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19 posts from February 2013

STATUS REPORT: I'm having trouble getting used to having vision in only one eye

It's been more than a week since I had a vitrectomy on my right eye.  I've gone through short phases where it felt like I could see through both eyes really well.  That usually lasted a couple of hours.  Then came the pain and loss of vision.

I could feel the squirrels inside my head throwing spears through my right eyeball.  The pain was excruciating and non-stop.  

My eye doctor has been gracious in seeing me just about everyday while my eye presurre in my right eye has zoomed up.  He explained that the layers of my eye were separating and to put them back together, he put a contact lens bandaid.  Oh yah, he manually released fluid from my eye two or three times.

He says, it's healing.  The "defect" or the area where he made the incision was getting smaller and was creating new cells.  It's a waiting game, he said, where I do my eye drops.  I've been taking Vicodin prescribed for after the surgery.  It has helped.

What else?  Gladys' back seized up on her. We've got out all the heating pads and the cold packs, pillows and the super-duper aspirin.  She's driving me to the eye doctor today.

She's been a rock through all this.  But rocks wilt under a lot of stress.  I feel guilty for asking this, but please continue to pray for us.  We will make it, but we still need the prayers.  What are your prayer requests.  Maybe we can swap.  Here are some pictures of the past week:


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Gladys has been with me at every appointment. She's made it through a couple of Kindle books.


This video is for my son-in-law Adam Jones to watch when his daughter gets married

I'd love to see a video of what my son-in-law says when his daughter, my granddaughter gets married. The dad in this video is pretty funny, but he makes a very important point.  

There comes a time where there's a guy that will enter your daughter's life who will put a look of happiness on her face that nobody else can including you.  It's a look of happiness that comes from that special relationship that comes from finding that right person.

You did that for my daughter.  I've seen it.  And the time will come for your daughter Gretchen.  Watch this video.  It will make you laugh and it will strike a chord in dads with daughters.

The Most Touching Speech Made by Bride's Father to the Groom from mcsquid86 on GodTube.

My eyes are starting to feel normal tonight with both lenses working

I started noticing it around supper time tonight that I could read something and not have it go blurry on me within a few seconds.  I can read uninterrupted which is not something I've experienced in the past few weeks.

The unveiling of my right eye took place around 8:30 a.m. with my eye looking like I had just been through a big fist fight after a night to drinking hard whiskey.  It felt very scratchy and it was hard to keep open.  That feeling stayed with me most of the day.

Then after napping on the couch most of the day, I booted up my computer and could read everything. My vision is not perfect, but my doctor said it may improve after the swelling goes down.  

He shared with me everything he did in my eye and I'm impressed and thankful.  I have an appointment tomorrow and will probably have several more to ensure that it's healing properly.

My doctor marked my eye with his initials before the surgery.


This is the screen we saw in the surgical waiting room with the screen showing the surgeries for the morning.


Super-wife waiting for me to be taken into the pre-op section.


They actually had fruit for people to eat with their coffee.

My eye surgery lasted two-and-a-quarter hours today

For the past two weeks my vision has been greatly diminished by the lens in my right eye that was floating loose.  In the process, I stopped driving and was careful when walking in public.

Today, I had srugery to correct that.  My eye surgeon spent two-and-a-quarter hours draining the vitreous fluid from the eye, fishing the bad lens out of that eye, putting the new one in and then refilling it with saline solution.  

I woke up not remembering anything beyond the pre-op section of the hospital and waking the in the recovering room.

The test comes tomorrow when I go back to my doctor to have him remove the patch over my eye.  The prayers and best wishes of a lot of people were momentous.  More tomorrow.

The cover comes off tomorrow.

Getting ready to start the day at the hospital

Gladys drove to church yesterday

We leave for the hospital in the next half hour for my latest eye surgery.  I'm ready.  I have Matt Redman's 10,000 Reasons playing in the background.  I pray that my surgeon had a good day yesterday and a good sleep last night.  We heard the latest part of a sermon yesterday at church on the Resilient Life.  Loved the service, even though my vision seemed weird.  Gladys drove.  Am I getting anxious.  Yeah,  maybe a touch more than a little.

I'll also take this smile with me when I go into the operating room

I am really thankful to meet and get to know my granddaughter Gretchen who was born on the day that I had an eye surgery last November.  It was the same eye and almost the same problem.  I thank God for seeing her, her brother, my kids, their spouses and, of course my wife.

I love this photo.  She has a big smile with style.

You can really see her personality showing through.

Some thoughts as I get ready for eye surgery tomorrow morning

Tomorrow morning, Gladys and I go to the hospital for the surgery to have my right eye fixed.  The lens in that eye is floating in the vitreous fluid and is non-functional.

When we were at Sam's Club yesterday, it felt like my vision had gotten much worse.  It was like living in a movie where things are out of focus as you pass through them.  My doctor will drain the fluid out of the eye, fish out the lens, put a special new one in and fill it up with new fluid.  This is all outpatient.

The tumor in my brain is non-threatening, according to the doctors.  It will be monitored to see if it changes.

What have I learned from all this?  Yeah, I've learned a ton about being an informed healthcare consumer.  Have I been scared about the possibility of losing my eyesight.  I have.  However, it looks like I won't be dealing with that issue right now.

