Friday, July 4, 2008


Just over 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with glaucoma. Bit of a surprise under 30 years old, but there you go. I had been having some severe headaches increasing in frequency, so I went to my doctor. I told him I thought it might be my eyes (I knew I had high ocular pressure, I just never followed through with a thorough enough exam) and I was poo-poo'd. "Do you have insurance?" "Yes" "Then lets do a CAT scan." Niiiiice.

It was my eyes. I poo YOU sir.

Thus began 15 years of testing, treatment, drops, bi-annual visits and a variety of tests to calculate the certain degradation of my ocular nerves.

I'll tell you right now, I don't like the puff test; I always blink. I've learned how to steele myself for it though. The "blue circle" test is rough too - where they put drops in your eyes to numb them (forcing you to wipe away yellow goo for the rest of the day) and then they place this blue circle of light right on top of your eyeball to test the pressure of the ocular fluid inside your eyeball. It's no fun, but I just focus on the yellow glop. It doesn't take very long.

When I was first diagnosed with glaucoma, I went to a state of the art eye place - office was top notch - tests were superior (although the blue circle is the blue circle is the blue circle). There is a test that they give to see if your peripheral vision is depleting - a visual field test. I'd sit in front of this huge white salad bowl and was told to only stare at the center of the bowl. Like our hearing tests when we were in school, I'd have to click each time I saw a light appear somewhere inside the salad bowl. I liked the salad bowl test and prided myself on its successful completion.

As sometimes happens in life, my health plan benefit changed and I could no longer go to my fabulous top notch eye place. See, it was the only place I had ever been for glaucoma and I figured all tests were created equal.

Noooo. No no no no no.

Then I went to a doctor in local hospital. His "salad bowl" test was more like a cereal bowl and it was in a room that was the size of a large office desk. The cereal bowl was pushed up against my face, (and on top of said large office desk) so that when I breathed, I could feel my breath coming back at me, hot and steaming, redolent with carbon dioxide. In a small room. A small, enclosed, dark, hot-from-my-breath room. The test takes at least 7 minutes; maybe 10 and if you don't do the test right, you have to do it again. Phew. That was hard. Breathe. Must breathe. Phew. Phrew. I'm done. Phew. No wait. I didn't do the test right. For the first time in 10 years, I had to do the test again! Noooooo! I had to do it again!

I've never been claustrophic and I've never had a panic attack. OMG OMG OMG - my heart rate increased, I started to sweat, and I began to panic. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I needed to scream. I got through it, but told the nurse I had to walk out of the office for a minute and just breathe.

I had to take the effing test again. I thought I was going to cry. It was a monumental act of self control to not go beserk and get through the test.

I can still feel the closeness of the machine on my face. I can still remember what the panic felt like in my chest and my legs. How I wanted to scream and cry all at once. I've never felt more ridiculous in my life and I will never take that nice salad bowl test for granted again.

As a post script, cereal bowl doctor told me that in his opinion, after 10 years there was no ocular nerve degeneration therefore no glaucoma. I just have a high tolerance for high ocular pressure.
No more cereal bowl.

1 Comment:

lace1070 said...

Uuuff ~ I hate the puff test, too. In fact, when I saw my opthomologist just a month ago, she laughed as she was cramming eye drops into my squinty eyes saying that she wasn't even going to attempt the puff test because she can't figure out how to get the air in there! i've gotten more tolerable with the eye drops but i still hate them ~ the number one reason i will never have contacts ~ so ~ no glaucoma, huh? That's great news!

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