The evening before my life changed forever, I put on a pair of denim overall shorts and headed outside after a long day of work in a town eighteen miles away. My preschool age girls played in the fenced back yard of our small cottagey home and I planted a long row of purplish pink tulip bulbs along the side of the house. The sky was brilliant blue and the grass was exuberantly green. It’s weird how you remember things like that sometimes, crystal clear, vivid.
Things got really weird the next morning. It was dark when I woke up, so nothing seemed strange until I was in the shower with the lights on. I remember blinking a lot. I could see, but something wasn’t right. There seemed to be an excessive amount of steam in the shower, although the water wasn’t any hotter than usual. I closed one eye and peered at the shower wall and then closed the other and looked around. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
It was when the steam in the bathroom dissipated that I realized something was really, really not right. I was still surrounded, by fog, steam, something. When I held my hand up in front of my face, I could see it, but when I looked ahead of me everything was there, but not bright, not defined. The effect was sort of like when you’re driving in the fog and you can see what’s close in front of you well, but what’s out there ahead of you is in a haze.
Getting my girls settled in the back seat of the car, I tried to drive to work. I got out to the Madras highway, which is not busy, and quickly realized that if I was only going to drive 35 mph and could only see the street signs when I was 10 feet away, I probably shouldn’t be driving. I felt like a grandma driving back to my house and I was only 31 years old.
The first doctor I saw, a family practitioner, told me I was crazy and that he’d never heard such a ridiculous story, but he referred me to an ophthalmologist.
The ophthalmologist reminded me of a mad scientist as he stood there in his white lab coat, his hair cut very short, his wire rimmed glasses hanging on a not so large nose, and his teeth somewhat jagged, smiling at me in a mostly dark room. His wife, the receptionist had to be over seventy years old and looked like a throwback of a 1950s housewife, complete with black polka dot dress, heels and red lipstick. She and her husband called each other “darling”. To add to the ambience, the examination room was decked out in 1970s wood paneling that was covered in old posters of eyes and eye charts, plus a couple of very strange looking flannel graph grids with numbers and letters and plastic models of eyeballs. It was a little creepy, but the guy knew what was wrong with me.
Iritis. An eye condition marked by swelling in the front of the eye which causes the iris (the colored part of the eye) to stick to the lens. To determine the cause, he asked me lots of personal questions about habits, illnesses, family history, then ordered my first onslaught of blood tests and introduced me to a new life long friend, prednisolone acetate 1% eye drops, affectionately known as “Pred”.
The adventure had just begun.
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