For as long as I can remember I have always received the best compliments on my eyes. So you can imagine my sadness when my diseases started attacking my eyes. I knew that they wouldn’t change their appearances, at least permanently. Short term, there were a few periods of time after some transient blood clots that I dealt with ruptured blood vessels that left my eyes bloodshot and dingy looking for a few weeks. I am sure I thought this was more noticeable than other people did. We always tend to focus on the negatives when they are happening to us, especially when they are terrifying.
I didn’t realize how important blood flow was to vision. I mean it makes sense that it would be, but it wasn’t until I developed ‘thick blood’ that I realized just how important. Back before I saw Dr. B for the first time, I was having all sorts of visual disturbances, including the blind spot that had developed. I felt like I was in a fun house of visual effects. My vision was distorted, I couldn’t focus properly, and was blurry from time to time. I know now that this was likely because of the thickness of my blood and because of tiny clots passing through the veins.
I still think back to that first appointment with Dr. B often. Those words ‘You’ve had a stroke in your eye.’ often play through my mind. At the age of 29, the words ‘you’ve had a stroke’ are far from what you expect to hear, and ‘in your eye’ are even more distant. I went from having not seen an eye doctor since my school days, because I have always had perfect vision, to now I see a Retinal Specialist routinely. My appointments are long, I’m at his office for about 2 1/2 hours every time I go to his office. They do the vision field test, dilate my eyes, and prior to me even getting to see the doctor do a retinal image scan, take pictures of my eyes and then I get to see Dr. B. This next time I get to see him, he will have to do an extra step because I’m on Plaquenil and it requires monitoring for retinal damage. It can be done at the same time he is checking on the status of my Occlusion and making sure there has been no new events that have gone unnoticed to me.
That’s the scary thing, Retinal Vein Occlusions can happen without you being aware of them. Not all of them affect your vision as severely as the one I had. Some of them go unnoticed until detected by a doctor. That still unnerves me when I think about it. So I try not to think about it too much.
I haven’t seen Dr. B since January and I’m sort of looking forward to seeing him next week. It will be nice to talk to him and fill him in on everything that has happened since the last time I saw him. It’s quite a bit. I changed PCPs, acquired a Rheumatologist, was diagnosed with Lupus, started Imuran, my Plaquenil dosage was adjusted, my INR range was increased to 3-4. There were some other changes as well. Most of all, my anxiety level has significantly decreased. I also want to tell him thank you. He has been there almost from the beginning of this craziness. He is the ‘senior’ member of my medical team. If all goes well next Thursday I probably won’t see him again until December. Since I’m on Plaquenil I should get checks every 6 months to make sure that medication isn’t causing damage to my Retinas. I still find it odd that I’m on medications that have to be monitored, and that could cause me harm, that I’m at a point in my life where the risk of the complications of the medications is outweighed by the benefits gained by taking them. It happens when you develop a couple of pesky autoimmune conditions though.