So now I’m taking a break from the wehaveababy! posts to go back and finish the story I started right before we had that baby. This is the conclusion to this post. I know it’s been awhile, sorry. Go ahead and read the initial post if you haven’t already or don’t remember…I’ll wait.
Okay, so when we last left our little girl, her right eye was bleeding.
As her ophthalmologist dilated it and took pictures of a part of her body she’d never expected to see, these were her thoughts: A) how she had never before so appreciated depth perception, B) MAN, that’s a bright light! C) how there really should be some mechanical thingie to hold one’s eyes open during the picture taking, because the bright light hurt like hell and her eye seemed to have a mind of its own, and D) how much her eyeball looked like a jellied, marinated treat one might serve as an appetizer. Not useful thoughts, except that they kept her from thinking anything more daunting.
So. This laser treatment was much more intense, a fight to save her vision. First came the numbing needle just under her eye, and then her head was strapped in, and then…the flashes began. Her opthomologist was a wonderful man, so kind and sweet. He had held her hands when he’d told her the side effects of the treatment, what it would do to her peripheral and night vision, and then he’d asked her to choose the music he’d play during the treatment. And when she chose Phantom of the Opera, which she’d just seen with cute boy that spring, he told her how much he loved Broadway and started talking about the theme of the musical, and she fell a little bit in love with him. Never mind that he was losing his hair and was a good 15 years older than her (which…would make him younger than the little girl is now. Shut up.) was wearing weird google-y goggles and had just strapped her head to a machine and stuck a needle in her eye. Imagine sitting in the dark with a doctor who is talking with feeling about his childhood and playing Music of the Night, while all around you are firecracker flashes of multicolored light. And he’s saving your eye. He’s a hero. You would fall a little bit in love with him too.
It was over in less than a half hour, until the next week and the next week. The appointments were tiring, but there were bad movies and eggrolls and cuddling with cute boy and Wednesdays with sweet doctor, and all was good. Until the morning that the little girl woke up and found she’d lost her vision in that eye. Completely. While she’d been asleep the vessels had–for lack of a better term–exploded.
So, the next and final step. The doctor scheduled a Vitrectomy. (Did anybody click on that link? Unless you already know what it’ll show you, and have been through all this already yourself, I’d recommend you don’t look. Not only is it boring, it sounds somewhat scarier than it needs to sound. I’m only grateful for two things in all of this, first that it happened pre-Google, or I would’ve had a heart attack, and second that it proved cute boy was a definite keeper. Which I already knew. So actually, I’m only grateful for one thing.)
This is a long post, right?
So, the vitrectomy. Even the word sounds evil. They take a syringe, stick it into your eyeball While You Are AWAKE, and suck out all the vitreous fluid. It’s scary as hell, but also…kinda cool. Because you can see the blood swirling whirlpool like around your vision, and you imagine the ssschhhhlurrrrp as it’s sucked away, and the blopppp as it’s replaced by fake-vitreous fluid and suddenly, you can see. Until they stick an eyepatch on you for a month and you’re blind again, right back where you started. If I could say anything to someone worried about these procedures, first of all I’d say the fireworks and the ssschhhhlurrrrp-ing are not wholly unlike Disney World (I mean, not especially like it, but not wholly unlike it either), and second of all I’d say they give you happy-juice beforehand that makes you wish the procedure would never end, and third of all they will most likely make everything all better. (None of those facts can be found on Google.)
Of course everything wasn’t perfect, the little girl now has practically no night vision, and she does have several blind spots. But if it had happened thirty years ago, she would’ve been fully blind in that eye. She met a blind woman when she was nine, at a diabetes support group. She still remembers the woman apologizing when the girl asked if she could pet her dog, telling her what it was for and asking if she could feel the girl’s face. She remembersthe Ponds-cold-cream smell of her hands, the feel of them along her cheeks and under her chin and then both thumbs running up her nose, and the woman’s smile as her hands relayed the image of the girl’s face. When she was done, in an attempt to complete the picture in her mind, the girl told her she had light brown hair and dark blue eyes. The woman smiled and said she could see the girl perfectly.
The (truly little at the time) girl thought that was a cool encounter, never having met anyone blind before. But she was scared enough to ask her mom if what had happened to the woman would someday happen to all diabetics. The girl’s mom told her not to worry, but the look on her face was fear personified, and the fear told the girl her mother was lying. For the next week the girl would spend long periods of time walking around the house with her eyes closed, seeing if she could get by without stubbing her toes. She tried to figure out what she looked like by running her hands over her own face. One of the first books the little girl wrote was four years later, when she was 13, a novella about a diabetic girl blind from retinopathy. When she told her mom what it was about, her mom suggested she instead “write what she knew.” She didn’t understand that the little girl did know perfectly, understood exactly how it would be. It was her future.
Play the melodramatic music. If you can’t think of anything melodramatic enough, go back to the link above and play Music of the Night.
So of course it turned out not to be her future after all, at least not yet. Just last month that same doctor told the little girl her eyes were “beautiful.” (To which I say swoon, Doctor G, I still adore you.) There are appointments the girl dreads, but the eye doctor isn’t one of them. (Although he does take FOREVER to tell her about her beautiful eyes. He peers and peers, makes her move her eyes around and then goes to his files and writes a novel complete with illustrations before he tells the girl about the beautifulness of her eyes. She is tempted, every year, to strangle him. And then hug him.)
And so, they all lived happily ever after. The girl married the cute boy, and they now have their own sweet little girl, who the little girl will be able to see perfectly forever and ever. The end.