Because I can’t get my pictures to upload I will continue on my lectures. Today it will be about Histoplasmosis. Tomorrow, it might be about toenail fungus. Who knows?
Histoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by a fungus. Sounds fun so far, doesn’t it? I have had a run in with this disease. Chickens have gotten a bum rap for causing this when one can get it in many different ways.
My history with histoplasmosis began after the birth of my third and youngest child in 1977. I was a pretty healthy woman and had not suffered any kinds of diseases or health problems ever except for tonsillitis in my youth. One day as I was watching television, I noticed the people all had two heads. Hmm, that was strange. Was I just tired or did I need glasses? This happened just before David and I was to take a youth group to Arkansas to a Passion play there.
We were making plans to take this trip and I didn’t have time to think about my problems with a new baby and two small children at home. We took the trip and at the Passion play I was seeing everything in double. Well, I must need glasses pretty badly. It was a very stressful trip in more ways than one and we were so ready to get home.
The next week, I made an appointment with an eye doctor and he said I might have cancer of the eye. Well, this made me very upset. I was sent to the IU medical center in Indianapolis to the eye center where one of the bests eye specialists practiced.
I was put through all kinds of eye exams, one of which was having a dye put in my veins and pictures taken inside my eye. It was soon discovered I was allergic to this dye as I passed out on them. After all the tests, Dr. Schlegel told me I had Ocular Histoplasmosis. I didn’t have a clue what that was. Then he told me something very interesting. He said that most people who live in the Ohio valley and surrounding areas have Histoplasmosis in their bodies, usually in their lungs. Mine had gravitated from my lungs to my left eye and destroyed my central vision there. Histoplasmosis can be caused by pigeons or any kinds of bird dropping where people breathe the fungus from the air. Evidently the Ohio valley has a large amount of birds, thus the fungus.
I was sure I was going to go blind and not see my children’s faces as they grew up. I was beside myself. Then think what I thought when Dr. Schlegel told me I had two options. Take corizone which would very probably make me gain weight or get a cortisone shot in the eye, which wouldn’t. Guess which one I chose? I didn’t want to gain weight. So a shot in the eye I got. If someone had told me that one day I would have to have a needle put in my eye I would have told them it’s never going to happen, but when you are faced with the decision, you must make it. Seeing that needle come toward my eye was a weird feeling, but it really did not hurt at all and it stopped the bleeding in my eye.
David and I had to make several trips to Indianapolis where I would get a shot in my eye every few months. Then one day Dr. Schlegel told me my eye was as bad as it was going to get and there was nothing else to be done for it. I was really glad of that. Now I have heard from eye doctors that this disease of the eye can be surgically corrected if caught in time. Mine cannot be fixed. But I am use to it now and don’t even think about it unless I shut my right eye and then everything gets blurry. I am so thankful that I still have my vision in my right eye.
Years later, my husband had an x-ray taken of his lungs and a spot was found. Since he smoked, we both thought it was cancer. After many tests, the doctors said it was a calcification of Histoplasmosis in his lung.
Then our son called us one day when he was stationed out west in the military and said they had found a spot on his lung. Of course he thought it was cancer and was very worried. Then he went to a doctor who was from the Midwest and he asked my son where he was from and when he said Indiana, the doctor actually laughed and said what he had was Histoplamosis.
So that has been my family’s experience with this disease. It isn’t fun, but it isn’t life threatening unless you do nothing about it. I have found with just about any disease people learn to adjust their lives around it whether it causes you to go blind, lose your ability to walk, or any other of a myriad sort of things. People are tough. I found out how tough I was to face this rather frightening disease. Now I can even joke about it and I can’t watch 3-D movies, but that’s okay. I saw my children grow up and can see my grandchildren and that’s worth everything I went through.
Here’s to sight, health and being tough when times get tough. Bye.