The Eyes Have It
[Note: Further updates will be in the comments of this page of my blog. Dating and attraction advice is too important to be sidetracked on my main blog.]
This is a rather personal post because this past week has been rather eventful for me. A routine eye exam last Friday led to a visit to the worst type of doctor to be referred to. I don’t mean the proctologist. I mean oncologist, the cancer specialist.
My appointment today was with my new retinal oncologist. Put simply, I have eye cancer. More specifically, I have a choroidal melanoma. It’s a rare cancer with only four in a million people affected by it. Because it’s a melanoma, the cancer is considered malignant and so my doctor(s) must act quickly lest it spread.
I received the diagnosis just three days ago when I went to the Rand Eye Institute at the absolute insistence of the first eye doctor I saw. In fact, he wanted me to go the same day I saw him. I went on Monday. The retinologist (there is such a thing) did some serious examinations – including an ultra sound. Then he sat me down to look at photos of both retinas. It was quite clear the my right retina wasn’t right. The appointment with the retinal oncologist was made. His parting words “stay off the Internet” meaning “your research will freak you out.”
Of course I did my research and yes, I did get freaked out. Enucleation – eyeball removal – is one of the common “treatments”. Another treatment is plaque radiation. I get to keep my eye but radiation retinopathy will ultimately result. No matter which one, my right eye is basically fucked. I spent a couple of days wondering what it would be like to have only one eye. That’s a mental exercise I thought I would never have in my life.
So today, after a long motorcycle ride down to South Miami (I live in the Fort Lauderdale area) and another battery of tests, the oncologist confirmed the diagnosis. I do indeed have a choroidal melanoma. It’s a small/medium-sized tumor and the treatment is plaque radiation, not eyeball removal. Of course, today was national “talk like a pirate” day so I asked about eye patch possibilities. The doctor nixed it. After treatment, I need to use my right eye so it heals up faster after all those roentgens have bombarded it.
On October 8, I check myself into a Miami hospital for a four night stay and some serious medical treatment on my hapless eyeball. With so much radiation going on, the treatment is complex and expensive. I do have health insurance but there will be costs that I must cover personally. Welcome to American health care.
Plaque radiation has some curious elements to it. For one, a physicist will be part of the surgical team. That’s the person who calculates the level of radioactivity to be delivered to my tumor. The radioactive plaque will be custom made for me and must be delivered in a way so as not to contaminate the area. After the initial surgery, visitors must stay six feet away and wear a lead shield. I won’t be allowed to leave my room. I’ll be radioactive, baby!
Hopefully, I’ll be able to blog about all this and get some cool photos.