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Sight loss and Recovery journey

Posted by Sandra Hickey on

I've had a lot of lovely messages asking for updates so I thought this would be a good way to let you know why I've been so quiet the past few weeks.

3 weeks ago the sight in my left eye went all funny. I could see big black swirls spinning and twisting across my vision, they looked just like the dementors from Harry Potter. It seemed like I was looking through a tube in that eye and the colours had all changed as if I was wearing one side of a pair of dark brown tinted sunglasses, it was pretty scary. I have bad eyesight at the best of times with a prescription of -7.5 but I could normally see perfectly with contacts or glasses. Now even with my eyes closed I could see these dark swirly eye invaders, I was pretty shook let me tell you. 

These were signs of retinal tear which later detached this is when the retina at the back of the eye tears and comes away. It needs to be treated straight away for the best chance of preventing blindness so if you ever see flashes or dark swirls in your eye get to the hospital asap!  

I went to the Mater Eye A&E and the opthomologist confirmed the damage and I was brought to a laser room to get the retina lasered back in place. The machine wouldn't turn on though, so we were sent home to come back the next day. The nurse had given me eye drops to dilate my pupil, and I arrived home with one giant pupil looking like I was high as a kite on one side, the kids thought it was gas that I looked like the Terminator.

The eye dementors were having a great time with all their mates around now, it was getting very dark and I was staying as calm as possible. 

Back into hospital the next day and things took a turn. You know the start of James Bond when the baddie gets shot and the blood comes down over the screen? Well that image played out inside my eye in slow motion. Waves of red blood came down across my field of vision and the sight was blocked completely. You know that feeling when you're in a bad dream and want to cry and scream, but no noise comes out, that's exactly how I felt. Sitting in a waiting room full of people with Paul O Gradys For the love of dogs playing on the TV, I silently hoped and prayed that this could be fixed. When the nurse called my name and I had to go to the doctor I threw in a prayer that the labrador puppies on the TV would find lovely foster homes. I hope they did. 

The laser machine was working now, you put your head into a stand with a chin rest just like the one they do and eye exam in when you go to the optician. The haemorrhage made it difficult for the doctor to see inside though and I was picking up bad vibes already. The laser was SUPER painful and really bright, I had to keep the bad eye wide open and it was such a weird sensation. I could see and feel every little blast of the laser beam as it made contact, and the smell of burning eyeball is not one I'll forget in a hurry let me tell you. Yuk!


So, the laser didn't repair the damage because the doctor couldn't t see clearly through the blood to get to the damaged bit so I needed an operation. They put me to sleep and took all the fluid from my eyeball out, went to work on the retina and put in a gas bubble to hold everything in place. Isnt it amazing what they can do nowadays?! It took a few hours and I woke up with no sight in the eye at all, the op is called a vitrectomy and if ever need one you have to follow the instructions of the surgeon to the letter for the best chance of saving your sight.

For me, this means lying on my side totally still to keep the bubble in place, so I'm ike a big spirit level. There's pills and eye drops around the clock and I can only move for 10 minutes an hour . With four kids and a business to run, this was challenging but I had no choice. A couple of days in I sneezed and it felt like my eye would pop out of my head, scared the absolute bejaysus out of me.  Family and friends took over and the kids were taken care of. Food started arriving, flowers and well wishes and so many lovely messages from our amazing customers. A giant pregnancy pillow came from my sister in law and it was such a relief to be able to sleep, wedged in so I wouldn't move. I'd been terrified to fall asleep in case I turned onto my back and the bubble moved.

I was in alot of pain but the worst part was not being able to cuddle my kids. I got lots of recommendations for podcasts and audio books and I'm so grateful for anyone who had reached out to show support.


2 weeks post op and I've followed all the instructions. I'm so proud of my husband and the team behind Milk Bath keeping things going and I'm over the moon that the sight is improving, there's light and blurry images coming through over the top of the bubble now. The optical illusions are insane, I've blue fireworks going off inside my eye, the bubble is getting smaller and it floats and moves around, its starting to break into smaller bubbles that run around my eye and then join back into the big bubble. It's super nauseating and I've no depth perception at all now, so even pouring a glass of water or taking a step is very tricky. The aches and pains from lying on one side, the heart ache of having to cancel some major work projects, the frustration of being useless and being alone with my thoughts with no escape is immense.

Retina detachment, vitrectomy. Face of post op patient sandra hickey from Milk Bath, with gas bubble in eye after surgery

Sight after 10 days. 

But if it means the sight will come back I'm happy to wait it out, and I'm definitely taking this a sign I need to find better balance and make self care a priority! As a crystal loving, nature obsessed spiritual type, I visited my reiki practitioner and found that the healing that I need to do is not just in my eye. It really is a myth that someone can only either believe in science or spirituality. It's OK to trust in modern medicine and also be aware that energy plays a huge role in how our bodies function. It confuses me that the some people who don't recognise energy and vibrations as having an effect on us all, would never deny the existence of love, the most powerful force and an invisible energy itself. One of my best friends sent me some passages from her kinesiology books on eyesight problems and alot of it really resonated. She also sent a motherload of spag bol and a card from her 6 year old, so much love! And before you dismiss the kinesiology as woo woo, this friend of mine is employed by one of the biggest companies in the world in the HR dept, they recognise the importance of wellness and wellbeing through holistic methods. The reality is that we are learning so much more about the flow and power of energy and the effect it has on us every day. 


So I am staying positive and taking my medicine. I'm back in the hospital tomorrow to see the consultant to check how progress is going. I'm supervising the orders going out and I can't wait to be back in my little workshop sending self care packages out to you.

This is my sight at the moment and I'm so hopeful it will improve. 


I'm making it a priority to take a 10 minute bath twice a week myself to allow myself to relax and to heal. Its working wonders for muscle aches and restoring emotional balance. I'm hopefully getting the go ahead to get back to work soon and until then putting my faith in the team here to look after things . Thank you so much for reading and for your support  xxx Sandy xxx


Sandy Hickey is the founder of self care and wellness  brand Milk Bath