Saturday, March 10, 2007

I Hate The Drops

Yesterday morning.

Walking into my eye doctor appointment, I have only one concern-- getting out in time to pick up Evan from her preschool class at the Y.

So naturally, after taking a seat in the exam chair, I ask the technician:

"Do you need to dilate my pupils this visit?"

"Yes, we do."


However, when I explain why I need to leave in an hour, she says:

"No problem, we'll have you done in plenty of time."


Anyhow, after reading and reciting countless rows of letters-- both near and far away -- we discover that I need stronger prescription lenses (man, I'm getting old). And then, it's time for the drops.

I hate the drops.

(But I gotta say, it's a whole lot worse watching Joseph get them.)

We begin with the numbing solution-- so she can check my "eye pressures."

A seasoned pro, she squirts the stuff in both eyes so fast, I hardly know what's happening.

Then, picking up something that looks much like an oversized lancing device, she steps forward and "pokes" the thing at my right eye.

"Okay, let's do this again," she tells me, "and this time try not to hold your breath-- that increases the pressures."

"Oh-- huh. Well, uh... " I begin tentatively, not wanting to sound like a wimp. "What ever happened to the machine with the blue light?"

"Do you prefer that? Well, I think this is so much easier. You just have to relax and breathe."

Amazingly, I do-- and she gets the test done on the second try.

Next, she picks up a small dropper filled with the dilating solution, and before I can brace myself, the drops are in.

"Wow," I tell her with a smile, "you're good."

And now I'm alone.

Waiting for the eyes to dilate, thumbing through an old issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I sit and wonder how Evan is liking her new class, and how Joseph is doing on that spelling test I helped him prep for at breakfast.

Dr. C finally steps in.

We chat about the family, my eyes -- the whole time, I'm thinking:

Man, I wish she was a pediatric ophthalmologist-- Joseph would really like her.

Then she has me lean into the chin and forehead rests in front of me, as she looks into my dilated pupils.

She does this for a long time, saying nothing.

"Sandra, why don't you sit back. I'm going to take a look inside your eyes using this," she says, picking up a rectangular shaped device that's a little larger, but flatter than Joseph's insulin pump. She then pushes a button on the side of my chair-- causing it to rise a couple of feet.

Hmm... she's never done this before.

While holding the device close to my right eye (and shining its built-in beacon of a light into that eye), the doc has me look up, high to the right, down, etc... repeating the exam with the other eye.

Once finished, she lowers my chair, takes a seat herself, makes some notes-- and then begins rifling through my file.

"You came in last year, didn't you?" she asks-- obviously not finding the results from my previous appointment.

"Sure did," I tell her.

"Wait-- here we go," she says, holding up a piece of paper. For a few moments, she quietly studies its contents.

Finally, the doc turns to me, takes a breath and in a serious tone, asks:

"Sandra, is there any history of glaucoma in your family?"

"Excuse me? I- I don't know... why?"

"Now, this is probably nothing to worry about, but I'm seeing some optic nerve swelling."


That's all I can say.

"Sandra, I'd like to have you go upstairs and have a photo taken while your pupils are still dilated-- so we have a baseline.

"And then I want you to come back in three months-- I'd like to do a visual field test, and another dilated exam. Also, I think it might be a good idea to get a corneal thickness measurement. I'll write all of this down and you can make these appointments before you leave."

"Okay... "

She's writing, and I'm just staring at the back of her head.

"Dr. C-- " I say, finally thinking of a question, "which eye has the swelling?"

"Both of them."


I blink back a few tears.

"Now, Sandra," she begins, noting the look on my face, "I don't want you to worry-- I'd just rather be cautious than not. When you come back in, we can go over all of the results that day. In the meantime, try not to worry."

Swallowing down what little saliva I have left, I ask--

"If it's glaucoma, how is it treated?"

"You would have to use eye drops to keep the pressures down."

And then I don't ask her anything else.

Because I'm just too stunned to think of another question.

After getting the photos taken and scheduling my appointments, I quickly make my way out of the building, across the parking lot and into my car.

Thanks to those damn drops and the bright sun hitting my wide-open pupils, my eyes are killing me.

And my mind is racing.

Later, after talking on the phone with one of my sisters and asking her if there's any glaucoma in our family-- she calls back and says many wonderful, reassuring things.

She also tells me that one of my uncles may have had glaucoma. And my mother's mother.

And possibly, my dad's sister.



Rachel said...

Man oh man. I hope it's nothing, but if it's not, glaucoma is so treatable today if caught early.

I hate the light thing. I've had the pressure tests since I turned 18 (because my extreme near-sightedness puts me at risk) and then they started the light thing with my type 2 diagnosis (since, of course, that's another risk factor). It makes my eyes water.

Btw, I was first taken to a peds ophth when I was a wee one, but then my parents switched me to a "grown-up" ophth because he was better suited for my eye problems. I never thought it was strange...

Scott K. Johnson said...

Hey Sandra,

Thinking of you as you go through this. It's real easy for a doctor to say "Don't worry about it" - but what do you do for the next three months?

Please don't do the google self-diagnosis thing. That is not a reliable source and you will find lots of crap.

Take care of yourself and don't worry (there I go eh?).

Megan said...

