Sunday, April 1, 2012

More Needles In My Eyeballs: The Sequel: May I Have Some More, Please?

There I was, not as happy as a clam or any other mollusk, going to my opthomologist for another treatment of Avastin, the wonder drug that's injected  directly into one's eyeballs with only a local anesthetic. What could possibly go wrong?

So, after waiting in the waiting room, so called, I believe, because one waits there, I was leisurely herded into another waiting room, where I waited some more. I sat directly opposite a man who looked like an unwashed Willie Nelson (redundant?), talking with an authority only the truly ignorant can muster.  "I check my numbers at least twice a day," he said, "and if I have to manually adjust the islands on my pancreas, I will." I nodded my head as if I understood what the hell he was talking about.

I was called into The Room of Eyeball Torture by a doctor different from the one I saw the previous month. I don't mean to sound sexist, Dear Reader (I say "Dear Reader", because as far as I know, I only have one reader), but she was pretty as a picture. Now, beauty can be off-putting, but prettiness can  be comforting, so perhaps I was led into a false sense of security. Who knows? I'm not a philosopher.

She appeared to be in her late twenties, she had long, straight, dark hair that was tied back into a pony tail, a porcelain complexion, green eyes, and very white teeth. I sat in the Big Blue Chair of Agony, without a care. Then.

She sat in front of her computer, legs crossed, and twisted around to ask several pertinent questions. She had a faint, charming accent, which I narrowed down to Middle Europe or Hershey, Pennsylvania. She typed on her computer keyboard with amazing alacrity, her lovely, slender fingers  practically a blur, the rapid clicking of the keys a testament to her competence. Her bare heel poked out of her flat-heel shoe. Oh, my.

She asked me to read an eye chart, and concluded that my eyesight had improved, especially the left eye. She wheeled around the big opthocomdetriculator, I think it's called, to look deep inside my eyeballs. She told me to look straight ahead, but I was too embarrassed to look into her lovely green eyes, so I focused on her pearl pendant earring.

She dilated my pupils so pictures of my retinas could be taken. Then, when my eyes were nice and numb and runny, she ushered me into the waiting room.

Unclean Willie Nelson was still there. "I always go barefooted, even in January," he said, to no one in particular. "The elastic in the socks cuts off the circulation in my calfs." Sure enough, he was wearing flip-flops, and thankful for small mercies, I was grateful, because of my blurry vision, I couldn't see his gnarly toes.

Next, pics were taken of my retinas. It was like the world's cheapest laser show. Then more waiting.

After just a few minutes, Dr. Dreama invited me into the Big Pleather Chair of Pain. Another doctor was with her, kibitzing. "Your eyes have improved, Mr. Simons," the other doctor said (how can people mispronounce a name as simple as mine?), "but we'll need another treatment of Avastin."
"No problem," says I. If I had any muscles, I would have flexed them. "Lookin' forward to it." Then the other doctor left.

I told her about my last horrible experience, and asked for plenty of anesthetic. "Certainly," she said, in her delightful accent. Sarajevo? Milwaukee? She buttered up my peepers with a topical, very lovingly and competently, I thought, then injected anesthetic into my eyes with a tiny needle.  Then Q-Tips, or whatever the generic ones are called, were coated with more topical anesthetic, and placed inside my eyelids. I was asked to keep my eyes closed. "We will wait a long time, so that you will not experience any pain. Or very little. Of course, there will be a little pressure."

After a few minutes, she was sure that my eyes were numb enough. One way to find out, I thought to myself. It was blurry, but I could see the little syringe approaching my right eye. She steadied her hand, and suddenly the slenderness of her fingers didn't seen so important. Then an unbearable shot of pain as the needle pierced my eyeball. I don't know if you've ever had a needle pierce your eyeball, but there's only one way to explain how it feels: it's like a needle piercing your eyeball.

I'm not sure if I screamed like a little girl, but I know I jumped. "You felt that," she said. I don't know if she asked it or declared it, but either was fairly obvious. "Oh, yeah," was my equally obvious response.

More anesthetic, more time to let it sink in, another attempt at my right eye. My body stiffened, and not in a good way. I clutched the arms of  The Big Blue Seat of Torment. I stopped breathing. Perhaps I imagined her hand shaking just a bit. More intense pain; I jumped. "Please try not to jump," she said, in an accent that now didn't sound quite so charming "Okay," I said. "Let's try again," she said. "Okay," I said, bracing myself.  Then a tiny little thought flitted across my brain: has she ever done this before? More intense pain. I jumped, and this time I know I said Ow! out loud. "Please," she said, "we almost had it that time. But every time you jump, the needle pops out. Try not to jump."
"Sorry", I said, "but it hurts."

Now, there are two things wrong here: I allowed her to try again, the third time, without more anesthetic, and then I apologized for jumping.

More topical and local anesthetics, more Q-tips, I'm not quite sure. I stopped taking mental notes. But after she returned, the injections went off without much of a hitch; just some discomfort and a good deal of pressure.

I'm scheduled for another treatment in a month, depending on how my eyes respond to the treatment. But the way I feel now, I think I'd rather have blurry vision and the possibility of going blind than go through that again. On the other hand, she had a very pretty heel.

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