I've been having some headaches lately.
And well, my eyes have been buggin' me.
So I call the eye doctor's office on Friday and tell them I think I might be having some trouble with my new eyeglass prescription.
I also mention the optic nerve swelling that they discovered at my last visit -- a month and a half ago.
A few hours later, I'm sitting in an exam chair-- face forward, chin and forehead resting against supports.
"Sandra, I don't think the pain you're feeling is coming from your new eyeglasses," Doctor C tells me. "They match your prescription, and you're testing 20/20 while wearing them."
I can't see her face as she says these things-- the room is dark, and she's looking at me through a large microscope-like contraption, while flashing a light into each of my eyes.
After a few moments, she has me lean back and out of the supports so she can put in some anesthetic drops.
"I'm just going to check your pressures."
Soon a bright blue light is moving first toward my right eye, then the left.
"Now, just keep your eye wide open," she says.
But I can't stop myself from blinking that left eye.
"I'm sorry," I tell her, "I really hate it when anything comes near my eyes."
"It's all right, Sandra," she says gently, "you're doing just fine."
After a few more attempts, she finally gets a reading.
"Well, your pressures look good."
Then she gets up and -- without saying a word -- turns on the light, sits back down in her chair, and starts writing.
Finally, she puts down her pen and turns to face me.
"Sandra, I'm going to schedule an appointment for you with a surgical ophthalmologist."
"Excuse me? ... a what?"
"Your eyes have narrow angles, and we need to have a surgeon assess whether treatment is indicated."
"Narrow angles, wait a minute-- what exactly does that mean?"
"Well, it means the angle between your iris and cornea is narrow-- and I'm afraid that places you at high risk of developing narrow-angle glaucoma-- a disease that can rapidly lead to vision loss."
She then adds quickly:
"But if it's caught early, it's very treatable."
"Caught early- wait-" I stammer, "how is it treated?"
"Using a laser," the doc says calmly, "a surgical ophthalmologist puts a hole in your iris-- this allows the fluid to drain."
"Yes-- it's very small."
"In my iris."
I try to swallow.
But my mouth is suddenly bone dry.
"Sandra, it's an out-patient procedure that is very straight forward."
"Doctor C," I begin, my voice a little shaky, "do you remember when I tried to do contacts a few years ago? When I failed miserably because I just COULD NOT STAND anything touching my eyes. Well, the idea of a laser scares the hell out of me."
"Don't worry-- really."
"Is there any other treatment for this-- like drops?" I ask, helplessly.
"I'm sorry-- no."
"Why didn't you see this thing a month and a half ago? I was just here."
"Sandra, your eyes were dilated before I examined you-- it's something I can only pick up before a dilated exam."
For a moment, I don't say anything.
"Now, if it turns out that I do need the laser surgery, then is that it? Does it take care of the problem?"
"Would the surgery also address that other issue you found with my optic nerve?"
"No, Sandra. Those are two different things."
"Are there any risks involved with this laser treatment?"
"A surgical ophthalmologist will go over that with you in more detail-- but yes, as with any procedure, there are risks. But it's far riskier not to have it done."
So together, we head out to the front desk-- and within minutes discover that none of their specialists has an opening for several weeks.
"We need her to be seen-- and no later than two weeks out," says my doc to the receptionist, who then turns to me and says: "I'll call you early next week with an appointment date and time."
So that's it.
Now if I'd posted about this over the weekend, my tone would have bordered on the hysterical-- seeing as how a cursory googling of the words "narrow angles" turned up some mighty scary stuff.
(Not to mention the fact that this image from A Clockwork Orange kept rolling around in my head all weekend -- because I CAN NOT imagine any other way they're gonna keep my eyes open if I need this laser surgery.)
But I've had a couple of days to get a hold of myself.
And this morning, I phoned another ophthalmologist's office-- one who specializes in glaucoma.
I see her tomorrow afternoon.
When hopefully, I'll find out that this is all some kind of mistake.
Monday, April 30, 2007
I've been having some headaches lately.