Thursday, June 4

an early return

As you might have gathered, I speak a little Italian. It's become rusty over the past 13 years, so being in Italy meant stumbling around a bit, trying to find the right words and verb tenses. I managed to add a few things to my vocabulary, however:

pronto soccorso: emergency room
oculista: ophthalmologist
gocce: eye drops
dilatare: to dilate
miopia: near sightedness
distacco post vitreo: vitreous detatchment
degenerazione maculare senile: age-related macular degeneration

Nothing is ever simple for the Brown-Walls, and within a few days of arriving in Italy, we found ourselves rushing to the ocular emergency room in Florence, accompanied by an Italian friend, Moreno.
The main issue was, and still is, that I have a spot of distorted vision near the center of my left eye. It is stuck there, making it difficult for me to read and do anything that requires me to focus close up, such as reading. Writing and proofreading this blog post is rather frustrating. (Interestingly, knitting seems to be no problem.)

The doctor there, a very matter of fact woman working in a dark and sparse room reminiscent of a third world country, made me throw away my contact lens (which was in fact disposable, but was supposed to last me another month), dilated my eyes and told me that I had a vitreous detachment. Which I know that I have. I'm used to little things floating around in my vision. This spot seemed different, but since she told me that it was no big deal (even though I was now wandering around with just one contact lens) we continued with our vacation.

Luckily, I brought my glassses. On Sunday, we went to the Accademia, where the David is housed. My doubts about the original diagnosis, along with the fact that looking at the David required a lot of effort, made me think that we should get another opinion. Sunday night we went to our friends' beach house on the Tuscan coast, and on Monday morning Carlotta's husband Francesco took me to their local emergency room.

This time the doctor asked me more questions, and had me look at a graph. After dilating my eye and examining it, he told me that I had macular degeneration and that I needed more tests and probable immediate surgery. He advised that we cut our trip short and deal with this back in New York.

Which is what we've done. It's highly unusual for someone my age to develop macular degeneration, though I do seem to have the symptoms. I'll see a specialist in a few hours, and hopefully have some better (and more positive) answers.

We are so sad to have missed the last leg of our trip, which would have included several days in Venice and short trips to small towns in northern Italy to see architecture and art. I can only hope that we can return sometime soon, to pick up where we left off...


The Litter Box House said...

Wow, what a bummer. I hope all goes well for you.

Selkie on Ravelry

meg said...

you will go back, you will. you're lucky to have such helpful italian friends, and to have found a good doctor.

Hilary said...

Oh gosh, I'm so sorry you had to cut your trip short and I really hope that all is ok with your eyes! How scary. :(

I also got to experience an emergency room in Florence...after my right foot was stung by a bee in the middle of Bern, an overnight train, and a day of sight-seeing, I woke up to a hugely swollen and infected foot and got myself to the travelers' hospital asap. The Italian doctor diagnosed me with a strep infection in the foot, which I thought was "funny" as I had been diagnosed with strep throat a couple weeks earlier in Greece (the emergency room doctor in the small Cretan village, same as the old ladies I talked to, informed me that it was caused by eating/drinking cold things when it was so hot outside). Anyway, it was an odd summer and I did not love going to doctors whose language I did not speak fluently (and, try as I might, I just could not turn Latin into Italian).

Again, I hope everything ends up ok! My thoughts are with you!

OonieBird said...

EB, I'm thinking of you. I hope everything goes well. Will you (or Christopher) drop me an email and let me know how you are.

Fingers crossed!!


thorvalda said...

I'm so sorry for you, Eliza. Hope your eye recovers well. I'm extremely near-sighted myself, and hate to wear glasses. You looked good with yours, though:)

Hope to see some pictures from Tuscany/ Italy!

Mary said...

You know, the founding teacher of our grad department had macular degeneration. He was a lighting designer and it all started for him in his 40s. He's now functionally blind, but you might want to give Barbara a call and see if you can talk to him.

Anonymous said...

Recentresearches show that eating Spinach has proved to be a very helpful treatment to macular degeneration. You should try it. It wouldnt harm.