For the love of God, Jeff...

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For the love of God, Jeff...

Postby showler on Wed Dec 17, 2003 10:03 pm

when you are worried about your eyesight, STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE COMIC STRIP!!!!!

I'm glad things are better than you thought, but worrying about comic delays and such when you are faced with something that serious is just silly.
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Re: For the love of God, Jeff...

Postby The Roach on Thu Dec 18, 2003 3:01 am

showler wrote:when you are worried about your eyesight, STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE COMIC STRIP!!!!!.


Ab-so-bloody-lutely! Your eyesight comes first...

showler wrote:I'm glad things are better than you thought, but worrying about comic delays and such when you are faced with something that serious is just silly.


Amen to that. When I read about the elevated pressure, my first thought was 'glaucoma', too, and I paled. Thanks for putting my mind at ease.

But don't wait with those new glasses. For one, if you're wearing the wrong glasses, it can only make the problem even worse. And secondly, with the right prescription glasses, your life becomes much easier. A friend of mine, known for his customary crankiness, got mellow when he finally got the right prescription glasses -- and only noticed then that he didn't have his usualy head ache anymore.

I went to a 'new' optometrist in 2000 right before I started on my current job (over here in Europe, health insurance is mandatory, and not dependent on your employer's whims, so the free days between jobs was the perfect time to go). He measured my eyes with some apparatus (which made me curious as no other optometrist had done that), then measured my glasses, and then started cussing and cursing like a sailor.

Turned out my glasses had been much too strong on both eyes, and for so long that my eyes had become accustomed to the strong help. I could not wear glasses with the 'correct prescription' because my eyes were much too weak. Since then, the glasses have gradually become weaker (0.5 to 1 dioptres per year), and I should get the 'correct' glasses in a year or so.
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Postby Rombobj on Thu Dec 18, 2003 4:29 am

showler wrote:when you are worried about your eyesight, STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE COMIC STRIP!!!!!

Really! And should you have to go back to grayscale, draw fewer strips a week or even end the comic to avoid damaging your eyes (or your tendons for that matter), you won't hear me complaining.
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Postby Limax on Thu Dec 18, 2003 6:07 am

I am in complete agreement here. Your health comes first. My family has a history of glaucoma, so I get checked for it every year. I know how severe it can be. Please, worry about getting your new glasses and your health. If you need time, we'll still be here when you want to/are able to resume.
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Postby mouse on Thu Dec 18, 2003 12:23 pm

same here! and getting your pressure checked shouldn't be a big deal - my eye doctor always does it on my yearly visit. you even (sorta) get used to it. and yeah, get the new glasses ASAP - and in the meantime, take care of yourself!
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Postby Wrazn on Thu Dec 18, 2003 12:50 pm

mouse wrote:...and in the meantime, take care of yourself!


Seconded! (or thirded, or whatever it's at right now...)
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Postby Limax on Thu Dec 18, 2003 1:06 pm

I think we're up to 6. (Since that's as high as I can count... Ahh, memories of Watership Down....)
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Eep!

Postby Unit Squared on Thu Dec 18, 2003 7:26 pm

First Steve Troop, now Jeff Darlington. There must be a government conspiracy afoot to eliminate all the webcomic artists one at a time through eye disorders . . .

. . . or maybe not. Take care, Jeff. I hope your eye problems stay controllable .
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Postby fossil on Thu Dec 18, 2003 11:07 pm

Me eighteen or nineteen or whatever. Take care of yourself. Even if you have to leave us with a cliffhanger (worst case scenario: Nick has non-hypothetically popped The Question, and Ki has not yet answered, who, me, give an Evil Cartoonist ideas? no way, no how ;-) ), your loyal fans will hang in there.

Bummer, that glasses have gotten so pricey. I just ordered some new ones, and I think (no joke) they cost more than my first semester's tuition at the local community college a couple of decades ago :-( .

