It’s par for the course this new year with many friends asking “how was your holiday?” For the most part I just answer that it was fine, apart from some issues with frozen pipes and broken heaters. I had a great Christmas in Ottawa with my Mom, Step-Dad, and step siblings. Then I flew down to Moncton and spent some quality time with my Dad and Step Mom (and even got to hang out with an old highschool friend). But mostly the time passed uneventfully, which is just fine by me. I spent my days relaxing and reading.
But there was one bit of stress I haven’t shared very widely yet.
On my first full day in New Brunswick, I noticed a problem with my vision. In my right eye, it looked as though I had stared at the sun for a couple of seconds and the echo of that bright light had burned into my retina. My initial thought was that I had been paparazzied by the flashes from our iPhones, which we’d been using to take photos over a relaxing pub lunch. But when the problem didn’t go away, I started to worry.
Any time I have a vision problem, my mind immediately goes to “detached retina” because my optometrist has warned me in the past that, having had such poor eyesight before my laser surgery, I am still susceptible to it, But I looked up the symptoms of detached retina and they just didn’t match what I was seeing.
I even called my old optometrist (from when I was a kid) but because it was a holiday, he wasn’t working. And I didn’t want to go to the hospital, so I just watched it closely for a while. It never grew or changed, and it really wasn’t affecting my vision too badly – I can still see through it, it’s just a slight discoloration in the centre of my vision.
It was definitely causing me stress though – the not knowing – so after I got back to Ottawa (and had dealt with the pipes) I decided I should find out more. I called the nurses at Tele-health Ontario – a phone service that offers free medical advice… and that usually results in being advised to go to the hospital. As expected, the nurse told me to go to the emergency room, which I did – on the night of New Year’s day. L
The triage nurse at the ER took my vitals and when the blood pressure machine finished, it played a little musical jingle. I joked “sounds like I won!” and she smiled and said, “yeah, you won a 4-hour wait. Lucky you.”
She was wrong. In the end it took 6 hours (aargh!) and I left the hospital not knowing much more than I did going in – but I did get an appointment at the hospital’s eye institute. So off I went again the next morning, and that’s when I found out I have Central Serous Retinopathy (CSR).
CSR is basically a small deposit of fluid behind the macula (the central part of the retina, responsible for detailed vision). She said they don’t know what causes CSR, except that they think it can be exacerbated by the use of oral steroids (like asthma inhalers). Wikipedia says the condition is most common in men aged 20-50 – so, right in my wheelhouse! But the doctor said not to worry. In most cases, the issue clears up on its own in 3-6 months.
She still wants a diagnostic tests done (couldn’t be done on the day I was there because the techies were all on holiday) but she said not to worry if we didn’t get the tests done for a few weeks. (UPDATE: Looks like I’ll be having my diagnostic on Friday!)
Funny thing is, I came home and phone Mom to let her know what was going on and she said:
- “I’m glad you’re the type of person who goes to the doctor to find out what’s wrong rather than ignoring it. You can’t just ignore a problem and hope it goes away.” and
- (After I detailed the symptoms) “Oh, I had that when I was younger, although I didn’t know what it was called.”
Of course, she sheepishly admitted that she hadn’t gone to see a doctor about it, but was delighted to tell me that it did in fact clear up after a few months. So now I know my mom is a HYPOCRITE (just kidding, Mom) and that there’s a history of this in my family.
Now if I can just get some assurance from the diagnostic tests I’ll be good and I can, with the doctor’s blessing, go about ignoring this problem until it goes away.