My Journey to a Diagnosis: Denver Eye Surgeons

by griffin granberg on September 20, 2013

Can you See the "E"?I had my sun glasses, but no real eye sight.  It’s weird how that works eh?  At any rate, my mom ended up flying into Denver and taking a town car to my place.  Little did she know that was about as comfortable as she was going to be for the next several weeks.

I remember her calling me — I should mention that at that time, my iPhone 4S was quite the lifesaver with a lot of the accessibility features enabled.  Seriously, the phone rings, it says who’s calling, you get a text, it reads it to you.  You want to respond and don’t feel like typing?  dictate it.  Feel like typing even though you can’t see?  it vocalizes the word correction or auto-correct as you type.  It’s truly amazing.  Ok, back to the story.. my mom calls and let’s me know that she is at the front door.

What’s really nutty is that even though I could really see nothing out of my central vision (that means no TV, no cellphone, no computer, etc).  What I could see is very faint imagery through a thick dim haze in my peripheral vision — somehow with that I was able to navigate places I knew very well.  I knew there was a step up from my living room to the front door, followed by two steps up, walk a few steps go back down two steps and you are at the building door go through the door, take a few more steps to the left, then forward then reach your hand out to find the elevator button, step in, hit the second to the bottom button to go to the main level and step out open the door and VIOLA!  You’re at the front door!

I remember my mom’s first words to me were “can you see me?”  I told her “no.”  I think it was then that my mom really realized that this could be serious.

My ophthalmology appointment wasn’t until the next day in the morning so I will skip to there.  The faint imagery I could see in my peripheral vision allowed me to navigate OK — meaning without running into walls and what not.  Both my mom and I end up getting checked in — I remember my mom’s voice being very worried.  Why wouldn’t she be, what the hell was happening?  I was still thinking about these damn particles that Dr. Kumar, who I was soon to meet (eventually), would have to blast out of my eye balls with his laser.

I went through the battery of tests — I’m pretty sure it was about every damn test you can do.  There were the standard E-chart projected 20 feet with mirrors.  I couldn’t see the mirror let alone the projection.  ”Can you see the E now?”  ”no”  ”How about now?”  ”no” — at that instant I heard my mom nearly break down behind me.  To find out that the final E was the biggest they could display — it takes up nearly the whole mirror.

Finally, Dr. Kumar comes in — he does his checks and tells me to take these eye drops for the night and come back in the morning and let’s see if there is any improvement at all.

So my mom and I return to my home in Denver, and I can’t even tell you exactly what we talked about or did or anything.  I don’t know if I was in semi-shock or just really thinking that the next day we’d figure out the cost of this whole laser-zapping.

We return to Denver Eye Surgeons and get bounced around a bit, and finally get to sit down with Dr. Kumar.  No improvement — I was just as blind or maybe even worse — who knows I really couldn’t see anything anyway.  I was 20/200+ (legally blind/not scalable).  I think where it really hit home was when Dr. Kumar told me he was going to write something on a sheet of paper and hand it to me, and I was to move it wherever I could read it.  The crazy thing is that I couldn’t see it no matter where I put it.  I thought maybe I could through the little bit of imagery I would get through my peripheral vision — NOPE.  nada.  I would have had better luck having it tapped out in morse code right on my eye ball than placing anywhere and being able to read it.

Now comes the fun part of the story, and by fun I mean scary?  Dr. Kumar tells my mom and I that my eyes are fine — 100% healthy.  That they have done every scan they can do and my eyes are in perfect order.

So, what. the. hell?!

He tells us that we need to go to the ER right away, that if it’s nothing to do with my eyes that it would have to be the thing that it’s all connected to, my brain.

Take a second and think about that.  I certainly did.  WTF.  Mind you, at the time I had the whole “I don’t have insurance because I was a lonewolf entrepreneur” situation going on and I will spare you all of those details, but it truly was a shock – being told to get to the ER, stat (hah).  I was really thinking that I was just going to have some laser treatment and in a couple weeks WHAM-O, you are back to near 20/20 vision.

Boy was I completely and utterly WRONG.  Instead now, I had to figure out if we were going to go to the ER or what the hell we were going to do.  What was it?  What was going to happen next?  These are questions I asked Dr. Kumar and he wouldn’t speculate on what it COULD be, but he did give me a nice prediction that would probably have to get some MRI’s done and possibly a lumbar puncture (that’s fancy words for a spinal tap which is fancy word for needle through your back and then through your vertebrae and into your spinal cord).

I really didn’t know what to think at this point.  I guess it was to the ER at Denver Health Hospital, and that’s when the real medical fun began.

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