I think my eyes are in league against me.

I just got back from the eye doctor. All I wanted to do was update my prescription and get contacts. Should have been a relatively sinple experience.

My appointment took an hour and 45 minutes. First, we couldn’t get my prescription to work properly. The reason…I need bifocals. I’m only 25 dammit. I’m too young for bifocals. My prescription is worse than -7.00 in each eye. So we decided that I’d get contacts and then use OTC reading glasses.

Then he dilated my eyes. I hate this. I have abnormally large pupils anyway. After dilating my eyes, I can’t see clearly for many hours. It’s a good thing he did though. For the first time in my life, I caused a doctor to become flustered. I could tell something was bothering him as he peered at the backs of my eyes. Finally, he took the damn light away from my face and asked if any of my many eye doctors ever mentioned anything about my optic nerves. I said no. This caused him to get even more flustered. He scooted over to my records and looked through them. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I asked what the problem was. Apparently, my optic nerves are bulging. Sometimes, he said, they actually do that. In some people, it’s normal. But, if it were normal, every single eye doctor I’ve ever seen should have mentioned it. He would have mentioned it. It should be noted in my records.
I could tell that he was trying to decide if he and every other eye doctor was incompetent. So, I asked what the problem was again. He said that my optic nerves were bulging and since no doctor ever mentioned it before, it MUST be a new occurance. But, something must be causing them to bulge. He starts asking me all about the history of my head. Do I get headaches…(no). Have I ever had a head injury…(yes). Do I get dizzy or nauseus a lot…(yes and no). He seems worried. My brain isn’t working. The implication has not yet hit home for me. Then, I pause and think…

HOLY SHIT!!! My brain is screaming at me. I finally understand what he’s implying. He thinks I have a friggen tumor!
My immediate concern isn’t the fact that I could have something growing in my head. It’s not that my optic nerve could be permanently damaged. No. My first thought is that I just got laid off and my insurance runs out in less than 2 weeks. I can’t afford a tumor. Hell, I can’t even afford an X-Ray.

So, next Wednesday I have to go see another doctor. This new doctor might make me get lots of expensive tests. I can’t afford expensive tests. I’m still paying for the back surgery I had in April (the surgery which was totally covered by insurance). There’s no way I can handle another large copayment.
What if I have to have more tests and there are no openings for more than a week? My insurance will run out and I’ll have to pay for everything myself!!

I never even got the damn contacts. The ones I liked don’t come in my prescription. He actually has to send out for some which are strong enough.

Ooh, how awful. I’d be scared, too. OTOH, there may be other explanations, although I have no idea what they might be.

Advice: Don’t worry about the money. After all, the alternative to the expense is, like, going blind or dying, right? Worst case, you’ll be in horrible debt. Most doctors and other medical types have no problem setting up a gradual payment plan. Of course, the payoff may take 1,000 years, but so what. See the doctors. Get the tests. Maybe they will come back and show some relatively benign problem. I can’t tell you how many times an initial medical test I’ve had has indicated a possible problem, and the follow up has said, “Nope. Nothing here. You can go about your business,” or “Ah, minor difficulty. Take two of these pills and see me again in 6 months.”

Also, if you just now got laid off, don’t you have the option of continuing the insurance under the COBRA rules? I’d suggest looking into that ASAP.

hugs tightly Don’t stress until you know there’s something to stress about… take it easy on yourself.

More hugs and good wishes, Congodwarf.

One quick question, if you’re this close on the border of health insurance, have you looked into getting some private health coverage, just to keep your coverage current so you can avoid the ‘pre-existing’ condition clauses? It’s NOT cheap (about $500 per quarter the last time I priced it.) but if you’re really worried about major health care costs, that’s better than bankruptcy if you can swing it. Check with your local BBB to see if they have a group you can buy into as a private individual, or ‘personal’ business.

