Monday, March 31, 2014

one week post cataract surgery

Six days after my first cataract surgery and ... wow. I'm really surprised by how much better I can see out of my right eye already. There are still some weird halos, flickering lights, shimmering, and other annoyances but at virtually every distance other than extremely close, my vision has improved dramatically. It's accentuated by the fact that my left eye is still uncorrected, so I often do things like cover up my right eye just to remind myself of how absolutely awful the left eye is. I joked yesterday that I wish I could screenshot what I'm seeing so the typical non-affected person would know. I found this picture online which kinda sorta gives you an idea, but in truth it's much worse:

Another way of illustrating the difference between my left uncorrected eye and my right eye, six days after treatment, is to show you the level of zoom I would have to use with each one.

Level of zoom on my monitor needed last week:

Level of zoom on my monitor needed today:

My intermediate (1-5 feet) vision has improved dramatically, but my distance vision is amazing. I have a nice Strip view from my apartment and I'm now reading signs that I wasn't even aware existed, much less could read.

Of course, it's driving me insane that I'm not allowed to have any exercise at all this week (nor do anything at all that potentially pushes blood to my head). I feel cooped up, like I'm under home (or office) arrest. And as masochistic as this sounds, I won't be totally happy until I take a few hard punches or kicks to the face without suffering any ill effects to the eye. But sadly, that's a long ways away.

I have a weekly check-in with my ophthalmologist (still can't spell that without auto-correct) tomorrow. If all goes well I'll get the left eye done a week from tomorrow. And then the countdown to my comeback begins...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cataract surgery, day 1

I'm currently 16 hours post-op on my right eye. The procedure itself was quite painless. A very lengthy period of waiting, some rather anxious moments as they literally taped my eyelids open and stuck pieces of paper under them to prevent me from blinking, but a relatively quick and well-sedated procedure.

This morning my right eye is a bit of a paradox. The vision in that eye is at times exceptionally sharp. I'll look at an object in the right light, at the right angle and think "wow,it's been years since I saw an image that sharp". But then I'll look at my phone and won't be able to make anything out at all (if you know me personally, don't bother texting me today - just call). My guess is that my brain is still adjusting to the new lens and it will take some time to figure out how to deal with an artificial lens that simply doesn't adjust as well as the one nature gave me.

There are also certain things that catch the light just right seem to have a halo or shadow. It's almost like using a really really low-dose of a psychedelic drug. It's kind of a novelty right now, but definitely hoping that goes away with time.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The eyes have it -- my early-age, rapid-onset cataracts

In my most recent blog post, I wrote about my disdain for my aging body, after a routine grappling session resulted in a nasty ankle sprain (which still has me limping slightly, three weeks later). Little would i know that only two days later, I would be lamenting the failure of something all the way at the complete opposite end of my body -- my eyes.

For reasons not totally clear to me, I have developed cataracts, in both eyes, very quickly, over the last 6 months. I only started noticing that things were getting a bit blurry around November of last year, so I went in for an eye exam. I was told I had cataracts, but that they weren't terrible. It's extremely uncommon for such a healthy, non-diabetic person in his 30s to get cataracts, and especially uncommon for them to get very worse very quickly. So I was given a prescription for a small amount of astigmatism and hyperopia and told to come back in six months for a follow-up.

I was a bit disappointed that the glasses didn't help much. My very first night with the glasses, I was asked by Ultimate Poker to host the UFC Hall of Fame Poker Game. I was MCing the event, giving away tickets, making jokes for the crowd, but most obviously, calling the action. I had the best seat in the house -- standing right behind the dealer -- but even with my brand-new glasses, I was having trouble seeing the bet sizes and reading the board.

If that was bad, I was totally unprepared for the next 4 months. My vision is getting worse on almost a week-to-week basis. It might be a rare, 3-sigma bad beat that my eyes were getting this bad, this fast, and for no apparent reason, but that didn't change the reality that it was happening to me.

The last straw came a couple weeks ago when I misread the board and made a huge mistake in a 50k pot during the LA Poker Classic. I was nearly inconsolable after that. My ankle had already taken kickboxing, grappling and MMA away from me; and now my eyes were taking the rest of my life.

I immediately called up the ophthalmologist office for an appointment. They confirmed that my vision had gotten substantially worse since my appointment just four months earlier. I would definitely need the surgery; the only question was when. The one thing holding me back was that I was told it would be 3-6 months after the surgery before I could resume training and taking strikes to the face. I hated the idea of conceivably not being able to train or fight until November. I thought about postponing the surgery and fighting in May, then having the surgery, but with the status of my ankle unknown, I finally relented and committed to getting the surgery done now.

So that's the situation. Next Tuesday, I'm scheduled to go under the knife for the first operation, with the other eye scheduled for two weeks after that. I'll be able to return to work and inactive activities the next day, regular-people exercise a week after the second surgery, grappling by mid-May, and kickboxing/boxing/MMA 3-6 months later, as mentioned. That means that in all likelihood, 2014 will mark a second consecutive year of absence from the MMA cage. I was really hoping to break my inactive streak by fighting for the TuffNUff organization on April 11, but I would consider myself fortunate now if I can even get back in action on November 11.

On the bright side, my quality of life should dramatically improve right away, I won't be a risk to myself or the other drivers on the roads of Las Vegas. I'll be able to participate in the WSOP without pissing money away, I'll no longer trip over random things that I completely didn't see, I'll be able to recognize faces from more than 20 feet away, and I won't have to blow documents up to 200-300% of their original size to be able to read them (yes, I actually have to do that, even with glasses).

I suppose that's worth not being able to be on the mats or in the rings for six months. I hope so, anyway. But it won't make it any easier.