Macular Edema and Pac-Man.
I had been sitting in the darkened waiting room where people sit patiently, waiting for the dilation drops to take effect on their eyeballs. The room is quiet and dim, with a television set at the front and chairs for people to ease into and watch the DVD menu screen (it was for a Discovery channel documentary about deep sea life – we watched the DVD menu load and reload a dozen different times, until I couldn’t take it anymore and asked a passing receptionist for help finding the remote). Most people wait alone, holding their jackets and scarves and not making much small talk. The folks who don’t wait alone are those who need assistance due to compromised vision, or other health issues that make movement difficult. It scared me to see those people who, for whatever host of variables, were dealing with eye issues.
I thought about my daughter’s face, grateful it was clear in my mind and through my eyes.
For as long as I can remember, Joslin never scared me. But the eye clinic always did, because it seemed like once you were a patient there, you are never released.
My eye doctor came out to retrieve me, and we briefly discussed my visit a few months ago, where the macular edema was diagnosed. He pulled up my scans from the summer on my computer. When I first saw those scans of my swollen, lipid-dotted retina, it reminded me of Pac-Man. Or a bunch of white Christmas lights along a gray, licorice-esque rope. If it hadn’t been my diseased retina, it would have been almost pretty.
“That’s the scan from the summer, and this is the one from now,” my eye doctor said, pulling up the scans taken a few minutes earlier. It looked as though Pac-Man came through to gobble up the majority of the dots.
“That one there? The big one?” He pointed to the screen, edging his fingertip against a larger, round smudge on my retinal scan, then pulled up the correlating scan from over the summer. “That’s what it used to look like. And now it’s still there, but much smaller. I’m hoping to see it shrink more, but we can’t ever be too sure.”
The swelling is very minimal, but still there. The lipid deposits are also still there, but fewer in number and smaller in size. “Is this better? It’s not gone, but better, right?”
“It’s better. This is encouraging progress, but it could go either way in the future, so I still want to monitor it closely.”
I remembered what the technician had said before putting the drops in my eyes – “Your doctor is really good. He knows exactly what to look for and how to react to it. You are in good hands. But he’s kind of all business.”
The eye doctor turned his chair around to face the computer again. “I do think we can ease back on the scheduling, and do every six months instead of three,” he said. “You’re off the immediate ‘watch list.’ Let’s schedule another exam for June, and in the meantime, keep doing what you’re doing.”
I was released to the too-bright regular waiting room, where Chris was sitting and waiting to drive us both home.
And I felt relieved, relieved, relieved and even more determined, determined, determined.