I’ve been a freelance writer for 6 years. In that time I have either read or written articles about parents encouraging to get a second opinion when something hasn’t been right with their health or the health of their child. The articles that pulled my heart strings were when a knock back had been fatal for the child because their symptoms weren’t taken seriously or they were misdiagnosed.
I’m going to share my own personal health story with you. It’s recent and raw. It’s not life threatening at this stage, but the surgery could be intensive due to its location in my body.
And I’m going to sound like a broken record by repeating: Get a second opinion. If something doesn’t look right with your health, and treatments aren’t fixing the problem, it’s time to get another opinion. It’s your life on the line. You are the one that has to live with the consequences if your health issue is not taken seriously.
It started with a watering eye
For the past 2 years, my right eye has watered constantly. It’s been noticeable to friends and family as I have a constant smear of mascara under my eye, or will have tears running down my cheek.
It was more of an annoyance than a health issue for me. But after a few months, I knew it was time to visit my GP as it obviously wasn’t going to go away on its own. I also booked a visit with an optometrist to see if I needed glasses, thinking this could be the reason for my watering eye.
The optometrist told me my vision was perfect and he couldn’t identify the cause for my eye to water. All tear ducts were clear. He suggested I increase my Omega 3 as I may be deficient and suffering from dry eyes. So I did. My eye didn’t change though.
I went to my GP countless times over the last 18 months to try various things. Some of which included using a moisturizing gel to replace the oils in my tears. I applied this for a couple of months and it didn’t improve my eye.
I was told to try sinus tablets as maybe I had developed an allergy. Taking those didn’t work either.
I was told I had blepharitis and my makeup was the culprit. So I changed my makeup to natural makeup in case it was a reaction.
Before going away to America last year, I was a little fed up that nothing worked and my eye was still watering and puffy. While getting antibiotics for the girls to take overseas in case we had tonsillitis, I asked about my eye again. My GP said yet again it was blepharitis and there was not much that could be done and a referral to an eye specialist was not necessary. Best I go to the optometrist again, and to stop wearing makeup altogether as the eye needed time to heal.
It wasn’t until I was in America, my parents told me I needed to get another opinion as it had been going on for far too long. Something was not right. Whether I wore make up or not, my eye still puffed up and watered. I wanted to wear makeup again and look less like someone had punched me in the face.
So I booked in with another GP when the girls went back to school and even though she had no idea what was causing my eye to water, she didn’t hesitate in giving me a referral to an ophthalmologist.
I went to my optometrist appointment the next day to get my eyes tested again. It had been a year since I’d seen him last and had voiced my concern. I was told again that it was blepharitis. There was no obvious sign why my eye was watering the way it was and to look at my nutrition as I was obviously lacking in something.
The optometrist did ask which eye specialist I had been referred to and said hopefully she could shed some light on my eye.
Well did she ever.
Off I went to my ophthalmologist appointment and had a nurse (Jo) conduct an eye pressure test. She also tested my vision. All was perfect. But something was going on with my eye that they needed to get to the bottom of.
When the ophthalmologist walked into the room and looked at my face and read my symptoms, she could immediately see what was wrong with my eye. She wanted to confirm her suspicion and went out of the room only to come back with some sort of measuring instrument.
She asked me whether my doctors or anyone had told me my right eye protruded further out from my left eye. I said no as the concern was for the swelling and constant watering.
She measured my eyes and found my right eye was 5mm out compared to my left eye. She gave me referrals to book an MRI on my brain orbits and get blood tests to look at my thyroid and to come back the following week. The concern was for possible thyroid disease, or something growing behind my eye that was causing it to push out and therefore water constantly.
I thought well that escalated quickly.
So off I trotted to Wesley Medical Imaging, to be told the only available time for my MRI was at 8:40pm on Maggie’s Birthday. I needed to have a 2 hour fast before the scan. I inwardly groaned at timing of it all, but was thankful I had the foresight to block Maggie’s birthday night off from work. We had planned immediate family over for dinner so babysitting and being dropped off to the scan would work out ok. No cake for me though… so we saved some for breakfast the next day.
I found it ironic that I was back at the hospital where I had Maggie, but this time getting an MRI. It was a surreal experience.
Last Friday I got my results back confirming all was good with my bloods and my thyroid is fine (yay!), but the MRI found a slow growing benign tumour behind my right eye, which has been the cause of my eye constantly watering. I did a field test to see if I had any blind spots and again cruised through this examination perfectly. So it doesn’t seem to be affecting my eyesight, but I was referred to see a neurologist.
I saw the neurologist on Tuesday and while it’s not an urgent tumour to remove, the issue is checking if I have other tumours in my spine and also getting more information about the tumour behind my eye which will require more scans. The neurosurgeon believes I will need surgery to remove the tumour because the MRI scan shows it has thickened the bone behind my eye towards my brain.
I am so grateful for having a good friend who is a GP, to enquire on my behalf to find the best neurosurgeon for the surgery I may need. She was able to organise an appointment to see another doctor who works with this particular neurosurgeon so they can both look at my scans and give me a second opinion. I have that appointment this afternoon, which is a blessing as they are booked out for weeks, but they have allotted an appointment to look at my case.
The last three weeks have been a constant buzz of doctors’ appointments and getting my head around what has been found behind my eye.
I’m positive that all will be ok, but I did get teary while being referred to the neurologist because what if the results had been different? What if it was malignant? What if it had been too late? Now I have to focus less on the what if’s and more on the what now.
Right now, it’s a case of working out what needs to be done to ensure the tumour doesn’t impact my health – more specifically my brain. I only found out today how serious the surgery and recovery will be if surgery needs to happen.
So the moral of all this is if you have a pressing health concern or something that doesn’t look right, get a second opinion. And if the second opinion doesn’t sound right get a third opinion. My eye problem was taken seriously after seeing a different GP (a third doctor!). I probably shouldn’t have let it go on for as long as I had but I trusted the medical professionals I was seeing and I went with the flow as they weren’t concerned, so I had no reason to be concerned either.
I’m incredibly grateful for my mum who has looked after the girls so I can go to appointments and to my dad who has been my uber driver for the last few weeks. I’m also grateful for Jacob’s work postponing a work trip that was scheduled this week so we can plan for what is to happen next.
After this ordeal, I’m trusting God for healing whether it’s supernatural or through the doctors I’ve been referred to. I’d love to avoid surgery. That would be the best scenario but may not result in the best outcome. At this moment in time, I have to be still and know that God has directed me to the right medical professionals who can tell me what’s going to be best for my health.