Slit Lamp Biomicroscope I used
Last week I had my regular appointment with my glaucoma (eye) specialist. Sometimes, it feels a bit surreal, the number of different cancer and eye specialists I’ve seen seen 2006 as well as how fortunate I am that I’m not blind today. Everyday I’m feel thankful that I’m living with cancer in Vancouver and not another city, the specialists here are all world-class. Each time I step into his office, I reflect back on how he has been my specialist since Spring 2006 when it was feared that would contact glaucoma while in the early stages of my cancer treatment. At the time, I was receiving treatment to increase my stem cell counts leading up to my bone marrow transplant, had begun taking Dexamethasone, a high dose steroid, and I had begun Pamidronate treatment to help keep my bones strong because of Multiple Myeloma.
A rare side effect is vision problems and shortly after beginning treatment I suffered headaches and ocular inflammation where looking at my cell phone severely hurt my eyes, I couldn’t go outside without wearing sunglasses, and street lamps had a circular glow around them. I went to the UBC ER and then Student Health the next day resulting in my specialist appointment. At the beginning I was quite scared I would go blind because my eye pressure levels were very high due to the Dexamethasone and Pamidronate. I was taken off the Pamidronate but remained on the Dexamethasone and was put on eye drops to help reduce my eye pressure and counteract the steroids effects.
Each time I visit my glaucoma specialist, my eye pressure levels are checked to ensure that they are not high. In Dec 2009 I suffered a stroke in my visual field area due to TTP, I received an emergency appointment from my eye specialist as I had had headaches, everything was in a white hazy for short periods of time the previous week, and I had a numb mouth for short periods of time. When he checked my eye pressure, they hadn’t changed so he sent me upstairs for a field test which I passed out during. I was rushed to ER where I received an MRI and various blood tests that showed I had TTP (3-5 cases a year in British Columbia) which had also triggered my stroke. 12 days later I was released from hospital. At the time my camera was broken so I didn’t take pictures of my stay in the hospital. If interested, you can read a more in-depth analysis of my health in my blogpost where I announced my cancer.
So fast forward to last week. I arrived about an hour early as I first wanted to confirm my Feb appointment at the hospital with my cancer specialist. After that was done, I spoke with the receptionist and was shown inside about 30 minutes early – pretty cool. After an eye chart test, my eye pressure was checked and found to be 15 which is normal for me (14 last June). Afterwards my eyes were checked using a Slit Lamp Biomicroscope to ensure that are not abnormalities in my retina.
The really good news was from the results of my visual field test last September. I’ve had a variety of visual field tests since 2006 to monitor for glaucoma. However, with my stroke in Dec 09, it was important to ensure that the damage to my visual cortex wasn’t permanent. After my stroke, I had vision problems where looking at someone’s face would show their left eye missing. This is because the right side of my visual cortex was the area affected by the stroke.
Fortunately, the visual field test showed that the damage has pretty much been reversed – Happy Dance. After hearing about US Senator Mark Kirk suffering a stroke on Monday that may result in permanent physical damage, I feel unbelievably blessed.
Focused on staying positive each day regardless of the daily challenges I face.