I can! I can! Yeah. Go me. I can spell the name for a fancy eye doctor. OPHTHALMOLOGIST. It is tricky. I’ll give it that. Whoever heard of a word with a “phth” in the middle? And then there’s that extra “L”? Crazy.
Why do I see one of those? Well, turns out that both multiple sclerosis and lupus can affect the eyes in different ways. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with lupus that my Rheumatologist (Ack! another crazy spelling!) sent me to an Ophthalmologist. The medication for lupus can also affect my eyesight too in its own way. Well isn’t that just fabulous? Of course my eyes would be affected by what’s supposed to make me better. What isn’t affected? Oh and I’ve seen a Neuro-Ophthalmologist (I tell ya. When you have diseases you get to see doctors you never even knew existed.) and that was right before my lupus diagnosis but no one knew I had lupus so I was only told I was having “eyeritis” (or something, can’t remember exactly and I’m not so sure about the spelling) which was just basically inflammation of my eyes (So not fun. I think it was all part of my first really bad lupus flare that I’m still recovering from. Thankfully, I don’t have that anymore.)
In all fairness to this “Oph” Doctor (gonna call him “Oph” for short from now on), he has really helped me. I had seen numerous optometrists in the past due to my extreme nearsightedness in one eye and extreme astigmatism (help, too many fancy words!) in the other eye who I believe were just looking for money. Sure they were nice but the last one I had NEVER mentioned that I have a certain syndrome (can’t remember all fancy names or my head would explode) that creates dry eyes and dry mouth (hmm, could’ve helped me get a lupus diagnosis sooner because it is connected to lupus and it’s a symptom but I digress) and that was PROBABLY (gee you think?) the reason I can’t wear contacts anymore. I wore contacts before? Oh yes I did and I LOVED them. The world was a better place to look at, that is, until my contacts started popping out of my eyes because my eyes were so dry! And to top it off, the contacts I needed to wear were only available by special order and were especially custom made just for me and they cost a fortune! Imagine how I felt when I couldn’t wear them anymore? It was heart breaking and I hated that I had spent so much money on something I couldn’t even use.
ANYWAY (back to the subject at hand Nahleen) this Oph Doctor couldn’t believe I had been wearing contacts or at least been TRYING to wear them and said that he’d known Optometrists to go ahead and have patients buy contacts they can’t even wear because it makes them more money. This Oph Doctor on the other hand is a doctor who is very concerned about the eye itself and the health of it. When I told him I had both MS and lupus he seemed pretty nervous at first to treat me and get it right but with a whole heck of a lot of tests I learned that the MS, lupus and medications have not damaged my eyes at all. I also found out that my dry eyes were causing me problems and were the probable reason for light sensitivity (with any lights and the sun–of course) or photosensitivity of the eyes and my eyes needed healing. How did he help me with that? Well, I started using Restasis eye drops (they’ve helped immensely) and every three months or so he puts punctal plugs in my tear ducts.
Yes, that’s what I said. He puts plugs in my tear ducts. They’re tiny (he must have GREAT eyesight) and they help me trap the tears in my eyes to help moisten them. It’s not that I don’t produce any tears, it’s that I produce more than my fair share and the tears escape my eyes and then I’m back to dry eyes. I don’t know the exact details but it is crazy how he does it. Why every three months? Because they disintegrate after about two and a half months and the three months is just to be safe just in case the old ones are still there. The best part about going every three months is that we are also able to be productive with my eye healthcare and we can do follow-up medical tests to make sure there is no damage being done somewhere we don’t see it. It’s all kinda fascinating when I’m not going through it and I’m able to think about what they know about my eyes. Hooray for medical science and computers!!! Let’s keep my eyes in order.
So my whole point about all of this is that I went to see the Ophthalmologist (hey, I think I spelled it right again) today for my three month check up and it all went really well! I’ll admit, I have been apprehensive about the people in this office including the doctor because they have been very hard to read and I need to be able to read people. I can’t help it. After today I know that I’ve made the right choice staying there. I’ve been going there for almost a year and a half and the Oph has changed my eyes so much for the better. My eyes feel so much more relief and he said today that my eyes look a lot better than they did and that they are definitely healing. He says one day I might be able to wear contacts again but we’d have to trust that my eyes could moisten themselves well enough. I dream of that day. Glasses can be so pretty now with very fashionable frames and the “ultra thin” style of lenses (thank goodness for this process because otherwise I’d be wearing bottle caps–ugh), but they don’t help me peripherally, they’re not comfortable, they constantly need to be cleaned and I’m always having to push them up my nose. Not to mention that they fog up every time I’m hot which is most of the time so I’m constantly trying to cool them down. However, I am thoroughly glad to be able to have glasses too. It’s not fun to always be blind. I like eyes. I like seeing.
And when I’m connecting with people and smiling and even asking how they’re doing they tend to tell me a lot about what’s going on with them. Also, if I’ve known them for awhile and they’re used to me, they warm up even more. Today I learned that the poor technician has some sort of crazy lump in her mouth that the dentist says is a viral infection (what the heck? I had no idea that happened. Learn something new every day even if you don’t want to.) and that the Oph loves a restaurant called The Veggie Grill and it’s just up the street and I should trying it and the kale salad they make there is really good and he couldn’t stop talking about it!!! He was also very excited to be able to get out and go to lunch today because he doesn’t get to that much. And you know, I should really try the Veggie Grill sometime. Give it a chance. (He saw the face I was making about the kale and had to point it out). Then we joked about going to the Mexican restaurant near there and passing out tortillas in the office (how’d we get there?) and so on. This is a doctor who was sooooo shy at first and clinical and now he’s joking with me and talking all about food. We’ve become best friends I guess.
So what did I do afterwards? I took a jaunt to The Veggie Grill and enjoyed the sunshine and the beautiful weather in Santa Monica, CA. It was lovely outside. And I have to declare here that the “Buffalo Chickin (veggie chicken I guess) Salad” was absolutely fantastic! I think it was the best salad I have ever had! So yummy I ate all of it! I have got to go there more often. Most of my doctors are either in the same building or just up the street from the others in the same area and I have been missing out on yumminess! Oh and did I also mention that it was healthy?! Wow. Yummy and healthy. Can’t beat that.
All in all a pretty good appointment week. That’s so nice considering that in the past it felt like all appointments I went to were crappy and there was always more to digest and more to do and it was never ending and oh so overwhelming. Yeah, the appointments are all still pretty much happening but I’m getting better. Yes, I’m putting it out there.
I’M GETTING BETTER….bit by bit…I hope my body hears me.