There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Big Picture

Remember my youngest son, Alex? Yeah, about that....his name is Gil and I'm not going to try to cover up today.  He is my family on FB and I don't hide him there, he knows about my blog, and I doubt anyone will harass him over my post.

Almost four decades ago when Gil was about six or seven, he had a best friend named Georgie. Georgie's family was from Korea.  Georgie was born there but the family was "re-located" to So Cal when he was a baby.  His father was a government employee of some sort and his mother was a housewife.  They lived two houses down from us in Rowland Heights.  The father spoke fairly good English, but Maria, the mother, spoke no English at all.  Despite her lack of English and my lack of Korean, we were friends of sorts and managed to use an odd kind of sign language and gestures while we each spoke our own language. It worked for us.  Maria had a second baby, a boy, shortly after they moved and at that time she seemed to become a little overwhelmed.  But.....

Maria's house was always spotless, the kids clean and she managed to turn their backyard into a rice paddy.  It only flooded the house to the west twice and of course when you are growing rice in your back yard the kids had no place to play but the front yard so......they were at my house...a lot.  

Maria became pregnant again and had another little boy, David.  She kind of went off the deep end after that and the reason became pretty clear when the youngest was about 18 months old.  David suddenly had red hair and was wearing a dress.  Maria called him......Maria.  She was also teaching herself to drive.  Her husband had bought her a Volkswagen station wagon and the neighborhood joke was that everyone stayed inside when she was practicing.  Every single day she would load up David/Maria and then spend most of the time driving on the curb, on the wrong side of the street, or grinding the gears trying to find reverse.  It's comical now, but back then I was worried about her. 

Eventually she sort of evened out, but David stayed Maria.  They moved before he started school so I'm not sure how all of that turned out.  Gil told me years later that he had seen Georgie and his mom had died from breast cancer. 

I have left turn.  Most of the time Georgie and Gil were racing their big wheels on the sidewalk.  Some times they played with Gil's army men or holstered up and played Indians.  They were in the same class at school, walked to and from school together, had a few sleep overs, and just were really close as 6 or 7 year old boys can be.

One day they were playing at Georgie's house; not their usual routine because my lunches were apparently better that those at Georgie's house.  It was summer, it was hot and I was glad they were inside.  Gil came home shortly after he left....crying....loudly.  He said he had hit his eye on a table.  His eye looked horrible; red, swollen, tearing and well, just horrible. He said it really hurt and being a freaked out mom off we went to the ER.  Luckily the ER was quiet and we were seen right away.  Gil was given an ice pack to hold on his eye while we waited to see the doctor and within minutes.....probably one minute...what should pop out of his eye but a BB.

So the story then became one of playing cowboys, Georgie got his dads BB gun and shot the eye.  We were in an Ophthalmologist's office within an hour and the diagnosis then was: The BB had taken a piece of Gil's iris and that piece was now embedded in his retina.  There was nothing that could be done about that and in order to prevent the retina from detaching Gil was to be on bed rest for 2 weeks.  How we did that I really don't remember.  I do remember Gil jumping off the top bunk of the bed in his and my oldest son's room.  But, we got through it and it wasn't until Gil started high school that he needed glasses.

He had checkups yearly and as technology improved the iris piece could be seen more clearly.  He is nearsighted, had astigmatism in that eye and had a really hard time wearing contacts, so he just wore his glasses and complained about them daily. 

Jump to about 5 years ago.  Gil decided to have Lasik.  He is a grown man, has a family, works as a middle school teacher and can make his own decisions.  His mother....that would be me....gave him her opinion.  In 3 words; don't do it.  Like I said, he is all grown up.  He did it. 

Gil has overcome a lot in his life.  He is swimming in lemonade.  He races for a semi-pro bike team (bicycles not motorcycles) and has more scars from those races than I want to see.  Most prominent is the half moon scar under his eye proudly gotten after a crash in a race he somehow managed to win. I doubt he can tell you how many pairs of glasses he has broken....even those indestructible special goggle things he paid a fortune for broke.  So, he had Lasik.  One thing that came out of that procedure is what exactly happened when he was shot.  Yes, the BB took out a piece of his iris and yes, it is embedded in his retina.  But it seems the BB floated around his eye, mostly under his cornea leaving ripples of scar tissue in it's path.

Gil calls me every few weeks.  We catch up with the kids activities, if his dad is alive and lost or found, how his classes are going, just mom and kid talk.  He had called me Saturday on his way home after picking his dad up from the hospital.  So, when the phone rang Tuesday and I saw it was Gil on caller ID I thought....his dad is gone. 

Hi Bert, what's up?

I'm on my way to the ER.  I just saw my optometrist. He said my retina is detaching.

You're driving yourself to the ER and you think your retina is detached?

