Over the past nineteen months, Ryan’s pupils really have done
little nothing to show any cognitive recovery. Sure, sometimes we thought we might see something, but couldn’t say conclusively. I can not begin to tell you how many times we (and countless doctors) shined a light into his eyes… and hoped for his pupils to react. Even if we did see something, it was so excruciatingly slow that there was absolutely no way we could attribute it to the light stimulus. Or, for that matter, any stimuli.
One Week Ago
Last week while Dr. Hinkle was examining his eyes with a slit lamp, I was sitting just off to the right-side watching. This is a very intricate exam, where Dr. Hinkle looks through magnification for the tiniest of scratches on the surface of the eye, not able to capture but the smallest of area. Remember, he is literally looking through a slit with an entirely different aim. But, a light is shined in his eye nonetheless and I could have sworn Ryan’s pupil diameter tightened, albeit slowly but, noticeably. I said nothing to Dr. Hinkle. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t only seeing what I wanted to see. I’ve been called crazy before (remember, I’m married).
I was anxious for two reason. One, I felt Ryan’s eyes looked exceptionally healthy all week and I was anticipating a good report. Two, I wanted Dr. Hinkle to confirm my observations that Ryan’s eyes are reacting. It’s so easy to stop believing myself, even after just a few minutes. I put my head down throughout the exam, fearful of what I might or might not see.
The report was better than good… it was great. Ryan had zero, nada, none, zippy abrasions on either eye. Perfectly healthy! This is important in more ways than one, because if Dr. Hinkle confirms pupil reaction I can start discussing removal of scar tissue partly impeding on Ryan’s visual field.
Already with an exam light in hand, I ask him to look for pupil reaction. Again, I am afraid to look, but do so just the same.
Yes! He sees it. Not “normal” by any measure, but present. The right eye more so than the left. They way I understand it (and even with him “dumbing it down” for me, I hope I can get it close) this is measured on reaction time on a linear four-point scale; where 0 (No Brisk) is no reaction and 4 is normal reaction (High Brisk). The left eye was unofficially scored at a 1. The right eye was unofficially scored at a 2. What does this mean? I have no idea, other than the eyes are reflexively detecting and reacting to light stimulus. I view it as the left pupil at 25% and the right at 50% of, well, something.
I’ll take it! ANYTHING is better than zero. I now look at the world as “half-brisked”.
With Ryan’s eyes generally healthy for a couple of months, I floated the possibility of surgically removing the scar tissue (corneal abrasions) from his eyes. They do at least partially block Ryan’s visual field. Gotta tell ya, I was worried Dr. Hinkle might have good reason to not want this to happen.
He was very receptive, although I’m sure not without at least some reservation. In fact, he must have thought about it all day, since he sent me a text around 10:45 PM. Yes, Dr. Hinkle “takes Ryan home with him”.
He offered to reach out to eye surgeons for their opinions too. He could see my want to remove any obstacles that might inhibit Ryan’s recovery. In this case, diminished visual input. If Ryan does have the ability to process information (which is different from reflexively responding to information) gathered through his eyes, I want to exploit this… even if it is just light and darkness.
Like Dr. Hinkle said, we just have to just keep moving forward.
- Dr. Hinkle: “Eyes are Best I’ve Ever Seen Them” (ryansrally.org)
- Eyes Improved: Constant Battle (rallyforryan.wordpress.com)