Today in My History
2000: No entry
IN MY OPINION
Books Read in 2008
FUNNY THE VLOG
Day 5 - Bath Day from Bev Sykes on Vimeo.
CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW...
6 November 2008
Well, not exactly, but I have a diagnosis, finally. And...duhhh...it is cataracts. Ironically, I had just received a survey from Kaiser-Davis to ask about my interaction with the doctor I saw there. I filled it out, but added a letter talking about how I'd been in a panic for two weeks since he told me it wasn't cataracts and how what I learned today directly contradicts what the optometrist told me two weeks ago.
The day started much too early. Goblin/Cotton/Claus returned last night, all sterilized and needing a foster home again. He slept in Nicki's cage last night and Nicki slept in a smaller cage in the living room. They both went to sleep just great, but at 4:30, Claus was up howling, so I got up with him at 4:45 and tried to keep him quiet so that all the other critters in the house, both 2 and 4-legged, could sleep until a decent hour. Lizzie didn't even get up with I fed Claus at 5 a.m. Amazing.
I checked in with election results, hoping that by some miracle the numbers had flipped overnight and that Prop 8 had been overturned, but no--it has passed. We have elected our first African American president, and voted to add discrimination and inequality to the California state constitution. I don't understand.
I couldn't believe how nervous I was as the clock crept closer to time to leave. We got the dogs fed, put Nicki in a cage to protect her and headed off to Sacramento. This was not a bad vision day, it was a very bad vision day. On some level I was glad of it because it would be easier to diagnose when it was very bad, I told myself.
Walt and I didn't really talk on the way to Sacramento, but sat there listening to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" on my iPod. He parked across the street from the hospital and I realized that I couldn't see the traffic coming in one direction because it was so bright outside.
We sat in the waiting room, side by side, not saying a word. He was reading The New Yorker and I was thumbing through CSAA's Via magazine, unable to really concentrate on anything.
Finally my name was called and I was taken to an exam room by a medical assistant who did some preliminary examinations and, since I guess she was still in training, she had someone else come in to double check her results. Then he said "dilate her eyes and put on the tape about cataract surgery.'
What? What did he say? The videotape about cataract surgery? Were they just assuming this was cataract surgery?
My hopes went waaay up.
Then I saw the video. The people in the video describing their symptoms echoed everything I've been saying about my problem since it started. Every. Single. Thing.
The video also said that it used to be believed that you had to wait until a cataract was "ripe" before removing it, but with the newer procedures, you could remove a cataract as soon as it began to affect your vision.
Well--that's what the optometrist has been telling me for years: the cataracts aren't "ripe" enough for removal. That's what he told me two weeks ago!
By the time the ophthalmologist arrived, I was positively giddy with hope. Obama was our president and it appeared that my problem was an easily fixable cataract.
The exam was thorough and he spent a long time typing up his chart notes before talking to me about what he discovered. I learned a lot about cataracts. I also learned why my "bad" eye is "bad." He said it looked like I've had a cataract on that eye since birth and that the eye never developed properly. He finally, finally was a physician who understood how I "don't see" out of that eye. The eye sees things, but it doesn't focus with the "good" eye. When I close my "bad eye" I don't really notice any change in anything except there isn't quite as much information coming in on the right side. But he understood that and explained exactly what was happening. Years and years of doctors telling me that of course I see out of that eye, and I finally have someone who not only believes me, but could prove it by testing and could explain why.
The upshot is that if he operates on the "bad" eye, it could get "exciting" (i.e., opportunities for things to go wrong) and ultimately it would take a couple of surgeries and probably wouldn't improve my vision all that much in that eye. I laughed and said that I was 65 and had lived with that eye for 65 years and could just as easily go through the rest of my life with it as it is right now. So we agreed that the cataract on the "bad" eye will remain.
As for the "good" eye, I didn't realize that you can actually choose the degree of correction you want. The problem with correcting my vision to be good enough to go without glasses is that there will be too great a discrepancy between the two eyes. If he gives me enough correction so that I still need glasses, but a weaker prescription it could also cause some vision problems because of the problem with the right eye.
In the end, I told him that (a) I like the way I look in glasses, more than without glasses, so having glasses is no problem for me, and (b) I'd be perfectly happy if he removed the cataract and left the vision essentially as it has been for all these years. and if he did that, there would be no problem with vision incompatibility.
We agreed that was the way to go. He was able to get me a surgery date in December, but it would be close to Christmas and on the off chance that there is a problem, I will be 400 miles away in Santa Barbara. So we put off the surgery until late-ish January (the 20th). I can easily live with this situation for two more months now that I know what it is and that it can be corrected.
He also assured me that he sees no symptoms of diabetic retinopathy (which had been my biggest fear).
We probably confused the heck out of people in the waiting room. I came out and saw Walt sitting there reading a magazine. He looked at me inquisitively. I said, "It is cataracts." He brightened and said "it IS??? That's great!" and started tearing up. In fact, I was kind of tearing myself. I felt I had to explain to the people around us why we were so happy that I had cataracts.
I called my mother and sent text messages to the kids on the way home. Jeri responded almost instantly with "Hooray! Right?" Loved it. "Right!" I texted back.
They had dilated my pupils and that must make it so that you see around the cataract because everything was clear and bright when we left the hospital and I was amazed that letters on the computer screen were black again when we got home and all the colors were bright. The pupils have now gone back to their normal size and so things are starting to blur again, but that's OK. Two more months of blurry vision and then I'll have the cataract removed and maybe I'll be able to exclaim, as so many people do after this surgery, about how bright everything is again.
This really is "the picture of the day" !!
MILES TO NOWHERE: 83 miles