To See or Not To See

Be thankful for what you have. Tomorrow may bring a different result.

“Your field vision test hasn’t shown any improvement. There’s a possibility that the vision impairment is permanent. Your eye pressure was extremely high for days before you came in, and there’s no telling how long it was symptomatic before you even noticed. We can give you another week to strategize a plan for work, but I don’t think an extra week is going to help at all.”

I sat in the chair, not knowing what to say. Dr. Esmaeli, the ophthalmologist, stood up and walked over to my where I was sitting. “I’m sorry, I have a tendency to be very blunt. I just feel that it’s better to be upfront with you.” I tried to communicate that my silence wasn’t due to her style of delivering the message, but she kept talking, “There’s always the possibility that months from now, this will clear up, but things haven’t improved much, which is a significant sign that they may not improve at all.”

It’s thought that my vision impairment was induced by the drug trial. By the time I was diagnosed with inflammation of the optic nerve head, my eye pressure was over 50. To compare, normal is below 20 and anything above 30 is considered an emergency. There’s no telling how long it was at emergency levels, but it’s highly likely that it had been days. I had confused the severity of the eye pain with a migraine a few days prior to my initial appointment.

“There’s no way,” I thought, “there’s no way that this can be permanent.” Katie asked the doctor’s for a minute, but I just wanted to get the rest of the examination over with so that I could get out of there. I didn’t want to be in that office anymore. There were too many people, and I just needed a little time to process what I had just heard.

My vision isn’t horrible. I can read words, but that’s only because one eye has almost returned to normal. The other doesn’t bring much clarity at all unless I’m looking straight ahead. It sees as if I had just woken from a two hour night’s sleep. Everything appears a little softened, like I’m watching a tv from the 80’s. My ability to see much when it’s dark has also been hampered. Having never failed a color blind test, I can now only get three out of twelve slides correct. It’s a significant drop from the perfect vision that I’ve had my entire life.

“There’s nothing we can do? I mean, is there any kind of corrective lens that might help me out?” I asked. “No, I’m afraid that there is nothing available to correct this,” Dr. Esmaeli responded. I was grasping at anything. Even the thought of wearing glasses would have eased my mind. I stared at the floor. For a moment, I was defeated. Like Rocky, standing in his corner during the middle rounds of a fight with Apollo Creed, I looked to God, my trainer, and thought, “Cut me, Mick. Cut me.”

Katie and I walked to the parking lot and sat in the car for a minute. I shared some of my feelings with her. Right away, we discussed the desire to get second and third opinions. She immediately made a call to an eye specialist and set up an appointment for the following week. And we began praying for the best. It could have been worse. I’m thankful that it’s not.

Recently, I started thinking about all of the sporting events and concerts that I enjoy attending. I suppose this means that I now have to get as close as possible. Nosebleed seats are no longer acceptable. That’s too bad, I hate sitting close (kidding). There’s a silver lining in everything.

My new spectacles.

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