Life-saving trip to eye doctor
A visit to the optometrist turned out to be a life-saver for a Ramarama woman.
Sally, who does not want her surname published, was experiencing vision loss and headaches and having trouble using computers at work.
It was after she kept bumping into people during a shopping trip to Manukau that she decided to visit her optometrist at Specsavers Papakura.
More than a year later, the 59-year-old is on the hard road to recovery from an operation that removed a brain tumour the size of a golf ball from behind her left eye.
Sally's optometrist, Dhruv Mehta, picked up an abnormality in her eye exam and referred her for specialist medical attention.
An MRI scan revealed the tumour that was pressing on her optic nerve.
Sally was actually relieved to hear the news.
"I was happy because I knew what was wrong with me. It was a joy to know what was wrong," she says.
Surgeons removed the tumour but Sally is fighting a difficult post-operation battle.
She had a stroke during the operation and has had to relearn how to walk, talk and eat.
She takes 16 pills a day to control seizures, which have put her back into hospital two or three times since the operation.
Her most recent episode in April lasted 90 agonising minutes and resulted in four weeks in hospital.
"I only remember four days of April," she says.
Losing control of her body has been hard to deal with.
"The pain was the hardest and feeling frustrated because my body was different.
"It wouldn't do what I wanted it to."
The going has been tough but Sally is determined to get through the ordeal for herself and for her husband, Colin.
"We both love each other heaps and I want to stay alive to keep him happy."
Sally is also extremely grateful to her optometrist for his ability to detect that something was wrong.
Mehta has been an optometrist for five years and says he has come across situations like Sally's only three times so far.
It's important that people understand they shouldn't just go to an optometrist when they think they need glasses.
"Some eye conditions don't exhibit early warning signs before they begin to damage your vision so by the time you notice you have a problem, your eyes could already be irreparably damaged. That is why early detection is vital," he says.
Other health conditions like high cholesterol and diabetes can also be detected through eye tests, he says.