Why Do I Bother?

Had a 9.00am appointment yesterday (Friday, 9 July) with my glaucoma doctor at Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia.  We usually schedule appointments that early for the cornea and retina doc’s in Bala, since Jane’s school is on the way and we can drop her off, so I guess we were in that frame of mind when we made the appointment (because Jane has been on summer break for a month…)  I’m not sure why I even needed this appointment since I was just there in May.

We left the house at 8.15am and traffic was surprisingly light.  Even the road work on the Girard Point Bridge didn’t slow us down.  Things were going great until we were about 25 yards from the parking garage at Wills Eye.  A minivan was at the entrance and the driver seemed like she didn’t want to go in.  Once she noticed us, she proceeded slowly.  She got her parking ticket out of the machine and continued very slowly up into the garage.  We always like to park on the top floor, which is the seventh, because it is the only floor that you don’t have to go to the ground floor, get off the elevator, and then get on a different elevator.  On seven, you walk right into the hospital and grab an elevator to either nine (low vision,) ten (cornea,) or eleven (glaucoma.)

Anyway, after a couple of floors, this lady has a parade of cars behind her.  She sees an open spot and tries to park.  She pulls in at the wrong angle and sees she will hit the car on her left.  Backs up, but doesn’t change her turn at all.  Tries to pull in exactly the same way, then backs up again because she sees she still doesn’t have clearance on her left.  Horns start honking.  People start yelling.  She then just stops.  Seriously.  I ask, “Who’s driving that car, Stevie Wonder?”  She is in the middle of the driveway, blocking us and everyone behind us.  More honking.  More yelling.  Eliz did neither.  She pulls away from the space to give us and everyone else room to get past her.  At this point, I’m regretting coming to this appointment.  We get to seven and head inside.

We sign-in on the eleventh floor and have a seat.  Eliz starts to read out the letters for the word scramble in the newspaper.  My mind is not in shape for figuring these out (I was up until 2.30am researching colognes, perfumes, and other hair and skin care products that can be drop shipped to our customers — watch for them soon on ForYourSalon.com.)  After a couple of minutes we get called to the desk to confirm my info and to pay the copay.  As the receptionist is running our credit card (we always pay by credit card at doctors’ appointments because we’ve been burned in the past by having to prove we paid,) she is distracted from another receptionist talking on her mobile phone.  She realizes as she’s handing Eliz the slip to sign that she charged us $25, not the correct amount of $20.  “Oh, I’m sorry, I’ve charged you $25.  You don’t mind if we just put the extra $5 on your account, do you?  It really is a pain to void it,” she says.  Eliz says okay and signs the slip.  We head back to the waiting area.  I’m more annoyed now.  I’m not sure if it was just the receptionist I was annoyed with or me for not saying anything about it.  Eliz and I discuss what just happened and then Eliz starts back on the sudoku.  I close my eyes and wait to be called back.

After some time, we get called and head to a room.  The tech takes us to a room we’ve never been in and begins to ask how things are going.  I tell her the same old story.  She then asks about my meds.  I begin to tell her about the eye drops I’m on, while she is reading the meds that were written in my chart from the last appointment.  She interrupts me before I get one med out of my mouth.  She says, “Are you still on Predforte?”   I answer no and again begin to tell her what I’m on.  She interrupts again asks about another steroid, similar to Predforte (but not the one I’m on.)  Again, I say no and say I’m on Durezol, but pronounce it Durzol.  She then says, “Do you mean…” and says something with about something that begins with a “D,” but is about six syllables longer than Dur ez ol.  Eliz and I say no.  This goes on for another couple of minutes and we move on to the next eye drop.  Since it is the newest one, I had ripped the top of the box off and brought it with since I couldn’t see to read the name.  I then have to explain to her several times how it is applied (though it is an eye drop, the cornea doc told me to put it on my finger — it is very thick — and, with my eye closed, rub it along the seam where my lids meet.)  She wasn’t getting it…  The last eye drop was an easy one.  She writes it down and has a look at my eyes.

