Wednesday, June 8, 2011

You Blink, and Next Thing You Know There’s a Needle in Your Eye

I saw the ophthalmologist yesterday for my regular check-up which is, roughly, every four months. My right eye continues to be slightly troubling, with a cataract across the middle and fluid under the cornea. The fluid keeps building up from tiny, tiny (well, everything in the eye is tiny . . . I think I've written that before . . .) hemorrhages in the eyeball capillaries, and as I am absolutely worthless at keeping up with my fluid-reducing eyedrops (a total of 7 prescribed per day, from two different bottles, and I have to wait at least 2 minutes between drops . . . it's a math problem I've never even remotely worked out—I think I've had 7 drops maybe three days total), at best my eye has been stable and at worst, the fluid builds up more.

I like my ophthalmologist's office. The waiting room is full of the elderly (because you're supposed to be in your 80s when you develop eye-issues like mine, and it's 10:30am when I'm there, so you're supposed to be retired); there's free coffee (although I am usually still nursing my own from home); and there's a flat screen TV cycling through a series of vaguely disgusting informational videos about varyingly disgusting eye conditions and their remedies. The office is also the most efficient medical facility I have ever had the pleasure to be associated with. Which is to say, I actually experience pleasure when I'm there, simply because the efficiency is so satisfying to participate in.

Yesterday's visit had the added bonus of a small world encounter: Holly, one of the techs, and I were chatting about what I'd been doing lately, which was not going to someplace fabulous like Necker Island, but was assisting in deck replacement. "Oh, my grandfather needs his deck replaced—I was going to see about doing that this summer," she told me. "I fell through it last winter and really bruised my leg. He lives up in the San Juans, and it was really snowy for a little while this winter."

My ears perked at the mention of the San Juans.

"He's about 80," she went on, "and I've been warning him to be careful. We might need to get a barge to get the lumber out there, though," she mused.

"Oh!" I said. "He lives on one of the islands not on the ferry line! Which one?"

"Crane Island," Holly said dubiously. No one has ever heard of Crane Island.

"Your grandfather is not Tom Temple, is he?" I asked, pretty sure the answer was no, but having to ask all the same, as Tom is the brother of A in Idaho, of K&A, my third parents and owners of the Horse Paradise that I am lucky enough to take care of on occasion, and Tom lives on Crane Island (along with, it turns out, Holly's grandfather and two other families. Crane Island is a stone's throw off Orcas and very small).

"No," said Holly, "but I know Tom Temple! My grandpa's boat engine wasn't working once when we were up to visit and Tom ferried us across to Orcas in his boat!"

Yep, we nodded, it's a small world (and the more I learn about it, the more I think Tom Temple is at the center).

I went back out to the waiting room while my eyes dilated (which really messes up near seeing but doesn't get in the way of far seeing, so they let you drive recklessly away from your appointments) and learned about cataract surgery and astigmatism . . . over and over . . . the video seemed to be missing some of its sections yesterday . . . and then was called back into a treatment room. Dr Myers came in to look at my eyes—brisk, businesslike, but also, I've found, with a good sense of humor—and told me the fluid was a little worse than last time, and she'd like to try a steroid treatment again. Would I like to do it that day, or schedule it for another time? A brief vision of my calendar for the next two months flashed across my mind, wide swaths of time and days completely blacked out, as if the censors had gotten after a war-time letter full of army secrets with a jumbo Marks-A-Lot.

"Oh, let's do it today," I said.

"Okay," said Dr Myers. "I'll be back."

A different tech was in the room with me now, and suddenly I had a realization. "Wait a second," I said. "This is going to be another needle to the eyeball, isn't it."

"We like to call it a 'micro-injection'," she said.

"But that's really just a shot to the eyeball."

"Yep, it is," she said. We were both laughing about how utterly awful this sounds, and I reminisced about how you really can't close your eye when they're trying to put a needle in it, as I learned the last time. Men, she told me, pass out way more often than women, by the way, when their eyes get poked. "I'll go get a couple things ready and check with your insurance company and I'll be right back," she said, and zipped out of the room.

Within 3 minutes—not enough time to work up even a whiff of an anxiety attack—she and Dr Myers had both zipped back in, and within the blink of an eye—or rather, the much not-preferred non-blink of an eye—the steroid was injected and I was free to go, due back in a week (another swipe of the Marks-A-Lot) to make sure I haven't developed glaucoma.

I'm feeling just fine today, aside from the brief sting of the antibiotic drops that have been added to my regimen for 7 days (those I am being SURE to administer); and the dark floater that has been careening around my field of vision (I was told to expect this), occasionally causing me to bat at my head, trying to wave away non-existent gnats.

The cataract is actually smaller. I didn't know they could do that, and I'm happy to hear it.

Clarity of vision—that what this whole journey's about, right?


Anonymous said...

Being the dark, twisted soul that I am, I remember laughing like a hyena in your previous post about being injected in the eye. Why is that so funny? I don't know, but thanks for making me smile about something that is horror-film-like (perhaps that's why I laughed?)

Also, thanks for the insight (!) about what they do to your eyes at the eye-doctor. I was driven into by a man driving out of his eye doctor, and couldn't believe that he hadn't seen my red car right in front of him. Now I know why.

I'm glad that clarity of vision is returning to you ...

CMT said...

Yes, the eye doctors--flagrant disregard for normal mores of genteel, functional society.