Monday, April 30, 2007

This Is Ridiculous

I've been having some headaches lately.

And well, my eyes have been buggin' me.

A lot.

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."

Thank. God.

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."

"A hole?"

"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.


Scott K. Johnson said...

Hey Sandra,

Thinking of you.

If Joseph is any indication of the strength in him mom & dad, you'll do just fine with whatever they throw at you.

Nicole P said...

I'm thinking of you Sandra. Please keep me posted.

Rachel said...

Thinking of you, definitely. absolutely.

Minnesota Nice said...

Sandra, if it comes to needing a procedure, ask for general anesthesia - I'm sure you won't be the first. I had my vitrectomy under general anesthesia and it was nothing - woke up and it was over and I went home an hour later. I'm sure the doc will have encountered very anxious patients before and knows how to deal with them. Heck, the even put people out for "full sedation" denistry.
Very glad you're getting a second opinion. An accurate diagnosis is the first step.
You can do whatever you need to.
Take care.

Tom said...

Sandra, please keep us all posted about this. I'll be thinking of you, even after this all gets sorted out. By the way, I hate things coming close to my eyes too. :-(

Johnboy said...

Glad you got this quick appointment, Sandra. The d-force is with you. Keep us posted.

Vivian said...

How awesome that you are so on top of things, catching things early is vital. Please know you have tons of support and prayers coming your way. You are one of the strongest and together people I know, this eye thing doesn't stand a chance against you. =) Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

I know it's scary, but not an uncommon procedure. I would feel the same way. Don't even think about it. Just do it. Get it over with as quickly as possible. Only thing you can do really. Not fun, but I am sure you will be just fine. Everyone who reads your blog will be rooting for you!

Penny said...


Kerri. said...

Thinking of you, Sandra. I hope everything is okay. (((hugs)))

art-sweet said...

Crapolicious. I'm so sorry to hear about this Sandra, and will be thinking of you and hoping they figure out this is just a big mistake.

p.s. I am the exact same way with eyes. I can't even watch Pili put her contacts in.

Makes the annual eye exam (coming up, ugh) lots o' fun.

Major Bedhead said...

I second the suggestion for general anesthesia. Or at least, a bucket full of valium to take ahead of time. Good luck. I'll be thinking of you and wishing for the best.

Bernard said...


Sorry to hear about this - it stinks. I hope you don't have to wait to long to get some effective treatment.

I know I'd be going crazy if someone told me what you'd heard. I hope you can relax some in the meantime.

Jamie said...

I'm thinking of you Sandra. I ditto what others have suggested - be put out for the procedure or take plenty of drugs so you don't remember any of it. It's wonderful that this has been caught early though - that's a blessing in itself.

Take care and hang in there.

Shannon said...

Anything with the eyes gives me the heeby jeebies.

Good luck with everything. Keep on top of it (which I know you will) and you'll make out just fine. We'll be here pulling for you :)

Andrea said...

Sandra, it's ok to be a little scared... what we don't know can be extremely frightening.

But whatever the case, you will be ok- you will get through it :)... and you'll have our support every step of the way.

hang in there. :)

Oh, The Joys said...

Yikes! Update demanded!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sandra
I need to have the same procedure a couple of years ago.
It sounds worse than it is. The Dr used several drops to prepare my eye and then there were several bursts of bright light and it was over.
I'm very sensitive to light so I needed a Tylenol for the headache afterwards.
After it was over it was such a relief.