Friday, August 23, 2013

My eyes! My eyes!

One of the goals I set for myself this summer was to go to all the doctors I have been avoiding since we started going to the RE.  It wasn't really that I was avoiding my annual physical or skin check, I just am so tired of going to the doctor.  And every time I have a $25 co-pay.  So I just avoided all other doctors (except for the dentist).  Anyway, I was very good this summer - I went to my GP for an annual physical, saw my gynecologist to tell her what had been going on and get a pap smear, saw my dermatologist for an annual skin check.  But I kept putting off an eye exam.  I don't have an eye doctor in the city and I haven't had an eye exam in four years.  Part of it is laziness, part of it was that my eyes seem fine.  I didn't notice any real change in my vision.  But that all changed this week when I realized I was almost out of contact lenses.

I started wearing contacts when I was 24, and the brand I originally wore, which I really liked, is no longer made.  So in my late 20s I got switched to this other brand.  I never liked them.  After about six hours, my eyes itch and I've noticed that I always, always feel them in my eye, even when it's a brand new pair.  In a word, they kind of suck, and as a result I usually wear my glasses.  Still, we're leaving for vacation soon and if I want to wear sunglasses, I need the contacts.

So I made an appointment for an eye exam at a Lenscrafters because I just didn't give a crap and wanted to go somewhere within walking distance.  I should note that I have complained about my contacts to past eye doctors and they all basically told me that it's normal for the contacts to bother me after wearing them for 8 hours, and that they didn't see a point in switching my brand.

Anyway, eye exam was fine, nothing wrong with my eyes, my vision has degraded a little, so I have a new scrip.  The eye doctor noted that my eyes are dryer than normal, but that didn't surprise him because I am a ginger and super pale and have light eyes, and people like me tend to have dryer eyes (as well as a propensity for eye cancer and macular degeneration due to sun exposure!  Yay!).  We talked about how much I hate my contacts, and he was basically like, "Yeah, no shit.  This brand is no good if you have dry eyes, you need a brand with better lubrication."  And he also confirmed my suspicion that I should not be feeling my contact lenses and they shouldn't be bothering me after six hours.  So he switched my brand and gave me a sample and they are AWESOME.  I can wear them all day, they don't bother me at all, and my eyes are not dry and itchy, even after wearing them all day.

I left feeling vindicated.  I wasn't crazy!  I knew those contact lenses suck - why didn't I stick up for myself with all those other eye doctors?

I was reading a piece on the Well Blog over at the Times a few weeks ago.  It's a series written by a woman who has advanced ovarian cancer, but she's been living with it for quite awhile.  She talked about her oncologist and a lot of what she said resonated with me because it reminded me of Dad's and my relationship with his onco, Dr. T.  Anyway, the writer wonders whether it matters who you choose as your doctor when the gold standard of chemo protocols is pretty uniform.  Yet in the end, she knows that having a trusting relationship with her doctor really matters.  She writes:
The strange rightness of our relationship underscores how quirky the needs of cancer patients are. Some people want physicians with the best record of keeping their patients alive the longest amount of time. Others look for a Jewish or an Indian doctor or an older man of high rank. Some put their faith in a particular research center, others in a particular referral system. Some need a good deal of time spent on reassurance, others crave the clarity of honest disclosure, as I do. 
Because I trusted Dr. Matei’s truthfulness, I enrolled in many more protocols than I ever thought I would. In return, she gave me a priceless gift. While she implicitly accepted my conviction that the disease would kill me, she offered a limited quantity of quality time — four years in which I have been able to write . . . usually not about her. 
Although I profit from the research investigations of Dr. Matei, what I cherish is my sense that she will level with me when medical interventions cannot control the cancer and become pointless, or worse. Our monthly dialogues revolve around our families or our writing, and in the process I believe that she has discerned and respects my values.
This perfectly encapsulates why my dad chose his doctor - he respected that Dr. T leveled with him and didn't sugar coat things, and he believes that when the time comes, his doctor will tell him that it's time to stop pursuing treatment.  As a result, I know for a fact that Dad has done many more rounds of chemo and tried many more types of meds than he originally thought he would.  Because he trusts his doctor. 

I pretty much chose my RE because they were affiliated with a university and they accept my insurance.  If I had been going on SART statistics, I would have preferred to go somewhere else.... but those places don't accept my insurance.  Still, I'm happy with Dr. M and I have been since we first met her.  I think a big part of it is that I don't feel like she's unnecessarily shoving me towards IVF, and because she didn't push us in that direction, I trust that if and when she tells us it's time to move on from IUI, it will really be time to move on.  I've read a lot of reviews of REs in the City and one of the main complaints people seem to have is bedside manner, or that they feel like they are just a number and not a person.  I generally think REs are just not great in this department.  At the same time, if I ever felt like my RE wasn't listening to me or wasn't considering the questions I pose to her seriously, I'd be out of that office.  Dr. T's job is to give Dad as much quality time on earth as he possibly can.  Part of that involves monitoring Dad's side effects and his mood, making sure that he isn't pressing Dad to go further than he can.  But my RE's job is to get me pregnant.  Maybe REs ought to look at their job more holistically, as some oncologists do, but generally they don't, and I'm okay with that.  I don't need my RE to make sure I'm feeling okay emotionally. But no matter what the specialty, whether you're an eye doctor, an RE, or an oncologist - if you're not listening to me then you're not doing your job.

I guess this is the long way of saying that I wish I hadn't spent 8 years wearing contact lenses that I hate.  I won't let something like that happen again when it comes to my health, especially with getting pregnant.  


  1. Hey there. Wanted to stop by your blog and say hi. So glad you finally got some good contacts. My sister (also a ginger) struggled with the same thing, but gave up before finding a doctor that would help and has resorted to wearing her glasses full time.

    It's interesting what wrote about trust and bedside manner of RE's. In my rainbows and unicorns world, all health practitioners would treat holistically. I'm realizing quickly that I will have to adjust. Perhaps my RE is very good at the medical side and I have to unwind my emotions from how I feel about her.

    1. Marcy, I think we should have higher expectations on the bedside manner of our REs, and doctors in general. It makes me a little sad that I went in with such low expectations on the bedside manner of REs (mostly from reading a lot of doctor reviews and blogs). I think the situation with my eye doctor taught me that it's okay for me to leave a doctor behind if I feel like I'm not getting the right treatment.

  2. Since five or six years ago when my lifelong (I've been wearing glasses since I was seven!) optometrist retired, I've seen a new one every year because I hadn't found one I liked. This year was the first time I found someone I like, and she gave me four types of contacts to try when I had dry eyes with them. I have pale green eyes so maybe that's why? I've never heard that but it's interesting! Anyway it's such a pain to have a doctor you're not satisfied with for any reason. We all need to stick up for ourselves, but it's so hard because they're the professionals. I think I always feel they SHOULD know best!

    1. Amen to that. I definitely know what you mean about feeling like they should know best because they've had all this training. But I constantly remind myself that they are not infallible (I once had a doctor insist that I had a virus when I in fact had bacterial pneumonia.... after that, I stopped thinking doctors were always right). I think a truly good doctor will consider the patient's feedback and not take it as an affront. Does that make sense? I just don't want my concerns to be dismissed without a logical explanation. Oh, and from what my optometrist said, if you have light colored eyes (like blue or green) you may be more susceptible to dryness, because people with light-colored eyes are usually also on the paler side, have less melanin, and therefore less protection.