Saturday, April 29, 2006

Eyeball Creatures, Part II: Its Name is Lesion

Yeah, I've been spendng a whole lot of time at repeat visits to three doctors over the last week and a half. The good thing is that these doctors' offices are located near a Subway sandwich place, so I do enjoy a nice healthy vegetarian lunch when I visit that neighborhood, which makes me exceedingly happy.

The ear doctor speaks good English. She thinks my infected membrane is slightly improved, but not enough. Yesterday she changed my medication and increased my antibiotic dosage.

The opthamologist understands English and can write it very well (better than my advanced students) but he doesn't really speak it to me. At all. So our conversations are very interesting. I talk, and then he writes. It's kind of fun. Most doctors here studied in English for some/all of their medical school, is what I've heard, so it makes sense to me he can read and write it but not speak, but it's just hilariously fun. He writes kind of big, so he uses a lot of pages from his tablet of paper.

Anyway, he writes to me but he is, after all, a doctor, and so sometimes the handwriting is a little messy and I get a puzzled look and he rewrites a word. When he wrote that I have a lesion on my eyeball, I swear, it just looked like "legion" at first, which I found entirely too amusing. Especially seeing as when my eye began hurting, I was sitting in a coffee shop with some of the cast of my play and I kept touching my upper eyelid below the eyebrow saying "I feel like I have a little eyeball creature crawling around my eye." Later, when I rubbed my eye and discharged a blob-like secretion my friends were fascinated and one said, "Wow, I've never seen an eye give birth before!" So pretending some little demonic creatures have taken up residence on my eyeball membrane is just really amusing. At least for me. I do have an eyeball creature! Its name is legion! Ha!

Oh, don't think I don't take my eyeball demon seriously. But apparently there's nothing to be done about it except, get this: leave Korea! Brilliant! It seems I have allergic conjunctivitis. It also seems that chronic irritants can lead to this lesion developing, a little bump of protein deposit in the eyeball membrane. Doctors won't really do anything about the protein lesion/legion unless a)it moves to the cornea b)it interferes with contact lens wear. I'm in the latter category, but I don't really want to have surgery here in Korea. Although I have had many friends -- expats -- say I'm wrong and that I should have surgery here because it's great and cheap. But, as I said, the surgery isn't really necessary/recommended. Rather, not wearing contacts is recommended, because of the allergic conjunctivitis: I'm allergic to something in the air right now, and it's going to keep chronically irritating my eye, leading to dryness, redness, and lesion creation!

So, the doctor wrote, we can treat the symptoms with artificial tears -- and possibly a topical steroid, I read, when at one point he gave me his English eye manual to peruse -- but there is no cure except environment change. He wrote that, then looked at the paper and paused. Then he wrote "leave Korea." Frown. "Impossible?"

Oh, no, buddy, I replied, it is certainly not impossible at all! Rather, it's going to happen as soon as I can make it so! That was funny, too, because here I already had plans in motion but this is like motivation to effect them even more swiftly! Sorry, Ding Ding Dang! Doctor's orders! Gotta go!

Oh, it's all so amusing. Except it's really not. The problem might be the "yellow dust." Every year the yellow sand blows in from the Gobi Desert, but the problem is that on its way out of China it passes over major industrialized areas, factories, etc. and arrives here filled with pollutants, basically an annual toxic dust storm. They say most years it lasts four or five days. This year it's been weeks. All the long-term expats are in awe: "I've never seen it this bad!" I heard that Japan gave China $100 million dollars to plant trees near the Gobi Desert to improve the situation but that China took the money and did not plant the trees. I haven't verified the claim, but I don't know that I'd be surprised. I also heard that in the last few years the toxic storm has been so bad it's reached L.A. and San Diego, too, on the Pacific trade winds.

Meanwhile, here I am. So many antibiotics...so little time...

1 comment:

michael schaller said...

damn. i was going to comment on allergy season here in boston, but...suddenly it doesn't seem so impressive...toxic dust cloud, and all...

btw, w&p= done