St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Double your fun

Haven't been doing much blogging since last week when I suddenly got an attack of double vision.  I was mowing Mom's lawn and started seeing one image above the other making it impossible to drive the mower without closing one eye.

Vertical double vision example -- gets very interesting
as you look lower on the model
With one eye closed, you lose your 3-dimensional vision and with all the apple trees and other trees in the yard, I was running in to branches, trunks and all sorts of stuff before I finally gave up and went home.

I called the nurse hotline at Mayo Clinic (I worked there most of my life and my medical insurance is through them and Medicare).  They asked some questions, the primary one being how old you are and then said "Get right now to an emergency room--you might be having a stroke, brain bleed or something else major."  

I have gotten used to that response -- they check your age and then are sure you are having a heart attack, stroke or other life threatening event.    Margo was away at Pine Island for her own medical check, and I didn't feel like driving all the way to Mayo with one eye shut, so figured to sleep on it.

In the morning everything was fine, however a few hours later, the double vision was back and a real nuisance to do anything much without keeping one eye shut.  I made a do-it-yourself eye patch with some black construction paper and taped it to my left eyeglass lens.   By now, my left eyelid was drooping down too.

I had a knee 10 week checkup scheduled for the coming Tuesday, so called Mayo and setup an eye appointment for the same day too.  The eye continued to bother with double vision most of the day after an hour or two in the morning.

"Your new knee looks excellent!: said my surgeon after checking it and the fresh x-rays.  "Just keep working on getting it to bend all the way straight and more back--not much more to go."

Then I trotted off to the ophthalmology department and gazed through a series of eye tests, looking this way and that, trying to concentrate my focus on the necklace hanging far into the technician's blouse as she blinked red, green and brilliant white lights into each eye.

Then to the eye doctor who ran some more tests and ended up saying "I think you have myasthenia gravis mainly in the left eye--occular MG."   During the several days between the start of the double vision and the visit, I had, like a good patient, Googled my symptoms and went through the likely candidates including Grave's Disease, Bell's Palsy (something I have already had twice some years back), strokes, clots, and Myasthenia Gravis (hereafter MG), deciding that another bout of Bell's Palsy was most likely, but being somewhat doubtful as only the eye bothered and before one half of my face went numby droopy and was unwilling to take on it's half of a smile or frown.

"Let's see," I commented, "MG is an autoimmune disease where your own body created antibodies that go and attack the nerve-muscle interface?"   I remembered that was probably the worst of the choices other than a stroke.  No cure; likely progressive and treatments of prednisone or other wretched drugs to beat down your own immune system into failure.  Mom took it for years for polymyalgia rheumatica (where your immune system attacks your own joints) and most likely got diabetes and osteoporsis from it and who knows what else--but then she is 90 and still living on her own...

"Yes, that's right.  However, we need to do a blood test to find out if you have those antibodies present so that comes next.  Have the blood test done now"  It was now 4:30 pm into a day that had started with a knee x-ray at 8:30 am.  "Come back next week and we will see if you have MG.  The test takes a few days to complete."

I asked a few more questions. left a tube of blood and then left Mayo for a week to get used to an eye-patch and crappy vision.   Even with one eye or the other patched, my vision is somewhat fuzzy and it is hard to read, write, drive, and do things.

My brother Ev, has amblyopia,  only one eye works at a time, so has gone his whole life without knowing what 3-D vision is.  He gets by quite well.  My friend Ed, in Cushing, got double vision from a cancer tumor two years ago and has gotten used to one-eye vision too.  Although I am hopeful something will fix mine, I guess I could get used to it too--however it will be a real limitation in enjoying life I can tell right now.

Many folks believe God created everything including us just as we are now--no evolution at all,  and call it "Intelligent Design" for how everything was made.   As I deteriorate due to the stupidity in design  of my own body; it failing right out from under me, and worse, attacking me as if I were my own enemy,  if I weren't such religious person I might think that "Intelligent Design" was exactly the opposite of how we are made.  Thank God for scientists, doctors, researchers, and those who try to correct the errors.