Saturday, March 23, 2013

The New Normal

It's weird that you think something is only your problem until you start talking about it. Then you find several people undergoing the same thing. In the last week, I've learned of four separate people going through the same thing that is happening to me. That is comforting and frustrating at the same time.

I've been trying to adjust to some new things here in my life. Most significantly, my eyesight has gotten worse suddenly. About a week ago I was sitting at home after work and I realized I was having trouble seeing the computer screen clearly through my right eye. (You may remember from the past that my right eye is the same one that a.) causes me to have double vision and b.) had to have an artificial lens placed in it about two years ago because of a developing cataract.)

Normally, I tend to ride out medical problems that aren't hugely problematic and hope things improve. But even I knew that something like this wasn't right. I at first thought that my artificial lens was failing or becoming cloudy or something. So, the next day I called my optometrist to schedule an appointment. I described the symptoms as best I could--looking through a haze of some sort, kind of like a web of stuff that quickly appeared. I got an appointment for the next day from when I was making the phone call. But Lynda did some Internet searching of her own and believed that it was more serious than that and suggested (well, she went ahead and scheduled) an immediate appointment for that same afternoon.

Now, I thought that I had done a good job by calling the next day and getting in to see the doctor soon. But it turned out that we were both sort of right in the end. My optometrist diagnosed me with a vitreous tear of the fluid within my right eye. The web of stuff I was seeing through was--in fact--the vitreous fluid that was detaching from the interior lining of the eye and becoming visible. If left untreated, it might escalate into a further, more serious damaging of the retina and result in partial blindness. My condition was not that serious, but the specialist that I went to next did see some minor spots of bleeding where the tear was occurring.

Turns out that this sort of thing happens as people get older. But it doesn't usually happen until that older is defined as 50s or 60s. But given my poor eye health in general, I get to experience it early. And it further turns out that unless the retina gets involved, there isn't much actual treatment that can be done about this. The doctors I have seen this week tell me that eventually the fluid will become more watery and the floaters that are partially obscuring my vision will fade or spread out a bit or drop down more to the bottom and out of my current line of site. But there is no predicting when that will (if?) happen.

I've spoken to several people who also have this condition and they say they've been facing the problem for over a year or more. So this is going to become the new thing for me. I'll just have to get used to it, it seems.

And that has not been easy to adjust to. Throughout my life I've had to accept things about me that I couldn't change. But there were also things that could be diagnosed, treated, and improved. This condition turns out to not be one of them. And I've been struggling to accept that. (It didn't help that I got pretty sick with a bad cold this week and wasn't feeling physically well either. Or it doesn't help that work remains a giant ball of confusion and barely manageable chaos.) All in all, not the best week for me.

And it got me pretty down on myself. And it made me question the future in ways that I normally don't. I began to worry about increased health problems for the future and wondered if I would become a burden on Lynda long before either of us has any right to expect such a thing. Pretty morbid stuff, really.

I'm trying to get over that and focus on positive things. I'm trying to adjust to the new normal--even if it won't be as good as I want it to be. My eyesight is not great right now, but other things are okay. Work isn't the best, but I do have a steady job and a reliable source of income. And the family in general is strong and comparatively great by all measures.

So, I've got to chin up and be happy. Writing this was another step in drawing out that negativity and putting it behind me. I'm going to try not to dwell on it and hopefully that will help me learn to start ignoring it.

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