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A Blind Eye

Long Haul PaulI just returned home from a quasi-urgent visit to a cornea specialist. My optometrist has been treating me for some vision problems, including developing a haze over the center of my left cornea, which was distorting my vision.

The cornea is the clear center of the eye. It is the lens that allows light to enter the eye.

My vision issue started about three months ago and had cleared up with treatment for about a month. Three weeks ago, it started again and this time it was much worse. The hazing is not getting better and distorts my vision, as if I was looking through a piece of wax paper or as if I smeared Vaseline over my eyeball. In the bright daylight or when I get flashed with a headlight, it is impossible for me to see anything at all.

I suppose the urgency my optometrist felt, warranting an emergency visit with a specialist, was the fact that I leave at 4:00 am the next day to speak at a MS patient educational event in Tuscaloosa Alabama. I am riding my motorcycle of course, and it is 1300 miles and about 20 hours to ride from my home in New Hampshire.

Dr. Keith Emery is my optometrist, and I can understand his concern for my health as well as the trip not making the issue worse. He pulled some strings to get me the appointment. I don’t blame him for not wanting to be responsible should my condition worsen while away, or if riding 40 hours in just a few days might do irreparable harm. Eyes are sort of important.

Elin, my wife was also concerned about my traveling. I have been having problems seeing for the last few weeks and because of some remodeling work I was doing around the house, I was also suffering from carpel tunnel syndrome in both wrists, causing my hands and fingers to be tingly and numb. Between needing my hands to hold the handlebars and my eyes, sort of important to drive, I did not blame her for wanting to hear I was medically grounded.

The cornea specialist was pleasant and went through a series of questions and vision tests before looking at my eyes with her special optical microscope-ish contraption.

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“Oh, Boy”, was not the phrase I was hoping for. Apparently, the haze was completely covering the center of my left cornea and I have additional scarring that may be new, some weird nodules around the rest of the cornea and some developments in the other eye as well.

We discussed my having MS, my heart issues, my medications, my spending 20 hours a day with my head in the wind, and my recent couple of weeks working on retiling my basement. I thought maybe some of the concrete grinding or mixing of mortar might have caused some irritations, but the doctor did not seem to think so. This type of hazing can sometimes be caused by a virus, but she did not think that was the cause for my vision loss either. She was going to request my past exam records and try to figure out what it might be. I was prescribed some steroid eye drops and given a follow up appointment for next week.

I may not be able to see very well, but I was not specifically told I could not drive or ride my motorcycle to Alabama. Because the eye condition is not from my Multiple Sclerosis, not from riding long hours on the bike, not from cement dust and not from an infection or virus, I have decided I’m not going to bother worrying about it until I get back following week. I picked up my prescriptions and a cool eye patch at the pharmacy, booked my hotel for tomorrow night and packed my saddlebags.

Patients are expecting me in Alabama and my mission to ride a million miles for MS doesn’t get sick days. Riding a motorcycle is therapeutic for me in many ways, so as far as my latest health issue is concerned—

Out of sight, out of mind.

Longhaulpaul.com

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