Wednesday, April 10, 2013

As previously repeated ad nauseam, I had my two-week post-op checkup yesterday, so had a chance to gush to my surgeon and find out how things were going from her perspective. I ran from home over to Mass Eye and Ear, and checked in at the Boston Children's Hospital annex there, which is where my appointment was (again, my kind of surgery is mostly done on kids). So as usual there were kids running around, and cartoons on the TV. I like going there, seeing the parents with their kids. It makes me think of what my parents must have been feeling bringing me to a place like that. If it were me, I imagine I'd be a maelstrom of hope, fear and anxiety masked in a veil of calm. Just the thought of bringing my child to the hospital fills me with such an emotional cocktail.

Now, I have really tried not to engage in hyperbole when describing my experiences with my changed vision, but sometimes it's difficult. It really is a very dramatic change. Having a toddler in the house and being well-versed in the Disney canon, I have had occasion to blurt out a particular song in my moments of existential reverie over my improved vision. I do this sometimes. Be glad you are not my officemate. He's a saint.

So what could possibly be better to have come on the TV in the waiting room than that very blasted song...

Synchronicity? Coincidence? Strategic counter-programming to lift the moods of worried parents? Doesn't matter, nowadays in my better moments I am jumping right on that magic carpet and swooping through that endless diamond sky.

Anyway, back down to earth, when I met with my surgeon, she said I was "healing beautifully", and she and her assistant did a bunch of different tests to inspect her work. At one point she held out this object with lights inside that spun around when she pressed a switch, and had me track it with my eyes as she moved it around. I wondered to myself what kind of opthamalogical wizardry was this? And being obnoxiously curious I asked, and yes, it was just a toy. To test my visual acuity I had to look at not a drab letter E but an adorable teddy bear driving a car. Being a father, none of this seemed odd to me at all. :)

At one point they put on red-blue glasses, and I noted that I very clearly saw one blue image (left eye) and one red image (right eye). No fusion there yet. The surgeon's assistant held up a wand with lights on it and asked me how many there were, and what color.  This indicated, as expected, that my left eye was doing all the heavy lifting. No surprise there.

My surgeon noted that the muscles were such that I was still having some trouble being able to look hard to my right, due to the tightness of the muscles on the outside of my eye resulting from their new position.  She said that this might mean my eye could eventually drift outward. She also said it could drift back inward again... or that it could stay the same. This is something I will have to watch over time. I asked if the fact that my eyes seemed to be working so well together would motivate the brain to keep it in its center position, and she said maybe. There's just a lot that's uncertain, and every case is different.

But she did say there was nothing I needed to do to work on depth or the fusion of my eyes, that it would just happen or not. She encouraged me to start wearing my right contact lens again (which I was incredibly happy to hear), but that I had to wait on my left side as the stitches were still healing. Apparently I need to wait another month before trying, and even at that point the contact lens may still irritate the eye so I have to be very careful. She said there was no concern about mental confusion with a contact lens only in one eye, that the left eye would behave itself for now. Hopefully when I go to see a vision therapist they will support this decision. I also asked here if there were any concerns with the fact that I stare at screens all day for my job, and whether the fixed focal length was a problem. She didn't seem to think so. Regardless, I will continue to take frequent breaks to look out the window and give my eyes some different input.

My surgeon was very kind to say how descriptive and observant I am about my eyesight. She said that doctors like herself tend to be "voyeurs" as they cannot know what the experience of their patients are, and must rely on our testimony. Perfect time to pimp the blog. Hello, doctor, if you're reading. :)

But in general things were very positive, and there was nothing to be concerned about. I was a model case, the alignment was still great and that was basically that. I will see here again in mid-May.

In the hope I would be cleared to wear contacts I dashed right to the bathroom and slapped one into my right eye and sang a silent halleluja chorus to myself. Finally, my best possible optics! I went outside and observed that world seems very cluttered indeed! Back with flat vision, the world is an assault of visual information with no true priority imposed on them except which I can sort out from a lifetime of visual cues. However, due to my eyes working together it is much easier for my brain to process all this data, so it's still infinitely better than before. I enjoyed running over the Longfellow bridge, seeing the whole sweep of my favorite view of my town across my entire periphery. Running is SO MUCH MORE FUN. I also note that I can now do something else  that I could NEVER do before - look to the side while I run. From Sue Barry's book this is related to being able to have a wide field of view, and looking with only one eye makes it very difficult to do this. This will be good news to my wife Eliza who loves to sightsee when we run, and will often say "ooh look at that house!" or something, only to be answered by a muted "uh huh" from me as I focus everything on the few feet in front of me. This is a very nice change indeed.

So, fusion continues. My double vision is barely there at all anymore, and only appears as a very subtle anomaly. I am starting to have a hard time telling what eye I'm using for what, even though my left eye is blurrier than the right. It's so great to have the view move smoothly into my periphery, it makes me feel like so much more a part of the world, a part of our shared immersive experience.

Depth is suggesting itself again, thanks in part to my contact lenses being in. I know it will be there for me when I am ready to work on it. I picked up a couple books on meditation last night and will start trying to practice that. I will spend the next few weeks letting my brain adjust some more, do the exercises I know, and then when I am back from various trips in May I will pounce on vision therapy and kick this whole experience into a new level. Cannot. Wait.

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