Tag Archives: Victorine Mbong Shu

Adventures in aging – Part 1: A partially detached retina, problems with my PCP, a trip to the ER, and great care at Desert Springs

I won’t lie. This last week has been rough! It challenged how I see myself, how I see, literally, and my self-concept and beliefs about my capacity. The universe decided to remind me that I’m not a kid any more,… or a young adult,… or even middle aged, as more than half my life is definitely behind me. It also reminded me that my body is strong, resilient, and that sometimes things need extra care and support. I need to stay vigilant.

I woke up one morning and immediately started getting things done, like I do. I collected paperwork for my editing partner, Victorine Mbong Shu, negotiated with a local independent bookstore about doing a book event for Writing about Motherhood Honesty in Wichita in November, communicated with coaching clients, forwarded an invoice for a friend, finalized my ballot for the upcoming election, did laundry, made turkey salad for lunch.

As I was working on the computer, I noticed the vision in my left eye was, well,… strange. I seemed to be looking around my left eye. Upon closer attention, I had a big dark semi-circle from my nose halfway through my vision in my left eye. I couldn’t see anything through it. I realized I had been working like this for a while that morning, looking around part of my vision. Our brains are amazing things!

I thought “Oh crap! Ocular migraine!”, so I took some Rizatripton and Advil and continued about my day hoping to stave off the nasty headache I expected. As I made the turkey salad, I noticed that my spot was not resolving. “Hmmm… This is new.”, I thought “Oooo! What if this isn’t a migraine?”

Since I’m new to Las Vegas, I have new insurance, a new primary care provider, who I have yet to meet (changing that), and as it turned out a lot of red tape to sort out. My primary care provider’s receptionist told me that they would have to verify that I was a client with my insurance provider, have their supervisor review my materials, and approve me as a new client prior to meeting with me… And this could take up to a week… Crickets.

My mind was racing. This seems like it might be serious! Stroke, aneurysm, blood clot, retinal detachment all ran through my mind. “I don’t have a week to wait. I think this may be serious”, I said. “I’m sorry. That’s our policy”, she said. I tried to joke; I tried to persuade; I tried to plead; I tried to bargain. “What should I do?”, I asked. “I can’t advise you. You’re not our client”, she replied. I gave up.

I called Humana, my insurance company and asked what I should do. To make a very long story short, they sent me to the ER. Good decision. They sent me to Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center. “Hi, I’m Dr. George”, the doctor said. “Hi, I’m Dr. Deborah”, I replied, joking. We first talked about what kind of doctors we were, our specialties, our training, etc. Through it all, he was assessing my condition. “I think you detached part of your retina”, he said, but I want to be sure. Over the next several hours they ran CT scans, CT scans with contrast, ultrasounds, an EKG, blood tests, etc. They were incredibly thorough. Desert Springs is a teaching hospital, so under strict supervision, there were residents, interns, med students, and nursing students caring for me. I recognize the need for teaching hospitals. Teaching is extremely important and everyone who worked with me was professional and highly skilled.

The tests, confirmed Dr. George’s diagnosis and we headed out for the day with an appointment to see a retina specialist at 7:45 am the next morning. I left feeling very satisfied with my care and more respectful of my body. But she and the universe weren’t done with me yet… (more on that later). Oh, and Dr. George called me the next day to follow up and see how I was doing. I appreciate that kind of care.

The silver streak in this video is the detachment line of my retina. Pretty cool video!