Before March of 2016, I was afraid to get flu shots or my blood taken. Fast forward to October of 2018. Six surgeries. I have had six surgeries. I’m sitting here planning my seventh like I would a lunch date, negotiating everyone’s tricky schedules. Except it’s not other guests I am accommodating, it’s multiple surgeons.
Next up on the list is a surgery that will help me regain some feeling in my eye, called corneal neurotization. It’s basically the same thing I had done for my smile, but for my eye. They take my (other) foot nerve, and graft it from my forehead on my left side to my eye on the right. Ideally, my forehead will sprout a new nerve branch through the graft over to my right ‘numb’ eye. This regenerates for 6-9 months before anything changes. If this is successful, my cornea will be ‘nourished’ by the nerve supply, and I will have feeling again. Simple as this sounds, there’s a bit of a catch.
This surgery has been performed a handful of times- less than 50, I’d venture, and only twice at UCLA, ever. These are not ideal stats, but let me explain why I will be the next case at UCLA. The surgery was invented in Toronto, Canada. They have performed 22 cases total. Ever. Nobody can deny that 22 is more than 2, however I know better than anyone that pursuing the perceived best-in-the-field does not guarantee the optimal result. Because this procedure is so new, I know that I’m not going to find a surgeon who looks me in the eye and tells me this is going to work out. Because nobody knows that.
There are other factors at play here, too. Dr. Goldberg will actually be performing some of the more intricate parts of the surgery, and I trust him implicitly. I trust the ‘main’ surgeon as well, but I’ll trust him even more after he’s perfectly executed this procedure. Objectively, this is low-risk. I lose my other foot nerve as a viable option for some unforeseen surgery, and I gain a few (more) scars. I am confident in UCLA as a hospital, and I am confident in the team I will have working with me.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t like sitting on my hands for long. There’s no rush to do this surgery, but there’s also no good reason to wait. So I’m doing it.