Friday, July 27, 2007

Doctor, my eyes ...

I realize that was a wee bit terse last night; that was pretty much all I could do.

The story is that the Rhyming Family went to the optometrist yesterday, armed with the appropriate vision-benefit forms, specially issued by the teachers' union benefit office.

The last time I had new glasses was four years ago, and since those were knocked onto the floor in a toddler-influenced incident in May, the left lens has a deep scratch in the middle of it, such that when I wear them there is a blurry patch in the middle of my vision on that side. I have been joking that it's like practicing for glaucoma. Ha. Ha. I've taken to using my old glasses instead--the prescription didn't change last time--but four years ago they were beat up enough that I wanted to replace them, so you can imagine how they're doing now. I'm constantly cleaning them only to find it makes little difference. It was time.

For her part, A. needed new glasses because Z. pulled off the earpiece of hers a few months back, and the paper-clip thing only lasts but so long. Plus her prescription sunglasses were destroyed in the accident. Airbag, you know.

A. went first while Z. and I took a little trip next door to Wawa for a whole wheat hoagie, but by the time we got back it was already my turn, so I assigned Z. to consult with A. on frames.

Somehow, it seemed like my exam was taking longer than A.'s. There was a lot of shining lights into my pupils. There was a lot of optometric tools coming up closer to the surface of my eye than was comfortable. Finally he wrote the words "Krukenberg's spindle" on the back of an ophthalmologist's card and told me about the pigment on my cornea, the different sizes of my optic nerves, the possibility of glaucoma.

Then I went out into the frame-choosing part of the office. A. was still choosing frames. I ate my hoagie and I urged A. to take frames just a little more hip than her old ones. I put the things back that Z. took off the shelf. I chose a pair of frames that I had urged A. to reject, in easily the most distracted frame-choosing move of my glasses-wearing life.

I came home, hit google, and fell apart. And Z. chose yesterday to have her first attack of the "why's:" "Why is mama crying?" "Why is she scared?" "Why is there something wrong with her eyes?" She kept climbing into my lap and I couldn't tolerate her there.

What is apparently happening to me is that the pigment is coming off of my irises and floating around the inside of my eyes. In my right eye, which is my worse eye, some of it is collecting at the bottom of my iris. I can see this in the mirror; the only reason I never saw it before is that I didn't know to look. Creepy as all of that sounds, it is apparently not a problem. The problem is that the pigment can block drainage channels in the eye so that pressure increases. And then you can wind up with glaucoma. It is genetic and permanent and degenerative, but it can be managed. So this doesn't mean I'm going to go blind. Most likely. But I don't know how far it's progressed, either. It's been a long time since I saw an optometrist I trusted. At any rate, I called for an appointment with the ophthalmologist this morning; because I'm a new patient they couldn't see me for two weeks, so now I have two weeks to cycle through deliberately forgetting/brooding/obsessive internet searches.

We went directly from breakdown to an outdoor concert with a college friend who's visiting town with her husband and ten-month-old (a different college friend from last week--I do seem to be having a summer full of college friends, which has been lovely). It's the kind of relationship where we keep each other in the loop on marriage invitations and birth announcements, but not the kind of relationship where I could blurt all of this out when I hadn't seen her in two years. Instead, I think I was completely and thoroughly distracted.

Not least by the simple act of seeing. The concert was at the Morris Arboretum, a lush and gorgeous place. My eyesight corrects to better than 20/20--I've always regarded it as a gift and a tool, something I could rely on. I barely took in the concert--it couldn't touch Pink Martini, that's for sure. Instead, I looked out at the crisp, distant leaves on the trees at the far side of the park, and up at the oceans of the moon as it rose, and checked to see if there were any patches I was missing. Not so far. Not so far.

* * * * *

This morning:

Z. clambers into our bed and over Mommy.

Z.: Is it wake-up time?

S.: Hi boo, you are my favorite, favorite boo.

Z.: And you are my mama! And you love me even when you're crying.

S.: That's right.

Z.: And you don't have anything in your eye anymore.

S.: Oh, sweetie.

Z.: And you're not sad.


Magpie said...

Damn. Thanks for clarifying the inscrutable post. I hope the ophthalmologist has better news for you.

What's (who's?) Pink Martini? Would I like it/them?

And Z. is just what you need. :)

Jenny Davidson said...

Good luck with this.

I went to the optometrist recently for the first time in five or six years (had only ever had that one previous visit, frankly, since childhood, not having needed glasses in earlier part of adult life); everything checked out fine, but it reminded me that actually this eye health stuff is really a crucial thing to take care of, our eyes matter to us really in many respects more than (for instance) our teeth! If I were you I would call back the ophthalmologist's office to see if you can keep checking back in for a cancellation that would let you see the doctor sooner--it's going to be super-nerve-racking waiting around for that... It's good that you've posted about this, may get a couple readers in to see the eye doctor sooner rather than later while some problem can still be nipped in the bud. "Managed" is not an attractive word, but physical ailments that can be managed often hardly affect your quality of life, good chance it will all be JUST FINE, so take it easy...

