At my first visit with a rheumatologist, I was steadfastly against being on methotrexate because, well, I like my wine and I’m not afraid to say so, and the idea of taking a chemo drug just felt wrong wrong wrong for me. Luckily, my rheumatologist was obliging and put me on hydroxychloroquine instead (with a biologic added to the mix later.)
I was quite happy and relieved at this decision, especially when the hydroxychloroquine didn’t cause any bad side effects for me.Since I am fair skinned as it is, I already smother my skin with SPF when it’s in the sun, so that didn’t feel like an inconvenience. But I soon discovered there is one drawback to being on hydroxychloroquine that really sticks in my eye…literally: visiting the ophthalmologist every six months.
Now, in the world of rheumatoid arthritis, and more specifically, the world of rheumatoid arthritis drugs, having to get my eyes checked out twice a year rates about as high on the problem scale as getting a paper cut.
And yet, I find it excruciatingly annoying. Every time my appointment starts to approach, I start sighing a lot, as though I’m being incredibly put out and inconvenienced. I barely register it on my list of to do’s for that week, preferring to think of it as a big black hole of aggravation.
I know this isn’t rational. I know it isn’t a big deal. It’s pathetically minor in the scope of all things, but I HATE having my eyes fiddled with. I don’t wear contacts or glasses and have so far managed to avoid developing dry eyes, so I don’t even use eye drops, all of which is a good thing since I am practically allergic to having anything put in my eyes.
Unfortunately for me, it must be done twice a year. This past Friday, I headed to my new ophthalmologist at Johns Hopkins to face the music, knowing that those nasty, crusty yellow eye drops were in my impending future.
I also knew I’d be lucky if that was the only test I had to endure. As an added genetic bonus, I inherited my mother’s strangely shaped optic nerve, which makes it look like I have glaucoma, even though I don’t. Every time I see a new ophthalmologist and they see my optic nerve, a feeding frenzy begins even though I assure them I don’t and tell them I’ve been tested about six times in the last two years alone for glaucoma. I never manage to convince them to leave it at that. They have a duty, and I have no choice but to submit.
So I sat there in the waiting room knowing this visit probably wouldn’t be any different, but hoping that it would be. I went in for my visual fields test, and then steeled myself for the series of nasty eye drops that turn my eyes to sand and the blue light that looks like it is going to poke me straight in the eye but doesn’t. I swear I can feel the adrenaline being released, which just can’t be good for my RA.