1) The good news (and it is *very* good) is that I went to see the doctor at the Wilmer Institute, and after a slew of tests, etc., he said that he does not think I am yet at the point where a corneal transplant is necessary. HURRAH. However, with the deterioration in my sight, and in the comfort of the contact lenses, it was still clear to me that something needs to be done. Which leads us to:
2) The good-and-bad-and-good-and-bad-news. The doctor *does* think that I am a very good candidate for the corneal collagen crosslinking trials (good news), and that I should have that procedure done in my right eye as soon as possible (bad news, because - yikes! Surgery!), which may succeed in arresting the degeneration from the disease (good news!) - but as stated before, since this surgery is a clinical trial, insurance will not touch it (bad news).
So...it's a mixed bag, here, is what I'm saying. BUT, in terms of my health (which is more important than how I am going to pay for things, even if sometimes it doesn't seem so), the news is overall positive. I do have to have the crosslinking surgery; but it is a minor surgery compared to the major surgery of a transplant, and has less risk involved, and is very likely to result in the disease progressing no further. Which would be AMAZING. (And I really wish this procedure had been firmly in place when I was first diagnosed, instead of when my eyesight has gotten to this dismal point, but as stated, it's still in trials right now, so it hasn't been around all that long).
Of course I didn't stop there - I then followed up with an appointment with the Washington Eye Center, which is the group actually administering the trial. They put me through another long series of tests, the result of which was the same as I'd been told at the Wilmer Institute - I am a good candidate for the surgery, and I should have it as soon as possible in the right eye. I was also told that if it works in the right eye (which they will know after about 3 months, I believe they said) then I should definitely get it in the left eye as well; which makes sense. So. Since they said "as soon as possible," I've made an appointment for the right eye procedure on October 21. I've got my sister lined up to pick me up afterward, and I'm going tomorrow to get the medication I'll need to take beforehand. Things are moving along. Scarily so, but that doesn't mean it won't turn out to be a good thing in the end.
The big problem I'm left dealing with now is how to afford this. Surgery for each eye is $4,000, and you only have a year to pay it off. I...just don't have the money. I just don't. I've looked at my finances three times, and there's nowhere I can siphon $333 a month (and eventually $666, once they do the second eye) from. I'm up to my eyeballs in debt as it is. So...well...yeah, I just don't know. But I'm going to have the surgery anyway, because there's nothing else I can do. I guess I'll cross the payment bridge when I come to the first bill. Somehow.
Cross your fingers for me, guys.