Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bicycle palliative

Those who follow me on Facebook know that I was diagnosed with "optic neuritis" yesterday. This is an inflammation of the optic nerve, and I tell you it hurts like a banshee at times.

Pain killers don't do a thing for it. Closing my eyes is useless. The only thing I've found so far to alleviate the pain is cycling. When I'm riding my bike, the stabbing pain behind my left eye completely goes away, and the relief lasts for a couple of hours after I stop riding. It's pretty awesome; yet another reason to ride my bike!

The gorier details: I starting having the worst headaches of my life about a week ago. Yesterday morning, I noticed vision in my left eye was degraded (!). Alarmed, I called my optometrist so he could tell me not to worry, but he responded with alarm as well and instructed me to come in immediately. After I biked to my eye doctor, he looked at my retinas, did the RedCap Test, and visual field testing. Diagnosis: inflammation of the optic nerve and edema of the optic disk, making my blind spot about double its normal size.

My optometrist referred me to an ophthalmologist (an M.D. specialized in the eyes), so I biked to his office where he did Exactly The Same Tests and pronounced Exactly The Same Diagnosis.

Several people have already asked (and I did as well): This is not related to the car crash the other week. Eye trauma doesn't cause optic nerve inflammation. The ophthalmologist I saw says he thinks it related to my sinusitus, but to rule out stuff like multiple sclerosis I'm getting an MRI scan this afternoon.

Aside: My optometrist and the ophthalmologist are both cycling enthusiasts. The ophthalmologist, Dr. Jonathan Cress in Santa Cruz, crashed his bike a few years ago and damaged his neck. His physician told him he couldn't bike anymore, but Cress told me, "Give up biking?! That's #****n nuts! I can't do that." He rides a recumbent these days.

Another aside: Multiple sclerosis is the disease that Sheldon Brown succumbed to in the final years of his life. Yesterday was the anniversary of Sheldon Brown's death.


  1. Hi Richard, Very sorry to hear this and pray for a speedy recovery. Love the bit about cycling. Is there anything that getting on a bike doesn't make feel better??

  2. For two years now part of my headache treatment has been to ride 20-30 miles a day. I go to my neurologist and she says, "Ride more" instead of writing out a script. Way cool how riding helps, isn't it?

  3. Man, that sounds miserable. Feel better soon, and I'll keep my fingers crossed that it's not anything more serious.

    Coming so soon after an accident — and since riding helps — I'd wonder if it's not stress related or at least aggravated by stress.

    I know for me, riding is more effective than valium. As long as some jerk doesn't try to run me off the road.

  4. Yow, you're just having a bangup start to 2010, aren't you? Sorry to hear about your eye. I've had my share of eye problems and have an inkling of the pain. Hope you are on the way to recovery and less agonizing living soon. Let me know if I can do anything to help out.

  5. I sincerely hope it's nothing serious. But great to hear that riding helps. Ride more, feel better!

  6. That doesnt sound very nice. Sounds like some acupuncture is in order.

  7. Are you going to link your MRI so we can have a better understanding which is more dominant (right or left hemisphere) in determining what you write about? :-)

    Lucky, you now have a health reason to cycle, how unique.

  8. Really glad that there *is* something that abates the pain ... that has good side effects.
    Hoping and praying for the best...