Installment #2 -Navigating Wet MD
Until fifteen years ago, there was no cure. There was no treatment for this disease of the eye. Now going on five years I suppose, I went to first a neurologist thinking I had a pesky migraine that wasn’t going away. I received the effects of getting a shot in the arm in the office. The migraine cleared, the annoying symptom of a well-entrenched migraine, at least for me, was a darkening or tunneling of one or both eyes. In this case, the right eye did not clear. He suggested I see an Ophthalmologist. I did, after an exam, he said that I needed to see some other eye doctor. He said I appear to have some bleeding in the right eye.
“Ok, well, that explains the darkened eyesight in that one eye.”
I went through an extensive exam. To the point, I was there most of the day. They put red dye in a vein and was able to diagnose Wet Macular Degeneration in the right eye. I was told it's not age-related, that it was because of the shape of that eye. It is more like a football than rounded that somehow is supposed to explain the bleeding in their world.
After my being there for a good five hours, the doctor placed a hand on my shoulder and said calmly, “you are in luck, there is a treatment for the Wet MD. If it was dry, MD, not so much.
In my mind, I was thinking, great, I have the real thing, they can treat me, and I’m good.
As the doctor turned to leave, you see I needed to speak with the finance office I was told, I asked innocently, “So doc, what’s the treatment?”
“Just a shot?”
In my head, I quickly go over all the facts and arrive at a full stop. Something is not right here.
“So, Doc, one more little question, where exactly does this shot go?”
“Don’t worry, we will numb you up real good, and it goes in your eye.”
As my sheet white ghosting impression fades and color returns to my face, he explains how it’s the only way to treat Wet MD. The part about the bio-engineered (that means very expensive) dosage counteracts the perpetually bleeding weak blood vessels of the eye.
Now I am led to the mystical, magical Finance Office, and the idea of what’s about to happen fades as we talk money. I won’t share the cost, but Insurance does pay most of it; otherwise, it’s a problem. Medicare as well covers, although I am not quite there yet. Once all that was cleared financially with the Insurance company as I sat there, the idea of touching my eye, let alone receiving a shot in the eye crept back in.
Fight or flight is not an emotion; it is a base instinct that drives your every thought, beyond, what's for dinner. I was now entering that decision process, Fight, or Flight. The non-emotion male thing was sitting on one shoulder, whispering, tough it out. On the other side was, run like hell, and fast.
So there I sit in the reclined dental chair, waiting for whatever next torture modern medicine a fifteen-year-old in a blue medical dress comes in.
I hear my little guy called Flight, still whispering in my ear, “you're in the last room, closest to the emergency exit of this building. No one will know you're gone, come on. Knock her over and run like hell.”
Before I could return to rational thought, I found myself strapped down in a dentist chair. Ok, that isn’t true. There are no restraints, despite the weighted feeling of lead in your arms as you are reclined back. “Here come the numbing drops,” this possibly pre-pubescent wanting to be a doctor says, “Here comes a Q-tip.”
Ok, yes, I’ve taken liberty with the satire and tried to make you laugh, but they really do use a long-handled Q-tip with a good dose of numbing gel. It is neatly tucked in between your lower eyelid and eyeball. For the next twenty minutes, I felt like it would fall out surely, someone would come back in and pick it up off the floor and shove it back in. It didn’t fall out, but between the drops and the numbing gel, it all somehow deadens your nerve endings in the eye. It works.
An intern, apparently, a lot of young, seemingly not more than fifteen-years-old wants to learn how to stick a needle in someone's eye. This particular Ophthalmology practice is thriving, doing this almost as a specialty. Frankly, I don’t envy the Doctor, well I suppose if you compare it to going into proctology, it’s ok, but jabbing needles into people's eyes all day? I’m sure no five-year-old says I want to be a Proctologist mom. Somewhere the educational system sparked something, and shit won the day.
My timer is up apparently because a flurry of activity occurred, in comes a new Intern with the Doctor. This intern looked to be sixteen, so she did a year as the numbing intern to graduate to the assistant torturer. I was now blinded by the room lights coming on. Which I believe is a good thing on two counts. If you can’t see, you can't flee, and more importantly, the Doctor can see where to stick you in the eye. Complicated, I know, but practical.
Imagine an old fashioned glass eyewash cup with the bottom missing. That is not what the Doctor uses to hold your quivering eyelids open, but its what I imagined it was. Next, after that’s in place, the Doctor does not waste time.
“You’ll feel a little pressure,” he says.
In less than a full two seconds, a few things happen, yes you feel some pressure, but the magical world of Disney animation appears as you watch your eye fill up from the inside. A fantastic thing really when you think about it.
Then comes the dreaded words, “Ok, you’re good; we’ll see in four and half weeks.”
"Wait, what, you mean we have to do this again."
All kidding aside, the world of modern science and medicine have combined to provide a treatment where there was none a decade or so ago. My situation was hopeful for a long time as if my eye would go into some remission thing. We stretched the time between treatments to as many as twelve weeks apart. Good news, then it seemed to fight back, and I go every six to seven weeks now.
When the brain finally wakes up, and you go, I can see, the inconvenience and slight discomfort is nothing. In fact, you look forward to the next treatment. Ok, not really. I’ve done one the same day as the Dentist. Let that sink in.
Now I told you before that the Wet MD treatments had shelved the idea of not going fulltime RV’ing. It had pushed us to Plan B, moving to Florida and being stable, sane adults, not caravanning around the countryside.
We said the Hell with that, and are doing the RV thing in spite. We will either return home like sparrows to Capistrano or find alternate facilities and Doctors to provide the Treatment. The idea of finding unique towns, people, and situations to include in my books is strong. I purchased an excellent Single-lens Reflex Camera and can take pictures to jog the memory as I write. We won’t travel regularly but will be able to get away from neighbors or annoyances. We will do a few weeks here, a few weeks there as we move about the country. So more on this as we learn how to receive treatments on the road, we hope.