Friday, March 11, 2011
I've called three medical facilities today, and all three were playing the same unspeakably execrable Kareoke-esque rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Livin' For The City" on their phone system. This is a disquieting conspiracy, and I want to know why.
Postings have been thin this past week, and those of you who follow my Facebook page know why. I am of the belief that there's nothing duller than reading about somebody's health problems, and I've had a smorgasbord of them since the end of 2007. So, as in the past, I'll be brief, and then I won't belabor the subject. But many, many people have written and asked about it, so here's the straight dope. For those who have heard all of this, please forgive the redundancy.
I have lost most of the eyesight in my right eye. The event was sudden last Thursday night, and has been identified as anterior ischemic optic neuropathy. Essentially, the optic nerve gets starved for oxygen and swells up, and the veins that feed blood to the nerve shut down. The result is a sudden and permanent vision loss, with no warning signs and no treatment to repair the damage.
The bulk of the causes of this disease in people under 70 or 80 are diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and sleep apnea. I kicked all of that stuff to the curb over the last year by losing weight and changing lifestyle. In my case, the cause is a little more sinister. I seem to have suddenly developed a serious case of anemia that currently has no discernible source. We're still looking—boys don't have periods, there's no sign of leukemia or lupus, and I'm not the right type for sickle cell anemia, so my blood seems to be leaking somewhere. Perhaps I'm going Zombie. It seems to be the latest fad, and I try to be cutting edge. All the kids are doing it these days.
There's no possible way to fix the vision that is lost.
I don't actually have to wear the eyepatch, but I thought it looked vaguely rakish and sporty, sort of like a cherubic Hathaway Shirt ad man, without the tusk, the sansabelt slacks up to my armpits, and the tie tucked in the waist.
I have received wonderful support from family, and even more touching, from friends and especially Brother Masons, literally from around the world. My special thanks to the brethren in a prayer circle who have been in contect with me all week. I cannot adequately thank everyone for their kind words of strength and encouragement. It is one more reason that I tell people that Freemasonry has been the most important turning point in my lifetime.
It's not the end of the world. I still have sight in part of the right eye, and so far, it hasn't spread to the left. But the chance of total blindness is as high as 10%—not terrible odds, but high enough to be nervous about it. The bad news is that, even if we stop the anemia today and shrink the swelling of the nerve, the damage I have is what I will have for life. The hope is that we can prevent further loss. The good news is I only have to sit through 50% of rotten 3D movies. And Alice and the poodle will have to go on my road trips right now, alternately screaming "Look out!" and barking at oncoming cars.
Some have suggested that I should be doing video updates about all of this, a la Charlie Sheen. I envision power-squeezing eyedrops, mainlining iron pills, Major League Baseball-themed eyepatches, swilling tiger blood colonoscopy prep, waving a machete on top of the RV while shrieking "SQUINTING!"
Riding the tsunami on a mercury surfboard.
In Templar chainmaille.
With a seeing eye poodle.