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It's not cataracts
10/27/2008 - Bev Sykes


I had hoped that this would be a relieved "We know what it is and now just have to fix it" entry, but alas no.

I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning, worrying about the appointment.  Worrying and not worrying.  So many people have assured me that this is classic cataract symptoms and that the operation will change my life that I was convinced I was going to march into the office and march out with an appointment for cataract surgery.

I managed to get back to sleep and slept until 7, when I realized I had a whole flock of butterflies in my stomach, realizing that my appointment was only two hours from now.

I checked e-mail and had a lovely supportive e-mail waiting for me, which helped a lot.  It's nice to know people care.   There were also lovely notes on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.  I felt I had the support of a lot of caring people behind me.

I got the dogs fed, said goodbye to Walt, who was heading off to Santa Barbara, taking the bus to the airport because I had told him I didn't feel comfortable driving him.   He gave me a big hug and I promised to call him as soon as my appointment was over.

I could tell immediately, once again, that while I can drive all right, I probably shouldn't.  Sunglasses don't stop that feeling that there are several layers of muslin in front of my face, though it's a bit better.  I promised myself I would go to Kaiser (which is only a few miles away), stop at the supermarket on the way home, and then not drive again until we get this settled, one way or another.

My doctor is one of the most gentle people around.  It was he who "broke the news" to me many years ago that it was time for bifocals, while I had gone in there expecting to get bifocals and looking forward to them.  But he was afraid I'd take the news badly, thinking it was a sign of growing old.

He greeted me by name when he saw me and apologized that he had two patients ahead of me.  I smiled and told him that was fine, that I'd only come early in case he needed to dilate my pupils.  He got flustered and said that he didn't think he needed to do that...unless, of course, my doctor had recommended it.  We agreed that didn't need to be done and he took his two patients.

I apparently passed the glaucoma test and then he did the chart reading, which I also passed.  He said that if the problem were cataracts, I wouldn't have been able to read the letters I was reading.

He looked in my eyeball and said that yes, he could see the cataract, but that it wasn't large enough that the ophthalmologist would want to remove it. 

After that he didn't seem to have any answers.  Clearly, I can't see.  Or rather, clearly I can't see clearly, so there is some problem.  He could set me up with an appointment tomorrow, but it's in Sacramento, and I decided to wait until Walt gets home so he can drive me.  So my next appointment, with an ophthalmologist this time, is November 5 so I have another week to worry and to deal with those butterflies.

I stopped at the supermarket, which is on the way home, and bought enough food for both me and the dogs to last until Walt comes home, so I don't have to drive while he's away.

And of course I came home to research macular degeneration, which Walt's mother has.  I remember that the first hint we had of it was when she stopped driving.  But I read through a bit of the information and took the preliminary test they give you and while I realize self-diagnosis is not a good thing to do, it doesn't sound like this is the start of macular degeneration.  But I still asked Walt to ask his mother what she remembers about the first symptoms many years ago when she realized there was something wrong with her eyes.

There is also diabetic retinopathy, which really scares me.  Walt's old college roommate had diabetes and ended up blind because of diabetic retinopathy.

I'm better off just staying in the house where it's not nearly as apparent as it is the minute I set foot outside the house.   And we'll now start the count-down until November 5 when I can go through this whole butterfly attack yet again.

I'll look on the bright side--if I'm losing my sight, I'll save a heck of a lot of money on cameras, camera equipment, and books!

3 Comments From Other Members
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10/27/2008 Dorothy Sander from Durham NC wrote:
My mother had a thing called "floaters". I don't know if it's similar to what you have or not. She had clouds that would "float"around in her eye interrupting her vision from time to time. She, like you, kept thinking it was cataracts and that surgery would help although it did not. She had this for 15+ yrs. It never got any worse but they did not seem to be able to make it go away. She did give up driving because it was a bit unpredictable and made her nervous but she was able to read and sew and do needle work for all those years. We all face the limits of aging and you are in our thoughts.
10/27/2008 Bev Sykes from Davis CA wrote:
Thanks for that, Dorothy. Unfortunately, it's not floaters. It's a blurred vision, or like looking through the world through several layers of muslin. It makes driving iffy. Inside the house it's mostly OK, but when I get out in the sun, I can't read signs and sometimes can't see stoplights.
10/28/2008 Mary Allan Mill from St. Petersburg FL wrote:
Yes, Bev, we all care. I have macular degeneration and Graves' Disease. As a result of mini strokes, I am blind in my right eye. I'm still vibrant and involved thanks to two great doctors. I don't like driving at night, but bright sunlight is worse. This is not the end of the world! And I just added you to my "say a prayer" list. Hang in there!

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