Two Saturdays ago, while I was in NYC visiting my sister, I started to experience a disability that I do not have much experience with. I woke up with sudden nearsightedness. Everything in the distance was suddenly blurry. I could not read anything in the distance. I had gone to bed with my eyesight just fine and woke up with this sudden change. I was freaked out, but my body has a tendency to do weird things, so I figured it would go away. I went through the whole day that way. When I woke up the next day it seemed like things were a bit better, but as the day went on, they got worse and worse. By the time I got home things were almost as bad as they had been. I tried to convince myself that they would be better the next day.
They weren't. I woke up and things were still blurry. I went to work and discussed what I should do with people there. That was the first day back for my supervisor. She had been gone since the first week of the internship. She had been in a bad car accident. It was nice to see her and I did not want to bother her when she had so much to do, but I needed to let her know. We decided that I needed to get my eye checked out since it had lasted as long as it had.
Getting my eye checked out is easier said than done. I have Medicaid. I have Iowa Medicaid. No one in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, or even NY see people with Iowa Medicaid. I checked the provider list. So I searched for a free medical clinic. I found a place that sees on a sliding scale. On Tuesday I went there early in the morning to wait for it to open. I waited for hours to get in, for the doctor to say that I needed to see a specialist, who was not available at their clinic until October. That was not going to help me. He wanted me to get seen immediately, because he was concerned about a detached retina. Detached retina can lead to blindness. That needed to be taken care of.
I ended up in the emergency room. All by myself, no support, scared that I was going blind. It was not an experience I would wish on others. After hours in the ER, I was told by the ER doctor that he did not think my retina was detached, but he was not an ophthalmologist and referred me to an one to get a more complete exam. I left with a small sense of relief, but no answers, and not an assurance that this trouble was not serious.
The next day, at the ophthalmologists, I still did not get an answer, only more tests that were needed. Tests that I could not afford out of pocket like I had paid him. I was going to have to return to Iowa in order to get these tests done.
Today I had another exam that reaffirmed his results. They are concerned about Ophthalmic Neuritis, or swelling of the optic nerve. This can be a sign of Multiple Sclerosis. This is not the first time this illness has been mentioned in my presence. Now we are going to do the testing for it. Friday I will know more. Friday I will learn if my life is going to need to change in a big way. I will learn if I will have another condition that is disabling.