Avid readers and those with good memories may recall that at the time of my original surgery, my left eye was sewn to make the exposed cornea smaller. In technical terms, this is a tarsorrhaphy - and yes, I did check the spelling as a good pedant should! I am becoming more familiar than I expected with various medical definitions....
Avid readers may also recall that having two eyes so different in size and shape has made me very self-conscious about how I look, especially when the rest of the left side of my face is affected by facial palsy. It has meant that wearing make-up, for example, is virtually impossible and, in fact, I have only done it once when Neil and I were at a posh dinner in London. I know that's a pretty trivial side-effect, but it feels like one more thing that is different from how I was before and another step away from normality. I know there are much bigger things, both in terms of effect and complexity, which need to be done to my face but for some reason, having differently-sized eyes has been a pretty major issue for me. I have said all along that having my eye reopened would make a huge difference to how I perceive my face.
When we saw the plastic surgeon in October, I asked him about whether there was any chance I might have my eye reopened and he referred me to the surgeon who performed the original tarsorrphaphy (there she goes, showing off again!) and we saw him this morning. After an eye test and various measurements being taken, we had to wait to see one of his junior consultants, who asked me to do lots of blinking, looking up, looking down, put some stain in my eyes, tested the sensitivity of my cornea (apparently I am quite insensitive in both eyes) and then said she thought it would be possible but wanted the surgeon to have a look. We then saw him (lovely man) and he was less positive about my blinking reflex but said that he would be very happy to reopen my eye and to improve the blinking, he will insert a very small gold weight into my eyelid. It won't be visible when you look at me, but I will feel it as a slight weight on my lid. This is the best news I could have been given. I know that my eye will not be exactly the same as my right eye but it will be considerably more like it than it is now and it will make me feel that there's some progress being made in my quest to look more like the person I used to be.
The operation won't take place for another four or five months - he said he could have reopened my eye today under local anaesthetic and then called me back for another operation to insert the weight but I said I'd rather wait and have them both done at the same time. Although this is a medical trauma I am choosing to put myself through - and, let's be frank, it's entirely for vanity as there is no medical reason for me to have this done - I do want to minimise the medical intervention so it makes sense to wait and do it all at once.
As this is purely for vanity, rather than medical reasons, does this make me the same as someone who has cosmetic procedures done to stave off ageing, or to have gravity-defying boobs? I have always been quite scornful of those people, thinking that medical resources should be devoted to helping sick people, not pandering to someone's self-image and yet here I am, asking for something to be done to make me look better. Am I just the same as the woman wanting cheek implants to look younger, or lip-fillers, or unfeasibly pneumatic breasts? I like to think I'm not but when you look at the facts, am I really that different? I don't need this done. I want it done. It won't make me better, but it will make me feel better. It will help with my self-image and might make it easier to be seen in public places, but it won't cure me.
Am I going to go ahead with this, despite all these questions? You bet I am!!