Things to be thankful for

By | September 3, 2014

Regularly I see posts on Facebook where people count their blessings. Since my diagnosis, I have counted my blessing regularly. Perhaps the biggest blessing has been this move to California.

Last summer I began to developed issues with my vision. I had cloudy vision in my left eye. Unfortunately, I went to see the eye doctor at Lens Crafters (a mistake). He mentioned cataracts in passing, but dismissed it and prescribed some reading glasses. The reading glasses helped for a short while, but my vision continued to degrade. In late October, I went to see a proper optometrist, who diagnosed me with early onset cataracts (in both eyes). It was the first time in my life that an optometrist was not able to correct my vision with lenses. The optometrist referred me to an ophthalmologist, but the earliest appointment I could get was in March. I was told that after the initial appointment, cataract surgery would be 4-6 months out. I had already made plans to move to California in May (after the first possible surgery date) – so the next logical step was to look at doing the surgery in California.

I should also point out that with each passing day my vision was worsening. I recall one bright sunny day at the market in California (before surgery) where I could not see into the stalls. I was completely unable to see the shaded areas in bright sunlight. I had completely given up night-time driving (which was a challenge when I was in Ottawa alone in the winter time, when the days were short). I needed a hat to see in bright sun, as the sun was catching the cloudy lenses dispersing the light. I was going blind.

Fortunately, I was able to see an ophthalmologist in California in January (once I was on Scott’s insurance), and on January 29th I had my first cataract surgery. Once the first was done, it pointed out just how bad the second one was. I had no idea my vision had degraded that much. In early April I had my second cataract surgery.

It occurred to me the other day that had we been in Canada, I would have been diagnosed with breast cancer before having had cataract surgery. The breast cancer treatments would have meant that the cataract surgery would have had to wait. I would have had to go through breast surgery and chemotherapy while going blind. It would have been truly a nightmare.

Previously, I thought the silver lining was a financial one. Having done the cataract surgery in California in January meant that by the time my cancer diagnosis happened I had used up my maximum out-of-pocket expense limit. This means that I no longer need to pay the co-pay for doctors visits. It will mean the co-pay portion of my surgery (assuming it happens in December) will not apply. It had not occurred to me until just a couple days ago, that the true silver lining is that I am going through this process with my vision! I can only imagine how horrible it would have been had I not had the cataract surgery in advance.

So, I’m thankful for the move to California. I’m glad to be someplace where I have access to a nice swimming pool, a nice walking/biking trail, and a decent apartment. I’m thankful for the nice weather – although I would be thankful for a rainy day now and then too. Things are pretty dry around here. And I’m mostly thankful for being here with my husband. A year living apart was enough – I don’t think we’ll be doing that again anytime soon!

2 thoughts on “Things to be thankful for

  1. Emma Stodel
    I just really love this post. All your updates always send such a happy, positive vibe (even those when you’re talking about pain). I feel quite privileged to be able to join you on this journey from afar.
    Reply
  2. SD
    Hello Becky, I am enjoying reading your blog. I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer (triple negative) just over one year ago, at age 52. I completed dose dense AC+T chemo, then mastectomy, then 2 months of radiation. I am interested in your comments on early onset cataracts, as I also experienced this. However, mine began during chemo, and I was later told it was a rare side effect of the high doses of steroids during chemo (posterior subcapsular cataracts PSC). The condition progressed very rapidly, and your comments struck me, as I was going blind during all of my cancer treatments and this did cause tremendous additional anxiety, mostly because I did not know the cause and could not see my 12 year old son’s face clearly (and of course the same issues you had with driving). To make matters worse, PSC is not visible during a slit lamp exam like normal age-related cataracts, but requires full pupil dilation. I saw eye doctors when the symptoms began, but they told me it was not cataracts…this delay, combined with the delay caused by daily radiation, meant I did not have the cataract surgery until two months after I finished radiation. Anyway, yes it was indeed horrible to experience vision loss while going through all the cancer treatments, the image of diving into a dark tunnel was literal. But my vision is amazing now, so I am grateful. Best of luck to you going forward, thank you for sharing your experience in a frank and upbeat way.
    Reply

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