Nostalgia moment: my first pair of glasses, when my age was barely into double digits. I don't remember what the glass lenses cost, but the plastic frames were $8.00. Then the designers got into the act, and prices soared....
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Postby Limax on Fri Dec 19, 2003 8:58 am

I actually buy the more-expensive Flexon frames because I've found that they last longer. The last frames I had for over two years, even though I had to get new lenses in them. I'm reaching that age where my eyes are changing enough every year that I always need to tweak my perscription. Thankfully, they're still just reading glasses...
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Postby jtdarlington on Mon Dec 29, 2003 8:00 am

Thanks, everyone, for the words of encouragement. They really do mean a lot. I guess I should probably update/correct a few things, just to make sure there isn't any ambiguity, to alleviate some fears, and to let you guys know I'm not completely insane. :)

As for the comic: Don't worry, my health does come first. If the need does arise, I will cut back on GPF some. Most likely, I'd go in reverse order of what I've added over the years: first, the dailies would go back to grayscale, then maybe the Sundays would go away, then (maybe) I'd cut the update schedule to something like M-W-F, but only as a last resort. I've always been careful to research and test before I add anything (like the once-a-month Sundays before I did them ever week), so I've got a good grasp on what I can and can't do with my current non-GPF workload. Technically, the full-color-all-week thing is still "experiemental," even though I've been able to hold that fairly well for three months of production, going on four.

Why is the comic so important to me, though? Because I'm trying my best to treat it as a business. I really want to turn cartooning into a full-time, paying job, and I can't really expect it to become that unless I treat it as such. True, right now I've made more money in the five months I've worked programming this year than I've made on GPF since it began, but that hasn't stopped me from pursuing that objective. I can't just call up my current employer and say, "I'm having a 'bad eye' day, so I won't show up for a couple weeks." Yes, I could take a sick day here or there (well, if I wasn't a contractor), but I'd still be expected to complete the work assigned to me. And with GPF, the work currently assigned to me by my "boss" (who happens to share the same name and at least a passing resemblance to me) is seven full-color strips per week, with the Sunday strip double-sized. My "boss" will evaluate my performance and will cut back my workload if he feels I need a little slack.

I really feel I can make GPF into a viable source of income, or at least turn it into a springboard for other projects that will eventually become full-time jobs. I know the status quo for webcomics is a hiatus every other week because the artist woke up with an acute case of "bed head," but that's not me. I reward your loyalty of reading my strip every day by making sure you have something funny or entertaining to read; you reward my continuity and preserverence by reading the strip loyally every day.

Another possibility besides cutting back is delegation of some duties. I've thought about farming out, say, coloring the strip to a volunteer (or someone willing to work for microscopic pay). Other potential trade-offs I could make would be maintenance of the HTML of the GPF site (i.e., things that Keenspot's AutoKeen doesn't handle), moderating the forum, answering some fan mail, etc. If volunteers could pick up some of these, then I could concentrate on the comic itself without burning out on all the corollary duties. As yet, I haven't really had to worry about that, but it's one area I could work on.

On the topic of glasses: Perhaps I should have added more detail in the news post. Technically, I can afford to get new glasses right now. Several people have written me, begging me to double-check my eye care plan for loopholes where I could get a new pair, or asking me to set up a "Jeff's Eyeglasses Fund" in the Tip Jar. But seriously, if I had to, I could go in and plop down the cash for new specs right now. The problem is two-fold, though. One is the fact that as the pressure changes in my eyes, so does my prescription. Until that pressure stabilizes, that prescription is going to fluctuate all over the place, and it won't be cost effective for me to buy new glasses every week to compensate. So while I do stand the possibility of eye strain at the moment, I think I can live through a little bit of that until my pressure stabilizes and I can get one new pair with the right prescription instead of blowing it on multiple pairs, with only half of the cost of one covered by my eye care plan. (I tend to get nicer frames and such and all those protective coatings so my lenses will last longer, so I end up paying the amount for a cheap pair and the medical plan pays the rest.)

On regular checkups: Don't worry, those have already been scheduled. I've been in twice now, and I've got another exam already scheduled in March (much sooner than once or twice per year). In fact, I'm going in today, but for different reasons. I've run all the bizarre tests the doc has (including one ultra-funky ultrasound test that looked (from my perspective) like a drug trip gone bad :) ).

