Daily Blog // 2 //

Three months ago, I did something that up to a year ago, I never thought I would ever do. That day in July, I got surgery on my left eye to fix something that has been broken since the day I was born.

I have been suffering from nystagmus all my life. While some people might notice the funny shakeroo my eyes do every second of every day, what most of them point out first is my strabismus, or to put it in layman’s terms: that I am cross-eyed.

While my main issue, the nystagmus, cannot be fixed and there is no surgery that will improve my vision, there is something that can be done regarding my strabismus. My doctors have been telling me about this surgery for years, but my answer was always the same: “I’m good. This is just part of me.”.

Also, this surgery would inevitably include people cutting stuff in my eye and stitching it back together. Yikes.

Somehow, my views shifted during the last year and when my new doctor addressed this topic, I told her I would think about it. It was from that point onwards that I began to realise how insecure I truly felt about my strabismus. When I was talking to my friends and family, I could not think about anything else than how terrible it must be to look at me.

In some twisted way, I was sure that the people around me would think badly of me or pity me for being the ugly cross-eyed duckling. I never felt so insecure about my eyes and my impaired vision.

As this whole thing also came in a time when I felt especially courageous after my study abroad, I decided to get the surgery.

After that it only took seven months of waiting, a few incredibly nervous weeks leading up to the event, a round of general anaesthetic and 45 minutes of cutting and stitching, to get me where I wanted to be.

I woke up in a hospital room superbly woozy from the anaesthetic but also beaming with happiness because I was certain at that point that everything went well and that I was not going to throw up.

Recovery took a few weeks. Shoutout to my loved ones for putting up with me at my winiest and for taking such great care of me. Having stitches in your eye is really not that much fun, I have to say.

The outcome of the surgery: I am no longer cross-eyed (for now)! However, the surgeons were hoping that I would gain back my stereoscopic vision through this surgery as there was a chance that my eyes would start working together again. They have not done that since I was six years old. Turns out, they also will not do so in the future.

You might be wondering at this point why I am writing about this experience so many weeks after the surgery.

When I was recovering from the surgery I was not allowed to touch my eye, to rub it when it was itching (which it was all the time), and for the first week I could barely keep my eye open for longer than a few seconds. I was on pain killers and felt so exhausted. Plus, no contacts for 6 weeks.

You really do not appreciate your eyes enough when they are (more or less) working!

In those weeks it felt difficult at times to cherish the decision I had made and the great work the surgeons had done. I was very uncertain as to wether or not this was a good idea to begin with.

Today, I am back to wearing contacts, indulge in rubbing my eyes as much as I want and often forget that I had surgery only a few months ago. I still think about my strabismus on a daily basis, but now I do so because I wish I could see myself throughout the day to check out the difference.

On a more cheesy note, I guess I would like to convey with this post that times can be tough, but that it does feel great to be able to look back and appreciate that you got through it. In my case, I am so happy that I conquered my fears and went through with the surgery after all those years.

Since the kind of strabismus I have is not actually caused by a problem with my eyes, but rather by the funny ideas my brain seems to have, I will be cross-eyed again sooner rather than later.

So this is a blog post for future Lea. Right now I am certain that I would do the surgery again in a few years, but if I do happen to feel scared at that point in my life, I hope i will find my way back to this post. Do it. It is so worth it.