My optic nerves are angy!

Stan Lee would have written this line unironically, circa 1965, in an issue of The Incredible Hulk or Avengers with a cover burst that screamed, “Tremble before the rage of the monster’s eyes!”  It also happens to describe what’s happening inside my own eyes.

I spent almost a week in the hospital recently.  My vision suddenly turned strange, and I thought I could be having a stroke. I even blamed myself — should I have gone to the hospital sooner, might my day out in DC (where I went to the National Cathedral) have dehydrated me and caused this?

As it turned out, I was not having a stroke.  But my blood pressure had reached truly insane levels, and I was very much at risk for a stroke sooner or later.

What was wrong with my vision?  At first, it was like looking through gauze over part of my left eye, then it was tinted, and they it grayed out.  There were flashes of color, pinpricks of light, swirling lines.  It was confined mainly to part of my left eye, but then I’d see a shimmer in other parts of the eye.  If it were a blood clot in the eye, the ER doctor said it was too late to save my vision.  But if it were due to blood pressure, which sometimes happens, then bringing that down could restore my sight.  With medication my blood pressure came down to a high, but not insanely so, level, but my vision remained strange, filled with its swirling gray shadows and blind spots.

After my discharge, I saw an ophthalmologist this week.  She got my eyes high as a kite and took a look inside.  There was no blood or clotting; the worst case scenario, she said, would have been blood in my eyes.  Instead, she found that I am suffering from optic nerve inflammation.  My right eye is slightly inflamed and shows some signs of healing.  My left eye is severely inflamed.  From her reaction, I don’t believe she’d ever seen a case as extreme.  Optic nerve inflammation works itself out over a period of several months, and it was probably triggered by the high blood pressure.  When the inflammation goes down, my vision will begin to return.  I’m cautious enough that I want to write “may” there, but “will” was her prognosis.  By summer I will hopefully be good again and able to revel completely (or near enough) in the wonders of the world.

The Avengers needn’t assemble.  Thor has no need to say nay.  My angry optic nerves don’t threaten the world.  I can see moderately well, though with some significant though not dangerous impairment.  It will take some getting used to, and I will need a much larger monitor at work so I can scale up Windows 10 to something I can read better.  I also need a new prescription for my glasses, but with my eyes so wonky there’s no point, so I may buy reading glasses.

I don’t want to lose my vision, and if I take my medications and watch my blood pressure, fingers crossed I won’t.

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