Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Eyes - Part 2 (The Treatment)

This is the second entry in "My Eyes" saga so please start reading with "My Eyes - Part 1 (The Diagnosis) so you know what's going on.

Okay, so there's one thing I don't like and that's uncertainty or better yet "the unknown". As much as I wanted to freak out (and I did) about knowing about my condition it helped to know that there was treatment and that things can go on for years before surgery was ever needed.

The first step of treatment was glasses. They don't fix your mis-shappened eye but they will help with your vision. When those don't work you have to move on to contacts.

The fact that I would have to get contacts and my insurance company would pay for them was exciting. The reason why, not so much. You can first start out with soft contact lenses but my eyes had already gone past that point and I had to move to a different kind.

That would be Hard Gas-Permeable ones. And when those didn't work they move you to a HGP lense especially developed for Keratoconus. Fitting a nicely curved hard lens on an eye that is not so nicely curved was aweful. It was painful and it took a couple of years to get the right fit. And then every year my vision had changed because my eyes were getting worse that we had to go through the fitting process all over again.

I can't tell you how many times I just sat in the doctor's office and cried when he would tell me my eyes are getting worse. Just the thought of surgery and the complication and the possible loss of vision in that eye (or the eye itself) was enough to make anyone break down. My doctor was great; he would sit and talk to me and alleviate all my fears before making sure I was okay to drive home. When I finally switched health providers and had to pick another doctor I wasn't sure I would ever find someone as caring and compassionate as that man. I've even recommended him to my parents and anyone still using that HMO.

The special HGP lenses for Keratoconus are meant to try and push back the coning shape of your eye into a more rounded form. They're not very comfortable and just getting through the day at work (on a computer) could be long and painful. I hate wearing shoes and those are usually the first things I take off when I get home, but some days the contact lenses had to come out before I could even think about removing my shoes.

I started playing video games long before I knew I had this problem, but I didn't start playing games online until after I had my contacts. Unfortunately because my eyes hurt so much I ended up playing games with my glasses on instead. This meant that I still had some distortion in my vision since the glasses don't do anything to reshape your eye. Sometimes I wondered if I was just a bad player or if my eyes limited me in how I played.

Eventually you get to the point where your eyes become "contact lens intolerant". That means that your cornea has thinned out so much that putting a small piece of plastic on them become extremely painful. It would be like getting an open wound and just when the first new layer of skin starts to form you keep rubbing it back and forth with a pen or a credit card. The only course then is to stop wearing the contact lenses because you run the risk of rupturing the cornea and losing your eye. If you rupture your eye and all the things inside your eye become things outside your eye . . . well, you're screwed.

I got to that point in January of 2004. I know exactly when because I went on a Hawaiian cruise in December and when I got back my allergies had gone haywire. After seeing my doctor for some new allergy medicine my eyes still weren't getting any better. When I saw my eye doctor he said it was time to start seeing a surgeon.

When I saw the surgeon he told me to stop wearing my contact lens in my left eye and to let it heal for awhile and come back to see him. When I did go back a month later he said it's time for surgery for my left eye.

If you get to the point where you can't wear contact lenses any more you're getting to the point where your cornea might thin out enough that you might rupture it just by rubbing your eye. If you do that you'll lose your eye. So around May of 2004 my doctor put my name on the transplant list for a new cornea.

The next step in the process is a corneal transplant. I was at that stage, but I wasn't ready for it. Over the next 9 month I freaked out almost daily. But I'll save that for the next post.


metallicorphan said...

i really hope everything turns out alright for you Penny..and i thought i had it bad being deaf,i can't even imagine what you must be going through

pengwenn said...

Just wait . . . there's more.

Pogue said...

oy that sucks my vision is starting to get worse but for some odd reason my hearing has gotten considerably better. People around the office have to be careful when they talk around me because i hear their conversations. Where you been pengy we miss you on the site