Saturday, November 14, 2009

Losing an Eye

I didn't blog last night because I was up until 5:30 in the morning dealing with an eye emergency with my dog Houla.

When I came home from work on Wednesday night, late, Houla wouldn't open her left eye. I called my vet the next day, but they couldn't see her until Friday. I thought it was just an irritation, or maybe a scratch, and was anticipating eye drops or some other relatively simple solution, and so thought it could wait.

When I brought her to her appointment on Friday at 5 p.m., we soon discovered that it was much more serious. Many hours and three vet hospitals later, including a late night drive to UC Davis emergency clinic, I know now that she has to lose her eye.

The lens on her left eye fell forward (lens luxation), blocking the drainage channel for the fluid naturally created in the eye, which led to increased ocular pressure (glaucoma). The pressure caused the retina to get distorted, swelling the eye. We were hoping that the trip to Davis might mean emergency surgery to save it, but it was already too late. She has completely lost vision in that eye. There was some evidence of vision loss in the right eye, but we are hoping with treatment to save it.

Now, on Tuesday, the poor little girl is scheduled for enucleation, or a removal of the eye. She can't see, and there's no sense leaving the eye there, since it is causing her pain, the equivalent of having a really bad migraine.

The whole nightmare was exacerbated by the fact that my partner Sabrina is in the Caribbean right now on a cruise with a buddy of hers, so I was having to make decisions on my own, as well as trying to juggle making sure that all of the other animals were tended to, before leaving for Davis late at night, unsure when I would get home.

Houla is a 12 year old Catahoula mix, an adorable little black-and-white dog with the sweetest personality. She has been stoic, and a real trooper through all of this, but we were both exhausted when all was said and done. Tonight we are recuperating at home with a nice fire burning in the pellet stove.

Throughout the experience yesterday, I kept imagining what it would be like to lose vision. Right now, she can still see from the right eye, but she was having trouble in low light, and I had to carry her into the hospital, because she was stumbling. Throughout all of the procedures, she was stressed and increasingly exhausted and in pain. Thankfully, most of the time I was able to be right there in the room with her, which alleviated some of the fear.

I wrote a long email to Sabrina early this morning, and she was able to reach me by phone later on, so I now know that she is in agreement with me about the enucleation. It felt good not to have to make that decision entirely on my own.

Going blind is one of my biggest fears. I can imagine learning to live with the loss of the use of my legs, or even my hearing. But losing my eyes? Being unable to read and write? It would be a huge part of my identity, something that would radically change my life.

We are praying that Houla will keep the vision in her right eye. And if not - we will just do the best we can to keep loving her, keep her safe, and keep her free from pain. Throughout all of this, she can be my teacher.


  1. having had the priviledge to know and love many three legged, one eyed,blind and earless dogs and cats this much i know. whatever their impairment they are amazingly resilient. they have taught me alot about showing up and being grateful.


  2. Thanks, Debi. It helps to hear that others have been resilient. It's so hard right now to see how subdued Houla is. I hope after Tuesday's surgery, and some time to heal, that she will be free from pain and she will return to her happy little self.