It serves as an update to my friends -- whom I cherish and treasure. To those who wish to continue to use my illness against me, I document the truth here.
But it also serves as a reminder that I am approaching the one-year anniversary of this chronic illness that caused me to lose my right eye vision. Sometime around March 26 last year I lost my vision to Temporal/Giant Cell Arteritis that deadened the top optic nerve in my right eye and left me unable to see much more than a small sliver of light at the top of my eye. For this I've been treated with Prednisone and Methotrexate, a chemo drug, since April 20 and August 27, respectively, by a doctor at the Mayo Clinic.
I take those meds with all the medications it takes to fight the infections I catch because I'm two immunosupressants, the insulin I must take daily, and the other pills that fight the effects of the Prednisone.
I hate it all. Every minute of every day.
Honestly? Eleven months into this, I am more tired of this than you are tired of hearing about it and caring about it. And very few of you know the real story and how it has changed since February. But I assure you, just because I'm not talking about it doesn't mean I'm not feeling a lot of pain, stress and anguish every day.
But I sure know you're tired of hearing about it. I can tell by the way people, well, avoid me. Except for a small core of friends, I won't even give most people a true update. But I am sad to see my zeal and zest for life disappearing.
But in the last month, things have not been fine, and I have had a rough time.
Here's what happened, and here's where we are:
On Wednesday, Feb. 2, while talking to friends at a GCSU basketball game, I had a parade of black floaters go across my left eye, then my vision blurred. A few seconds later, everything in my left eye was turned orange. Looking through my only seeing eye, my left eye, I saw something just like this:
I remember trying to walk the wall of the Centennial Center to get to a room where I could sit down and call my doctor. I called him. I called Randy. I called Lori to get the prayer chain going. Then i prayed,
My eye doctor (who knows I lack vision in my right eye from Giant Cell/Temporal Arteritis, responded to my emergency call and scheduled a meeting the next morning. My friend Patti drove me and Jeffrey home, and I proceeded to stumble around my house seeing....nothing. Orange and a small arc of light, but no faces, no shapes, no numbers, no televisions, no Randy, no Jeffrey, nothing.
That night, for a few hours, I knew what it felt like to be blind, and I knew what my life would be like if I should go fully blind in my future. I took meds to sleep, and when I woke up at 4 a.m., my eye was filled with black floaters that covered the front of my eye.
I'd had a vitreous hemorrhage. It is a byproduct, in my left eye, of my ongoing, more than 20-year fight with diabetes. Ironically, it came at a time when my A1C had dropped into the 6 range and my daily blood sugar control had been its most accurate. I'd also lost 25 pounds since October.
Two eye doctor's appointments and three weeks later, and I found I had to begin to undergo something called Pan Retinal Photocoagulation. It looks something like this. It HURT like someone was poking me in the a couple of hundred times with a sharp stick. And I have to repeat the treatment a few more times, perhaps more. My next treatment is March 18, the first day of Spring break. The treatments won't improve my vision (I still have the nasty floaters) BUT my doctor hopes I'll keep from throwing another vitreous hemorrhage. Here's what the treatment looks like.
OK, so what's the point of this? In losing my vision Feb. 2, I saw my future. I don't like it. And I probably can't do anything about it. I mean, seriously. The damage to my left eye continues to occur in spite of the fact that I've done all I've been instructed to do by my doctor at the Mayo Clinic (I mean, what kind of idiot goes on a diet and loses 25 pounds while on Prednisone, fighting a Thyroid disorder, and taking a large self-injected chemo shot once a week?) I continue to teach my classes, try to serve my students and their organizations, and try not to let my family and loved ones down. I am blessed to be treated by the greatest doctor in the world, Dr. Katy Gustafson Roberts, and her current brilliant nurse Christy (and her brilliantt former nurse Karen). She treats me with respect and honestly, but I have been on nine rounds of antibiotics since August 15 AND am in the office at least once a week for some kind of bloodwork.
And I am still in an awkward place. I have two eye disorders, one autoimmune, one caused by diabetic retinopathy, still fighting against each other. The treatment of the crap in the right impacts the behavior of the crap in the left. The lady? or the Tiger?
And either way, I fear my days of seeing things AT ALL are numbered. And that saddens and scares me immensely at the same time. I feel like Scrooge did when he saw the ghost of Christmas future -- except I wasn't asleep -- I was wide awake and scared to death from that moment until right now.
I want to say I continue to appreciate and covet your concern, karma, prayer and care, and I appreciate your patience with me right now. As I've been reminded several times lately, I'm not a very good friend or good company any more. I even understand those of you who don't have a clue WHAT to do or say (that happened to me last year -- a dear friend had a car accident that caused her enormous medical problems. I had no clue WHAT to do, so I became the worst friend ever. Other than pray, I did nothing. Suddenly, I get that.) Randy is a trooper.
I appreciate those of you who understand that is beyond my control. And I especially appreciate those of you who don't tell me "feel better soon," or "Cheer up," because face it, it ain't gonna happen. The longer this goes on, the longer I fear it will drag on.
Until the day comes that I lose my vision permanently.
Last week, finally, I read something someone posted on Twitter. It was called "The Spoon Theory" and it was about dealing with Chronic Illness. This person has lupus, which is different from my chronic illnesses, but the theory applies. And I beautifully describes my life every day.
Read The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino Here:
I send you all much love and thanks.