A couple of months ago, I posted the first in a series of medical negligence stories from my life. As I mentioned at the time, I have found that it’s extremely difficult to write about these experiences, because I still suffer from their impact on my body. So I decided to jump-start the process by sharing the letters I have written to doctors following such incidents.
Here is the the third and final letter I wrote about the wart removal from hell. I still am experiencing a number of the problems mentioned below, though not as severely; I still can’t wear contact lenses; and I am still shelling out money for weekly bodywork sessions, to keep the pain levels down.
It’s amazing how one stupid move on the part of one person can cause a long-term, chain reaction of distress and challenge in our lives.
March 13, 2008
Dear Dr. C,
I am writing to update you on what’s been going on with my eye.
Shortly after writing to you at the end of January, I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist. While waiting for that appointment, I went to my mother’s optometrist — who is known for catching things that other doctors have overlooked.
This optometrist examined my eye, informed me that it was swollen (as opposed to my left eye, which was normal), and advised me to use Opcon-A drops in my right eye, as well as continue with the other regimens I had started.
Prior to going to my mother’s optometrist, I was in a lot of pain in my right eye. Shortly after beginning treatment with Opcon-A, however, my eye began feeling much better. I used the drops for about a week and began meditating to reduce the pain, both of which helped.
The next week, I went to the ophthalmologist, who gave me a full exam — including dilating my eyes. (The previous ophthalmologist had not given me a full exam.) This ophthalmologist said that my cornea was fine but that the white part of my right eye was irritated (as opposed to my left eye, which was normal).
While my right eye had felt much better prior to this exam, it was in a lot of pain in the days following. So I went back to my mother’s optometrist, who explained that dilation can cause that reaction. He examined my right eye again and said that while the swelling had gone down, my eye was still swollen. He told me to start up again with the Opcon-A drops.
I tried, but at that point, taking the drops caused more pain than not taking them. So I stuck with the compresses and mind-body techniques. Despite my best efforts to reduce the pain, however, I began having pain not only in my right eye, but in the area around it — i.e., the onset of headaches, with the locus of pain in the upper right side of my head. These headaches have been so intense at times that I have had to stop working and lie down with an ice pack on my head.
These headaches also have made it difficult for me to tolerate noises. For example, while I am having the headaches, I cannot speak on the phone with my best friend as her baby cries in the background, and I have to ask people to speak quietly when talking to me.
For a period of about a week or two, I also experienced intense pain in my right ear. During that time, I could not talk while holding the phone receiver on the right side of my head (which is my regular habit), because it hurt too much. Fortunately, that sensation subsided, though my right ear still does not feel back to normal. Even today, I often have to hold the receiver a little bit away from my right ear, so that I don’t feel pain.
About a week ago, I began taking the Opcon-A drops again. Doing so has significantly reduced the pain but has not made it go away.
It has been over two months since the incident with the liquid nitrogen. Since that moment, I have had a litany of issues with my right eye and the surrounding area — which in turn has caused a chain reaction of problems in my life:
1. For starters, I have become hypersensitive to light. This hypersensitivity in turn has made it difficult for me to work on my computer — which, considering that I am a professional writer, has serious consequences for my ability to work.
This hypersensitivity also has made it challenging, and potentially dangerous, for me to drive at night, as I often have gotten a shot of pain in my right eye from the headlight glare. There are numerous other, very basic, ways that this hypersensitivity has made it uncomfortable for me to function. For example, I am still experiencing on-and-off difficulty looking at people and objects, especially when they are right in front of me.
2. As I mentioned above, I also have had to deal with pain in my eye and the area surrounding it, in the onset of headaches — which in turn has had its own set of consequences.
3. I have shelled out hundreds of dollars for doctor appointments, body work appointments, pharmaceutical medications, and supplements, in the interest of healing my eye. I also have lost a significant number of hours of work time, so as attend appointments, pick up treatments, or just lie down because I’m in too much pain.
4. I have not been able to wear contact lenses for two months. While this is certainly the least of my concerns, it nonetheless has had an impact on my appearance, and therefore, on my ability to feel at my best.
At this point, I believe that alternative healthcare is the only thing that will help me recover fully. Clearly, my nervous system was triggered and is now out of balance. Acupressure, acupuncture, and the like specialize in restoring that balance. I neither have the funds to cover this expense, as it is uninsured, nor do I feel that I should be the one holding this financial burden, given the circumstances that caused this condition.
While I have no interest in suing for damages, I do feel it is only fair for you to cover the costs associated with my recovery. I assume you have an insurance policy to assist in situations like this. Please put me in contact with your representative.