Saturday, March 29, 2008

My Eyes!

I first found out that I have glaucoma (the early stage, no optic nerve damage yet) back in 2004. I began taking drops and the pressure went down to the normal range and all was good. But when the prescription ran out, I was slow getting back to the doctor for my follow up and renewal of the prescription. Time passed (like, almost 3 years!) and guilt set in. Then I read Blindness and felt my eyes twinging with every turn of the page. Then I became hesitant to go back to the eye doctor because 1) I was feeling guilty about not being a good patient and 2) I was fearful of the results. Because, you know, what you don't know can't hurt you, right?

After several weeks of working on minimal sleep, my eyes were feeling very fatigued and I was feeling more brief twinges of pain on a regular basis. I decided that I better make an appointment with the eye doctor (a glaucoma specialist) as soon as possible. And I'm telling you, I was more nervous about going to the eye doctor than I've ever been about going to the dentist. My palms were sweaty for the duration of the visit. On the way to the office, nearly every song on the blues channel I listen to included the words "Lord, have mercy on me" (the last song before I went in was appropriately the Sinner's Prayer), so I continued this prayer for the duration of my wait in the waiting room, all the while trying to pretend I was enjoying the article about Martha Stewart's daffodils.

The visit started out okay, with a question and answer period, some confession of guilt on my part, and a check of my prescription. I'm finally starting to notice that I have to hold things further away to read also, so bifocals may be in my future. Once that was over, the technician checked my eye pressure. Then he checked it again. And again. Then, departing from his earlier friendly conversational style, he abruptly left the room and told me that I would see the doctor next. And he wished me "good luck." I didn't ask, but I knew that he got some high pressure readings, just based on his abrupt change of personality and concerned look on his face, like he suddenly learned I had leprosy. In 2004, the technician had the audacity to say, "I've never seen readings that high before." Casually, you know, like I wasn't in the room.

Then I waited. And not long after (quicker than the usual wait for the doctor), the doctor arrived. He said the technician was getting some fairly high readings, so he wanted to check it again, then he'd get on with the other tests. More drops in the eye and then mirrors and lights and other instruments. He confirmed that the pressure was indeed high ("the highest readings he'd seen in a long time"). He told me the numbers but I said "those don't mean anything to me, what's normal look like?" He said normal was 10-20 and mine was 32 and 47. Alrighty then. Yep, that sounds a little off the charts to me too! He immediately suspended all additional tests, scurried out of the room with a concerned look on his face, came back with some "water pills, to get a jump on bringing the pressure down" and a sample bottle of the eye drops I had used before and set up an appointment to be back in a week to do the other tests. He couldn't get me out of the office fast enough.

I went back to work and imagined that I was just this close to an eyeball explosion. I felt much better the day before, when I was clueless. Now my mind was playing all sorts of tricks on me. I left work at 5:00 to have dinner with some friends and then went home thinking I would spend the evening reviewing tax returns. But when I got home, I was so exhausted from my day at the eye doctor that I went straight to bed at 7:30 (after putting the eye drops in) and though I woke up a couple times in the night, I managed to go right back to sleep until 7:00 this morning. Probably the best night of sleep ever and probably just what my eyes needed, a little rest!

I am optimistic that the eye drops are working and hopeful that when I return, I'll be given a regimen that will prevent me from going blind. I have made a deal with God that if he'll just please, please, please have mercy on me this one more time, I promise not to let things go untended like this again.



At 12:02 PM, March 29, 2008, Blogger beth said...

Oh dear!

I hope and pray that the drops do their thing!

At 1:39 PM, March 29, 2008, Blogger Foo said...

That sounds so familiar. In my case, the doctor informed me that my pressure was normal and the previous guy should have his license revoked. But still... the same mental images of exploding eyes.

I'll say a few extra prayers that your drops bring the pressure down.

At 2:52 PM, March 29, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You can't let stuff like that go, girlfriend.

Add me to the list of those praying.

At 3:42 PM, March 29, 2008, Blogger Jen said...

Gwynne - we're praying, too!

And I thought my early cataracts diagnosis a few months ago was bad. I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this ... um ... pressure. If you KWIM. ;-)

At 5:36 PM, March 29, 2008, Blogger Gwynne said...

Thanks for the prayers all!

The hardest part is admitting that I let it go so long. And the worst part is that whenever I go to the glaucoma doctor, I'm the only patient under the age of 80. But it runs in the family, on both sides of the tree (and none of them have gone blind...not yet anyway), so I'm predestined to deal with this. So I must.

Foo, I remember reading your post and feeling those twinges back then too, thinking I really need to schedule that appointment (and look at the date of your post...that was 2006!!) I'd forgotten you had been told that those pains could mean the retinas were separating from the eyeball though....eeuww. Yikes!

Jim, I know! *hanging head in shame*

Jen, I'm sorry you're having to deal with similar "old age" ailments too. This really isn't fair, is it?

At 5:19 AM, March 30, 2008, Blogger Bob-kat said...

'Wake up calls' (no pun intended) can be scary, can't they? It sounds like your eye doctor gave you no reassurance at all, which is a shame. He could at least have told you that the drops and pills would improve the situation! Honestly, the bedside manner of some professionals leaves me speechless. I hope the drops and pills do the trick and I suspect a good nights sleep would make you feel instantly better. Fingers crossed for you.

At 7:42 AM, March 30, 2008, Blogger Sisiggy said...

Coming from the "if you ignore it, it will go away" school of medical thought, I can understand how these things get away from you. And health care professionals who treat you like a lab rat don't help. You just want to scream, "I'm paying you to work for me."

Hope the drops are helping, particularly this time of year.

At 9:41 AM, March 30, 2008, Blogger Janie said...

Awww, sweetie - I'm so sorry for all that you've learned and pissed at all that's left hanging for you.
Doctors really should have better "bedside" manners.

I bet you were exhausted just in the "unknowing."

I'm praying God restores you, 100%, to health.

And praying for peace in this upcoming season.

**((Love and hugs headed your way.))**

At 6:20 AM, April 06, 2008, Blogger Rach said...

How are your eyes doing? Any updates yet?


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