Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Eye Saga, Day Three Point Five: "I'm Not a Klutz After All — I Just Have Miserable Eyes!"

Today might be best summarized as a "whiplash day":

After the initial meeting with the specialist, the afore-mentioned Dr. Ai, she said that surgery would be necessary on both eyes, as expected, and that this could be done on Thursday.   She did some pre-surgery measurements and then patched over my left eye for some further tests she needed to do.  I had to wait for about an hour and then return to her.  So, I began to make plans to go ahead and return to Qingdao tonight, since I would not need to be back in Beijing until Thursday . . .

. . . And then we did the other tests.  I completely and spectacularly failed the binocular vision and the 3D tests!  This was something that had not been expected — I figured I wouldn't do great at those tests, but I never imagined my eyes were that bad.  Also, my binocular and 3D vision is steadily getting worse (thus the lousy depth-perception).  This means that a little more needs to be done during the surgery, making recovery a bit longer and the procedure more painful.  I was startled by the results, but also a bit relieved in some ways:  For so long now, I have felt like I must be stupid or inept to be so clumsy all the time, and I have been driven nearly mad trying to establish why I get so many headaches, migraines, and eye aches.  I am relieved to at least have answers about all of that.  It's truly amazing just how important your eyes really are!

Then Dr. Ai very gently dropped a bombshell:  There is about a 25% chance that the surgery won't work - it's really hard, apparently, to fully correct issues like this in an adult.  However, since there is still a decent chance of surgery fixing the problem, it's worth going through with.  Basically, if it doesn't work, I will keep worsening until my vision is permanently double — I would then have to start using only one eye for the rest of my life.  If I do nothing, it will definitely happen, so I have opted to take the 75% chance of saving my vision.  I know that it is possibly to have a very meaningful and rewarding life without vision or with terrible vision, but I am going to take every possible chance not to have to experience that firsthand.

So, I will remain in Beijing until Friday of next week.  On Tuesday, I will complete pre-surgery examinations and testing.  On Thursday, Lord willing, I will have the operation on both eyes.  Because I had a previous operation as a child on the easiest eye muscles, this time it will be on the two most difficult muscles of each eye, which is a little more complicated.  Furthermore, in order to have the greatest possible chance of success, I need to be awake for it, so I have agreed to do local anesthetic instead of general.  They need to be very certain with positioning my eyes and such.  Dr. Ai explained that this means I will feel a lot of pain during the surgery.  I will also need to stay in the hospital for one night.

The recovery will take a while — at least 2-3 weeks, and I will be quite uncomfortable during that time.   Also, during that time, I cannot use computers or read — that part is going to be really tough.  I need to be resting my eyes as much as possible.  I cannot wear contacts again until my retinas are fully healed, which will be about 4-5 months after surgery.  I will be more sensitive to light for a while and I have to be careful about the possibility of infection.  I will likely have red "rabbit eyes" for about 4 months as well!  That should come in handy for scaring my new students next school year . . . (^_^)

Obviously I am a bit scared about the surgery, especially since I know it will be very painful.  I am trying not to think about the possibility of it not succeeding, since that is not helpful.  I do have the comfort of a very good doctor — I took an immediate liking to Dr. Ai.  She is very intelligent, kind, compassionate, and just has a great way of being both reassuring and factual.  Also, the hospital where I am having the procedure done is, quite honestly, the nicest hospital I have ever in my life seen.  So, on the whole, I am in a reasonably okay state mentally/emotionally.  I am just going to take this whole business one day at a time and stay focused on the positives.

As the Andrews Sisters memorably sang, "You've gotta ac-cent-u-ate the positive, e-lim-i-nate the negative, latch on to the a-firm-a-rive, don't mess with Mr. In-Between."

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"