Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Trick of the Eyes

One never knows what the next day will bring. Sometimes it's something good you weren't expecting and sometimes it's quite the opposite.
One day, more than 15 years ago, during a routine eye exam, I was told I had developed cataracts. For a few years, I was told to get my eyes checked every six months. OHIP covered that and I suddenly no longer had to pay for eye exams while my hubby still did, at least until he was 65. The cataracts have never developed to the point where it was time to have them removed and eventually the eye exams became more of a yearly thing.
This year, when I went to have my eyes examined, the optometrist discovered there was elevated pressure on my eyes and she sent me to a specialist. There I discovered that the cataracts were actually pushing my irises forward causing the natural fluid drainage system to be blocked. I was told I had closed angle glaucoma and was being scheduled for laser surgery. The idea was to prevent damage to the optic nerve so I wouldn't go blind.
I always say that no matter how healthy you are, by the time you turn 60 your body starts to play tricks on you. One moment I'm fine and even my cataracts aren't ready to come out, and the next, the darn things are creating another way to cause me to lose my sight.
It took just over a month to get my laser surgery. In the meantime, I had a chance to do some research. I found that they would freeze my eyeballs, just like when they did the pressure test, and then I'd have my eyes zapped and it would all be over in less than five minutes. The operation would create a new hole in my iris so the fluid could drain into my bloodstream and relieve the pressure.
There were all kinds of warnings to follow the doctor's instructions after the proceedure. I also read warnings of how I might experience scratchy eyes, blurred vision and/or bloodshot eyes. All this would last just a matter of hours or at most, a couple of days. I felt well prepared and not nervous at all, though I wasn't sure we could still enjoy the evening out we already had planned for that night. We were scheduled to celebrate our 44th wedding anniversary, which was the very next day.
We showed up at the hospital where I was given registration documents and told to go up the stairs and proceed three-quarters of the way down the hall until we came to a big eyeball. We went all the way but found no such symbol so we found someone to direct us. Once seated in the waiting area we had been sent to I noticed a sign that listed two doctors whose patients that area was meant for.  My doctor was not one of them. I went to a deserted registration area down the hall where I had to ring a bell and disturb someone who told me that was the right place to wait. Several minutes later she directed someone else to the same area and told him to put his registration forms in the bin hanging on the wall in the corridor leading off the main hallway just across from where I was waiting. I still had my forms as no one had told me to do that. I deposited my forms into the bin and hoped that I was doing the right thing.
The area was getting more crowded as everyone came with another to drive them home. Eventually, a man came out with a handful of registration forms and started putting drops in all the waiting patient's eyes. Everyone but me, that is. As he walked away everyone turned and stared at me. I had heard him say the drops would take about 20 minutes to work so I said, "You are being dilated. I'm going to be frozen."  Freezing only takes seconds I discovered when it was done during the examination I'd had previously. So, of course, I got called in first.
The doctor explained that some people have told him they feel "something" like a little electric shock or a pinprick perhaps, while others don't feel anything at all. He just wanted me to be aware that I might feel something and not to worry about it. He did not freeze my eyes. He just shone a light into each eye and told me to stare straight ahead and then zapped me. I felt nothing in the first eye which he said went easier than expected. I felt it in the second one, however,  and he actually zapped that one twice. I wouldn't call it painful though. 
He said he would send a report to my optometrist. I am under no restrictions and can even resume my exercise class. I have no drops or follow up visit to make.  He said he doesn't need to see me again and the next time I'm to go to my regular optometrist is next year for my yearly exam.
I am not bloodshot, nor do I have scratchy eyes or blurred vision. The whole experience was very quick and easy and the threat of blindness has been eliminated. I was not expecting any of this but it has a  happy ending. I am very thankful for modern science.
I wonder what trick my body will play on me next.

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