So last spring I had the first of what I understand will be an annual cleaning, polishing and fit-check of my prosthetic eye. During this visit the prosthetist noticed that my right eyelid was a little puffy … something I was aware of but not especially alarmed about. It looked a little sloppy, but it didn’t hurt and only itched occasionally. She suggested that while it wasn’t common, people do occasionally become allergic to their prosthetics over time and I might want to mention it the next time I saw my eye doctor.
Because I only see the eye doc once a year (as opposed to my oncologist whom I see so often that she generally notices when I’ve had a haircut), I went ahead and called the Eye Clinic rather than waiting for my regular appointment. The doctor seemed a bit skeptical of the prosthetist’s theory but confirmed that I was indeed exhibiting allergy symptoms in my right eye socket ONLY. He prescribed some drops that addressed the itching and (TMI alert: a goopy discharge) but did nothing for the swelling. At the same time, I started taking the fake eye out at night and not wearing it at all on the weekends in the hopes that giving the eyelid an occasional break might get it to settle down a bit.
I saw the the eye doc again the first week in August and while he was still not convinced I was allergic to the prosthetic, he did switch me to a steroid drop 3x per day. I used for about 10 days without any impact other than making everything I ate and drank taste like crap. And then it was time to leave for our cycling tour of the Lofoten Islands in Norway, for which I decided to just leave the prosthetic at home.
This was a decision I very likely would have made even if the fake eye hadn’t been bothering me. I often wear a patch when I travel just so that others know that I’m blind on the right side, and I always wear one when I’m on a bike for the same reason. Since I’m no longer wearing the prosthetic at night and would be patching my eye during the day, there was really no point in taking it along … giving both the socket and lid a full two weeks’ rest.
And guess what? When I popped the eye in on Monday morning, the eyelid looked completely normal! But lo and behold, by Monday evening after a full day’s wear…it was puffy and swollen again. In my mind, there was no longer any question that I was allergic to the prosthetic, and fortunately the Dr. *finally* came around as well.
But here’s the kicker … I’m now being referred back to the prosthetic clinic … which is exactly where I started almost six months ago! Gaaaahhhhh! In the meantime I’ve forewarned my colleagues that they can expect to see me in Pirate Mode a lot more often, which has prompted my Mom to double my collection of homemade designer eye patches. It also inspired somebody in personnel to replace the name plate outside my office door with a sign that says “Capt. RumJugs McScurvy.” NICE!