Monday, September 22, 2014

My Cataract Adventures Part 1

A friend related that she knows the exact date when she became old. Whereas I'm not that precise, I do know the exact month. I became old in February 2014. Has anyone else noticed that people behave more like an old person once any one of their senses is compromised?

In my particular case, my vision  became weaker. It took me longer to do things and I had difficulty functioning at times. I misplaced things and couldn't find what was in front of my face. Who puts white items on a white shelf anyhow? I became aware of unusual behaviours that I didn't have before. Sometimes, I felt out of if looking at myself  from an outsider's perspective. Yes indeed, I was now old.

 Realizing that something was amiss, I visited the eye doctor in February. I was told that there would be a cost and was reminded that I had been there less than a year earlier. I knew all that and didn't care. I needed help to determine why my once 20/10 distance vision had suddenly deteriorated.

After a brief examination, the lovely young doctor at the optometric clinic announced, "I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is that your visit will be covered by OHIP. The bad news is....cataracts."

I was shocked.  Cataracts? Isn't that what old people get? I was told that surgery would be required once it became bad enough. A mere six months later, it became bad enough. Unusual, With my right eye shut, I could clearly see a white blob obstructing my vision in the left eye Not only that, contrast was hard to see and I needed to wear sun glasses to view anything outdoors. I was told that cataracts commonly develop more slowly and occur in people once they reach  their 70's and 80's and yet, here I was.

My instincts and a recommendation told me I ought to go for a free Bochner Eye Institute evaluation. My eye doctor suggested an Oshawa doc who works out of Bowmanville Hospital. I was nervous and knowing nothing about the surgery, weighed the options. Should I go where the Blue Jays baseball players go, or should I go to a small town hospital? I decided to check out both.

The Bochner preliminary appointment went well. The office was bright and cheery and the appointment was on schedule and informative. I felt a little less squeamish after hearing the details. There were options available and I was given a brochure of the choices and price ranges. I accepted a follow up appointment.

Meanwhile, I heard from a number of sources that the Oshawa doctors were quite skilled and that the facilities in Bowmanville were state of the art. I called to confirm my appointment early in September and was told it would be two hours in duration on September 16th. I was to bring my reading glasses and my medications.

My appointment day arrived. I was there in plenty of time. The office, in a lovely old house, was crowded with people and I waited patiently for the receptionist to acknowledge me. After giving my name, I was told I had no appointment. I explained that I had even called but was once again told, "No appointment". Since I had travelled a bit of a distance, I asked about my 11:15 a.m. appointment, whereupon the disgusted looking receptionist announced, "It was cancelled on September 10th".  I was shaken and upset.

 "I didn't cancel it. In fact, I phoned to confirm."

"It was cancelled September 10th."

Not knowing what to do I began to leave. My eyes became visibly moist as I turned back. "What should I do? Do I need another referral?" I asked.

"Well...I would have given you a cancellation," announced the receptionist. "Here! October 15th". She thrust an appointment card at me. I put it in my shirt pocket and descended the stairs in tears.

So that's where it stands. My appointment has been rescheduled to October 15th...a full month later. It occurred to me to phone every day between now and then just to make sure the appointment still exists. Besides that, I feel justified in being annoying, but I think I'll call once, just once, the day before.

I am now writing my blog with my left eye closed because I am better able to focus. The computer screen is a bit bright as I have not yet figured out if there's an adjustment for contrast.

As the saga of the cataracts continues, I will write more.

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