Monday, January 24, 2005

Better Late Than Never

I've been away. Mentally, anyway. Just overwhelmed with stuff and so I haven't been here, writing. Not that I have heard any particular clamoring for me to get my butt back in gear and write something. It occurs to me that no one else reads my blog, but that's okay, I write it for myself and if anyone else reads it, they're just lucky.

Stuff. Hmmmm. I have an occlusion in a vein in my left eye. Right in front of the macula.

Macula aside: This is a critical part of the eye mechanism. Without your macula, you cannot see anything. That is why macular degeneration is a very bad disease.

I have lupus, right? One of the drugs for lupus is Placquenil (spell that six times fast) and Placquenil can cause macular degeneration. Because I took a lot of it, over a long period, I had to see an eye doctor every six months to check for any signs of deterioration. Never had one problem. A year and a half ago, I went off Placquenil, but the effects can occur long after you stop the drug.

Add to this already scary background the fact that I had the most horrible hacking cough known to womankind from Christmas Eve until about a week ago, and the eye situation gets even more harried. I would double up with racking spasms of coughing that left me gasping for air and weak-kneed. On the 30th of December, I woke up and couldn't clear my left eye. It was blurry, like there was something left in it from sleeping. (Actually, we called that stuff "sleep" when I was a kid and I guess I still do, so I thought there was still sleep in my eye.) But there was nothing external.

With my Placquenil history and my horrid cough, I immediately called the optometrist I see for an appointment, wondering all the while if I shouldn't be seeing an opthamologist (MD) instead. But she was very thorough and said I had a small hemorrhage in the eye, right in front of the macula, which was interfering with my vision. Instructions? Sleep with my head up and come back in 10 days. 10 days later, no change, I still can't see correctly. Now the instructions are sleep with my head up, stop taking my daily low dose aspirin, and see an opthamologist who is a vitreo-retinal specialist. Two days later, I saw the fellow, who I had actually seen years ago when nothing was wrong with my eyes.

Guess what? It's not a hemorrhage, it's an occlusion, which seems to be a kind of blood clot that blocks the vein and creates (because it's in front of my macula) a haze that interferes with my vision. Probably caused by the lupus, but who knows for sure? Come back in a month and, oh, by the way, start taking a low dose aspirin every day!!

One neat thing is that I got the see pictures of the inside of my eyeballs! Pretty neat, all spidery veins and stuff. Another not-so-neat thing is that they dilated my eyes and then not only shone the strongest light in the world directly into them, they also took photographs with a flash that was even brighter! Oh my god, did that hurt.

I still can't see properly. It gives me headaches because I keep trying to focus and I can't actually. But no detached retina, which is very good, and not the BAD kind of lupus complication (arterial occlusion) so that's good, too.

On to more cheerful stuff. I won a scholarship to a writers' conference in Reno, Nevada in April. I am very stoked. It is the Fred Salas Scholarship in Memoir. I will be taking a workshop with Joelle Fraser-Porter who wrote "The Territory of Men." Very exciting to be going to a writers' conference.

More later, I promise, ye mysterious readers (or not).