As for the exam today... well, I think I have an infection in my "bad" eye (the right one). It feels like the same type of pain I had this time last year in my left eye, which was long before the hypertension was diagnosed. I've been awakened three of the four nights in the middle of the night with intense pain in my eye, as if something sharp had gotten in there. If it is an infection, that means more drops, but the last time I had one I got over it pretty quickly. My only concern would be interaction with the pressure medicine. I'll find out in a few minutes.
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Postby jtdarlington on Tue Dec 30, 2003 8:32 am

Well, it would only be fair to update again. I went to the doctor yesterday (our eye doctor is pretty nice, as he's let me come in twice now without an appointment and during lunch hour, of all things) and he ran several extensive tests. My pressures are just fine and it appears my right eye is not infected. He believes it's a "reoccuring erosion" (of the cornea, I assume). I have a tendency to sweat a lot at night, meaning I dehydrate some and dry out my eyes. Unfortunately, this means the lid sticks to the surface of the eye, and when I move one or the other, the lid scrapes the surface and tears at it a little. Undoubtedly, the damage isn't too severe as it heals itself after a few days. But it's extremely painful and definitely uncomfortable. I haven't had a good night's sleep for about five days now, as I've woken up in the middle of the night.

So... in additional to my pressure drops, I now have to place ointment on my eye each night before I go to bed. I'm also using antibiotic drops temporarily as a precaution to protect against infection. I still had trouble sleeping last night, but I won't base the effectiveness of the treatment on just the first night. I have another appointment on Monday to see how things progress.

And I haven't done any comic stuff so far this week. :-?
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Postby Tim Tylor on Tue Dec 30, 2003 3:40 pm

Sorry to hear that. :( I hope it gets better quickly and you get some good nights. And thanks enormously for GPF. You must be one of the most industrious online cartoonists around.
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wow

Postby Sabertooth on Wed Dec 31, 2003 7:26 pm

:o

I didn't realise your eyes could dry out that fast.....I wish you the best of luck w/everything and your eye doctor the best of skill
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Postby Limax on Mon Jan 05, 2004 9:15 am

I can understand that... my eyes dry out at night, but that's mainly from 'leaky' air from my CPAP. (I have never found a mask that can fit my face just right) Jeff, I hope that things continue to stabalize for you.
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Postby jtdarlington on Thu Jan 08, 2004 1:05 pm

Hmm... since this has somewhat become the unofficial "Status of Jeff's Eyes" thread, I guess I should update it. I went to a chorneal specialist today and got a more definitive diagnosis. It appears that in addition to the ocular hypertension (which is currently well under control), it appears I also have map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy.

For those who don't want to read through the medical jargon, what's happening is that there is a tear in one of the base layers of my chornea, which is causing the layers above it to develop bumps and ridges ("dots" and "fingerprints") that look like a funky topogrphaphical map. This causes my vision to be blurred as well as being the source of the recurring erosions (the disconnect/distortion of the lower membranes causes the outer layers to dry out, causing them to stick to the eyelid and rip). The good news is, most sources I've checked (including the doctor himself) seem to say this is not a long-term problem and my vision will eventually return to normal.

The current plan of treatment is for me to continue using the ointment, but in both eyes instead of just the right. I have another appointment next week, where the doctor will check my progress. If I haven't improved to his satisfaction, he's going to probably perform a form of "superficial keratectomy." Basically, he'll strap me down, numb me, and use a tool to scrape off the top two-thirds layer of the "skin" of the chornea, then let that layer rebuild itself, hopefully without tears and imperfections that caused symptoms. I have no idea how long it will take me to recover from this procedure, although it's apparently a simple, common thing that's fairly routine.

About the comic: Currently, I see no need to slow down or otherwise alter my schedule. I'm currently seven weeks ahead, and I'm going to try and rebuild that eighth week before my doctor's appointment next Thursday. If the keratectomy is more invasive that they make it sound (sounds pretty invasive to me, but I'm not a doctor), then I'll take some time off and eat up some of the buffer while I recover. Then I'll evaluate the status of my vision and adjust the schedule if necessary. Currently, I'm not expecting any changes.

Some more map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy links: EyeMDLink.com, Washington University School of Medicine, Google search
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Postby Limax on Thu Jan 08, 2004 1:25 pm

Yikes... in some ways it sounds like astigmatism (which I have, in addition to double vision). I'm not sure how much more invasive it could be than that device that they stick in your eye to check for glaucoma. Take care of yourself, Jeff!
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Postby mouse on Fri Jan 09, 2004 1:07 pm

well, i've done the lasik surgery thing - in that one, they cut a flap through the top layer of the cornea, then use a laser to reshape it - which sounds really awful, but the actual surgery took literally about a minute (the lasers are computer-controlled) - and it healed pretty quickly. i would think they would do something similar with this surgery (seems to me they would want to remove stuff carefully, not just scrape it and hope it all comes out level). of course, with the lasik, the top layer of cornea was undamaged, and protected the rest while it healed - i don't know what actually removing the outer layers would entail in the way of healing. we will hope it clears up on its own - that would be _much_ simpler.
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Postby Doctor Emmit Brown on Fri Jan 09, 2004 5:58 pm

