Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Retinas of an 85-year-old.....

How about that for a compliment? In the words of my ophthalmologist, I have the "retinas of an eighty-five-year-old". Of course, he followed that by saying that my retinas were in the body of a 35-year-old who looks like a 25-year-old, so that softened the blow a bit!

That's what I did with my day yesterday. I went to the eye doctor's office to have pictures taken of my retinas. And, for this photo shoot, I didn't even have to wear make-up! Take that, Tyra!

Let me give you a bit of background before I explain what my modeling session entailed:
Even though I have 20/20 vision, that is "98%" (???), I have major macular degeneration. I have no symptoms; I don't even wear glasses. The kind doctor called me a "conundrum" who "stymied" himself and his colleagues.
I feel like I'm one big head-bump away from total blindness.

Back to the eye doctor's...

I arrived breathless with anticipation (or, fear. Call it what you wish.), they asked me if I had a person to drive me home, had me sign a release form, and seated me in the waiting room with other people "preening" for their photo shoots. Suddenly, the tech walked up and put some dilating drops in my eyes, and informed me that she would return to put in even more drops. Yes, folks, as if normal dilation of the pupils wasn't enough, they were going to "hyper-dilate" my eyes! Neat-O!
As I've stated before, relaxation is a luxury in my line of work, so I thought that I could try to read a little of my new library book before the drops kicked in fully. I made it to page 3.

About the same time, I noticed that my fellow "models" were acting a little odd.
When their names were called, one of two things happened:

1) Some people had to be led by the person accompanying them


2) Some people walked alone, looking confused while bumping into things.

I decided that since Option #1 wasn't a possibility for me (my husband had dropped me off, taken the kids, and promised to pick me up), that I was going to make sure that Option #2 was a little more dignified that it had been for other people.
I moved to the very front of the waiting room before those drops took their full effect. I was practically sitting in the receptionist's lap.

After a few more applications of the eye-drops, a LOT playing "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" on my air-piano (why hadn't I brought my iPod?), and one bathroom trip (to test my "sea legs"), the doctor called my name.

Here is where is gets really fun! I was led (my prep-work was for naught) into a room which looked just like any other eye doctor's examining room, asked to sit on the stool, and prop my chin on the chin-rest. You have to remember that, at this point, I was pretty much blinded by any normal light. And, for some reason, this temporary blindness makes you very dependent on other people and likely to do exactly as you're told to do.
It also makes you very fearful. So, when the tech asked me if I had any questions, my only query was, "Does it hurt?". His answer, "Not at all. Well, only the injection hurts.".
I honestly thought the man was joking. More on this later.

So, I stared (kind of) into this little red light while the tech placed a bigger, brighter light very close to my eyes. Not gonna lie... Kinda hurts. He turned the room lights off.
Then... BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! Who the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks let the paparazzi in the room?!?
Still reeling from the onslaught of light-flashes, I'm told to "keep my eyes wide open" and keep looking at the light. Which ONE?
Eyes watering, breath held, a zillion more flashes follow. Yeah. No pain involved here. He told me this was the easy part.

The eye doctor came in and asked me which arm has "better veins". The bewildered look on my face made him laugh. As I said before, I thought the tech was joking about the injection. No one had ever informed me. Smooth.

"Um, my left arm is better."

Needle goes in, dye goes in. No problem. Then....

Lights go off again.

BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! More flashes.

Lights on. "Can I leave now?" "Not quite yet."

Five minutes later.... Lights off. BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

Congratulations! I am now fully blind!

"OK, you can call your husband to pick you up."
In all truthfulness, I had to have the receptionist dial the number for me.

I spent the rest of the day with a killer headache and (in the spirit of true journalism) neon orange urine. Also things they don't tell you.

The good news? I get the results in 7 to 14 days.

The GREAT news? I get to do it all over again next year!

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