Thursday, February 28, 2013

Taking Care of Me

It's been so easy to shove my health to the side as I've cared for others. I'm now having to correct what I've neglected over the years. Even now, I'm tempted to shuffle my list of priorities and move me down a few rungs. But I'm forcing myself to think of myself, to consider myself, to love myself, to care for myself, to restore myself, to nourish myself, and to protect myself.
Where do you fall on your list of priorities?
"Loveth thine self as you loveth others." Braden 1:1

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Glaucoma, Blindness, Doctors, and Angie

Earlier this week, I had an eye exam by an ophthalmologist that was completely unfamiliar with the extensive history of my infamous eye condition. I was very pleased that this particular physician didn't rush through my visit, just because I have one totally blind eye and one fake eye. Even though I informed her that the effort to save my eyesight ended twenty years ago, she still took the time to carefully examine my eye as if “preventative treatment” was even a possibility.
For about ten to fifteen minutes, she thoroughly examined the exterior, interior, and back of my eye to make sure that additional diseases hadn't set up shop in my already battered eye. I appreciate her patience and commitment to comprehensive care.

I’m very glad that my Glaucoma seems to be in remission, if you will. However, I do find it interesting that my Glaucoma seems to be well behaved now that all of my sight is gone. I haven’t had a drop of Glaucoma medication in over ten years. When I was being pillaged and assaulted by Glaucoma in the 80’s and 90’s, I couldn’t get enough medicine or have enough surgeries. It almost seems like it was fate for me to be blinded by Glaucoma.

During my eye exam, I gave the doctor a quick synopsis of how, why, and when I lost all my sight. It’s a story I tell often, being that people always want to know “what happened” to me. I’ve learned how to give a painless, well packaged run down of my thirty year story in about three minutes. However, when I get a chance to tell my story to someone that understands ophthalmologic conditions and treatments, I’m all too eager to share the gritty details. And usually, the ophthalmologic professional is all too eager to listen. It’s a story that is unglamorous, but incredible in so many ways.

After I finished telling my story, I engaged in a little name dropping. I told her that I was once a patient of Dr. Ronald Gross, one of the rock stars in the field of Glaucoma care. As I expected, she perked up even more and started singing her praises of Dr. Gross. She told me how he has saved the sight of so many. “Too bad I wasn’t one of those many people he helped save their sight.” I thought.

The truth is that Dr. Gross did everything he possibly could to try to save my sight. He tried new medication, groundbreaking surgical techniques, and even allowed us to pray for him before operating on my eyes. But despite his best efforts, I still lost all of my sight. I don’t blame him though. As I aforementioned, it almost seems that Glaucoma was supposed to win. Dr. Gross was just on the losing team when it came to this particular patient.

Although Dr. Gross didn’t succeed at saving my sight, he did save my life. He joined the ranks of individuals that ignited a fire in me to overcome the perils of blindness. He took an interest in the whole me, and not just in my eyes. He always asked me about school. And he always told me I can be anything I wanted to be. I believed him. And I even loved him very much. He was indeed my doctor, but he was also a source of compassion and strength.

My new ophthalmologist informed me that Dr. Gross is leaving Houston and moving to West Virginia. I did a Google search tonight and found the press release that discusses his new opportunity.

Reading that press release swept me back to 1987 when Dr. Gross first started working for Baylor as the new Glaucoma specialist. My former doctor had committed suicide and left a stable of patients that needed immediate medical treatment. I was one of them. So, Dr. Gross got to work on my very sick eyes right after taking the new position. I was only 13-years-old. I didn’t even know that my former doctor had committed suicide. I only knew he had died. The staff at the clinic and my parents thought I was too young and fragile to learn of the real reason my doctor was dead. I’m not sure if Dr. Gross was in on the secret. I do know, however, that he was all too aware of the challenges associated with my eye diseases. And he bravely accepted the challenge to try to help me.

Dr. Gross took care of me for nearly fifteen years. The only reason I stopped seeing Dr. Gross was because of insurance changes. If I could, I would still be in his chair, allowing him to look in the eyes that were there when he started his career at Baylor.

I loved him when I was a kid. And as creepy as it may seem to some, I love him now. I sincerely wish him the very best.

Next week, I’m going to find out when and if he’s left Houston already. I think it is only appropriate that I send him a going away/congratulations/appreciation gift. He is truly a historical figure in the life pages of Angela Braden.

Good luck, Dr. Gross!

Sunday, February 03, 2013

New Chapter?

This has been my home on the web since March of 2006. When I started this blog, my voice was incredibly unique.
there were hardly any bloggers that provided random stragglers on the web a look into their personal life. So, whenever I got tired and/or bored with my blog, I pushed myself to keep writing. I wanted to do whatever I could to lend my voice to a population of people that needed to be heard.
Now, there are hundreds of blogs that provide thousands a chance to read about their daily triumphs, struggles, joys, and disappointments with disability. Some disability bloggers enjoy great traffic and constant feedback from readers. yay for them!
Lately, I honestly do not feel the burden to maintain this blog like I did a few years ago. I feel that there are others to hold up the light; and many of them can do it a lot better and more consistently than me.
Furthermore, because I'm taking so much time working on other goals, it's very difficult for me to make this blog a priority. So, I've really been considering letting this boat float out here in the waters of the world wide web, unmanned, but still with direction.
I know I've thrown this arrow out here a few times, only to continue posting on NuVision for a NuDay. However, this time, I'm going to make a final decision if this month will be my last month posting on this blog. When I make my decision, I will let you all know. Sounds fair?
Until then, be well and prosperous.
Angela L. Braden