I am going to be famous. I will go down in history. I will be the first person to receive Digitally-Assisted Complete Vision Restoration (DACVR) – the first person truly and completely blind from birth to have their sight fully restored.
I have a picture of reality in my head, what the world is made up of: how people look (from feeling their faces); the size of rooms in my apartment, the grocery store, the university hospital; the jagged cracks in the sidewalk outside the stoop of my building. But it’s all aromas, noises, textures – what will vision be like? For how can anyone describe for me an experience of a sense I do not have? The qualia that are the fundamental building blocks of the universe and our perception of it?
“They’ll be a slight tingling sensation,” Dr. Matthews says. He checks the wires running from my temples down onto the bed, over to the machine humming next to me.
“Any words for this momentous occasion?” says the nurse.
“Let’s do it,” I say. “I want to see. Let there be light!”
I hear the switch flip and there is a rising humming growing in volume and intensity like a fluorescent light coming on. Then, following it, the darkness gives way slowly to – is this what light is? So bright! – then, figures, these must be the doctor and nurses. Oh! Oh God! NO! NO! MY GOD!
And then I’m flailing and thrashing in the hospital bed, and hear my voice screaming, as if far away, in another body: “TURN IT OFF! OH GOD, TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF!! NO! PLEASE….”