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THE MACULAR
DEGENERATION COMMUNITY

Stephanie


 

Name
Stephanie Albert

Born
November 26, 1977

Home
Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada (now in Stratford)

Diagnosis
Wet MD (non-age related)

Eyes Affected
Left

Eye Color
Big and brown

Age at Diagnosis
22

Acuity
20/20 right eye, I believe they put down 500/20 for left, but it's zero.

Treatment
Vitrectomies in 2000 & 2001 - both allowed me to regain full sight for about a week each, but after each lost more vision than the previous one.

Prognosis or Current State of Vision
Right eye is sill fine, left has zero central and very little peripheral (by little I mean VERY little)

Family History
Mother & Maternal Grandma had cataracts at young ages (mom was 40, grandma was 55). Paternal Grandpa just diagnosed in 2006 with Dry AMD but he's 92. Everyone else is fine, my mother & her mother both have bifocals, but that's it.

Impact on My Life
Besides losing my license to drive (lack of depth perception which I am showing resistance to accomodating), headaches on a daily basis, loss of balance when eyes closed, walking into walls, little things like not being able to grab something from someone the first dozen tries (a smoke, a pen, a plate, dog hair from a shirt...), stairs - need I say more? Pouring a glass of water is still proving to be difficult, as well.

Positive Effects
Realize how lucky I am to have this and not something worse, or more debilatating. And MORE than lucky to have it only in one eye as of yet. No idea why it happened to me in the first place (my docs don't either, with my age and lack of risk-factors), so they can't say if it'll happen in my right eye. I see my specialist every 18 months now, and look at the square chart with the dot in the middle of it weekly, so if I have any concerns or see a change, I go see him asap - no appointment needed, just make sure the office is open (it's a 2+ hour drive to his office). I ask for help more. Hearing & sense of smell have improved! Sometimes not a good thing, but generally not bad.

Adaptations
Finger over edge of glass when pouring water/juice etc. Clear mugs, pour coffee etc. when I'm eye level so I don't spill it. Hubby uses knives for me (since I almost lost a finger more than once). I don't drive (heck I'm a paranoid passenger!). I tend to shy away from uneven ground as it is tough to not trip (and it hurts the foot I broke a year ago when I fell down a flight of stairs). I've learned to ask for help more often than not. I realize I can't do everything I used to be able to do on my own, and attempt new things each day, but have yet to master anything. I shower with both elbows on the sides of the shower stall so I don't lose my balance. I get severe stabbing pains behind my eye occasionally, and have learned to take a step back and rest more often.

Employment
I'm now a secretary, for bosses who are very understanding and have worked with me. It's a small office, and my she-boss has a pituitary tumor, so she knows what it's like to have appointments you can't reschedule and all that jazz. I'm also diabetic, so her understanding with appointments and when I'm sick certainly help a great deal. When I had the first surgery done, I was a lab technician at Purina. But microscope work became difficult, and healing took longer than I had off, so I lost that job. When I had the 2nd surgery done I was working at Subway restaurant. Again, healing took much longer than expected (full year before I could lift and return to work). My surgeon suggested I find a different job, as working with knives & ovens was not advisable with the lack of depth perception.

More About Me
Diabetic (type 1, diagnosed in March 2004). I'm married, starting IVF for our first child this summer I hope (bilateral tubal blockage diagnosed via surgery December 2006). We have a 2 year old border collie, a 7 year old cat & a 1 1/2 year old Love Bird (Harley, Skittles & Herbie respectively). We live in his hometown, which is about an hour north (in the snow belt, I might add) of where I grew up on a farm. I have one sister who is 2 years younger, and she has 3 little ones (ages 3,6 & 9), and I have a 1/2 brother, whom we met about 7 years ago. He has 2 kids, 8 & 11. My sister & I are very close to one another and our mother. I am close with our step-father, and neither of us care to ever see our biological father again. We have been through a lot of negatives in our lives, but we've remained strong and best friends through it all. :) I've been blessed with my family. They are the ones who got me through this whole journey. If it hadn't been for them, I would have given up long ago.