She asks me to cover my left eye while she shines a light into my right.  She asks if I can see it, which I can.  She moves the light back a foot or two and asks again.  This time I can’t see it.  Okay, now onto the left eye and the eye chart.  I was happy that it was a different chart, one I haven’t memorized.  “Do you see that,” she asks while showing the big E.  I tell her yes, it is the E.  The next line was a C and a D, which I also am able to read.  I can’t really see the next line, so she hands me the pinholes.  Still no luck.  She says okay and takes the pinholes from me and writes somethings in my chart.  While she’s doing this, I continue to try to see the 20/100 line.  One of the letters in the middle looks like an H or an N.  I ask if that is true and she says, “Yes, it’s an H.  I’ll give you a plus one.”  Hooray.  We then have to go back to the waiting room until there is a room the doctor can see us in.  I’m happy to get away from that know-it-all tech.

After a short wait, we head to a different exam room.  The tech this time is William, who is 43057895743759385473% better than the first tech, puts some drops in my eyes and Dr. Pro walks in.  He greets us and asks me a few questions.  The first couple of answers where fairly short, like, “yeah, it is about the same as the last time I was here.”  He then asks me another question, but after I say about five words, he begins talking to William.  I stop talking.  He says go on.  I start again and he starts talking to William again.  He says continue, but after a few words, his mobile goes off and he checks it to see that it is a doctor that he needs info from (Eliz later told me that he had an emergency surgery scheduled at 10.30am, so it probably had to do with that.)  He hands the phone to William to get the info and asks me to put my head in the machine so he can have a look.  Let’s face it, I really didn’t have anything good to say, and even if I did, I don’t think he was really interested.  He has a look and then takes the IOP of each eye (13 in the right, 8 in the left.)  William has finished on the phone and Dr. Pro starts giving him the info of what he saw in my eyes (besides the blank stare back.)

Dr. Pro then tells me things on the glaucoma side look good.  He says he believes the vision issues I’m having aren’t glaucoma related and it is best for Dr. Ayres (cornea) and Dr. Garg (retina) to figure out was the issue is.  News flash, no one seems to know why my vision came around for those ten days in April after the surgery and then went bye-bye.  Not me, my doctors, or even that voodoo woman named Phyllis.  We shake hands and head to a different reception desk to checkout.

We get to the desk and the receptionist is finishing up with a woman.  When she is done, she says to us, “I’ll be right with you, I’ve just have to send a fax to a doctor.”  Her tone made me believe she meant: You’re done, you’re not as important as a doctor, so just wait a few minutes.  After about five minutes, she starts to help us, but notices the lady before us is still there.  The receptionist asks her if she had a question.  The lady says she was just waiting for an appointment card for her next visit.  The receptionist apologized for not giving her one and writes one out for her.  Now it is our turn.  She reads the form Eliz handed her and says, “You’ll have to call back on Monday.  The doctor wants you to have a Fields test and I can’t schedule that now.”  So, we wasted our time standing there waiting.

Let’s recap:  We wasted nearly three hours (an hour and a half at Wills, plus travel time to and from) on this appointment and wasted over $43 (the $20 copay, the $5 credit we’ll supposedly get for next time, and over $18 for parking — that is with validation, otherwise it would have been $22.)  I told Jake the night before it was going to be a waste of time.  I only wish I could use these Nostradamus powers to select the correct Powerball numbers.

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The Blind Leading the Blind

Last week, we invited my parents over for dinner.  Eliz was making ribs on the grill, which both of them like, and there was more than plenty for all of us.  (Jake ended up having a few, but Jane was okay to pass on them.)  Two full racks and we still didn’t eat them all (though in eight months ago I probably would have finished them off.)

