Yes, It’s been six months since I posted on my blog. Did anyone notice?
I took a sabbatical as I maneuvered through my corneal transplants. I needed to focus on the surgeries and recoveries while balancing my freelance work, so other writing and marketing Embracing Hope took a back seat. After Monday’s post-op check, I can get back into the swing of things.
First, both surgeries were successful! Thank You, Lord! I was fairly confident going in because of my ophthalmologist’s experience. He’s a nice guy with a tad bit of a sense of humor. For example, since the entire procedure is through a high-powered microscope using tiny instruments, my husband asked how he did such intricate surgery. “Uncaffeinated hands,” my doc deadpanned.
The only disappointment hubby had was after the doc took out the suture, he lost “sight” of it so we couldn’t see what it looked like. But since the suture is one-quarter the size of a human air, we excused him. It was pretty funny to see him scrutinizing the tweezers then the floor in search of it, for dramatic effect of course.
The surgeries were easy as I was under conscious sedation, which means you’re awake, but don’t care that he’s using tiny sharp instruments on your eye. Eye-numbing drops certainly help! Spending the first night flat on my back was the hardest part. I didn’t sleep so I prayed, sang some hymns in my mind (I’m a terrible singer.), and watched the clock move interminably slowly.
ROAD TO RECOVERY
Recovery was relatively easy, except for the occasional feeling the first couple of weeks that there was a GIANT eyelash in my eye. The biblical reference to “removing the plank” out of my eye kept springing to mind. I had an air bubble in my eye to hold the graft into position, so vision was very distorted at first, but the bubble absorbed in about a week.
Once I noticed what turned out to be a tiny broken blood vessel in my eye, which can happen just by sneezing, said the PA after I called in a near-panic. It cleared up in a few days.
I had dry eye, which is a complete paradigm shift from the over-abundance of fluid caused by Fuch’s Dystrophy. I use lubrication gel occasionally.
I experienced a couple of weeks of extreme light sensitivity. It was so extreme, that on a road trip to Iowa I was unable to look out the windshield even with my Roy Orbison/Stevie Wonder sunglasses. I had my eyes closed most of the trip. But it gradually improved to where I can now go without sunglasses in cloud cover.
PATIENCE PAYS OFF
Improvement in clarity can take months or even years, so it was barely noticeable at first. Then one day about six weeks after the first surgery in January, I looked at my cell phone and the bright colors and sharpness literally gave me a start. I quickly noticed other things were brighter and sharper: TV, green trees, blue skies, purple lilacs, a white eyebrow hair.
I’m near-sighted so close-up vision is GREAT. (Corneal surgery doesn’t correct astigmatism since that’s an issue with the retina.) I can clearly read expiration dates on coupons! I’ve put away the magnifying glass and reduced the zoom on my computer to 100 percent. Distance is a work-in-progress, but once I get my updated prescription for glasses next week distance will be greatly improved.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
I drove a little after the January surgery as the non-surgical eye was good enough. But after surgery on that eye April 4, I didn’t drive AT ALL until the end of May. I didn’t like depending on others for transportation, but I learned it’s OK to ask for help and people were very willing.
My first road trip was to church a mile away, with hubby in the passenger seat to supervise. When the church’s small blue street sign at the corner popped up a half-block away instead of 50 feet, I knew I could drive on my own.
The goal was to make a trip to Iowa June 1-3 alone to see family and have a book-signing. I wasn’t worried about my vision. Maneuvering through road construction and resulting detours on roads I rarely use is what nerved me up. The road trip was a success; the book-signing, not so much. Grrrrr!
THE NEXT STEPS
Because surgery was a transplant, I’m on a routine of steroid eye drops once a day to prevent the small chance of rejection. I’ve become such an expert at using eye drops the last few months that it’s a simple task. And, of course, rubbing my eyes is a big no-no!
My doc told me Monday that I’ll continue to “see” improved clarity for a year or even more. “Really?” I told him. I think the clarity is greatly improved now, so imagine my anticipation at seeing the world with even more brilliant colors and sharpness.
So, this is the last blog entry on my eye-opening adventure. You won’t have to endure all the sight-related clichés, metaphors, and puns. I’m running out of them anyway.
BECOME A DONOR
Although I will never know who my donors were as my grafts came from an eye bank, I thank the donors and families for restoring my eyesight. I also thank the New Brighton Lions for their financial gift to help cover the insurance deductible.
If you haven’t considered becoming an organ donor, please do! It’s as simple as indicating it on your driver’s license. While it made a life-changing experience for me, I can’t fathom what a life-SAVING experience it would be for those in desperate need!