Tag Archives: doctors

top doctors

So, I went on a bit in the last two posts. I want to hit a few points that might have been lost in the story. One, I’ve noticed that most of the people in online forums talking about PHPV are parents of young children who are horrified by this condition. Of course, we all want our kids to be healthy. There aren’t that many people who actually have the disease chatting about it, and that’s because we are used to it. It really isn’t that big a deal. I see that docs are doing surgery on babies’ eyes now, and the only advice I can give a parent is to be really, really sure that it’s necessary, because often I don’t think it does any good, and honestly, other than some fear around having only one good eye, and having to wear glasses (which I don’t even think about, really), the worst part of the condition as a child was all of the doctor visits (before Woody, of course). My eyes are extremely sensitive to light, and having light blasted into them is very, very unpleasant. (This is why my prescription shades are on even in winter.) Not to mention the doctor talking to the parents in a grave, hushed tone. Scary.

As for my last last few check-ups, Dr. Amilia Schrier (I’ve seen it spelled Amelia, too) explained that if I saw bright or flashing lights, or worse, a very obvious darkness, as if a veil of gray has been pulled over my eyes, I should get to her immediately because the retina is starting to detach. So, if that should happen to you, make haste.

My other great doctor experience was with an orthopaedic guy I found over a year ago, believe it or not. (According to my doc friends, orthopaedic surgeons are the most egotistical and jock-like of all MDs). Dr. Dermksian, however, listens, is patient, explains everything without condescending, has never offered or prescribed me drugs (always a plus in my book), and is the most prompt doctor I’ve ever seen. And he takes my insurance. I’ve seen him on different occasions for a foot condition (sesamoiditis) and patellar tendonitis. When I asked him about wearing a knee brace, he told me it’s probably more helpful psychologically than anything. I appreciate that. Why my inflammation occurs in the tendons holding my sesamoid bones (the patella is a sesamoid bone, as well as the sesamoids in the feet), we’ve no idea.

Yes, sesamoid does come from sesame seed.

There’s also an amazing dermatologist in that building (1090 Amsterdam), Dr. Robin Buchholz M.D. I saw her years ago because of a weird spot on my leg I feared was skin cancer (it wasn’t). She was recommended by a friend, for good reason. She’s just lovely.

So there. The good stuff. None of the horror stories so easy to come by. Some doctors out there do care about our health, though the system does make that difficult for them.

PHPV: my perfect deformity

I’ve been meaning to write this post for months—since September of last year, really. I’m only getting to it now because I’ve had some horror dentist experiences in the past few weeks (there is nothing wrong with my teeth, I might add, other than one front tooth was busted in my youth and poorly fixed. I do mean to get around to fixing that, but it’s just not a top priority). But because I’m all too quick to rant about our (american) health care system, I’m going to start by relating a few good experiences.

Last fall I noticed floaters in my vision. I only have sight, for the most part, in my right eye because of a birth defect called persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous (PHPV) in my left. It’s fairly rare. It happens in utero, beginning around the third month. The eye forms with a gel that turns into vitreous as it develops. With this condition, for some unknown reason, the hyaloid artery does not recede and the gel instead keeps growing and becomes scarred. My doctor explained that it hardens into a stalk, which causes all sorts of structural problems. A few include the stalk pulling on the retina, elevated eye pressure, a smaller size (microphthalmia) and orientation of the affected eye, band keratopathy (calcium deposits on the cornea), cataracts, and extreme light sensitivity, though the scarring prevents enough light from getting to the back of the retina. Because the eye is so malformed, there isn’t much that can be done for it other than to protect the vision of the good eye.

I saw a lot of ophthalmologists in my childhood, and wore a patch for awhile in hopes of strengthening my left eye. It didn’t work. Now, I can see a bit in the left eye, but it’s mostly peripheral vision on the far left. Because of the calcium deposits on the right side of the left eye (which appear to be on the left side of the eye on the right in the photo), I see more out of the left side. The right is just fuzzy. My brain has trained itself to see the periphery with this eye. If I focus hard and try to get full vision with both eyes, I see double, as the left eye is tilted up a bit, as you can see in the picture.

I adored my childhood ophthalmologist, or my adolescent ophthalmologist I should say (Dr. Todd Woodruff MD), who looks quite a bit like David Letterman. I was transferred to him when I was about 11 to be treated for elevated eye pressure, which was occasionally called glaucoma. I was always the only patient in the office under 70, as it’s not a young person’s condition. Regardless, he was much more patient with me than the pediatric ophthalmologist I’d suffered for my first decade of life. After a horror experience with an eye doctor in Oakland during my college years who told me I needed surgery because of a detached retina (I didn’t), and suggested cosmetic work to make my eyes look more alike (it’s fairly risky to even wear a contact lens when one has vision in only one eye), I didn’t trust anyone else with my eyes for a long time. Though inconvenient, I would try to make appointments with Woody, as we called him, when I visited my mother.

This got a bit tiresome scheduling wise, especially as my insurance didn’t cover him. And when my mother started visiting me, I stopped going to the eye doctor. Bad. So, in September, when I started seeing floaters, and coincidentally read in an unrelated blog that it can signal retinal detachment and potential blindness if untreated, I logged on my health insurer’s website to find an ophthalmologist I might trust. Oh dear.

This is getting a bit long. I’ve not even gotten to my point. Even so, I’m going to continue tomorrow.

other posts on phpv:
my perfect deformity
my perfect deformity, part ii
PHPV: the eye, vision, and how I see