Thursday, August 4, 2011

Eye, Eye, Eye!

After getting the bad news about my eyesight, I was very depressed. But after a couple of weekly visits, the doctor said it looked like the histoplasmosis was going dormant again. The active spot was turning into a scar and, although I would never regain my lost sight, I wasn't losing any more. So then I got to visit every other week, then once a month, then in six weeks.
amsler grid
But I never made it to six weeks because I noticed that the blurry spot had grown significantly in the fifth week. 
I have an Amsler Grid on my bathroom mirror. Every day, I close one eye and focus on the dot in the center. If the lines appear straight and parallel, all is well. In my left eye, there had been a blank spot in the bottom right. Suddenly, the blob swallowed the center dot. I noticed it was getting worse on Wednesday. Someone was asking me to sign a form and I literally couldn't see the spot she was indicating.
I made an emergency appointment for Friday. When the doctor's assistant tested my vision, I could barely make out the biggest E on the chart. I started to cry.
It was even worse than the first time because I had been feeling like I dodged a bullet and now I was back to feeling hopeless. They dilated my eyes and took a mess o' pictures again.  Dr. Ranchod decided to do another retinal angiography.
I had gotten blood drawn that morning and the tech had problems getting a vein so both my arms were bruised and red and irritated from the tape she put on despite my protestations. Then Dr. Ranchod tried to start an IV for the dye and couldn't catch a vein in either arm or my right hand. Yow! I have to sit really still with my chin in the strap so when they finally get the dye in, they can take a picture. All the while, he's digging around with a needle trying to pierce a vein. Fun.
The angiograph showed that the histo hadn't reactivated again. Instead, new abnormal blood vessels had formed in the choroid, a layer of blood vessels that provide oxygen and nutrients to the eye. It looked like a giant volcano in back of my eye. This is called choroidal neovascularization and Dr. Ranchod recommended treating it with a series of shots of Avastin which seals off the blood vessels and reduces the swelling. Oh, did I mention that the shots would be administered IN THE EYE????
And he didn't want to wait. He was ready to shoot me immediately. First the nurse put ananesthetic drops in my eye. Then she pulled my lower lid away and stuffed the pocket below my eye with anaesthetic-soaked cotton. Then she put a layer of ananesthetic gel over my eye. Then the doctor put on an eye speculum (another reason to hate that word) to keep my eye open. I was so terrified, I thought I would pass out. He assured me that I wouldn't be able to see the needle coming at me and I didn't. But I felt it and jumped six inches. After some antibiotic drops, it was all over. I told Debbie about the Avastin shot because she is my medical expert. She said that the FDA was trying to pull Avastin's approval but I assured her that it was an off-label use anyway.
My eye was watering and I wasn't supposed to touch it. I was trying to keep it closed whille driving home. It felt like there was grit in my eye. I was shaking and trying not to cry because that would make it worse.
Then the car dinged and all the warning lights on the dashboard lit up: the triangle with an exclamation point, the car with a an exclamation point, the letters PS and a battery. "Danger, Will Robinson!"
I made it home. Chris looked at it and said it was the power steering (PS) and I had an appointment at the dealership already because of a power steering recall. So our wonderful mechanic, Kunio, recommended taking it to the dealer to find out what was wrong.
That same day I received notice in the mail that I didn't get into the Lafayette or Alameda or Montclair Craft Fairs.
It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.