Saturday, October 26, 2013

Let Me Explain

My new hero. Image found here

I've been carrying on around here like a crazed woman, what with all my blabbing about being able to SEE, and donating my stash of old coke bottle bottom sized glasses, and my finger perpetually in the gee golly wouldja look at that! pointer position.

One of my friends made the observation that she was surprised at my over the top reaction to surgery. "It was just cataracts, right?"

Hm. Just cataracts.....yes. Yes, I guess it was. But to me, it didn't feel like JUST cataracts.

Well, Susan....yeah. I suppose you could say that but I'm afraid that I haven't done a very good job of letting y'all know how serious and scary they have been for me this summer and fall, I said as we sipped coffee at our favorite Starbucks.

She looked indignant. "Well, why on earth not? What are friends for?"

I guess I was trying really hard not to panic about it all. I feel as though all I do is complain about stuff already to you guys.

Susan rolled her eyes in disagreement.

I took another slug of my mocha and told her the story:

I know that for many people, their cataracts develop very slowly, sometimes over a decade or so. Not mine. They probably began as basic age related ones but the development was accelerated enormously by my prednisone use, especially after the increased doses required for rituximab infusions.

I began to notice changes in my vision in April of this year -- it was hard to describe what exactly I was experiencing except that I knew that things were blurry. Sometimes more than others. I went in for a vision check and was told that everything looked fine in my eyes except the development of a very small cataract in my right eye.

My vision continued to deteriorate rapidly after that appointment, so much so that by August, after having had several other checks with Dr. Young Gal, it became apparent that my cataracts had become much more dense and large and had formed in both eyes.

Four months. Just four months later, no computer screen seemed bright enough and no font large enough. I quit driving at night all together since I just didn't feel comfortable with my ability to see well enough. The light from oncoming cars seemed to fracture into thousands of specks of light. I couldn't see things far away. I couldn't see things close up, either. It became increasingly difficult to read road signs during the day and I tumbled down our basement stairs twice because I couldn't see exactly where to put my dumb stupid feet.

It was frightening. One of my greatest fears has always been that someday I would lose my sight and it seemed to be happening.....The irrational thought that talking about it all would make blindness a certainty was hanging around in the back of my mind. After my second fall down the stairs, I just sat on the concrete floor and cried, not from injury to my person but instead my pride.

Silly woman.

Dr. Young Gal reassured me that even though my cataracts were dense and had formed very quickly, she was confident that I was a good candidate for surgery and anticipated that my sight would be tremendously improved.

I hoped so. I rationally understood the discussion. But in the back of my mind lurked a nagging illogical fear that she was wrong, and that I was in serious danger of becoming blind. And that I had already sacrificed so much of my life and health to autoimmune disease, and it just would not be fair if my vision had to be affected too. Wah. Wah. Wah.

Fast forward to that magical day when I was wheeled out of the OR and raised a ruckus because I could SEE an exit sign. This is when the serious silliness began in pure relief. Enter goofy plastic eyeball cards and eyeball chocolates and maniacal laughter. Woo hoo!

Thank you thank you thank you: Dr. Young Gal, the awesome surgical and clinic staff, the company that made my lens implants, and the person that so long ago had the crazy idea that human eye lenses could be replaced.

And Florence Nightingale! And Louis Pasteur! And Joseph Lister! And Zacharias Janssen! And Hippocrates!  And Sir Howard Ridley who invented the artificial intraocular lens:
Intraocular lenses evolved secondary to the pioneering work of Howard Ridley, a British ophthalmologist.[16] He recognized that the penetration of shattered fragments from airplane windshields into the eyes of World War II fighter pilots when their planes had been hit did not always lead to damage. He created the first artificial lens from this material, leading to the creation of an entire industry.
So the celebration will continue. Would you LOOK at that! Good old Sir Howard.... You are the man. Seriously.


annie said...

Loss of our senses must be one of the worst and frightening things one can experience. I knew there was a reason why you were extra appreciative.Glad everything worked out for you, Julia.

Nicole said...

That's AWESOME, Julia!!! I'm so happy for you!

kara said...

My mom's going through this now. They first told her she needed cataract surgery two months ago. But her immune system has been too out of wack and she was on too high a dosage of prednisone and they wanted to wait. The downside to that was it was progressing so quickly her doctor said she could be legally blind before the end of the year. Things are looking up though! She'll hopefully be getting the first eye done in the next two weeks!

Julia Oleinik said...

Kara -- Girl. Get your mom some chocolate eyeballs. Seriously....

I hope her surgery goes as well as mine did!