A graph line erratically hits highs and lows with bandaids patching it together.

Healing Is the Sum of Many Parts

I’m not better, but I’m better. That’s what I normally say when a friend or family member asks me how my eyes are doing now. What I mean is that while I’m not completely healed, I have experienced healing–both physically and emotionally. There is no cure for chronic dry eye, but symptoms can be managed. We can also explore the root causes of our dry eye and make changes based on those root causes. And I have done both, explored the “why” behind my dry eyes and treated my symptoms.

Improving my dry eye

Today, while I am not cured, my eyes have far improved from what they were two and a half years ago. At that time I was waking up every hour putting in drops at night, and during the day, I was putting in drops every few minutes. My eyes felt dry, gritty, and achy, and I didn’t know how I could keep on living like that. Each day was a struggle, and I felt scared and hopeless.

And now, I am in a stable place. I can sleep through the night. I have a treatment routine down. And my days are no longer preoccupied with doing anything to make my eyes feel better. I am enjoying life.

Big and small changes

So how did I get from point A to point B? How did I go from thinking about my eyes constantly to thinking about all the normal things I should be thinking about? Well, healing is the sum of many parts. I have written before about the treatments that most helped me (Xiidra and Cequa eye drops, autologous serum tears, intense pulsed light, the Quantum device, Manuka honey eye gel, and diet changes). But there are many other things I’ve tried as well that I think have benefitted me in small ways. And I believe that all of those changes, big and small, have added up over time.

Take a change in diet, for instance. I’ve learned a lot over the past couple of years about how what we eat can affect our health. However, when we make changes to our diet, it can take time to see changes to our bodies. Oftentimes, we don’t see the benefits overnight. We may see positive results in some areas pretty quickly, like less gastrointestinal issues or immediate weight loss. But healing of complex systemic issues can take a long time, months or even years.

I’ve heard dieticians talk about how, when we remove processed and inflammatory foods and replace them with nutrient-dense foods, healing begins happening on the cellular level. Healing, over time, is the result of millions of cells functioning more efficiently. It’s going to take time for that healing to begin to show, specifically on the skin. We heal from the inside out, so skin issues are often the last to resolve.

Healing our eyes

I think about that same concept with all of the treatments that I’ve tried for my eyes. Just like healing our bodies can be the sum of many, many cells functioning more efficiently, healing our eyes can be a result of the combination of many components. Quantifying how one particular treatment helped or added to my healing is difficult because the results have been slow, yet they have also been substantial.

I mentioned some of the bigger changes that I have made above, but I’ve also made many smaller changes: I threw out my old pillows and bought new ones to avoid allergens that might affect my eyes. I changed my sleeping position so that I don’t always sleep on one side. I changed my makeup, toiletry, and cleaning products. I clean my eyelids and lashes daily. I don’t take allergy medications or decongestants anymore because they can be drying. All of these big and small things, together, have made a difference. The process just takes patience.

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