a sick Belle can often be confused with an angry Belle, a sad Belle or a tired Belle. There is, however, one unmistakable sign that Belle is sick – when I’m quiet.
During the weeks leading up to my major bought with uveitis the last thing I wanted to do was talk. Something in me felt wrong and it just took too much effort to produce words. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an opportunity to be quiet – I had a conference in Louisville during which I presented, took photos and had to hob-knob with the 70 or so people I work with; then I flew to Austin to see Aden and, obviously, had to maintain fun and festive conversation; when I returned from this adventure everyone wanted an update on my travels and my dear husband was lonely and needed company. I really didn’t have a chance to be quiet. But oh, how I wanted too.
I grew more quiet as the sickness progressed. When the waves of nausea would hit all I wanted to do was curl up and be silent. When the headaches would flare I could not stand to even hear myself think, let alone produce words. It was just too much. I was a quiet Belle and everyone around me noticed.
Last Wednesday my optometrist proclaimed that my eyes were “quiet.” In uveitis, quiet eyes are a GOOD thing – it means the inflammation is subsiding and the retina is not swelling. Quiet eyes! I was thrilled but did not want to count my non-swollen chickens before they were completely unswollen. So I worked to keep my mouth quiet – resting, meditating, relaxing and not pushing myself.
This Monday rolled around and keeping a quiet mouth was becoming increasingly difficult, as was sitting still – I was feeling better. This morning I bounced onto the bedroom before going to work to bid Bird farewell. When his eyes did not promptly open with happiness, I started bouncing on the bed. “Bird, Bird, Bird!”
He rolled over and smiled, “You are feeling better. You are bouncy… and loud.”
“Quiet eyes and a LOUD MOUTH!” I cheered. Like a good husband, Bird said he loved me and that he was glad to see I was feeling better. Could I please leave him alone now? And so I bounced on my way.
Today I met with the doctor again and he proudly reported that all inflammation in my right eye is gone and only a small amount remains in my left. Again, my eyes were described as quiet. I kept my loud mouth shut this time, as I don’t think my doctor understands the handful that a healthy Belle can be.
I am finally allowed to discontinue the dilator drops (my poor little eyes have been dilated 24-7 for a month now) and to start weaning off the Pred-Forte drops. I have also managed a good recovery without having to go on oral prednisone. This only increases my belief in the power of water and food.
Two weeks ago when the doctor initially mentioned oral steroids I asked if I could be given one more week. I was certain I could take control of this on my own. After copious research on the Mayo Clinic’s Web site and the National Uveitis Web site, and reading a book called “The Inflammation Syndrome” I drew out my plan – 1 gallon of water a day, plentiful anti-inflammation foods, low sodium consumption and complete elimination of anything with added sugars (i.e. no vegan pudding – gasp!).
One week later two different doctors stared into my eyes and looked baffled – the eyes were quiet. We discussed my “regimen” and one doctor rolled his eyes saying that medicine fixes things and asked if I had done my research on a “Chinese Web site.” I told him that I had actually read on the Mayo Clinic’s site and that made HIS mouth surprisingly quiet.
Today my main doctor smiled as he gave me the news and said that whatever had been done, I had made a remarkable recovery. I will go back for a checkup in four weeks.
So today, I raise my 40 oz canteen of water to you all: Cheers to our health, our vision and loved ones who take care of you even when your eyes are loud and mouth is strangely quiet.