Sunday, September 23, 2007

But I thought I had pink eye!

Thursday, August 30, 2007: The Day My Life Started to Change....Again.

I woke up in the morning and my purple bedroom looked a little foggy, like I had a coating of Vaseline over my eyeball. "Hunh?," I thought. I reached for my glasses on the night table and put them on. Slightly better, but still blurrier than usual. I took turns covering my eyes to see if one was worse than the other. (This may seem odd, but I suffered from a cornea injury at the start of the summer and couldn't see out of my right eye for a couple weeks, so I was in the habit of checking my vision one eye at a time.) Sure enough, it was the right eye again. I could see light and shapes and movement, but no detail or color. Hunh? Could the regenerated cornea have somehow "unhealed?" But, wait...there was no pain. That cornea injury was VERY painful and this...nothing. I got up and went about my business. When I went into the bathroom to take a shower, I realized that I had fallen asleep with my eye makeup on. That was it! Poor beauty hygiene! I removed my makeup, got in the shower, washed my face and the rest of me and got out, expecting my vision to clear up. Still bad...still no pain. Hunh?

I got dressed, enjoyed my rare alone morning (Ruby and Zane were away with their dad, John, on vacation in New Jersey. While I was getting ready, my fabulous nurse friend Gina called to say "hi" while I was in the middle my morning routine. I usually avoid the phone in the morning, but the kids weren 't home so it wasn't the usual chaos. Plus, Gina had just started her new job at Boston Medical Center and we didn't have as many opportunities to connect. I took her call and, while we were catching up, I mentioned my vision problem. I told her my symptoms and asked her if she thought it was early, pre-itchy and pre-gooey conjunctivitis. She paused and said, "Maybe....?" Then, in her very calm, non-panicy nurse voice, she suggested I should get it checked out, especially since it was the same eye as the cornea injury because I didn't want to mess around with an infection in that vulnerable eye. (Gina later told me she thought of MS right away because a friend was diagnosed after a similar, sudden onset of vision trouble. I'm grateful she didn't tell me that then or I probably would have been frightened into complete inaction.)

I called my primary care physician's office and left a message saying that I thought I had pink eye and I wanted to get it checked out because it was the same eye that had recently recovered from a pretty severe cornea injury. I left home and stopped at Dunkin Donuts before getting on the highway to go to work to get my large iced with extra skim and two Splenda (in case anyone feels like picking one up for me). While ordering at the drive-thru, my doctor's office called back and said my doctor could see me at 11:45. I called work, told them I thought I had pink eye, and that I was going to work at home and go see the doctor later in the morning.

I took my ice coffee home and did my thing, logging onto email, making calls, editing an article, creating and checking in on production calendars, sneaking peeks at Changing Rooms on BBC America, and waited for my appointment. I got there on time, was called right in, and Dr. O examined my eye. She said she saw no sign of pink eye or any infection and she wanted to refer me to an ophthalmologist. I groaned and regretted making a big deal out of nothing, knowing that it would be another appointment and more eye examinations. (I had had my fill after the cornea injury). But, I smiled like a good girl and took the referral for an appointment an hour later at a nearby ophthalmologist's office -- the same practice I visited for follow-up after my cornea injury. Well, at least I wouldn't get lost.

I went home, had lunch, checked in with work, and got to the ophthalmologist on time. (Two consecutive on-time doctor's appointments is almost unheard of for me!) After checking in, I was "triaged" and told that I would have to have some tests. Convinced that this ophthalmology practice was trying to ream my insurance company, I underwent 3 hours of various eye tests. They dilated me numerous times. took digital pictures inside my eye, blew air in my eyeballs (a yucky sensation), made me look through metal goggles in a chair that looked like some weird S&M toy, made me look at blinky lights in a head-size planetarium, and other things I don't remember.

During this time, I was also trying to sneak calls (cell phones weren't allowed in this office) to reschedule an appointment I had to look at a used Volvo on Craigslist. I was kind of pissed off that this "silliness" with my eye was going to stand in the way of me test driving a new, used car. I wasn't aware of being nervous at all, just annoyed and inconvenienced.

Ken--correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you stopped by to say "hi" which was very sweet of you. You may have even brought me a larged iced coffee with extra skim milk and Splenda which you often do JUST when I need one.

At the end of all the tests, the ophthalmologist, Dr. S., told me that there was nothing wrong with the front of my eye and that he thought I might be having an "issue" with my optic nerve. I wondered whether or not he thought I was making it up. He didn't say that but the voice in my head did. What he did say was that I was a "medical mystery."

"Cool!" I thought. I'm a big fan of the show "House" so I was looking forward to a Hugh Laurie-type character entertaining me with his curmudgeonly sex appeal and solving the mystery.) Dr. S. (who looks and acts nothing like House) told me that I was in luck because he was a teacher at the Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary Neuro-Ophthalmology Clinic so he could get me in without the usual month-long wait. He was either a good actor or I was in denial, (or maybe both), but I thought there was no urgency and that I just happened to fit into a cancellation the following day. He warned me that with "medical mysteries" like mine there might be a lot of testing before they figure out what was wrong.

I went home, emailed work, called Ken and some friends, and told them about my new "medical mystery" status. I decided to focus on my cool new "medical mystery" status and not to worry. I went out to dinner and to a meeting with a friend and tried to ignore her "Did I say that outloud?" concern about a brain tumor. I really didn't get offended because my filters don't always work in times of stress either. I knew that she cared and that she would be there for me and that, at the end of the day, that was what was most important. And, since I don't have a brain's all good.

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