Look Me In The Eye

On Friday, I wrapped up (I hope) a series of daily appointments at the University of Minnesota with a visit to an ophthalmologist.

Something happened while I was waiting to be seen. Actually, something was brewing the week before, but I wanted to deny it was happening, or would get worse. I think it has reappeared after more than five years because this is the first time since July 2011 that I have not had any successful shunt surgeries for 8+ months, and my brain/brain stem are getting seriously stressed.

Normally my symptoms resolve and I can open my eyes all the way when I’m laying flat. That’s the result of cerebrospinal fluid moving away from wherever it’s pooling and pressing on the brain stem and the nerve roots leading to my face. However, the tremors do not resolve with laying down. I remember being in an MRI machine in August of 2010 and the techs yelling at me to hold still because they couldn’t get clear pictures of my neck. I had absolutely no control over the tremors. This time around, for about a week I could feel the tremors in my neck when I laid down to sleep at night. I hoped it was the worst they would get.

Unfortunately, I have not been spared. The tremors are exhausting. And it’s bad enough that the world is already swimming around me – but the tremors really scramble my brain. They make my head constantly nod “yes.” I asked the resident doctor examining me for the ophthalmology test to document the tremors, since they started when I was sitting in a waiting area close to the examining room where I would be seen.

The reason why I insisted on seeing the ophthalmologist is that I wanted to have my vision problems documented – and not how they wished I could see, but what I could actually see. It’s going to take 12-15 months for me to get a hearing with a judge for a disability determination; I want to load the judge up with proof.

A tech took me through a ptosis vision field test. In the great scheme of things, it was pretty benign; no one had to stab me with needles or get me to take my clothes off. First they do the test without altering the eye to “see” what I can see. Then after that eye is done, the tech has to tape the eyelid so that at least 20% more of the lid is lifted. Have you seen the “tape game” by Jimmy Fallon? This is what it felt like. For extra special fun, my head was nodding so much that the tech had to grab my head and hold it in place for the test.