I know that it’s not unusual for me to slip off into oblivion once in a while, but this last absence was far from planned. I’ve been having some eye/neuro issues and they got to the point that I couldn’t see well enough to really read or write. This wouldn’t be strange if I didn’t have 20/20 vision. Glasses couldn’t help and doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then the forgetfulness came. Then the confusion. Have you ever forgotten how to walk down stairs? I have. I even forgot what mascara was. For a brief, confused minute I stared at it thinking that it should go on my chin.
Well, this sent me to specialist after specialist. Even as I type this I’m wired up to a 72 hour EEG that comes complete with video monitoring. I’m sure I’ve been recorded scratching my ass or adjusting my boobs at least 20 times. Hell, there’s probably even a shot of absentminded crotch scratching (but I’ll just claim confusion for that). But if all this shit wasn’t bad enough, I came down with iritis.
What’s that? Well, let me tell you. It’s an asshole–an asshole that attacks without reason and, even after much interrogation, won’t tell you what made it attack. It is an inflammation of the iris that causes severe pain. I woke up one day with a bloodshot eye that hurt like crazy. I knew I hadn’t gotten anything in it, so what the hell? Then the pain radiated outward into the orbital bones and then into my head. I tried to tough it out for hours but finally started researching it. That’s when the term iritis popped up. I had every symptom. I started calling my eye doctors. My retina specialist said to find someone else (yeah, thanks for the help, Dr. Jost). I called my optometrist, but she was off that day. Then I just started going down the list of approved ophthalmologists on my insurance list. No good. So, finally, I gave in and did what all the iritis pages said to do: SEEK EMERGENCY CARE. THIS CONDITION CAN LEAD TO LOSS OF VISION IF UNTREATED.
I headed to our local critical care facility down the street. I go back. He takes my history. Despite the fact that I’ve told the DO that I haven’t injured my eye, he insists on doing the test that involves painful drops and a strip of paper being placed on my freakin’ eyeball. Nothing. Big surprise. I then get a CT scan. Normal brain, but he goes on to give me a talk about how he hopes I don’t have MS and offers me a prescription for painkillers. No mention of iritis. I hear him tell the nurses how strange it is that he’s had 5 eye-related cases that day. I leave (and receive my $1900 portion of the bill a few weeks later).
The next day I still hurt like hell, so I just get in the car and drive my ass to the optometrist. She talks to me and immediately calls an opthalmologist and gets me in that day. I drive to his office. He examines me and declares that I have SEVERE iritis. I’m put on dilation drops and steroid drops and have to be back in a week. I was already light-sensitive and having trouble seeing, now I’m essentially blind with one pupil completely blown. I have to wear a patch and drive as little as possible as not to kill folks. This is NOT a fun time for me. The fact that I have a phobia concerning eyes just adds to this happy little carnival. I can’t even watch people put contacts in. I have to have my husband and sweet neighbor put my eye drops in for me. I go back in a week and the eye is just as bad. I have to stay on the elevated dosage for another week, which means I’ll be attending FenCon with my bastard of an eye.
And that’s what I do. I attend my workshop while alternating between sunglasses and an eyepatch. I try to utilize the eyepatch and put together a quick Elle Driver (Kill Bill) costume. I’m grateful that if you have to wear a patch, a fan convention is the place to do it–you blend. Friday night I have to accept my award for my short story, Recoleta. I put on an actual dress, but I have to wear the eyepatch, too. It’s fine during the ceremony but then we decide to go celebrate in the hotel bar. My BFF notices a guy watching me from the bar and kind of snickering to himself. Whatev. We go about our business but the patch eventually gives me such a bad headache that I have to switch to my sunglasses. On his way out, the dude at the bar stops at our table. “What, you’re not a pirate anymore?” I look up at him, and with a sweet smile say, “I have iritis. I might lose my eye.” If I only had a picture of his face. “Oh, my god! I”m so sorry. There’s this thing going on and people dressed in costumes…and…and…” It was a rather priceless moment.
And I press on through the next day, even surviving the critique by Patrick and Theresa Neilsen Hayden on the first 20 pages of my wild west steampunk novel. I went against doctor’s orders that day and didn’t take my dilation drops because that night was the big costume party and I’d worked my butt off making a Seven of Nine costume (with a great deal of help from my gifted seamstress of a BFF, Machelle Grimes). My eye still ended up completely dilated, but it added to the cyborg coolness (and alcohol made it much easier to handle).
And it was a blast. Seven of Nine was a hit! I tweeted a picture of it and look what I got back…
I know!!! Geeky fan squealing was heard a full five miles from my house.
And that brings us to now, several weeks past my diagnosis. I’ve been off the steroid drops for almost a week and the dilation drops for a month, but my eye is still dilated. It sucks. I go back for another checkup Thursday. I want to know if it was the iritis or the damn drops that have left my eye screw up. I have a feeling it will be hard to get a medical professional to admit it was medicine they prescribed, but we’ll see. Anyway, there’s an explanation of why I haven’t been blogging or reading or drawing or doing pretty much most of the things I enjoy. I hope all is well with you.