Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Eye's Had It

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.

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