by Patti Cox
One of my greatest fears is that I will wake up in a very cold place, lying on a metal table with nothing but a sheet across my body. If you guessed that I would be in the morgue, you are right.
I have an eye disease called aniridia. Aniridia is the absence of the iris, the part of the eye that gives it color. Without an iris, the pupils are always fully dilated. Most people with aniridia have glaucoma, nystagmus and cataracts, among other conditions.
My stepdaughter was on the way to the hospital one evening, and I rode in the ambulance with her. I was permitted to ride because I do not drive at night and have this eye condition.
The ambulance driver and I were talking about my eye condition and I explained to her about my greatest fear. I asked her what would happen, since my pupils are fully dilated, if I were in an accident and not breathing. She told me that they usually would pronounce me dead. I asked her if people ever just start breathing on their own, and she answered yes.
This is her advice that would follow the protocol for any first responder or hospital. It was imperative that I obtain a medical ID bracelet — one that I could put as much information on as possible. I should include the following information on it:
- My eye condition and what it means;
- Emergency contact information.
To say the least, I ordered a medical bracelet the next day.
The last thing the paramedic told me was that if I have a living will, I should take a look at it and make sure I have everything spelled out. If I have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, they cannot use any life-saving measures. She said I should consider not having a DNR. If I do not want to be put on a ventilator to keep me alive for any reason, then I should be specific.
I want everyone to know that it is very important to think about how your eyes can make a difference in the care you could receive. If you have an eye condition like mine, it is so important to make sure that you have some kind of identification in plain sight. First responders look on your body for identification before they look at your phone or wallet. It will make a difference in how they care for you.