I’m not sure what I was expecting. Actually that’s not totally true. I wanted some level of assurance that restored vision was just around the corner. While what I learned was of some comfort, it didn’t offer any insight (pardon the pun) on a treatment regime designed to orchestrate improved vision.
In reality, it’s only been five weeks. The pain associated to my left eye began in the periphery around the eye. While the General will tell you I am adapt at taking an ostrich approach and keeping my head in the sand, that really isn’t true. It may be my initial response, but I don’t routinely ignore problems with the hope they will go away. Certainly, I was actively more responsible this time. We were in Washington D.C. and I located an urgent care center and went for medical help.
Thus began the journey that has proven to be a downhill painful slide to some extent. I keep telling myself that it’s no big deal. Everywhere I turn I see folks in the midst of real distress, consequently I feel guilty that this has risen to the level that I’m writing about it in my blog. I should be counting my blessings rather than identifying the semi-panic attack (full-blown is a more accurate description) I am beginning to experience related to my vision or lack thereof.
Actually, I remember when my level of anxiety first escalated. It was three weeks ago, but it seems longer . I remember thinking, “Is this what it’s like to go blind?” The assignment I was given seemed simple. How many times have you been for an eye exam and been asked to read the smallest line of letters you can identify on an eye chart? Don’t they all begin with a gigantic letter E? This time, if that’s true, I couldn’t see the letter E.
To make matters more disturbing, I was wearing my glasses. The discovery that jolted the alarm in my head was the realization that with my right eye covered, I couldn’t see anything with my left eye. Normally when I think “left”, I remember living in Midland. It wasn’t considered appropriate to even make a left turn in traffic. This time, concerning my vision, my anxiety rose to an all time high with the discovery that I couldn’t see the eye chart. Actually, I guess I could literally see the chart, but I couldn’t see it well enough to comprehend there were any letters on it. It was a blank slate.
When the eye doctor came in for the examination, he was focused on the size of a couple of stys on my left eye. They were painful. I explained that both eyes felt as if they were filled with sand. It’s the kind of irritation that can make a person crazy (okay, so I’m looking for an excuse). He quickly identified a treatment regime and was dismissing me with the words, “Come back to see me next week.”
Easy for him to say, I was more concerned about my inability to “see” than I sensed was on his radar screen. Consequently, I brought it up. He didn’t. I said, “I am really concerned that I wasn’t able to read anything off the eye chart with my left eye.” Dismissingly, he said, “Oh, that’s probably related to the medication I have you on. One of the side effects is that it blurs your vision.”
How many eye appointments later? How many failed attempts at reading the eye chart with my left eye? I don’t know, but there have been several. On Monday, I made the statement to the assistant conducting the first portion of the eye exam including the eye chart, “I hope that we don’t focus so much on the stys being treated that we ignore the fact that I’m going blind”.
I am fairly certain that she shared my comment with the eye doctor. He made the statement when he came into the room, “It seems like you’re vision has deteriorated since the last time you were here. You probably need to go back for a check-up with Dr. Martinez (he is the retina specialist that did my eye surgery). I’m going to take you off of the eye ointment you’re applying to your eye and take a different approach. We are going to treat the stys from the inside out through the use of oral medication”.
I asked, “If the pain and irritation I’m experiencing is related to the stys on my left eyelid, why do I have some level of discomfort in my right eye?” He then looked more closely at my right eye and said, “You have a small sty there as well.”
Before leaving I asked, “Should I go ahead and make an appointment with Dr. Martinez or will you do that for me?” He responded, “Let’s wait on that. Let me see you again in two weeks. If things get worse, call me.”
I didn’t ask, but I was a little concerned that the past three times I’d been in, they didn’t dilate my eyes. Isn’t that necessary to complete a thorough exam? I don’t know, but I was beginning to feel like my sense of urgency related to the need for resolution was falling short of expectations.
At least since the eye ointment was being discontinued, I had the hope that my vision would improve. By Wednesday, I expected to be fully free of the effects from using the eye ointment four times a day for the preceding two and a half or three weeks. I actually thought the eyes should be clear by Tuesday, but when that didn’t happen, I thought I’d give it until Wednesday. Wednesday turned into Thursday. There still was no improvement in the vision in my left eye.
I decided a different course of action was indicated. I called to request an appointment with the retina specialist who had done my eye surgery. He was out until the second week in August. I asked if someone else was available. I really thought a thorough exam was indicated.
Maybe I sounded desperate. Actually, I was. They agreed to work me in their schedule Friday morning. I went for a 9:00 a.m. appointment. They dilated both eyes. In predictable fashion, the eye chart experience highlighted the fact that I could see nothing with my left eye. In terms of thoroughness, I was confident they covered all the bases. They even took detailed pictures of both eyes before I actually saw the retina specialist.
The retina specialist used every gadget available to look carefully in both my eyes. The sense of his thoroughness was boosting my confidence. He was dictating his findings to his assistant for recording as he conducted the exam. It was music to my ears to hear, “The retina looks fine. The membrane over the macula is flat and attached securely….” He was highlighting that all the reasons necessitating my surgery in November were still resolved. I did not have any problems associated to the retina.
At the conclusion of the exam, he said, “I think your vision problem relates to the cornea. Your difficulty is not related to the retina. I am going to refer you to an eye specialist that specializes with the cornea”. I expressed relief to know it was not an issue related to the retina. However, I did ask, “Can issues with the cornea result in blindness?” The eye doctor’s response was stoic. He said, “I don’t know the answer to your question, but we both know that problems with the cornea can cause extremely blurred vision.”
I’m pleased to report that I have an appointment with the cornea specialist on Tuesday.
All My Best!