My parents hadn’t been here in a long time, since we usually go to them (and my mother doesn’t like doing the drive) and my dad has been interested in seeing our house again.  He is becoming more forgetful over the past months, which even he recognizes.  I have been complaining (hey, it’s what I do best) lately about the state of our house and he wanted to see it first hand, so we picked them up and brought them over.

Since we’ve moved Salon Supplies + Interiors and ForYourSalon.com out of the now condemned rental space in Folcroft and work it primarily from our home office, our home has been overwhelmed with computers, beauty supplies, and even some salon equipment (hydraulic styling chairs make a unique second row of seating to watch movies or sporting events on the big screen.)  Anyway, as we receive orders from manufacturers and vendors, we bring them home, sort them, and add them to our inventory.  If I walked into our kitchen at this moment, I’d be shocked if there wasn’t at least a couple of beauty related items in there, if not a case or three.  (I had to look…  Only one item in the kitchen — a bowl bracket for a Belvedere 3100 shampoo bowl which we are shipping via UPS Ground to Hawaii.  I’m not sure how that works, but that’s another story.)  Within arms length of me at this moment, there is a sample of Fabulous Hair Argan Oil Plus (which we may start selling) and Ship-Shape Liquid Professional Surface Cleaner (which has to be added to our inventory on ForYourSalon.com.)

My parents entered through our garage (which up until yesterday, we hadn’t parked in since late March) and noticed some of our inventory which doesn’t need climate control temps, but sells well enough to not have to run to Springfield (where we have some leased space) and bring it back to ship it.  They also saw boxes of business documents from the past three or four years.  Through in a few of our personal items like bikes, snow shovels, gardening tools, toys — well, you get the idea.  Did I mention it is a three car garage?  Of course, most of what my dad focused on was inventory.  He was surprised.  We walked through the laundry room into the kitchen and kids greeted us.  The kids and my parents talked for a couple of minutes, then I continued to walk around the house with my dad.  We’ve been here 17 years and we are well overdue for some new paint, new rugs, and a redo for the hardwood floors, which, even with his diminished eye sight, my dad noticed.

We walked out the front door and he had a look around the front and side yards, which our lawn guy had just taken care of the past week, so it looked nice.  All along the way, I was near my dad making sure he didn’t trip over a root of a tree or into a flower bed.  It seemed funny, because it is just like what Eliz or the kids do for me when we are out and about.  The difference being that I’ve already stumbled on the root or into the flower bed or hit my head on a low branch and know where not to walk…  As we headed back in the front door, I point out the small step onto the landing by the front door and then the step into the house.

Back inside, my dad wants a look upstairs.  We go up the front stairs since there is two small landings (the backstairs is one long run and I wouldn’t have been comfortable heading up that way.)  He looked in Jake’s room, then Jane’s, then our “guest” room.  It really isn’t for guests, but has an elliptical machine, exercise bike, and four drying racks where we dry most of our clothes.  He recognizes the bureau in there from our house in Wallingford.  When we get to our bedroom, my dad also recognizes the wall units in the sitting area, also from our house in Wallingford.  As we head back down the stairs, I want to stay close to my dad, but not too close where I might bump him or kick him (I have trouble judging distances and am constantly reaching further than I have to for door knobs, light switches, etc. and jamming my fingers.)  We make it down safely, then eat dinner.

After dinner, he wants a look in the basement.  There aren’t any handrails down those steps since we removed them to get some shelving down there.  I walk in front of my dad and go down backwards so I can tell him where the landings are.  I show him the inventory that we have there on one side of the basement, but not the 17 years of “stuff” on the other side.  Eliz has the inventory side pretty organized at this point and my dad is amazed how it looks like a little warehouse.

We head back up the stairs, my dad, then me.  Again, I’m close in case he stumbles.  My dad is 92 and a fall for him could be catastrophic.  I start thinking that me leading him around and trying to tell him about obstacles was like the blind leading the blind.  Literally.

