Never brag about your health; Rod Serling will tap you with some Twilight Zone stick.
At a few days short of 55 I had been talking among friends how good I feel- no aches, no replaced body parts, good energy, and not bad for someone 48 years as a Type 1 diabetic.
Saturday morning, while showering, I saw brown floaters in my left eye, not the spots I have seen infrequently in the past but ribbons of streaks. I know what it is; back in 1993-1995 I did several rounds of laser treatments to both eyes to mitigate diabetic retinopathy.
Since then every 6 or 12 months, I visit a retinal specialist whoc dilates my eyes, shines lights in the eyes, mumbles strange codes to an assistant, and then tells me things are stable.
A few weeks ago, the same splotches appeared in the shower, but went away. I had hoped the same Saturday.
But 2 hours later, while at a Chichester coffee shop with my colleague Mia, I found that the vision in my left eye was completely blurred, like I was looking through heavy gauze, and there was a disc of Vaseline over the center.
I was thinking of letting it go a day, but it was unusual, so I told Mia. We looked things up, contacted our hosts, and made our way to the ER at the hospital in town. I texted my fiance, trying som humor with, “How do you think I would look in an eye patch?” then explained.
Get this- if you go to an ER in the IK, they ask you questions first about your condition, never about money. I went to two hospitals and was not charged for ER care.
An opthamologist peered in, and said she could not see about half of the retina due to bleeding in the eye. She recommended returning to the eye clinic Monday, to get an ultrasound scan to ensure the retina was not detached.
By this time, it started to be clear everything on this trip would be shifted. My instinct is to plug along, stick to commitments.
On Monday I did have to pay some money (or agree to). That’s fine. I needed to know how serious this was. The scan shows lots of spots of bleeding, but the good news is the white line at the back shows the retina is likely attached.
The top half of the retina was in good shape the doctor said, but until the blood drained, they could not be sure that there wa snot extra sources of blood in the bottom.
Cori was eager to insistent to shuck all her school and life responsibilities and fly here to get me home. I slowly accepted that the trip would need to be canceled; with some help of my host Laura Ritchie, who had also dropped her responsibility to be with me at the eye clinic, we figured the best thing was to get home to Phoenix, where Cori could meet me and I would try to see my eye specialist.
So I canceled visits to my friend David and Vivien. The trip to Galway to see the Flaggy Shore and do some talks arranged by Catherine Cronin at NUI Galway. Cancel to return stop in Newark to be there for the event where my grad students at Kean University presented their thesis work. I hate canceling, I do
Cancel flights, hotels, etc. Make new ones. I scored cheap tickets home via Reykjavik to LA (half the cost of flying to Phoenix) where I have a gop on a Southwest flight to Phoenix, where Cori will be waiting. I see my Doctor Thursday.
Of course everyone I canceled on is super understanding, caring. Of course. And on a trip that is funded from my own pockets, I’m not losing too much dinero by changing.
But the biggest thing ut of this is knowing, seeing how much friends/colleagues will do for me. I cannot say enough about Mia and Laura for being present through this (Mia will pick up my slack on the Halway talks), like to know that people will do extraordinary things for me. I’m pretty poor at letting people do stuff for me.
And to this lady, who is moving mountains, piles of school work, and everything to come care for me, all I can say is that even with my blurred bloody eye, I clearly see her love (And just for fun, in the middle of all of this, we are trying to buy a house).
My eye will clear, and like Arnold, I’ll be back.
Featured Image: My own eye selfie this morning; not uploaded to flickr, but you can bet your sweet bippy that it’s shared into the public domain using Creative Commons CC0.