Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rants on seeing…

I have the day off today.  Rare that it is.

Only the house is now filled with girls.  Alvis’s BFF spent the night and is here during the day. Lavie is sick and called in sick today.  And her niece has driven in to stay through the weekend.  She will be getting married in the Fall and Alvis gets to play maid-of-honor.  So there will be some pre-dress looking this weekend.

I’m heading out-of-doors to cut the lawn, whack down the hibiscus (again) that must have been cross-bred with Kudzu.  Get man-sweat stinky…and the like.

Two quick rants.

Oh Noes, My Eye!

I finally got an appointment with my primary-care physician.  Ever since the ophthalmologist visit the aches and pain in my left-eye area have been growing a bit more stronger.  Don’t know if it is because I know there is a problem now or if it is something else.  I’ve spent my whole life protecting and caring for my eyesight and now with something “wrong” it is kinda freaking me out a bit.

The ophthalmologist’s preliminary diagnosis is that I could have a condition called Keratoconus.  After seeing the test results he was able to get during my last visit I can agree I think that is a strong possibility.  Now that it has been pointed out to me I can tell a very slight double-vision thing going on in that eye.  Tends to be more pronounced when driving and focusing on distant objects.  Roadway signs are the best to test on as the reflective and bright colors make the ghost-image easier to pick out. Anyway, he doesn’t have the tools to make a definite clinical evaluation, hence the need for a second opinion by the specialist with the advanced “eye toys” as he put it.

The thinking is that my left eye is constantly trying to correct/refocus the images causing it to work overtime and causing the eye-strain that hurts so bad.  My usual remedies of Alieve or Tylenol don’t seem to be helping.  I’m very pain tolerant but this soreness is waking me up at night.  No good.

So I will be off to the family PCP to get a referral to a specialist in the Houston Med center who I’m told is the best in this field.

Looking back I may have been dealing with this all my life and just not really realized it.

When I was attending Catholic middle school, we went to mass two times a week.  I swore for the longest time at that age I had the gift of Auric Sight.  When I would be sitting in the pews I could look at the altar and swear I saw it “glowing”.  Made my Catholic years growing up kinda freaky.  Most of the other alter-boys would mess around with the candle-wax and other stuff after services, but I was sure to do so would mean some kind of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” retribution instantly!  That probably now was the double-vision thing, unrealized.

Despite this, I wasn’t diagnosed as having any vision issues (needing glasses) until I was a senior in high school.  While I was going through the selection process to be chosen for the U.S. Air Force Academy I had to endure a battery of physical tests and assessments at a military doctor facility.  It was only then during the vision portion (important for hopeful military pilots) that I was diagnosed with less than 20/20 vision.  That and a few other factors led to my nixing that life-course.

I’m not sure why it was only since April that I have been noticing this vision issue and pain.  While my vision has needed correction from time to time, I had never experience this issue before.  Turns out I blogged about it without realizing what it was.

I suspect I might not get off the hook with a simple referral from our PCP.  I bet she is going to probably want a CAT-scan or something as well of my head to rule out any other issues.

Oh bother.

Saturn and the High Price of Seeing Backwards

Saturn Ion owners (and others likely) take note!

For the past week when I got into my Ion, I’ve been having to readjust my rear-view mirror.  I haven’t thought anything of it.

Only when I was in the field Monday and went to grab some lunch in Pasadena, I found I was looking at my back seat.

I adjusted the mirror, and it drooped back down.

That afternoon I had to drive back home without the help of my rear-view mirror.  I adjusted my wing-mirrors to cover as best I could but driving on Houston freeways blind to what’s going on behind you is freaky.

At home I was able to inspect the issue much more closely.

Turns out the design of this mirror (the one with the temperature sensor and compass) connects to the ball-joint with a series of little plastic fingerlets.  Tension is applied to these by a metal ring.  The resulting tension holds the mirror in place as adjusted.  Only in my case, about 1/3 of the tiny plastic fingers had broken off, thereby causing the tension ring to not be able to apply enough pressure to ball-joint, thus the droopy mirror.

So Tuesday off Alvis and I went to the Saturn dealership.  Rear-view mirror, right?  How hard or expensive can that be to fix?

Turns out if you have the one I do, $400 to replace.


I declined.

The price is due to all the electronics jammed into it.  That’s the cost of having “optional features” on your car.

It just kills me to think about dropping that load of cash to replace some bits of broken plastic on an otherwise fully functional rear-view mirror.

For now I’ve got it held in place with some skillful masking tape work that supports the mirror and prevents it from drooping.  Works great and is pretty unobtrusive. 

I have a couple of options at the moment.

I can nix the whole electronic thing and just replace it with a basic rear-view mirror for under $35 at the local auto-parts store.  That would be the easiest thing.  (Except for removing the current mounting bracket fastened to the windshield which is always tough.)  I’ve replaced one before on my old S-10 pickup truck. Worked like a charm.  I’d probably be able to increase my forward viewable space out the windscreen as well as this fancy rear-view mirror is much bulkier and does obstruct a lot more than you would think.

I can look for a used/salvage one on EBay.  I’ve found some under $50 but I’m always worried about getting scammed. Might be as good as the one I have now.

Or I can buy an after-market replacement.  They seem to run in the just under $200 range.

Again, it kills me to spend that much on something that otherwise just isn’t broken or not working.  I wouldn’t hesitate if the electronics in it were burned out and/or the mirror was cracked, but my grief is due to a few tiny plastic fingerlets.

Then again…a roll of masking tape is about, what, $1.00?

If just enough of the fingerlets exist, I might be able to get a very thin plastic "zip-tie” around them and apply enough tension when tightened to make it work. That would be much more flexible than the metal expansion ring previously in service and might be able work, despite the missing plastic pieces.  That would make it more adjustable as right now Lavie says she won’t drive it if she has to redo my masking-tape-mod to drive it. Being as she is shorter than me my mirror adjustments don’t work for her.

Oh well. I guess that’s the breaks…



Anonymous said...

You might want to visit and learn about some of the new treatments for keratoconus. Many doctors in the US are still quick to recommend transplants, but there are many new alternatives, especially collagen crosslinking, which halts the progression of the disease.

Keith said...

For the mirror you can just call around to some local junk yards. You may have to go out and remove the mirror from the car yourself, but it would only cost about $10-$20 for a working replacement of the same type. Good luck with your eye, and God Bless.