Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp...oh, wait
I am not a great one to run to the doctor much—ever—but because of my high blood pressure she—my doctor—does keep tabs on me at least once per year. This year I decided to be a good patient and get all of my tests and checks done during the tail end of my Summer Break from school. I hadn’t had my eyes checked in about seven years and to my dismay what I had interpreted as a need for new glasses was really an occluded vein in my right eye, making a fair sized hole in my vision in that eye for which my left eye, which had not changed a bit, was compensating for. This was the result of my HBP. But there was treatment, the ophthalmologist at Tacoma Group Health said, but for that I’d have to go to Federal Way. I tried to wheedle out of him what sort of treatment we were talking about, but he quickly handed me the directions to the Federal Way clinic and fled. Because my commuter husband Dave returned home for surgery, I put off getting an appointment with the Federal Way clinic until after he’d returned to AZ—at least that was my justification in my mind.
My daughter-in-law Ana made the trip to Federal Way with me. I knew that at the very least they were going to dilate my eyes again and I had no desire to attempt to drive back to Gig Harbor on I-5 with dilated eyes. Grandson Gabriel came along, too and our threesome trooped into the examination room. After the dilation I was sent to get my eyes scanned and then back to the exam room where we waited over long. Gone are the days of the eye chart tacked to the wall. Now they have a computer screen that the doctor can see and the patient views in a mirror. After sitting there for 45 minutes we decided at least they could offer us a movie for distraction.
Finally the doctor returned pointing out the engorged vein in my right eye and explaining the treatment would amount to injections of Avastin into the eye every four to six weeks for one to two year. This was what I’d been afraid of. I somehow knew that it was not going to be as easy as a pill. Treatment had a 50/50 chance of improving my 20/50 sight in that eye. There was a small chance of infection, damage to the cornea or damage to the retina. Cheery. He said they would numb my eye thoroughly. Ana asked about the rest of me. The doctor said that he’d never heard of anyone taking anything for nerves before the procedure. I’m glad that Ana was there because she asked lots of questions including “How many of these have you done?” and “Would you recommend this procedure to your mother?” Hundreds and yes were the answers. Because I was intending to drive to the coast to shop for my mother I allowed as how I was NOT going to do it right then. I did make an appointment for a week later and thus bought myself some time to talk to Dave and mull it over. I could always cancel the appointment.
The next seven days were not pleasant. I was reminded of being a child and knowing that a physical was coming that would include a shot and how the days seemed to fly by towards an appointment like that but the days to Christmas crawled by. During that week I’d conferred with Dave who said that he was 100% behind whatever I decided to do. My aunt counseled that I do it as did four women friends for whom I have the utmost respect along with Smitty, my dear friend from high school. If I could give birth without drugs surely I could do this.
Too quickly it was Friday again. By the time it did I just wanted to get it the heck over with. We dropped Gabriel with my other daughter-in-law and headed north into the teeth of Friday rush hour and a truck that had lost a wheel reaffirming my dislike for freeways.
I had to sign a consent form so I could not hold the doctor or Group Health responsible if I lost the sight in my eye. I told Ana I’d just find someone named Guido to take care of the doctor if there was a problem. The doctor has an Italian surname and he laughed. My eye was washed, numbed, numbed and numbed again. By the time the doctor came into the operatory I was upside down nearly and doing my best to go to my happy place. My eye was clamped open; the doctor told me to look down and left. He marked the “target,” I felt a pinch and it was over. I was releaved that I had not been able to actually see the needle coming at my eye. The procedure was over, but I had amoebas swimming around in my eye. The doctor said it was the Avastin. It was a little like the old “light shows” done on an overhead projector back in the ‘60s, but without the color. The doctor was way too young to get that analogy so I kept my mouth shut.
I was given drops for my irritated eye and the doctor addressed Ana about not letting me touch my eye like she was my mother or as if I am in my dotage. That annoyed me, but I was just glad that getting a needle in my eye wasn’t more painful than it was so I didn’t mention that either and will try to seem more competent when we meet next month. That evening my eye felt like I hadn’t slept in a very long time so I closed both of them with an early to bed. The next day it was as though nothing had happened.
I close my good eye and try to determine if this procedure did any good. At first I would have said, no, but now I say maybe. Working in Special Education I am good at spotting tiny amounts of improvement so just maybe…just maybe this will be worth it.