Under the Knife Part 3

I’m going under the knife. Again.

This will be the third surgery in less than 18 months. The first was in July ‘11 for a digestive issue that had been bothering me for several years. Result: all cleared up! The second was after I fell down the steps in January. Results: still limping but at least I can walk (kinda).

This time, I’m excited about the surgery. In a little less than three weeks, I’ll be the recipient of some dead guy’s cornea. Due to a degenerative corneal disease, I’ve been legally blind in my left eye for three years, and mostly blind in my left eye since Bill Clinton was president.

What you see

What Joe Sees

I started noticing something was wrong way back in high school when those 3-D posters started popping up everywhere. They looked like bad Jackson Pollock paintings and I’d think “What the heck is that?” My friends thought they were cool. “That’s neat!” they’d say. “Look at that dinghy!”

It took me a while to realize they were serious and not just making suggestive jokes at my expense.

After a while, I noticed something was wrong. I’d go for walks in the park close to my college apartment and, when I looked at the leaves, I could see a distinct difference between camera 1 (left eye) and camera 2 (right eye). Driving at night became increasingly difficult, and I never quite got the hang of first-person-shooter video games because people were always jumping out of dark corners to shoot me in the back of the head.

I hate it when that happens.

I went to the eye doctor and was quickly diagnosed with Kerataconus. Kerataconus is a degenerative corneal disease in which your cornea this and distends like one of those volcano islands in the pacific. It’s always changing, so your new prescription lasts maybe six months. There was no known cure at the time. My only options were: hope it stops, wait for my eyeball to explode so I could have surgery.

Thus, I dubbed the disease “Exploding Eyeball Syndrome” or EES for short.

I found a really good eye doctor here in Columbus and we managed my increasingly poor eyesight for several years, starting with thick glasses then moving through a series of expensive (but thankfully covered by insurance) custom contacts until about two years ago when the contact in my left eye just wouldn’t stay in. I’ve been “driving home with one headlight” for the last two years now and, while I’m usually okay, I get lots of headaches and the sight in my left eye has regressed to the point where I can only see are the kinds of things that inhabit Tim Burton’s nightmares: kinda scary, but mostly strange and sometimes oddly endearing.

At my most recent visit, The Really Good Eye Doc(tm) told me he couldn’t help me any more, and that I’d probably need surgery. I saw the surgeon earlier this week and I’m scheduled for early November.

Despite the fact that having somebody cut out part of my eyeball with a scalpel and replace it with some dead guy’s cornea sounds about as much fun as having Mike Tyson punch me in the face for an hour, I’m excited. For one … pain meds! For two … I’ll be able to see things again.

Back when my contacts worked, I always looked forward to the day when I got the new set. I’d walk outside and everything looked more Real™. It was weird. It reminded me of the time we first got a big screen television with HD. We’d had this small television set for years and, sure, the picture was kinda blurry, but that’s how it always was so we were used to it. Then we got the new television! We’d flip that baby on and stare in wonder as even commercials for Bob Johnson’s used car lot seem like works of art.

Imagine that, but with everything, not just on t.v.

I’m looking forward to later this year, when I can take the bandages off my eye and look at my wife and my kids, seeing them as they really are, not just the balls of blurriness they’ve become. I can’t tell you how excited I am for that day.

I might also get to see what those 3-D posters were all about, too.



2 thoughts on “Under the Knife Part 3

  1. Hey Joe,

    Good to hear that you will soon be seeing things more clearly (literally, not metaphorically). I hope everything goes well. I’ve been deaf in my right ear for the last four years, and various audiologists have taken varying amounts of time and scans to tell me that they have no idea why this is the case, but that if I’ll just let them cut my head open they might be able to figure it out and possibly even fix it. My response so far has been “thanks but no thanks”, but I know how precarious it can feel to be mono rather than stereo when it comes to one of the five senses. The necessity of looking after the “good one” is often on your mind. Fingers crossed that you will soon be able to go back to running with scissors, juggling coat hangers and staring fixedly at the sun, secure in the knowledge that you have a functional back-up on hand in the case of either temporary or permanent eye-loss.

    Best of luck buddy,

    1. Thanks, Danny. There’s hoping they can figure out your ear thing without having to drill a hole in turn head. That would mother fun.

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