E. said...

S.: This is really not as bad as it may seem. It sounds like the doctor's lack of communication skills made it all a lot scarier than necessary.

J. had glaucoma of the kind you're describing (drainage blockage, thus pressure build up). It was caught early and is treated with drops. Not a big deal. When the eye doctor discovered it, J. already had glaucoma (i.e. a high pressure reading in the eye), but no deterioration of the optic nerve. It sounds like they've caught your situation quite a bit earlier than that. The condition is, in any case, very treatable, and, even if it goes untreated, it takes a long time to cause vision loss after the pressure has built up. Which it hasn't, in your case.

To quote from the University of Michigan's Kellogg Eye Center webpage:

Pigmentary glaucoma is a condition that typically affects young, nearsighted, Caucasian males. This condition is characterized by the iris bowing backwards, and coming into contact with the support structures that hold the lens in place. This position disrupts the cells lining the back surface of the iris containing pigment, and results in a release of pigment particles into the drainage system of the eye. This pigment can clog the drain and can lead to an increase in eye pressure. This form of glaucoma responds well to laser treatment.

In any case, the fact that they noticed your pigment detaching is actually a very good thing. Glaucoma only causes vision deterioration if untreated over a long period of time. Because there are few symptoms, most people don't notice until they already have optical nerve damage. All they have discovered in your case is a risk factor for glaucoma, not even glaucoma itself. All you need to do is keep an eye on it (pun unintended), and everything will be fine.

The scratch on your glasses? That's a symptom of having a toddler. Not the same condition at all.


S. said...

Magpie, I sent you a link to my post on Pink Martini! And, yes, Z. is coming through like a charm right now--a happy turnaround from her recent anti-Mama mood.

Jenny, yes, I never thought of my eye exam as having any purpose other than updated my prescription. If it wasn't that I think I'm going to wind up with regular ophthalmic appts out of this I would resolve to go to the optometrist yearly.

E. thanks for the link and the quote. As I (newly) understand it, intraocular pressure is now considered a separate diagnosis from glaucoma, which is specifically damage to the nerve.

Yes, it is very good to have found it before it was affecting my vision.

Lo said...

a) Stay the hell away from Dr. Google. I know it's hard, and I don't follow my own advice, but really....a doctor once told me I had "notalgia." That Googles to be a degenerative spine disease but he just meant inexplicable itching. I hope the new dr. can give you options and a better outlook.

b) A hipper A.? I'll have to check flickr.

ppb said...

I love the tline that the scratch on the glasses is a sign that you have a toddler.

Best to you in the doctor thing. I totally agree about calling back to see if there are vacancies.

S. said...

Lo, I know! You're asking yourself how could she get any hipper? She's already setting the standard! :P When the new frames come I'll let you know.

ppb, yeah, parenting has been rough on the eyewear.

Phantom Scribbler said...

Funny, the last time I had new glasses was right after LG was born -- I'd left them on the floor for reasons that seemed obvious at the time, and somebody stepped on them. Of course.

Mr. Blue has had to replace at least two pairs of glasses because of his willingness to allow them to be used as teething objects.

All this to say that I heartily agree with E's last statement!

(Also in agreement with her other statements re: the length of time an eye condition must go untreated before glaucoma develops. Mr. Blue's grandma, whom I mentioned in the email, was in her mid 90s before her vision was really affected. As she would have said, in her thick Bronx accent, "So. You should live so long!")

Z. is so sweet it's heartbreaking.

S. said...

Phantom, this is the same kid who has been greeting me with "don't come in here!" for about the last month. But the last two days she's been a charmer.

Mr. Blue let two pairs go that way? I hope your vision coverage is better than ours!

Co said...

I'm sorry this happened. You certainly don't need another worry.

I agree with what others have said. Try, if possible, to avoid that quack Dr. Google. And check for cancellations at the real doctor's office...ya never know. I hope you get some resolution soon.

niobe said...

I manage to destroy my impossibly-expensive glasses all by myself.

The information about treatment sounds encouraging to me. I hope it does to you too.

(un)relaxeddad said...

I haven't got much to add other than that I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you. And I so agree about Dr Google.

S. said...

Okay, okay! I'm not sure I'm capable of staying away from Google entirely, but I promise I'll try not to leap to extreme conclusions. I'm feeling a little more balanced and patient about it, now that it's two days later. Or maybe just coming round to being happy to ignore it for a few days after being absorbed by it.

I am really touched and grateful by everyone's concern ... and now I'm going to go and repeat myself at greater length in a post.

Jody said...

Ooo, I have a couple of Pink Martini CDs. You saw them in CONCERT?

I'm glad they've caught this early, and I hope you can stay away from Dr. Google until that appointment....

S. said...

Jody, here's the link I sent Magpie: