Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Vision Thing

I walked down 75th Street this morning and saw a blind man heading toward me swinging his cane.

Had it been any other time, I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention to him, other than to stay out of his way and offer him help if he needed it.

But today I had an appointment with an eye doctor and vision—or the potential loss of it—was preying on my mind.

I’ve been very lucky. At 55 years old, I’m still not wearing glasses. I’ll admit I do a good deal of squinting and I view print in three stages: small, very small, and hell, no.

I knew I’d have to give in at some point and get glasses, but I was hoping to put it off until…forever.

But last week I started seeing bright flashes of light in the corner of my eye whenever I turned my head quickly. I tried to ignore them but it was scary having these lightning bolts going off around my head.

Then two days ago the floaters showed up and refused to leave. They’re like hairs or an eyelash only you can’t wipe them away.

I raced to the Internet in a fit of hyper-hypochondria and found several possible explanations for my symptoms, including a detached retina and a warning sign for a stroke.

All of the descriptions ended with the same advice: go to an eye doctor immediately. So on the day before Thanksgiving, I was on my way to the ophthalmologist.

The eyeball grief would’ve been enough own it’s own, but I’ve also been having problems with chronic fatigue and, of course, my aching back.

I saw the back specialist yesterday and he said that I’m not responding to treatment fast enough. He set up an appointment for me with the clinic’s pain management expert, where we will discuss the possibility of yours truly getting steroid injections.

Jeepers Creepers

And, of course, as I walked along Park Row yesterday, I couldn’t help but suddenly notice all the people using canes and walkers. When it comes to misery, my vision is 20/20.

I was feeling so depressed, so flipping old last night. Wallowing neck-deep in self-pity, I didn’t want anything to do with Thanksgiving because I wasn’t feeling very thankful at all, thank you very much. Can’t work out, can barely read or watch TV, what the hell is left for me?

“I feel like an old car,” I whined to one of my co-workers.

But then I had an eye opening experience. Before I left my home, I received phone calls from both my sister and my auntie wishing me well and requesting that I call them as soon as I got out of the doctor’s office.

The ophthalmologist had me sit in a chair and went to work on me with equipment straight out of Flash Gordon. After putting drops in my eyes, he had me reading eye charts and rolling my eyeballs up, down, back, and around.

Apparently I don’t have a detached retina and the floaters are a result of age—just like my back trouble. My brain will eventually learn to ignore the floaters. The back trouble is another matter...

And better yet, my doctor doesn’t think I need glasses. Talk about an early Christmas present. I skipped out of his office, promising to come back for a check-up in four weeks.

The outside world was blurry and glowing thanks to the eye drops, but I managed to call my sister and auntie to tell them the good news.

They sounded as relieved as I was and I realized that I had been blind to my good fortune.

I had a lot to be thankful for and it had nothing to do with turkey, stuffing, or endless helpings of pumpkin pie. I have people who love me, who care about me, and that was enough to bring tears to these tired, old eyes of mine.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.


Calamity Jen said...

Glad your check-up went well. The internet is a wonderful source of panic when it comes to self-diagnosis. I've freaked myself out on more than one occasion.

Rob K said...

You're so right, Jen. I had a doctor who used to complain about too much information on the Internet.