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.


  1. Good luck man, it seems you're really needing it :S

  2. Good luck Terrence, hope it all goes well.

  3. That's tough I hope surgery goes well and your recovery is good. It will go faster than you think and I'm sure you will be doing positive things with the extra time you have.

  4. I second what Warren said, "It will go faster than you think and I'm sure you will be doing positive things with the extra time you have," I am certain of this :).

    Hahhaha >> "...regular-people exercise a week after the second surgery..." :)