My worst fear is that I will go blind.
I do not even believe this is the worst bodily harm that could befall me, suddenly losing my hearing would be much more isolating. But I don’t fear losing my hearing the way I fear losing my sight. It is a fear that I’ve lived with all my adult life.
Everything I do is visual. My profession involves working with my hands at a lab bench, or looking into microscopes, or editing scientific illustrations for publication. My spare time is filled with embroidery, art projects, video games, board games, sewing, reading, writing. My vacations are travel, to see the world. Everything I do is visual. Losing my sight would demolish almost every single thing in my life.
I am myopic, so myopic that laser surgery could at best restore 2/3 of my vision. I have high astigmatism. I have thin retinas and every year at my opthamologist appointment I am lectured on the symptoms of retinal detachments and tears. I have a small cataract in one eye.
I’m twenty nine.
Really, my age is what makes it so horrifying for me. All these problems with my eyes and I’m not thirty.
I haven’t been unaware. I’ve taken good care of my sight. I’ve seen a proper opthamologist every year since I graduated with my bachelors degree. I hate people fiddling with my eyes, I can’t wear contacts because I can’t stand to havae them fitted, but I go to the doctor every year like clockwork. I struggled with light sensitivity and glare until after years of searching I finally found the perfect pair of sunglasses. I get new lenses every two years like clockwork, and wear each pair of frames for 4-5 years just to help bear the cost. Even with special vision insurance, a new pair of lenses costs over $400.
Last week I noticed a persistent bright spot in my vision, right at the focal point of my left eye. I was as though I looked at a bright light, then looked away. I wasn’t sure what to do about it, it took me several days to notice that it was persistent. Then I realized that if I closed my right eye, it was a blind spot. So I went to the doctor. There were tests.
I have a small hemorrhage beneath the macula of my left eye, from abnormal blood vessel growth, that is pushing the macula up. I have macular degeneration in my left eye and I’m not thirty.
Well, they can treat it. The current hot treatment is to inject an anti-angiogenic drug into the vitreous humor of the eye. So not only do I have the eye problems of someone twice my age, the best current solution is to let someone stick a needle into my eye.
I’m torn between a House-esque fascination with the rare and/or interesting and an increasing sensation of feeling sick to my stomach.
My fascination is, at least, authentic. It’s not bravado. I am interested in the treatment, and the theory behind it. And I can hold out hope for future research and improvement in treatment.
Then the health care reform bill passed the House, and I’ve been feeling sick ever since.
I’m not yet thirty. I’m afflicted with a disorder normally belonging to people twice my age. I can only, rationally, expect that the health of my eyes will not improve as I age. If I am lucky, it will stay the same for years before degenerating further. If I am unlucky, I will lose my vision.
And now, with the abomination of socialized care before me, what do I have to look forward to? Only to be left to go blind when I am no longer of any use to society. If there are new treatments, would I be permitted to benefit from them? As it stands right now, with relatively excellent health insurance and with separate vision insurance, I don’t know if my treatment will be covered. I would far rather pay for my treatment and take what comes, as I am faced with doing now! I have always stood or stumbled on my own feet, but I have never felt so powerless about my future as I do today.