I've had laser eye surgery to scar down my retina after I got hit in the eye and a piece of it came loose. The doctor didn't have to cut me at all, just numb me, put a big focusing lense on my eye, then shine the laser in my eye around the tear to scar it down. It didn't hurt and I can see fine (the tear is way off to one side), but it was still kinda freaky. I can't imagine having to have the doctor have to cut my eye.
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Postby jtdarlington on Sat Jan 10, 2004 8:10 am

Limax wrote:Yikes... in some ways it sounds like astigmatism


I've had astigmatism all my life, which has only needed corrective lenses to compensate for in the past. No, this is a lot different, as it's actual damage to the eye tissues themselves, where as astigmatism is just a failure to focus.

Limax wrote:I'm not sure how much more invasive it could be than that device that they stick in your eye to check for glaucoma.


Hmm... things must have changed since then, because there wasn't much "invasive" about the tests my doctor ran. The most bizarre was the ultrasound he did to check the thickness of my chornea, which produce more funky visual effects that the best ILM movie. :)

mouse wrote:we will hope it clears up on its own - that would be _much_ simpler.


Well, apparently it's not going to heal on its own, as I've had this trouble for months now. That's kind of what this wait-and-see period is about this week, but if it hasn't cleared up in the past month or two, I doubt this week is going to make much of a difference.

Most of the websites I've visited about map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy mention laser surgery as a possible treatment, but it seems to be a last-ditch effort sort of thing. The specialist told me he wanted to treat me "conservatively" and that laser surgery was expensive and he didn't want to go that route unless necessary. Personally, I don't now how "conservative" scraping off the outer layers of my eye really is, but since he has the medical degree, I'm probably going to trust his judgement. :-?

So far, I still haven't seen any clearing of my vision in my right eye, so unless something dramatically changes in the next week, it looks like I've got a date with a scalpel....
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Postby sillyname99 on Tue Jan 13, 2004 1:17 pm

Since in addition to the check up on Jeff thread, this seems to be the funky eye things thread, I'll share mine.

My optic nerve swelled due to increased spinal fluid pressure, thereby making my retinas ripple and making my blind spots about 5x normal. It also made straight lines wavy!

It also changed the focal length of the eye, and then with the steroids for treatment, I had no stable prescription for over a year. When it finally passed, my vision was better than before it started though, and I haven't worn glasses since.

I'm glad to hear Jeff's doctors are taking good care of him, and wish him the patience to tolerate his body recovering.
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Postby kmd on Thu Jan 15, 2004 8:06 am

Jeff Eye Update:

Jeff had a very bad erosion in his eye last night, and when the doctor saw his eye this morning, the prognosis was to perform the procedure where they scrape off the upper layers of his eye. They numbed him and scraped him, and Jeff is doing just fine. The doctor told me later that the erosion caused a "blister" between the basement layer and those upper layers, and actually made the top layers very loosely attached, and removing the them was very easy.

The vision in that eye has improved dramatically. It is now back to how things were in October, before all this pressure talk and erosion stuff began. I am one relieved wife.

He has plenty of medicated drops to take to fight infection and help with the pain. And the doctor put in a contact lens that acts as a band-aid for the eye. His doctor wants him in for follow up appointments tomorrow and Saturday morning. He's in a little pain, but it's not as bad as the pain he had from the erosion last night. And he's very tired. The pain from the erosion kept him up a good part of the night. But so far this has been a very successful procedure.

I'll keep everybody updated if anything changes. And I'm sure Jeff will be on here posting, as soon as I let him have his laptop back. :D
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Postby Limax on Thu Jan 15, 2004 9:45 am

Thanks for the update Keri! Please pass on our good wishes to him! I hope that things continue to improve!
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Postby mouse on Thu Jan 15, 2004 11:41 am

same here - sounds like things went very well, which is excellent news. it really is pretty amazing, the things that can be done in eye surgery these days. tell him to take it nice and easy and gets lots of rest - he'll heal up quicker that way.
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Postby mouse on Thu Jan 15, 2004 1:15 pm

ummm...speaking of eyes....is it just me, or did everything suddenly go green?
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