Assuming you’re in the US, you should be able to continue your existing insurance under COBRA until you can get other insurance coverage. The hangup is that you will have to pay the full premium instead of just the employee share which you have been paying. Still, that’s got to be cheaper than paying for major surgery out of pocket.

Did he say you have a bulging optic nerve or a bulging optic disc?

Is it in both eyes or just one?

Did he measure your intraocular pressure? (puff of air or touch your eye gently with a tonometer)

IANAD, but I’m asking because I work in an ophthalmology/optometry library and could get you more info if you want it.

Motorgirl , He was very specific that it was the nerve. I believe it was in both eyes. He used some cool machine to take pictures of the insides of my eyes (I’d love to see those) and he took both eyes. No puff of air but I think he touched my eye with something. I’m actually not sure. I had about 5x the amount of tests I usually have and that was before he discovered the nerve problem. They even put me on a machine with an eye patch and a Jeopardy type clicker thingie - for testing peripheral vision. Until the last 10 minutes or so, it was a pretty interesting appointment.

Everyone else, Thanks for the good thoughts and the information. I’m going to wait until next week before considering Cobra. I believe I have til the end of the month. I don’t want to be hasty and end up stuck with a massive insurance bill I can’t afford. At the moment, I really can’t afford Cobra. My mom thinks I will qualify for Mass Health if I don’t find a new job soon. But, I have to wait for Unemployment to tell me what I’m worth. I’m not sure if I want Mass Health though. They’re the same insurance plan which refused to buy me new glasses when my prescription doubled because it hadn’t been 2 years since my last pair. They would probably agree to pay for the removal of my eyes but not the removal of a tumor.

I’m actually not at all worried about the problem itself - which is odd, considering all the problems my head and eyes have given me lately. I’ve been getting what I call “dark flashes”. Kinda like light bursts but black. I also get very frequent dizzy spells and occasional tunnel vision. I’ve always discounted these problems due to sinus headaches or complications from being a fatass. However, I’m surprisingly calm about it all. The money is my biggest concern right now because I can’t afford the medical bills or the insurance. It’ll be at least a week before I learn anything important so I feel that there’s no point giving myself a heart attack about it now. I’m just going to enjoy my (hopefully) temporary vacation and try to keep myself occupied by cleaning my house.

Mass Health? Are you in Massachusetts? Feel free to drop me an email (check my profile). If you’re in the Boston area I may be able to suggest an eye clinic with a sliding fee scale.

Mass I am. Springfield area. I’m not bothered by the drive to the Boston area - especially if it means I pay less or any procedure I may need.
I appreciate the offer for information. I’ll definitely let you know after I see the new doctor next week. Anything that I get done before the 31st won’t be a problem financially.

I was curious about your question (the one about disks or nerves) so I looked it up. Based on the definitions I read, he could have been referring to either. I’m not sure now. I know he said nerve but he may have been referring to the nerve head - which one website said is the disk.
I really wish I could see the pictures he took. I love stuff like that. I didn’t even know that your run of the mill eye doctor could take pictures of eye guts.

If you email, be sure to put your doper name in the subject line so I don’t mistake you for a spammer.

I’m surprised they didn’t show you the pics while you were there. If your eye doctor has the equipment to take the photos, it’s almost assuredly digital and he could have shown them right away. At your next appointment express interest in seeing any pics after they take them - most doctors would be happy to let you take a look.

It could be a PESUDOtumor…

I had gone to the eye dr. complaining of headaches and floaters, and he saw much oddness in my retinas and optican nerve, and sent me right to a neurologist who sent me to the hospital.

The hospital determined I had pseudotumor cerebri - my body thought I had a tumor but really I just had way too much spinal fluid and it was filling up my head.

The “cure” was a night in the hospital and a spinal tap.

Granted, this doesn’t change the fact that you don’t have insurance, but may be a little glimmer of hope that may not be a brain tumor - which would be extra $$ and extra stress.

Good luck - keep us updated.