Seems he started having blurry vision in his eye late Saturday afternoon.  By Sunday everything was gray and shadows.  He called the optometrist Monday, had the appointment Tuesday and then the trip to the ER.  He was in the ER until midnight and had an appointment at UCLA yesterday morning.  He drove his car home from the ER.  Yes, his wife had met him at the ER, but Gil....gawd forbid.....didn't want to leave his baby Mini at the hospital. The UCLA appointment was a bust because his fucking insurance will not agree to the rates UCLA wants.   So, back to the ER they went and finally yesterday afternoon he was seen by an ophthalmology surgical specialist in retinal detachments. 

I understand the physiology of what is happening and it isn't good.  Simply, he has a tear in his retina, the vitreous is leaking behind his retina causing it to detach and fall over his line of sight.  There is a lot more to it, but the result is the same.  He is in danger of losing sight in that eye period, forever. The specialist told him he will have to do the following....on fucking Monday.....drain the vitreous, laser tack his retina, maybe do a silicone buckle, fill the area where the vitreous was with an air bubble and hope for the best.  Gil will have to pretty much lay face down for 2 weeks so the air bubble can do its job of putting pressure on the retina.  Eventually the air will be replaced with fluid, but not the thick vitreous.  He might get 30% reading vision back, but time will tell about his overall vision.  There are no corrective lenses to help.  He has a 10% chance it will happen in the other eye. The why of all of this? Not necessarily the BB accident, not necessarily the bike crashes, not necessarily the Lasik, but probably the fact that his nearsightedness and astigmatism is so bad that it stretched his retina and since it was already "weakened" it just tore. 

You know, Gil is almost 47 years old.  But, he will always be my baby; just like Chris will always be my little girl, and Art will be my big boy.  They are my children, I want to protect them from this kind of misery, but they are adults.  I feel helpless, Gil is not only scared but deeply worried.  His kids are freaked and I can only imagine how his wife feels.  This is just all fucked up .....from Gil delaying getting treatment, UCLA and his insurance playing monopoly with his health, to the delay in surgical intervention.  I'm in Idaho, he is in So Cal, but I wouldn't be any good to him anyway.  This is just all fucked up.


booda baby said...

Oh, Rosie. It's exquisite pain, to not be able to fix what's wrong in the lives of those we love so much. Pain, loaded with fear. The only thing I've ever done is to get really centered and calm and be that and let THEIR fear and pain have a safe place to find comfort. It's a job no one wants, but it's an important one. I'm so, so sorry, but when things are all fucked up, they need someone to see options clearly.

I sigh and hope you'll keep us in the loop. It's a good loop, with good love and soothing voices. I like the soothing voices.

Syd of the Funny Hat said...

If there were anything I could do to help, I would. Sending Gil the best-possible-outcome mojo, and you some {{{hugs}}}.


well that is just horrible...
my friend barbara has the same thing but not from bb ...she has special made contacts made..but is not working much any more and is getting glasses..she has the buckle and had it replaced if I'm not mistaken...hugs to you both.

rosemary said...

Gil's surgery is at 1 on Monday. He seems a bit calmer, has spent every waking minute online looking stuff up and has gotten 2 offers from friends that will let him borrow a massage table so he can rest face down. They are also looking into renting some sort of special chair for him to sleep in as well. Just waiting and hoping all of this turns out at least OK.

rosemary said...

Gil had his surgery today. Went as well as could be expected I guess. Lots of scar tissue, his retina tore again during surgery, they did both laser and the scleral buckle. He has inside and outside dissolving stitches. He goes back tomorrow morning for a check up.

Jennie said...

Hi Rosemary, remember me?? I'm reading blogs for the first time in years and came across this about Gil. Familiar story. When my dad was a boy scout, he was at camp and they were having bb gun wars from one cabin to another. It was dark so my dad put a flashlight at his temple and peered out the window at the enemy camp. Enemy shot a bb gun at the light and it hit my dad's eye. He lied to his mother as well Scoundrel. His retina detached sometime in his 50's, I believe. He was a teacher who drove buses on weekends and summers. He drove a busload of state policemen from NJ to some car race in TN. While he waited at the race, his retina began to detach. He drove to the ER where they told him he'd be better off going home to Wills Eye hospital in Philly. So he didn't tell the policemen...he just loaded them up and drove them back home with one eye. Got home, had a slice of pizza, went to Wills where they scolded him for eating because then they had to wait all night to operate. He has better vision now than ever because he ended up getting a new lens in that one later. But the vision in that eye took YEARS (and years) to normalize after the retina buckle thing. I wish Gil good healing! I recently lost sight in my right eye twice in one week because of the stent I had put in and forgetting my blood thinner. It was frightening. I know I'd adjust but wow. That's a shocker. Love you!!!