Monday, April 21, 2008

The Eyes Have It

Lately I've been making good use of my shiny new insurance card and I've been catching up on a number of things. While I still can't quite face my dental phobias, I have gone in for a few maintenance procedures which can make me a bit jumpy. I always feel quite grown up and proud of myself when I make those tiresome appointments and then get through them without snapping at anyone.

However, given the lack of either large, cold machines and/or blood, I expected my eye exam to be smooth sailing. I'd already come to terms with the fact bifocals were on the horizon given the amount of optical gymnastics required to read knitting patterns up close while trying to follow subtitles on the TV across the room. I don't have a huge hangup about this. I am fully aware of just how old I am and really,what's the alternative?

But I'm in pretty good about denial in other areas, I guess. I really like this eye doctor but hadn't seen him in years due to the high fees at his office. When I walked in and sat down the first question out of his mouth was whether I'd had my thyroid tested. I explained that I'd just had blood drawn and hadn't yet gotten my results but that I was being treated successfully for Grave's Disease and had been more or less asymptomatic for a while. Or so I thought.

Apparently I'm developing thyroid eye disease and it was apparent to him as soon as he saw me. Once we started talking I realized that, yeah, my eyes have gotten super light sensitive and yeah, they've felt a bit dry but I hadn't really put two and two together. I still don't quite understand everything but apparently among all the damage an overactive thyroid can cause is a swelling of certain optical muscles, causing the eyeballs to protrude and to interfere with the body's normal process of lubricating the eyes which pretty well explains the light sensitivity and the discomfort.

I'm not on a fast track to blindness and I'm very grateful for the fact that I'm not exhibiting any signs of either the glaucoma which blinded my grandfather or the macular degeneration that's made things so hard for my grandmother. But it is possible that my vision may deteriorate and that is a very frightening thought. I have had plenty nightmares about losing my glasses and trying to find my way around. The thought of losing any of my vision is very sobering.

I have really not dealt well with my illness. I tend to ignore my body's signals to slow down, and I resent it when I do. I haven't figured out how to treat my body gently without feeling weak, like a loser. Instead I tend to push on and ignore whatever my body is trying to tell me.

I had thought things were going along just fine but to have signs of my illness so readily apparent has thrown me. That and the fear of ending up looking like Marty Feldman (who also had Grave's Disease).


Mimi said...

Interesting. prayers for you!

Anonymous said...

Yikes! I'm so glad your doctor noticed what was going on right away. Slow down for a while, hard as that may be, and be good to yourself...

Anonymous said...

Why is it that we feel weak in those situations when what we should really do is embrace the signals (warnings?) and take it easy. I say, look at this as a very special gift and let some things go while healing.