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Almost Unbelievable…

As you’ve read here over the past seven weeks, I’ve been pretty frustrated and miserable.  On the way to my my cornea specialist, Eliz and I were talking about what I was planning on discussing with Dr. Ayres.  I was going to tell him how tired I was running back and forth to all these eye specialists who couldn’t really figure out why my vision had deteriorated to 20/200 (close to my pre-surgery acuity) after I was able to read most of the 20/100 line a week after the surgery.  I was also going to ask Dr. Ayres to ease off some of the drops.  I was up to about 8 to 10 per day, and after some, my vision was blurry for varying lengths of time, reducing my vision further.

So we’re driving down Lancaster Ave. after dropping Jane at softball camp at Villanova and we turn on Preston and Steve on WMMR (Eliz is a huge fan.)  They were talking about some guy who was trying to get into the Guinness Book of Records by singing the lowest note ever.  The discussion somehow turned to the Oak Ridge Boys and their hit Elvira (warning, don’t click the link, you won’t be able to get the song out of your head…)  They were talking about how deep one of the members of the band could sing, were making fun of the song and then mentioning that one of the members was from Collingswood, NJ (it is in southern New Jersey.)  I was laughing so hard I was crying.  Tears were streaming down my face for over five minutes.  When they finally stopped, we were just passing St. Joe’s on City Ave.  I grabbed a tissue and wiped my eyes and began to look around.  Things looked clearer to me.  We stopped at a red light and I looked at the trees and buildings and told Eliz that things looked better than before the tears flowed.

We were only a minute or two away (his office is on Presidential Blvd. in the Pagoda Building, just off City Ave.)  We sat in the car for a minute or two since we were early.  I looked at the building and the trees and things still looked better.  Once we walked in, things were still tough to see inside.  We took the elevator to his office and signed in.  Eliz grabbed a magazine and started looking through it.  I glanced at the front cover, but couldn’t make out the title, so I thought my vision was returning to its current normal.  After a few minutes, I was called back to Pod 3 (which I suggested on multiple occasions to rename EyePod 3.)  Tia was the name of the tech and she questioned me about what meds I’ve been taking and how my vision was doing.  Then she turned on the eye chart.  E looked clearer.  So did SL.  I was then able to make out the L first, then the P in the OPLB line.  (As I’ve mentioned before, I know all the lines down to DAO6, the 20/60 line, so I’m never 100% sure I’m actually seeing them.)  There is no alternative 20/100 line other then the OPLB line, like there are for the 20/80 line and better, so I was given credit for seeing the P and the L.  With the pinholes, I tried both the CAV8 (20/80) line and its numerical alternative without being able to read anything.

Dr. Ayres came in a few minutes later and I told him about what happened on the way into the appointment.  He then took a look and had me blink twice.  He noticed that my eye was losing the tear film in about five seconds (he didn’t use a stopwatch, instead opting for the technical Philadelphia, as in one Philadelphia, two Philadelphia, etc.  We always used Mississippi when we played football as kids.  You could blitz on five Mississippi…)  He then explained to Eliz and I that 10 seconds is the norm for the tear film to last after blinking.  I’m not surprised that my eyes aren’t normal.  Never have been, never will be.  He also mentioned that once the eye begins to dry, the visual acuity begins to fall.  He gave me more drops, over the counter lubricating drops for during the day, and a prescription for a drop to use at bedtime.  It is an antibiotic that evidently is somewhat thick.  It is used for infections in the eye, but I was instructed to close my eye and massage it onto the edge of my upper and lower lids.  I’ll let you know how that goes in a few days since I haven’t used it yet.  Dr. Ayres also took me off one of the steroid drops (two less drops per day) and Muro 128 (four times per day.)

Can it be that at least part of my current eye issues were discovered because of Preston and Steve?  Yup!  So, thank you Preston and Steve (and Kathy, Casey, Nick, Marisa, the Oak Ridge Boys, and that guy trying to sing the lowest note!)  Now I just have to hope that the new drop works.  Wish me luck (again…)

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