An entire month has somehow passed since my last post, and what a month it has been. On the work front, I’ve mostly wanted to pull my hair out, but there were some “I can’t believe I get paid to do this” moments as well, such as the day that I gave a technical brief to a veteran astronaut (who is my boss, three times removed). On the non-work front, I’ve received some medical test results which have left me scratching my head.
First, I had my first appointment with my new ophthalmologist this past week. It was kind of like a first date, getting to know each other, trying to figure out if a second date was a possibility. I’m really hoping that “he’s the one”, because I am flat-out tired of searching. Over all, I liked him. But I also think I let him “off the hook” a bit too easily, by not asking him some of the hard questions that I have asked others. His area of expertise is glaucoma, and I explained to him that my reason for being there was to explore alternative underlying causes for the optic neuropathy. Normal pressure glaucoma was mentioned, but no specifics were given (e.g., how exactly to test for it, how to eliminate it as a possibility). I wish that I had asked for more details. Also, when he was looking at my eyes, he said that they definitely looked off-nominal (my words, not his), but that they did not look glaucomic. I wish that I had asked him what feature was missing in my eyes that made them appear to not be affected by glaucoma. He did say that my optic nerves were physically small, causing the nerves to be squeezed (think of trying to cram a lot of wires through a small hole). I wish I had asked if this feature — which is genetic and something he indicated that I’ve had all my life — could alone account for the thinned retinal nerve fiber layers (RNFL).
One particularly valuable statement that he made was that my RNFL measurements were not the worst that he’s seen … and that in those patients who had thinner measurements, even they still had their vision intact. The message here is that perhaps I’m not on the hairy edge of going blind, that I still have some margin left. His conclusion was to monitor the situation, see if the RNFL thinning gets worse over time. My next appointment is in 6 months.
On a different note, my neurologist called me a few weeks ago to give me an overview of my cognitive test results. Dr K reports that the neuro-cognitive tests indicate no cognitive decline. Recall that she had also sent my MRIs out for a second inspection, to look for any brain atrophy. The findings: no atrophy detected.
The fact that these results are negative is, obviously, very positive. But here’s the thing: my word-searching (while either talking or writing — you wouldn’t believe how much I cheat with a thesaurus and search engines even when writing a post here!), my loss of thought flow while in mid-sentence, and my unnaturally strong, unwholesome bond that I seem to have with my calendar (which orchestrates every minute of my life during the work week) didn’t just instantly evaporate upon hearing this good news. When I conveyed to Dr K some skepticism in the veracity of the cognitive test results, she said that the neuro-psychologist’s report suggested that “anxiety and self-doubt” are the sources of my (pseudo)cognitive challenges. Hmmm. Really? I’m quite certain that “self” isn’t the focus of the doubt that I have. I would be interested to know if others who have taken this test have heard the same kind of conclusion. In any case, StarMan and I now have an inside joke: whenever either of us forgets something, we immediately say to the other: “Duh! I’m anxious — what do you expect?!”