The Family Breathes a Collective Sigh of Relief

By , March 27, 2010

Recently, behind the scenes, behind the light chatter about moose and house hunting and the mysterious treasures of the far shed, a crisis played out, one that tested our courage and called into question the continuation of our homestead. When one walks the high wire without a net, there may come a moment when balance falters, a foot slips. Hopefully, the worst that happens is a quick readjustment of weight, a regaining of footing, leaving an adrenaline-charged assessment of the narrowly-averted fall.

Thankfully, that’s as bad as it got. On Thursday afternoon, the recovery made, we stared down at the hard ground, relieved that we had not, in fact, fallen.

A little more than a week ago, I started seeing floaters and flashers in my left eye. The floaters persisted, but didn’t block my vision. The flashes, instantaneous shooting stars on the eye’s far periphery, weren’t constant, just frequent.

I’m wary of retinal tears or detachments. Back when I had lasik surgery, the pre-exams revealed a slight tear in my left retina that had scarred over—something to be aware of, but no imminent threat.

A neighbor had recently undergone surgery to repair a detachment that had come on suddenly. He attributed it to his near sightedness. I researched it and found that extreme near sightedness creates a greater risk of detachment (check) as does lasik surgery in some cases (check). Feeling like a hypochondriac, I nevertheless decided to have the eye examined. Consultation with the town health clinic led to an appointment with my ophthalmologist in Juneau. I’d take the ferry to Juneau the next day.

After examining me, the doctor told me exactly what I wanted to hear. In fact, so much so, that I repeated it back to him, to confirm that I heard what he said, rather than what I wanted him to say. I got it right: while it was wise to get checked immediately, my symptoms are merely a temporary annoyance. No detachment, no tearing, no need to fly south for a major operation.

This was our first experience with a potentially serious medical problem since moving to the homestead, which meant quitting our jobs and losing our insurance. We paid in full for the exam. If I’d needed surgery, we would have had to pay for that, too. That was a sobering prospect, the relief at finding it unnecessary, huge. Next time, we may not be so fortunate, but for now, our luck holds.

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