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Help Fix Mike's Aging Body

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My name is Mike Sterling, and you might know me from my nearly 32 years in the comics retail business (most recently at my own store Sterling Silver Comics ) or you may know me from my nearly two decades of comics blogging at Progressive Ruin .

[TL;DR version: I need help paying for medical procedures that will hopefully stop my internal eye bleeding once and for all]

If you know me from either (or both) of those, then you probably know that I've been having health issues with my eyes for the last couple of years. In short, I have what is called neovascularization in each eye, which is the formation of small, thin and fragile veins as a result of blood circulation problems. Since this situation began, I've been seeing a doctor about controlling the underlying health issues that caused it, and have been seeing specialists to deal with the eyes directly.

Now, as I said, those veins are fragile, and when they break, blood enters the eye, clouding it up and obscuring my vision. Through 2018 and 2019 I had multiple surgeries to clear the blood out and burn back and seal off those veins. However, as the eyes and veins healed, occasionally there would be a small amount of seepage and blood would enter my eyes again, clouding my vision and effectively blinding me in that eye. This wasn't unexpected, and the treatment was an injection of medicine directly into the eye that would seal any opened veins.

The idea was that as time wore on, and the veins healed and shrunk, the bleeding incidents would decrease and eventually stop. And there were several rebleeds over the ensuing months, resulting in more injections and waiting days, or weeks, for the blood to naturally clear out of the eye. In the meantime, I'd have to get rides to work because I couldn't drive, and on some occasions, when both eyes had bled, I couldn't even run my store, depending on assistance from my father or my girlfriend who would hang out all day, standing over my shoulder to read price tags, receipts or invoices for me.

Needless to say, this has been a frustrating situation, and an expensive one. The shots run (*after* my in-network insurance discount) about $300 apiece, and I have them about every four to six weeks, in either eye. And the more extensive surgeries, for the initial clearing of the blood and burning back the veins, plus the follow-up surgeries for more blood clean-up and cataracts caused by my condition ran into thousands of dollars. (The accompanying pictures are from the aftermath of a couple of those surgeries.)

It's been rough. I'd have a brief window after the shots where I could relax slightly, but as I got three or four weeks away from the most recent injection, the anxiety would set it, always searching my line of sight for that telltale black squiggle of new blood, about to disperse through my eye and cloud my vision again. And that stress doesn't help with keeping my eyes from bleeding again.

I am seeing a new doctor about my eyes now, and instead of continuing to wait for my eyes to heal on their own, which it appears they're not, he wants to do laser treatments on each eye to get those veins sealed off once and for all. And, in a few weeks (after my eyes recover from the most recent shots, both just a few days ago) we're going to start that process.

And here's the reason for my GoFundMe campaign: this has cost a lot of money, and frankly I just don't have the resources to keep up my eye treatments, especially after taking a financial hit from having to shut down my store to the public for two months due to COVID-19 concerns. Unfortunately, I need those treatments if I want to keep being able to see.

Any money collected by this GoFundMe will go directly to paying medical bills, including an already outstanding balance at the eye doctor, the two laser treatments for my eyes, and any follow-up injections that may be necessary afterwards. This amount should bring me within spitting distance of my insurance's deductible, which is stupidly high but with this being the only insurance policy I can really afford right now, I'm kind of stuck with it.

Remember back when I said "in short?" Er, sorry about that. But anything anyone is willing to contribute would be greatly welcomed. I know things are tight for everyone right now, and lots of people have great need for assistance with their own health issues, so I thank you for plowing through all the above text. If you aren't able to contribute at this time, I totally understand. Even if all you do is post the link somewhere, that would be fantastic. If you can donate, I thank you very much. I don't know how I'll ever repay you beyond, I don't know, shaking your hand or giving you a hug, once we're allowed to do that again.

Again, thank you for your kindness in at least considering my plea. Please stay safe out there and be well.



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Michael Sterling
Oxnard, CA

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