Get the VISION!

It’s taken me a while to not only be comfortable with the idea of creating a gofundme site but also to collect the most accurate information I could. For those who might see this who don’t know me I’m going to back track a little.

In October 2017 I made an appointment with an ophthomalogist because I’d been having increasing periods of double vision and was really struggling with my eyes. I went to that appointment sure I would just be told I needed bifocals and having to admit I was getting older. (Go ahead and laugh, I do too.) Left that appointment shocked to my core and carrying orders not for bifocals but for MRIs. The doctor needed to check for Multiple Schlerosis or a mass in my brain before scheduling surgery on my eyes. Well, plural, surgeries. One would be done on both eyes, a second on just the right eye.

The MRI did find a small benign mass but no MS, the mass is not responsible for the double vision. A round of blood tests found no neuromuscular diseases so surgery was scheduled for December 29, 2017. Then it had to be cancelled because needed equipment couldn’t be gotten to the surgery center in time. I was devastated, a new year means new deductible, new max out-of-pocket, thousands of dollars. Dollars I couldn’t even fathom having. Several friends urged me to create a gofundme site so they could help, I just couldn’t. Emotionally I was at my breaking point and needed to just step away and try to regroup, praying my vision might get better.  When I shared all my fears about creating this site one friend had exactly the right words to reassure me, so here I am.

There isn’t as easy way to explain my vision to you or what its like to live with. Try this, cross your eyes, now try to walk with them that way, or read, or use your computer. Can’t do it? I know, not so easy. For me that is how I see 90% of the time, every day is exhausting. 

Try just to imagine as you look around you. Where you see one of everything, I am seeing FOUR. Each of my eyes sees “ghost” images (think bad TV reception) and my eyes are rarely able to focus on the same thing at the same time. That part is called alternating esotropia, and yes I can feel my brain and eye muscles fighting over who gets to be in charge. The result is diplobia, double vision and its been getting increasingly bad. Walking into things and tripping over things has become a daily occurrence, at times I’m afraid to go places because I feel unsafe. It’s overwhelming and discouraging.

I’ve come to loathe the phrase “life changing” because it it used so often in advertising these days. Yet there is nothing else I could say about the impact of this surgery for me. It would, literally, change my life. No more wondering if strangers think I’m drunk as I stumble along the sidewalk because I can’t see the tiny changes in the surface. No more planning my days around eye strain. Being able to drive a car again!

My vision being corrected would change every aspect of my life, but I can’t even begin to do it on my own. That is harder to admit than I can even express.

I’ve listed $3,250 as the goal. Here is the breakdown:

$1850 - insurance deductible and max out-of-pocket
$300 - post surgery optometrist (Out of network but I want to see the person recommended by the surgeon.)
$200 - contact lenses (these are apparently better for my eyes post surgery than glasses)
$300 - (new lenses for my glasses so I have a back up to the contacts.)
$600 - to cover missed time from work for appointments and surgeries, I estimated seven days.

My vision insurance will help with the cost of ONE set of either glasses or contacts, but depending on how quickly the second surgery can be done I might need two sets of each.

I’ve taken a leap of faith in this process and the first of the pre-surgery appointments, seeing a neuro-ophthomalogist, is scheduled for February 19th. So I’m making that the first deadline as I have no way to pay for that appointment on my own.

Whether you are able to help or not, I cherish your prayers. I’ve made this post public so you are able to share it with others. Doctors visits are really hard for me at this point so anyone willing to go with me, hold my hand and be a second set of ears would be wonderful.

Hugs are very needed as well!
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Virginia Anne Cumming Gill 
Anchorage, AK