Here's hoping it's nothing, Sandra. ***hugs***

Minnesota Nice said...

Six of one thing and half a
f--king dozen of another. Grrrrrrrr!!
I agree with Scott, don't Google anything.
Drs are overly cautious because they have to be, with malpractice liability and such. It's probably good that she's covering all the bases.
Don't you just love it whan they say that your pupils will be back to normal size in a couple hours? Mine always take at least half a day.

Nina said...

I am going to keep you in my prayers. I hope you don't worry yourself too much about this for the next three months.

Anne said...

I had to get my eyes checked last week, and I hate it too. Every time I go in they have to do the visual field test, too, and I used to have to go in every 3 months after my brain surgery.

Try not to worry too much, even if there is something there they got such a good jump on it that I'm sure you'll be fine!

Vivian said...

I am not even sure what to say. You are always in my thoughts and prayers. Think of it this way, we spend a lot of time wishing docs would use more prevention rather than dealing with the end result. You have actually found one who does.

Andrea said...

Yup, I just went through this too. As a matter of fact, my appointment was this past Wednesday. I have to admit that even though I wasn't too afraid of having the tests done, I do get a little nervous right before, thinking about what the tests may reveal. Everything starts running through your head... all those wonderful (not) what-ifs. But I knew that it was important to know what the situation is regardless.

I definitely can understand that you are a little nervous about what the doctor said, but I think that it's better to know and deal with the situation than to just let things go. It does sounds like you doctor is being extra cautious, by the sounds of it, but I think that's smart. Too often I think doctors let things go, which end up leading to problems down the line. I don't think that will be your case, seeing that your doctor is keeping close tabs on things which is great.

It's quite possible that it will turn out to be nothing major. That could very well be the case... so keep that in mind. Hopefully, the extra checks on your eyes and all that will just give you peace of mind that things are ok.

I know it's hard, but try not to get yourself stressed out about it. Whatever happens, you'll deal with it and you'll be ok. Trust that.

hang in there.

Bernard said...


This stinks. I'll keep you in my prayers.

In the meantime, stay away from Google. It will only cause you needless worry.

Chrissie in Belgium said...

er3I could say don't worry and you will get through it and there is ligh at the end of the tunnel, but getting to the end of that tunnel is just so dam UNPLEASANT. I am sorry for what you have to go through. I DO understand. My next appointment is at the very end of March. Even if one can say you are not alone, we all ARE alone sitting in that examination chair. Chin up Sandra.....

Chrissie in Belgium said...

Where did the "er31" text come from rather than the intended I, and OK maybe I didn't push hard enough on the t button when i typed "light", but I DID check what I wrote BEFORE I sent it off.... Where do all these errors come from?

MileMasterSarah said...

This sucks. Every time a doctor tells me that something might be wrong im on pins and needles until we discern if there is something wrong or not. hang in there, and try not to be too stressed. Maybe pick up a nice wine tonight? Relaxation should help get you through these next few months.

Shannon said...

I hope everything works out fine. It's so treatable, but scary nontheless.

I just couldn't get over poking your eye with a lancing thing. Man oh man.

Kerri. said...

Sandra, I can imagine what you're feeling, to a certain extent. I'm sorry you're going through this. As a sidenote, my uncle was diagnosed with glaucoma a few years ago (he's in his early 40's) and was very frightened. He's been using the eye drops, though, and hasn't experienced much change for the worse at all. The medication has definitely kept the condition at bay. Hopefully that provides a teeny bit of comfort, knowing that even the "worse case" scenario can still be managed okay.

Thinking of you.

Nicole P said...

Aw man. That sucks, Sandra.

I know you must be scared, but as everyone has pointed out here - glaucoma is treatable today. That's more a statement of fact than it is something I think might make you feel better - really, I don't have anything that'll help with that.

Whatever it is that's going on with your eyes - I'll be thinking of you. :)

Penny said...


When I read this part, "I blink back a few tears." I started doing the same thing.

I'm so sorry. I know you must be scared to death. Hopefully, it will be nothing. And, if it is something, at least it was caught early.

((((big hug))))

Jamie said...

Argh! Blogger is eating my comments!

I'm so sorry you're going throught this Sandra. It is treatable though and it sounds like your doctor is right on top of this (if it does, indeed, turn out to be glaucoma).

Hang in there - I'll be thinking of you.

SteelMagnolia said...

I just want to say that after reading your blog I must tell you..My mom is a juvenile diabetic since age 12 and she is now 71 and doing great. Little bit of retinapothy(laser treatments helped). I went through many insulin reactions with her and could recognize them at age 4 (my words: my mommie is acting funny again! It's always in the eyes. Best to you and yours. Donna in Miami

Kris said...

I'm so sorry. I know it's very worrisome waiting to see what will happen. I just wanted you to know you're in my thoughts and prayers. I hope everything turns out to be ok.

Lou said...

Having been diagnosed with Gloucoma about 2001 to 2002, I too freaked out as it has no history in my family. I have become an expert at the drops and am used to them.

You will see a big difference in your pressures when using them, also make sure that you read labels on other medicines to make sure they don't counteract or conflict with the original drops. I use Xalatin and have found it to be the most comfortable and least likely to have side effects.