PORTAL 52 - Week 6: 'Another Perspective'
(Reference photo credit: Harry Quan, www.unsplash.com)
Part 2 (For Part 1, see previous post.)
After completing his examination of my eyes, the doctor sat back and provided his diagnosis: PVD or Posterior Vitreous Detachment. He then explained the anatomy of the eye and what is happening with PVD. (Spoiler alert – biological details are forthcoming. Skip the next paragraph if you are squeamish about such things or just don't want to know about it.)
The back of our eye has an area of light-sensitive tissue called the retina. Light rays coming into our eye get converted at the retina into nerve impulses that move along the optic nerve to the brain, which then interprets the impulses as images we see. (How many portals can you count in that one sentence alone? At least 4?) The middle of our eye is filled with a clear gel called vitreous that is attached to the retina. As we age, the vitreous gel shrinks and pulls away from the retina. This detachment can result in clumps of gel floating about inside our eye, casting shadows on the retina (aka: floaters), blurriness, and flashes of light in our peripheral vision. In a ‘worst-case’ scenario, the retina can become torn, or even detached from the back of the eye if the gel pulls away too suddenly or with force.
Partial or complete loss of vision can result if there is a retinal tear or detachment. This bit of news was shocking to me! Although I was relieved that I did not have a brain tumour or a stroke, (because, I'll admit it folks, that's where my thoughts went at first), it was very alarming to consider the possibility of losing my vision.
Here was the good news: no retinal detachment or tears were evident; all of the symptoms I'd been experiencing could be explained by PVD; the symptoms usually resolve after a few weeks, or somewhat longer in rare cases, but eventually the light flashes cease and the brain learns to ignore the floaters and blurriness; I should not do any inverted yoga poses or lift heavy weights, which my brain heard as "Do not exert yourself or do any exercises at all..." (Oh well, there goes another new year resolution.)
So, getting back to 'Diagnosis', and the various reactions it provoked...
It was not supposed to be directly about me, rather it was meant to be a distillation of the emotional rollercoaster I was riding. It was created as I reflected on the various feelings I’d experienced in a short span of time; being somewhat disturbed about the onset of symptoms; the build up of anxiety over what I might have; the shock of understanding potential outcomes that can accompany PVD; the outright relief of knowing that I am a 'best case scenario' and that the symptoms will resolve over time and without surgery.
'Diagnosis' was created as I thought about how many people get diagnosed with life altering conditions every day, every minute, every second. I considered the numerous clients I've had the privilege to work with during my counselling and teaching career, who dealt with a wide range of diagnoses that impacted them and their families in various ways. It struck me that, depending on the person, the diagnosis, the timing, the circumstances, the life lived to that point, etc... everyone reacts in their own way upon being diagnosed. Also, one's perspective can go through any number of shifts. A diagnosis might be devastating news, or it might be a huge relief. It could be both, or neither. But for certain, a diagnosis separates time: 'Life before the diagnosis' and 'Life after the diagnosis'.
A portal has indeed been crossed.