Thursday, January 3, 2008

Vision- A Year Later

A Year Later
4.5" x 8"
It's been a year since I got up enough courage to try to save my vision, and went through with getting a Lucentis injection in my eye. I was terrified, especially since even the threat of a normal needle in my body often causes me to faint. But I was even more afraid of losing my vision. The doctor encouraged me, and was patient and kind. So, I went through with it.
"What will happen if she doesn't get treatment?" my daughter asked the doctor when he told how much the treatments cost.
There wasn't any question but that I had to get the treatments somehow. No matter what the cost. I couldn't lose my sight, especially if there was something that would prevent going blind. I need my eyes. Most of my time is spent with art, writing, watching tv, looking for pictures, not to mention the ordinary things like being grandma, cooking, walking around, and those sort of things. I relied on the doctor to guide us and help as I was too much in shock to speak or think.
"No, you don't just have to have treatment. You won't go totally blind," he explained. "You will just lose all your center vision, the part that lets you focus on things. You won't be able to drive, read, sew, or do anything where you have to focus."
"Draw, paint, do clay, watch tv, take pictures, look at scenes, read, write, do genealogy, or anything that I do!" I thought.
"You just decide on what treatment you want and let us know," he said kindly during the first visit. "Your insurance will cover it."
So, the only hold up was my fear, but I finally got myself together and made the appointment.
In earlier posts, I have written about my experiences, and also posted art work that shows what I experienced. All those posts are prefaced with the word Vision. You can find them in my Archives in the sidebar.
I was supposed to go back a week after the shot to get my eye checked, then have regular injections about 4 weeks apart for at least a year. Then, before I went to have my eye checked, I was informed that my insurance was only going to pay a tiny part of the huge bill, and I would have to pay before I could have another appointment. I was really in shock, then. There didn't seem to be any kind of help, and I sure couldn't come up with that amount.
I was going to have to figure out how to cope with loss of vision. Still, I needed to try to do whatever possible to save my sight. I had to try. I tried every avenue the doctor told me about, and did all the research and asking others that I could.
There it was-treatment, out of sight, out of reach, beyond my grasp. But, it was there. Only not for me. Promises for help were just a waste of time for me. I didn't qualify for anything.
The only thing I could think of to do would be to drop my remaining little health insurance policy, and use the monthly premiums to make payments on what the insurance company had not paid to the Retina Specialist. I feard doing that. I thought that, at some time, I might get really sick and need to have some kind of insurance just to get into an Emergency Room.
So, I have not been back to have my eye checked or to get any treatments. In frustration, I started this blog, and have been painting and writing about my experiences. Maybe someone else will be helped by my experiences, although I have run into a brick wall.
I was diagnosed with wet Macular Degeneration in my left eye a year ago last December (mybig Crhistmas present!), when I knew that I was going to have to pass an eye exam to renew my drivers license. I also have some cataracts in both eyes. My 20/20 vision went out the window! The doctors told me that my vision was good enough to pass the drivers test, but, when I got there, I couldn't see a thing but a black background and some green squiggles in the box. So, no more driving for me. That is sort of okay, but it is very inconvenient at times.
I have done a lot of searching, studying, applying for help, and anything I could think of to do to save my sight. I've learned quite a bit, but I haven't had anymore treatments or exams. I'm afraid that my vision loss is permanent, now, and it is only going to get worse.
At this point, the cataracts cause things to be blurry, etc. But the AMD eye has distortion and, when I try to look at something with that eye, there is only a purple, sometimes purple and green, spot covering whatever I am trying to see.
I hoped that the good right eye would compensate, and I could see pretty well by using it. Hopefully, I might even be able to drive, if I could just get the cataracts fixed. But, I can't read signs until I am right up on them, and last week, I realized that I couldn't even see a neighbors house against the trees in the fading evening light. That has never happened before. So, it is best that I dont' drive, for now.
I have noticed that I don't have to wear my old reading glasses for normal reading, now. I do need them for very small print.
Watching tv is a problem, sort of. If I don't really care to watch, I'm okay on my usual perch on the couch. But, if I really want to see something, I have to get up and walk over to the tv set, or I have to put my chair about 2 feet away from the set.
The small painting above shows what a tv program looks like, to me, from the couch. The wavey lines at the bottom are the way I see the scrolling news banners. The letters are just fuzzy marks instead of letters. The foggy purple spot covers the area where I am trying to look. When I was watching this particular program, there were some men in soldier uniforms in the center of the screen, in case you wonder what on earth this picture is about!
I painted this using Winsor Newton watercolors on 140 pound Arches watercolor paper.
For more information about Macular Degeneration and related vision problems, look under Eye Sites in my sidebar. These are some links that I have found that I wanted to share.
I have added a link to My Vision Test, that you might want to try. This is also under Eye Sites. Tomorrow I will write some information about the test and its creator.
If you don't know about it, there is an online group that has conversations and some support that some of you might be interested in. This is called the Macular Degeneration or MD Forum. It does help to know what others go through, and to learn what to expect. I had never heard of such a thing as Macular Degeneration until last year when the Opthamologist told me that is what I had.
I've been particularly interested in how artists who had AMD were able to function and how it affected their art work. Monet, Degas, and Georgia O'Keefe, are just a few of the artists that we know about who are said to have had Macular Degeneration.
Thanks for reading and sharing. Please let me know if you see something of interest to you.
Check out my Guest Book at the very bottom of my page.
And don't forget to take a look at the links in my sidebar.

1 comment:

Martha Marshall said...

Cecelia, a close friend of mine learned about two years ago that she had WMD as well. She is employed in a job that requires looking at computer screens all day. This was a real blow for her. Since then, at 50-something, she started exercising -- a lot! I'm talking bike riding with a group, hiking with another group, kayakking, something all the time. It seems to have helped her condition tremendously. I think she is doing super nutrition too.

I wish you all the best on this scary journey.