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."