Monday, December 10, 2012

My, myself, and eye...

Completely off-topic here, but I want to write about it. I hope to return to my usual running-related blather soon...

A few weeks ago the vision in my left eye got a little fuzzy. I've had bad eyes since I was a kid, but for the last several years I've been lucky to have only a few uveitis / iritis flare-ups in my right eye. But I try to be careful and aware of my eyesight. A day of slightly bleary eyes isn't a big deal ... but a few days starts to make me nervous.

So on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving I called to make an appointment. Given that it was Thanksgiving week, the office would be closed on Thursday and Friday, and my doctor was out of the office on the Wednesday, but I figured I would rather see a doctor who was familiar with my eyes, so made an appointment for Cyber Monday. (Yeah, great timing for an e-commerce person, I know...)

I wasn't that worried over the weekend. My eye was a little blurry, but not all the time. I did feel like my night vision was getting worse, but since more and more of my friends seem to have the same issue, I figured it might just be middle age. (ha ha ha).

But then at work on Monday my left eye was so blurry that I couldn't read unless I covered my left eye and used my right. Yeah, not a good sign at all. I drove home in the bright sunshine, frankly worried about how badly I could see in the flickering light. I dropped the car off at home and walked down to the doctor's office.

When the tech came in to measure my vision and my eye pressure, she seemed a little surprised with how bad my eyesight was. But when she took the pressure, she took it, looked at the instrument, took my pressure again, then ran from the room.

Uh-oh.

A few moments later Dr. Carroll came in and said, "Well, apparently you have an awesome eye." I told him I was a little surprised by the tech running out of the room, and asked what was up. He took a look, said my eye was really inflamed and the pressure was quite high. He prescribed three sets of medicines -- a steroid eye drop, a set of steroid pills, and some glaucoma meds he referred to, cheekily, as the "pressure drop".

I went away feeling scared, with an appointment to check in with him the next day. While walking to the pharmacy to pick up the drugs I called Doug to tell him what needed to be done before tomorrow -- and, me being me, broke down in tears. This freaked him out a bit, and he asked if I wanted to catch my breath and call him back. That was enough of a disconnect that I reset and just listed out three things he needed to take care of.

I spent the afternoon taking steroids (not the strength kind, mind you...) and having a pint or two of cider with Wil and Suz.

The next day I went back in and had my eyes checked again... the pressure had dropped from the 50s down to less than 10; a much better number. One more check in later in the week and my eyes were doing okay again, so the crisis seemed to have been averted.

By the way, I did ask whether running the Quadzilla could have had an effect on my eye, or whether I should stop running. I was assured that there was no connection, and that I could run and fly and endure a week in Vegas. (ha ha).

So I went to Vegas, land of recycled air, and survived. But over the weekend at home I felt like my left eye was a little fuzzy again. Now, whether it was tiredness or too many eye drops or what, I didn't worry too much. But today, Monday, it seemed fuzzy. Growing fuzzier. I sat in a meeting at 11am and thought that my eyesight was getting progressively worse... and I even felt a slight weight or pain in my eye.

As I left the meeting I turned to Doug and said, "My eye has gotten very blurry again -- I'm going to go to the eye doctor." And I packed up and left. 40 minutes later I was at the doctor's office, asking the front desk to let me in. Luckily, I came right after lunch and they were able to fit me in pretty quickly.

This time the tech didn't run from the room, but she did measure the pressure twice. And Dr. Carroll came in and said, "Well hi there." I said, "I didn't think you could bear not to see me for two weeks..." and then apologized for feeling like a hypochondriac, but that my vision was blurry and my eye hurt. He said, "Well, your pressure is way up again, so your instincts were completely correct."

I asked the pressure level -- this time in the mid 40s -- and said, 'Well, it's not as bad as last time."

Apparently what's happening is "closed angle glaucoma" -- where the drainage angle in my eye that should allow the aqueous humors to drain out has been blocked by my iris... a side-effect of the long-term damage my eye has been through. The aqueous humors cannot drain, which causes pressure to build up, which can harm the optic nerve and cause permanent damage. Neato.

He then told me that I needed to have a small procedure on my eye -- a laser iridotomy -- which will create a small hole in my iris so that the humors can drain. Not really sure how I feel about that, but I've read a lot and it seems that it's a pretty minor procedure. I asked if I would have any down time after the procedure, and Dr. Carroll said, "Not really. Your eye won't feel any worse than it does now... a bit hurty, with blurry vision."

I don't have my actual appointment yet, but I should be going in on Wednesday. Stay tuned for updates.


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