Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Another Wish Comes True

About five years ago I was having trouble reading some of my favorite comics and any kind of fine print. I went to the eye doctor for a check-up. Having never received the memo about regular check-ups, it was my first eye exam since grade school.

That grade school eye exam was a huge disappointment. I really, really, really wanted glasses and was dismayed to learn I had 20/20 vision. Careful what you wish for.

Anyway, after various tests the optometrist said my deteriorating vision was just a normal function of aging. He encouraged me to pick up some reading glasses from a drugstore. My childhood wish came true...just four decades later. I picked up some reading glasses and was delighted to see close-up again.

My vision steadily deteriorated. Stronger glasses didn't make any difference. I went back to the eye doctor in October and was referred to a retina specialist. After a series of tests the specialist said I had macular degeneration in both eyes. The condition was particularly advanced in my left eye.

Imagine the eye as a coconut. Macular degeneration is a swelling in the meat of the coconut. The swelling blocks the pupil, thereby obscuring vision. The ability to focus on fine details is especially hard hit. Peripheral vision is usually unaffected. Get this...the swelling is caused by a build-up of cholesterol.

The treatment for macular degeneration is to inject Avastin into the eye. Avastin is a colon cancer drug that coincidentally shrinks the swelling. That's right--an eye shot. Just kill me.

Minutes after telling me I needed an eye shot, the specialist gave me that first injection. I'm glad. Having to wait would have allowed me to spend entirely too much time in my head freaking myself out about what was to come.

Since then I've gone back every six weeks and had three more injections. No matter how many times I tell myself the injection is no big deal, I still freak out. It doesn't hurt...it's just the thought of a needle in the eyeball. It's not like I can close my eyes while it's happening.

Things have gone a little easier since I befriended a plus-size African-American lady who assists during the injections. Now that she knows to hold my shoulders down so I don't jump, the injections aren't quite as bad. I think I love her.

Six weeks rolls around fast. Last Wednesday I went in for my fifth injection. After the examination, the doctor told me I didn't need an injection. I could have kissed him! I nearly did when he said I didn't have to come back for two months.

My vision is now 20/15. I don't know what it was in October. I still have problems with some close-up stuff but can see much better than before.

I go back in April for another check-up. Maybe I'll need another injection. Maybe I won't. I'll worry about that later. For now I'm celebrating the shot I didn't have to have, the extra two weeks between appointments, and all the wonderful friends who care about...

The Crotchety Old Man

1 comment:

CathyB said...

Sounds dreadful. YAY that you're better and got to skip a shot!!! I have drug store (heck $1.00 store!) reading glasses in every room in the house.

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