Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Meanwhile, back in my real life…

It’s been a monumentally huge couple of weeks for my wife and me as far as news goes in our real life. (Before you ask: No, no one’s pregnant.) I can’t really talk about it all yet, as there are some things technically still up in the air that shouldn’t be commented on solidly until all the paperwork is signed and so forth. (No, we’re not getting a divorce!)

Let me go in order of hugeness.

Huge News Item #1—In a couple of months, the wife and I will be headed to Central America on a medical missions trip. The wife went on a similar one to Guatemala and Honduras back in 2003 and had an amazing and sometimes frightening adventure (what with Guatemala suddenly breaking out in civil unrest while she was there, causing the team to have to trade medical services for passage through protest roadblocks that had been set up between all the major cities). I was back stateside for that one and had to make do with little bits of news like “Protests have broken out and the med-team is getting out of the country” which implies a lot more danger than they were actually in.  I’ll probably expound upon her `03 adventures in a future post as the date for our new trip draws closer. Suffice it to say, I’m going on the trip this year, headed to Guatemala and El Salvador despite my entire lack of medical training and extremely rusty Spanish-skills. Our passports even came in late last week and we’ve made our downpayment, so it looks like it’s official.

Huge News Item #2—The wife and I have made our decision of which hospital to rank #1 in terms of our choice of where we would like to spend her medical residency. I’ve written of this a little in the past and even threw out a couple of possible choices, (basically here in Tri-Metro or Clarksburg). Where ever we wind up will be our home for the next three years and has the potential to uproot our lives (not to mention our blogs) or keep them relatively stable depending on what goes down come February. This is the bit of news that I can’t say too much about, as nothing is set in stone yet. We’ve basically just ranked the hospitals in order of preference. That’s major news enough, but the O’Henry ending to it is we actually changed our minds this week as to where we wanted to go or stay due to having received some information that basically negated all the reasons for choosing our previous choice. We have it on good authority that the hospital we have now ranked as #1 is going to rank the wife pretty high too, so chances are we’ll get it. However, it could always go down another way. We might not get either of our choices, at which point we'll have to scramble to find a program that can take her. Can’t say for sure `til we do, though. I believe February 14 is the day we’ll learn for sure. Believe you me, though, if things go down like we hope they will I'll have plenty to spill then.

Huge News Item #3—Last week, while on her ophthalmology rotation, the wife's preceptor physician was demonstrating some of the equipment in the clinic using her as the demonstratee. During the course of his eye examination, he discovered that my wife's eyes have a visual field defect. This is a condition where the eye cannot see as well in certain sections of the normal range of vision. Often this is due to pressure being applied from within the eye socket itself. It’s nothing she has ever noticed before, nor would it likely have become known without the doctor's test. Further investigation by the doc indicated that some of the vessels in the back of her eyes are not moving blood out of the eye as efficiently as they should. This is not a normal condition for someone of her age, and it makes the doctor nervous. At the moment the vessels are just sluggish, but could eventually begin clotting with blood if the flow reduces further. This has the potential to permanently damage her eyesight.

This kind of thing can appear in people with diabetes or blood pressure problems, but she doesn't fall into either category. Another possibility for the sluggish vessels is that they are being pressed upon by something else in the area, like maybe an artery. In that case, it’s just how God made her and she’s probably going to need to take aspirin regularly to cut down on clot-potential. However, one other very common cause for such a visual field defect is a pituitary gland tumor. The wife came home joking about that last Friday. Then, the following Monday, she told me that her preceptor was actually very serious about getting it checked out and wanted to schedule an angiogram and an MRI. Yesterday she had the angiogram, where they pumped dye through her veins to see where it goes and how it flows. This proved there is some kind of pressure problem in certain vessels in her eyes. Unfortunately, we have to wait until next Tuesday for the MRI to, hopefully, find out what's causing it

Again, this could just be how she’s made. Or it could be a tumor. Or it could be something else entirely. The wife assures me that pituitary tumors are rarely cancerous and thus usually non-life-threatening. People have gone their whole lives with them and never known about it. Once diagnosed, they're usually treatable, though removing one would require surgery. We have to get it checked out all the same.

Naturally, part of me is freaked out that my wife might have a tumor of any kind, benign or not. Another part of me looks at this as providence, since finding a potentially eye-crippling condition and treating it before it causes damage is a very good thing.  She is also freaked out because having ticking time bombs in one's eyes is never fun.

So that’s the Huge News from Real Life. I’ll keep you posted as to how things work out on all fronts.

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An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.