Sam picked me up from the office yesterday to take me out to the University of South Florida Eye Institute. I had an appointment with a neuro-opthomologist. Neither one of us had any idea what he was going to do to me, so I was a little tense. I don't like surprises, not knowing what to expect, or not having a choice in matters. That has been me life-long, but I seem a little more so after the stroke.
We parked and walked up to hte building. I had my "rollie" with me (I feel safer using it and take it everywhere with me. It felt like a step backward from the cane, but now it feels like a little more independence), and was happy to see that there was a ramp to walk up instead of having to try to navigate the 4 steps up to the doors. Sam didn't notice it until a headed toward it. He isn't used to my using the rollator yet and not needing his help up and down steps, but he's getting used to it.
Inside, we registered and sat down to wait. We weren't waiting long when they called me.
FIrst test was like going to my regular eye doctor, can you read this line of letters, good, now the next line......we all know the drill. Separating eyes, I started to realize just how much I was not seeing from my right eye. I read another 4 lines smaller with my left than with my right eye. My spirits started sinking.
Second test was a vision field test. Look at this little light and click when you see a light flash in front of you. It seemed like testing my right took forever. I started to get tired and get a headache, so the tech let me rest a few mionutes before testing my left eye. That went smoothly, quicker than testing the right eye, and I wasn't as tired afterwards. I also realized Sam and the tech were talking about my tests, though I do'nt think they realized it.
They mentioned, to each other, that my responses were much quicker on the left side and that "straight ahead" in my left eye was shifted towards the right - meaning that I have gotten used to compensating for my right eye. I got a bigger sinking feeling.
Third test was without my contacts or glasses - read this line, which is better, 1 or 2 while they flip and turn lenses infront of your eyes, basically reading what my prescription is. Nothing weird and this didn't bother me. My right eye has always had a stronger prescription than my left.
FInally, the doctor comes in with a resident student. They ask if they can dilate my eyes. Ok, fine, I'm used to this too. A little drop in each eye. It stings the daylights out of my left eye, but not my right eye. Weird. 15 minutes later and my eyes have not dilated, so another dsrop in each eye (not outside the scope of normal for me). It stings the left eye again, but not the right. I mention it to Sam who says that is weird, but not outside of normal. I think he is trying to keep me calm.
Finally dilated, they look at my optical nerve on each side. Left side looks normal. Right side does not. They mention something about it looking tilted and there being some sort of atrophy. Ok, now the sinking feeling is coming back.
We sit and wait a few more minutes, then the doctor wants to go over my results with me. Aqui va!
I have the natural, normal blind spot that most people have in the lower left outside range of my left eye. Nothing unusual. Ok, we started withthe good news. HOWEVER (here it comes), I have a blind "spot" that encompasses the entire outside quarter of my right visual field (HOLY CROW what is this guy telling me!?).
Then he proceeds to ask if I had problems with both eyes at first but that my left eye had corrected itself. I tell him no. My left eye has always been fine. "That's very unusual," he says, "if you had had a left affected stroke, I'd have expected to see these kinds of tests, but it is not only rare, it is almost impossible to have these results from a right-side affected stroke."
So, what is he telling me, I'm faking the tests? Wow, that's talent. I didn't know I could affect when and how my pupils dilate due to light.
No, that is not what he is saying, just that he did not expect to see these kinds of results. He'll look at my scans, but he is willing to bet that I had multiple strokes in more than one area and did I have problems with my balance after the stroke? Yes, that is why I use a rollator. I still have balance issues. That makes sense to him! Oh good. I'm not that much of a freak.
OK, look at the scan results from the hospital, type up all of his findings, and send everything over to Dr. Mike. In the mean time, he wants to see me again in 2 months and I am not to drive because my depth perception is way off and I don't see things coming at me from the right side. Maybe, the next time he sees me, I'll have made some improvements, we'll see.
I'm starting to think that I am not going to get my driving priveledges back. That bothers me because it is a loss of independence. Independence seems to have become majorly important to me since the stroke. I feel like I am losing it and can't get it back. I don't like that........... I really don't like that.
OK, eye appointment over, Sam helps me into the car as my eyes were not only behind sunglasses, they were flat out closed because it was too bringht out, and off we go to our friends, Greg and Terry's house to do our taxes. Greg is an accountant and always does our taxes.
Sam and I file separately every year because of the kids and their death benifits from their father. This year, we itemized my return because of all of the medical bills from the stroke. Took longer, but we got it done. Sam can still pretty much do simple taxes, so his took less time, no itemizations. Taxes done and filed and return amounts to be direct deposited. Whew. That is a relief. We sat and talked with Greg and Terry until about 9:30 when I was just too tired to be out any longer. The hour drive home from Riverview to Tampa was quiet, not much conversation. We were listening to a blues station on the radio, music that Sam and I agree on.
I did, of course, jump a little bit when cars turned into traffic on my right side, and I sware that Sam doesn't start breaking until he is right up on the car in front of us. I've been doing that for a while now. Sam just put his hand on my leg and said "it's ok, I got it, we're not going to hit anything." Usually he gets frustrated at me and snaps about how he has it and to let him drive. I guess knowing, now, that I react that way because I can't see the cars until they are right next to us, and that I can't tell how far away traffic is, Sam does'nt think I am commenting about his driving, I just don't see things like "normal" people.
Looking at all of this, I am starting to really think that medical retirement is my best course of action. I'm still glad I tried to go back to work and things as normally as I could, but, yes, I think my mother was right when she said I needed to get disability and just not worry about it any more.