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Old April 13th, 2017, 03:44 AM
Hugo Kornelis
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Default [Dixonary] OT: My right eye sucks

Hi all!

As promised in my other message, I'll give an explanation of why I
didn't submit a def this round. I know I sit out more rounds than I play
in and that usually has to do with being very busy, sometimes with lack
of inspiration as well. This time is different.

About a month ago I woke up with very blurry vision in my right eye.
(For people wearing glasses - remember the time when there was a huge
fatty stain on the glass, then imagine holding that glass above a frying
pan in addition). I figured I had probably rubbed too hard in my sleep
and went on with my life. When the problem did not go away during the
day, and still persisted the next day, I started to worry. Normally I'd
probably have waited at least another day, but it was Friday and I
didn't want to sit out the whole weekend so I called and then visited
the house doctor. He referred me to the local hospital where assistants,
optometrists, and finally the ophthalmologist (before last month I never
knew this wonderful word, we simply say "eye doctor" in Dutch) looked at
my eye. Finally the verdict came in: a rupture in my retina, which when
untreated can result in retinal detachment (which requires surgery to
fix). The doctor also mentioned that he saw signs of a starting
detachment, but it was probably early enough that laser treatment could
suffice to fixate the retina and prevent further damage. (The laser
deliberately damages the retina tissue just around the rupture, causing
scars. The scar tissue effectively fixates the retina to the underlying
layer and prevents detachment).
My vision would then slowly improve, and after 6 weeks all would be fine
again.

Recovery went good at first. My sight slowly cleared up. And then
(almost two weeks ago now) started to become more blurred again. In my
scheduled checkup last week Monday I mentioned this, but the doctor said
it was probably just an effect of my vitreous body (the fluid inside the
eye) being more active. He also assured me that I did not need to cancel
my visit to SQLBits (the biggest European SQL Server conference, where I
was invited to speak that week).
Over the week I noticed my vision getting slowly worse, but I figured
that this was an effect of the fatigue that is an unavoidable side
effect of a four-day conference. After Saturday night I expected it to
settle down again. On Sunday morning I realized I was wrong. Aside from
the blurry vision, I now also noticed that the vision in the lower left
corner of my right eye was now completely gone - and that was one of the
things I had been told to watch out for, and contact the hospital
immediately. Of course, being in the UK and having a flight home at
10:40 made that impractical, so I decided to fly home first, then make
the call from the car after my wife picked me up from the train station.
At 4PM I was in the hospital where the eye doctor on weekend duty
examined me. By that time the black spot in the lower left corner had
already grown a bit. The doctor confirmed what I by then already knew:
the laser treatment had not helped; the retina had started to detach. I
needed eye surgery, for which he had to refer me to another hospital. He
got them on the phone to see how fast he could get me an appointment,
and as I was sitting there wondering whether it would be a few days or
even weeks, I overheard the voice on the other side of the phone say,
with some regret, that they could not fit me in anymore for that same
evening. Ah, so THAT was the type of "fast" this was about. Swell. I got
a 9AM appointment in a hospital that is almost an hour drive away, and
strict instructions to remain in a flat position as much as possible.

Lying flat went reasonably well while at home (with my loving wife
taking care of me). But on Monday I spent early morning sitting in the
car (with my wife driving, of course; no way I could do that myself with
such limited vision in my right eye - in fact, Dutch driver laws even
explicitly forbid driving with impaired vision), the rest of the morning
sitting in waiting rooms as various assistants and students (this is an
academic hospital) and finally the eye surgeon studied my eye. This
resulted in a noticeable progress in the loss of vision. By the time the
surgeon-assistant warned me that surgery always has a chance of failure
and that, in this case, blindness could be the result, I laughed it off
- by that time my right eye vision was reduced to just the upper right
1/4 and I was fully aware that not having surgery gave me a 100% chance
of blindness within at most another day.

The actual surgery (well, the preparation for it) started at 12:30, and
by 2:15 I was back in the prep area and rejoined with my wife, after
which we received some further information from the doctor.
The procedure used for my operation is that first the vitreous body (the
eye fluid) is completely removed, then the retina is readjusted in its
proper spot. Laser treatment is then used to "stitch" the retina in
position, and finally a gas is pumped in my eye to restore the proper
eye pressure (which is needed to continue to press the retina to the
back of my eye). Over the next 2-8 weeks, that gas will slowly
dissipate, as it is replaced by eye fluid that my body automatically
produces. I can now "sort of" see through my right eye. What I see would
probably be the wet dream of any impressionist artist: when I look at
large objects with contracting colours I see large coloured shapes with
vague boundaries. Smaller objects or colours with little contrast
disappear completely. This should clear up within 1-2 months. (I
personally think that this is due to the gas affecting light rays in my
eye differently than the normal eye fluid does).

It is possible that the retina detaches again, in which case the
procedure has to be repeated. If not, then I can expect recovery within
1-2 months, although it can take far longer (up to a year!) for the
vision in my right eye to fully settle. And as a result of the
procedure, my chance of getting cataracts has shot up immensely - but I
have decided not to worry about that now; we'll see about that when it
happens.

Three days after surgery, and two days after the first check (luckily at
my local hospital), it looks that recovery is going as it should. My
idea of spending lots of times doing fun stuff now that I am not able to
work but still have a fully functioning left eye was overly optimistic.
It turns out that trying to focus my vision when my right eye is sending
weird signals to my brain is quite strenuous, so I spend a lot of the
day propped on the couch, with my right eye shut and my phone playing
Netflix in front of my left eye. However, I do see slow improvements in
what I see with my right eye, so who knows how this will evolve over time.

And that's the full story. I normally don't share much personal details,
and I hesitated to bother all of you with this, but after so many years
in this game you all feel like a sort of extra family to me, and as my
family you all deserve to know that this is happening to me right now.

And now please excuse me as I return to my couch...

Cheers,
Hugo

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