You know you're in trouble when the eye doctor pulls out the big 3-D multi-part model of the eye to show you what the problem is.
I just didn't know how much trouble.
To begin at the beginning, or at least further back: I'd been having some funky little eye problems for months. Not that funky, and little enough that even a hypochondriac like me could ignore them. A few years ago, I had a couple of episodes of migraine aura, as diagnosed by my ophthalmologist. These symptoms were similar, and although they were more frequent, they seemed much milder. So I concluded they were as harmless as the doctor had assured me the migraine aura was, and ignored them. Plus, I was a little busy. After four months off of work, my husband had gotten a new job out of state, and I was consumed with getting our house sold and getting ready for the move.
Within days after we settled into our house, though, the eye symptoms I was having got even more frequent, and lasted longer. They were more intrusive. I found myself an ophthalmologist online and made an appointment. Out of fear or denial or ignorance, I didn't mention the problems--just asked for a routine appointment.
The doctor, Dr. P., was young, and seemed smart, but also new enough to practice that she could focus on either clinical details, or bedside manner, but not both at once. She picked clinical details. She told me it looked like I had a detached retina in my right eye. She made an appointment for me with Dr. S., a retina specialist a few miles away. For, like, immediately. You take a moment and thank God right now that you weren't on the road at the same time and place as a panicked hypochondriac with fully dilated pupils and an allegedly detached retina. Those things make it hard to see things like, say, signs that say, "Do Not Enter."
Anyhow, my eyes and I made it to the retina doctor. He was young, too, but him I liked. He told me that there are all kinds of "typical" abnormalities in the retina that can look like detachments, but which are really harmless. He was pretty sure that was what we were dealing with.
The good news was that Dr. P. was wrong. The bad news was that Dr. S. was, too.
Did you know that you can get melanoma on your retina? Neither did I. But apparently you can, and apparently I did. I mean, I don't even know how you're supposed to get sunscreen in there. But whatever. That ship has sailed. I have cancer in my eye.
The good news: I now live near a major university medical center with an eye center. My husband is employed, as he wasn't for four months. We're together again, as we weren't for six weeks. We have insurance. And Dr. S. thinks that there's a "reasonably good" chance of preserving the vision in that eye. He thinks we caught it in time.
The treatment regimen is going to involve me being hospitalized for about five days. A radioactive seed (I know!) will be placed behind my eye, then removed. After that, I'm not sure.
I haven't Googled "ocular melanoma" because I don't want to see anything that's going to freak me out. Dr. S. was "99.9% sure" that's what this is. I'm going to wait and talk to the ocular oncologist, as soon as he gets me an appointment, and base my freaking out on information that pertains specifically to me. I'll let you know when I get that.
Them as prays, please commence to praying. We've got a little fight ahead of us.