Monday, January 30, 2012

Be careful what you wish for. I've always said I'd rather lose my eyesight than my hearing - I'm in good company, because so said also Millay and Montaigne.

But, I didn't imagine God would listen. I'm lucky, however. I have macular degeneration in both eyes, but as of about 2 weeks ago, the right eye went from "dry" to "wet." Wet is worse, but treatable. Dry AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) consists of an accumulation of cottage-cheese like clumps in the eye, called dreusen (spelling may not be correct). Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels grow into the retina, lifting the macula away from the back of the eye. In addition, these blood vessels are weak and fragile, and they leak. The end result is that you go blind in the middle of your eye or eyes, making it difficult to impossible to read, drive, see faces or anything else directly in front of you. Once one eye goes, it is more likely the other will also.

But it can be treated - with a cancer drug that shrinks the blood vessels and stops them from leaking. I got my first treatment last Thursday. First, of course, they have to shine these really bright, bright lights in your eyes to determine the condition of the macula. I would not make a good torture victim. I'd tell them anything as soon as they threatened me with those bright lights. Then, for the treatment, they shoot the drug into the eye with a NEEDLE.

It sounds worse than it is, to tell the truth. They numb the eye, first, and cleanse it. Then they clamp it open. The needle is so thin and so close to the eyeball you can't really see it. But the IDEA is the thing. I'm sure my blood pressure went through the sky. I was told not to swim for four days afterwards, while I was on anti-biotic drops, and not to rub my eye. Not easy for me, either thing.

I'm fine. But I have to have this treatment once a month for the foreseeable future. If anyone has experience with this condition, I certainly would be grateful for advice and counsel. I do all the things I'm supposed to do. I take Lutein, I eat eggs and leafy green vegetables. I exercise. I get plenty of sleep. I eat a low-salt diet. But I'll tell you, I think there is a connection between all my ailments, and I'll tell you what it is.

There is a protein released by the brain, called luteinizing protein. It helps in the manufacture of testosterone, and testosterone (along with estrogen) helps strengthen bones. I have low testosterone levels and a condition they are now medicalizing as osteopenia, precursor to osteoarthritis. Osteocalcin, on the other hand, is a protein produced by the bone cells that inhibits, or regulates, production of testosterone. I bet I have higher levels of osteocalcin and lower levels of luteinizing hormone. The low lutein levels could explain my macular degeneration, perhaps. Of course, they've only done studies in mice, which resemble the systems in male humans. The systems of female humans work differently, and they haven't studied those, of course. So only time will tell. if I ask to be tested for these two proteins, can that even be done?

Plus, Nadal lost to Djokovic in the "epic final" of the Australian Open - the longest Grand Slam singles final in the history of pro tennis in the open era, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5. Poor Rafa. I wish I'd seen it, but, then again, I'm glad I didn't. It makes me sad. I was never sad when Nadal beat Federer, or vice versa, because they were such fine rivals. That rivalry seems to be past now. They were gentlemen. They took the game for what it is, even though they were always intensely earnest. They kept their sense of proportion, grace, and humor. But Djokovic, I dunno. There's something about him. Ripping his shirt open, the primal scream. So unseemly! So naked! I wonder if he had an erection. (Bobby Darin used to get an erection when he sang.) But then, I'm a prude. I didn't like Elvis either, or Mick Jagger, at the time.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My manuscript, whose name has changed several times as I revised it, and continue to revise, reached the finals in the National Poetry Series for 2011.

Getting closer to publication by the process of elimination! That's the way Jason Shinder used to think about rejection - so helpful. If you don't know Jason's poems, especially Among Women and Stupid Hope, do not walk, run, to your nearest bookstore or online.

Spent the month of October in California visiting my daughter and her family. Rented a studio through Vacation Rentals by Owner (, which I highly recommend. Wrote and swam almost every day. Discovered two important things: (1) as much as I love visiting, I would not want to live in California, and (2) I do not have to see my adorable grandchildren every single day in order to be happy! Not (as I had thought it would be) absolutely without question ridiculously obviously necessary.

I'm going to try to be more present on this blog with news and info. I'm going to try to be a better person.

Until then ... Happy 2012! May we all, and I do mean all, find peace and prosperity in the days ahead.

Re-elect Obama! Please!