Monday, August 26, 2013

A poke in the eye with a sharp stick

It's a bit of a mouthful, but when Ernst is trying to make the best of a situation he says "Well, it's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick!" Since most things in life are in fact better than getting your eye stabbed with a sharp object, the saying gets used a lot around here. But lately, we've been feeling a bit jabbed.

A few weeks ago, Ernst was in the pool swimming with the dog. He loves to throw the ball for Molly and then dive in and race her to the steps. It's quite the workout, since Molly wins most of the time. Next thing I knew, Ernst was standing on the back steps, dripping wet, calling for me. "Come look at my eye, I think there's an amoeba in my eye!" I'm betting most people would have just said they had something in their eye, but leave it to Ernst to pin it down to an amoeba. I tried my best to stop laughing and help him, but I must admit I was not taking it very seriously.

He came inside, and I looked for the amoeba but found none. He still saw it, so we examined his eye even closer. We got out a magnifying glass, a flashlight, a magnifying mirror, but there was nothing there. Poor Molly was upset that her swim session ended so abruptly and she was stuck in the pool area, Ernst was upset because something was crawling in his eye, and I was still trying not to laugh. He took a shower and tried to wash off the creature. Amoeba or not, I had to go to work at the bar exam, so I left the two of them to deal with the pool creature.

It didn't go away, so Ernst called the Kaiser advice nurse. "I think there is an amoeba in my eye" is probably not on the list of typical medical calls, so he was advised to see a specialist right away. Our neighbor Steve drove him. "I think there is an amoeba in my eye" was met with extreme skepticism by the eye doctor too. So with more advanced tools than a magnifying glass, he discovered the real problem. Ernst had a retinal vein occlusion. He wasn't seeing a creature in his eye, he was seeing blood and it was moving. That's why it all happened so suddenly and he was sure it came from the pool. This was caused from past damage from when he had out of control high blood pressure. They also discovered two aneurysms in his retina and evidence it had happened before. I heard all this from him while at the bar exam - it wasn't funny anymore.

He had several more appointments which all involved having his eyes dilated. I couldn't bring him to one single appointment because I had commitments I had to keep. Thanks so much for all our friends who drove him to his doctor visits. At first the retinologist offered to take a wait-and-see approach. But when it was evident that it wasn't healing on its own, she suggested laser surgery. While the surgery has risks, the possibility of a blind spot in his vision was better than the possibility of a detached retina. They did it Wednesday afternoon, which again I had to miss because of Pioneer School and yet another friend helped us out with a ride. The procedure was uncomfortable, but trouble-free, and Ernst came home and slept for 14 hours afterwards. Against my strong advice, he went to work the next day with Jeff B driving and then we had dinner Thursday evening with friends from China. I guess all the good vibes from good friends were better than sitting at home worrying, because all seems well. His vision is great.

Trying to look on the bright side of all this:

Happy to have a good (though incredibly expensive) health plan.
Glad there are doctors who decide to specialize in the retina of all things.
Grateful to have friends and neighbors who drop what they are doing to help us out.
Pleased to know my husband doesn't mess around with trying to kill amoebas in his eye at home.
Scared of what other effects from The Big E's past health issues are yet to manifest themselves.
Relieved beyond everything this didn't happen while we were in Romania.

Ernst, what am I going to do with you?

So, what's better than having a laser beam shooting into the body's most sensitive area while being told to sit still and relax, knowing that if it doesn't work there could be blindness in one eye? Many things, one of which is swimming with our dog Molly in an amoeba-free pool.

"Sorry about your eye, Buddy, but I'm still going to beat you to the steps."

Focusing in on other family members:

Around this same time, my sister Joanne called to tell us about her eye. She was doing yard work and (can you see where this is going?) she poked herself. In the eye. With a stick. Not a dull one. After a trip to the ER, some prescription eye drops and a recovery period - she's all better now. No wonder I can't get any shut-eye!