Saturday, March 23, 2013

I SEE THE LIGHT!!! ....literally


My life is far from uneventful.  And that (practically free) vacation I mentioned in my last post?  Is needed more than ever...

It's pretty common knowledge that my life pretty much revolves around reading, writing, and art.  Once upon a time, in my wee teenage years, I was about to embark to an art school for computer animation.  A mere 6 months or so before this I was diagnosed with an eye condition that (what I was told at the time) gave me a 50/50 chance of going blind.  Well I still went to school anyway giving the odds for my eyes my proverbial finger.  Why I came home from school that time isn't relevant, and I never really regretted the decision.  A few years later (as more was discovered about the condition) I was assured there are two different kinds and I would not be going blind after all.  Yay!

Since all of this, my life has taken a great many turns and I found that professionally art takes something of a back seat to my writing.  Well... maybe it's more riding shotgun.  But somehow (despite being told I'm not going blind after all) I was comforted with the idea that I was no longer going to try to make a career out of something so dependent on my vision.  You know...  Just in case.  Never really thought about how dependant writing was.

I've been trying to play it cool the last couple of months.  But something has been horribly wrong.  Maybe "play it cool" is the wrong phrase.  Denial.  Yeah, that seems a little more suiting.  Straight up denial.

It started with a crack... 












I find it funny how many parallels I can draw to Amy Pond's character in Dr. Who.  Here I am, staring at a crack only I can see, yet it's very real and is a precursor to bad things coming.  But as much as I would adore thinking that The Doctor was about to show up in my yard with an apple I gave him as a child, I knew that wasn't going to be the case.  For a good solid week (plus some) this squiggly black line was dead set straight across my right eye's field of vision.  It would move if I moved my eye.  I don't mean it would move as if it were some kind of sticker glued onto my eye and moving my eye took it with it, but it would move as if it were a flag on a pole with the wind shifting east to west and back instead.

Now I've had a couple of friends and family members go through "retinal detachments" in the past and like any proper OCD person obsessed with learning would,  I dug into research mode.  I love when new things come across my sponge-like mind.  This black crack is called a "floater" and is actually pretty common and not to be worried about.  All that's happening is the visceral fluids in the back of the eye begin to shrink as we get older and sometimes this leaves something of holes back there.  Sometimes they go away.  Sometimes they don't.  Some people just learn to live with them.  But sometimes, just sometimes, this shrinking fluid action causes the retina of the eye to pull and strain away from the eyeball until it tears/rips/detaches.

Seeing the Light
A couple of weeks after the "floater" went away, I found I had these sparkly shadows forming over my vision in that same eye.  It was as if a camera flash went off and the light imprint just never completely went away.  I didn't make the connection right away.  It was as if I just stood up too fast, and I figured it was just because of stress and such things.  And then it kept getting worse, until on occasion entire blocks of my vision were missing in that eye.  Several nights I'd wake up and half of the vision was just plain black.  I made an appointment afraid that the combination of floater and new lack of vision meant what it did for my friends.  Detached retina.

Let me explain the hazards of the detached retina as simply as possible.  The retina is responsible for (among other things) providing oxygen to your eye.  Think of it like the tube that connects the tank to the mouth piece when scuba diving.  No air, means no life.  Another example?  Ever put a rubber band around a finger and watch it turn purplish until mom yelled at you that your finger is going to fall off?  Something like that.

It isn't completely without hope of course.  In the 1980's, before we knew much about this, it usually meant you were out of luck and there wasn't much to do but pray to the archaic God of your choosing.  Today, we have the surgical advancements that allow us to fix the malady, first by inserting a small gas pocket behind the eye where it will push it back on, and then using a laser to, in essence, "seal" it in place.  It's time sensitive though and must be caught within a day or two.  (I'm paraphrasing and simplifying of course.)  Not the worst thing in the world, and relatively painless as far as surgery can go.  But for me, it couldn't come at a worse time.  Why?  You can't go in a pressurized cabin dramatically changing altitudes with a gas pocket sitting in your skull.  In fact you can't do much else but lay face down for weeks on end while it heals.

I was freaking out, and only furthering my own denial that anything was actually wrong.  I was NOT going to let this stop me for going to Japan!  Hell NO!  But I couldn't just let my eye fall out either.  (*Note that is hyperbole.  It wouldn't literally fall out.)  I made an emergency appointment at the doctor who wanted to see me immediately worried about that I could lose vision permanently as well.  When I got to the clinic I was assure that I do not have a detached retina.  I was going blind for a completely different reason.

The People of Glaucoma Welcome you!

I have what?  I'm not even 32 yet!  Glaucoma?  And how was this not seen coming?  No pun intended.  I wanted to hit someone.  Namely the assholes at the Walmart Corporation (back when I worked for them a couple years ago but I'm sure this hasn't changed) that decided a suitable substitution for providing an option for eye insurance was to give us a 20% discount off their store's eye centers, forcing us to use their sub-par services instead.   And when you need things like being referred to a specialist?  Or eye surgery?  IF the doctor there is educated enough to catch such things, you have NO recourse to pay.  The assistants working the pressure tests and color blind charts were rotating tires last week in the auto center, and the "doctor" is probably there because he flunked out of dental school.  My point is, the type of Glaucoma I have?  REALLY very painfully obviously catch-able if you know what to look for and shouldn't have come to this.

But, looking on the brighter side, I will still be able to go to Japan as the surgery I'm scheduled for is going to be fairly simple and should have me completely back on my feet after a couple of weeks.  In fact I shouldn't be too bad off after a couple of days.  I just can't put too much strain on my body physically for the more long term.  Classes are of course going to suck as I'm supposed to refrain from computer work... or reading....  or art....  or even watching tv......  shit.  Looks like I'll be going for a lot of walks?  As long as I don't look where I'm gonig :P

But of course as mentioned it could be worse.  The surgery uses a laser which will punch a hole in my eye where other people already have holes naturally to allow the pressure that's building to drain.  The doctor is willing to work with me on costs, and I seem to have several friends willing to help with chores, rides, and in "other ways" too....  I seem to have collected several offers for something that hadn't even remotely crossed my mind as it is just generally not part of my life style...  But hey.  Not saying I'm accepting...  But those walks may have the potential to be more entertaining than television after all?

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