One of the things that grabbed my attention during one of my several doctor visits was everything that I've used my eyes to see if my lifetime.  I put as many as I could think of on my iPad while sitting in a waiting room.  The list is long.  

Right now, one that's right at the top of my memory is our recent family vacation in North Carolina where we had plenty of opportunity to use our grandparent muscles.  I loved watching Gladys and my grandson do fingerpainting with chocolate pudding.  The smile on their faces made an indelible impression that I'll always remember regardless of my eyesight.  Here are some pictures of that:



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They won't cut out the tumor in my brain

I could feel the results today of a whole lot of people praying for me and my recent problems with my eyesight.  I am humbled by all the people from all over who have responded to say they were praying for Gladys and I and the doctors who were trying to figure out what was going on in my head with my eyes.

First, I do have a tumor as some called it and a mass as others have called in on the lining of my brain. It's about six millimeters, but it's not interfering with my vision, according to the doctors today at Michigan State University.  I have its name written down in the papers I brought home.  It has "men" and "noma" in it.

I was told that I would have to have a MRI to track its growth every six to twelve months.  That's the first item.

My vision loss was attributed to a lens transplant in my right eye that came completely loose from its anchor in my eye.  It's floating in the vitreous fluid in that eye meaning that my right eye, right now, doesn't have a functional lens.

In the next two weeks, I will be going in for surgery to have the fluid drained from my eye, have the lens replaced and the filled back-up.  This dislodging of the lens has happened twice in the last 12 years.

Right now, I'm really tired.  I didn't sleep well last night.  I looked in so much bright light today for testing purposes that my eyes feel like they've been through a Biblical experience.  

I'm drinking a can of Diet Pepsi and pretending it's wine.  I praise God for all the concern, the emails, the Facebook notes and the texts.  Wow!  Thank-you.  I'm humbled.

This journey with my vision isn't over with yet, but this chapter is closing and we are getting ready to start a new one.

I share this Matt Redman song--10,000 Reasons--that really captures my heart and where I am in my thinking right now.  I also share a couple of pictures of Gladys taken today with my phone.


My wife is in my corner.
Here's Gladys in my corner at the MSU Clinical Center.
In the examining room, Gladys found this magazine which featured our daughter-in-law's business, Umba Box

I could really go for eating a chocolate cupcake with my grandson

I do have a bucket list which I'm rearranging.  One of the things that I really enjoyed doing our family vacation in North Carolina was spending time with my two-year-old grandson Xavier.  He's full of life and he loves to learn.

While there we celebrated two birthdays, my son-in-law Adam turned 32 and my wife Gladys celebrated getting one year older.  My son Justin and his wife Lauren got some really fancy cupcakes to celebrate and Xavier got the chocolate one.

I want to do that again with him and maybe his sister if she's eating solid foods then.  

How'd I sleep last night?  Not great.  At 3 a.m., I had a video tape machine playing in my head of everything I've done in my life.  It was hard to not think about the future.  However, I do know that the next life will be an upgrade.  I'm praying that God will help me take it one step at a time.

I sat next to Xavier at just about every meal in North Carolina.

There's a mass in my head that's affecting the vision in my right eye

After a little pushing, I got a call today from my ophthamologist's office about the loss of vision in my right eye.  I have a mass in my head that shouldn't be there and I have descreased bloodflow to that eye.  My optic nerve has also taken some hits.

My next step is to go to a neuro-ophthalmologist at MSU to get the "so what" of all this and to learn how it can be treated.

I'm trying to process all this and to get my heart anchored in the right position.  I've been listening to all of my pastor's sermons and how God will see you through tunnels of darkness to the light.  I feel I have more to do, but that's God's call.  

My plan is to blog about this whole experience.  Lots of people get sick, including baby-boomers my age.  My glass of Great Lakes Red is almost empty which means that it's time to get on with stuff.  


My front line.
As I journey through this tunnel, I have two great guys, along with their wives, blocking for me along the way, my son Justin (left) and my son-in-law Adam.


I'm putting together my list of questions to use when they call me about eye test results


My wife sits with me in the doctor's examining room.
I took super-wife with me to my doctor's appointment as an extra set of ears. It helped.

The vision in my right eye hasn't gotten better and I'm still waiting for the results of a MRI taken Thursday night.

And there were only a couple of times today when I felt like I could stick my head in a toilet and throw up because of the potential fear of losing eyesight in that eye or in both.  Having a bad knee or shoulder is an annoyance, but having impaired sight takes you to a whole different league.

Today, I went to my primary care provider to schedule an appointment to have a doppler test taken on my carotid artery.  A blockage there produces symptoms similar to my loss of vision in one eye.  To have an extra set of ears, I took my wife to the appointment.

To prepare for the results of the MRI, I am putting together a list of questions about what they have found or didn't find and what it means.  I don't want to end my next time with the eye doctor and realize that I didn't ask all the questions.

How am I handling the fear factor?

It's there like a being hiding behind a nearby tree.  It sticks its head out when I least expect it.  I'm working on my defense.

A friend of my wife's referred me to this verse from Psalm 46:10-- "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."  

Verse one says , God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea."

I use this picture of my family to start my "thank-you God" list

It all started with Gladys and me and this is where we stand now in our family.
I love this picture taken by my son-in-law's sister during our recent trip to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.  I thank God for each and every one in this picture.  They are a blessing to Gladys and I.  Two grandkids.  Reall cool.  

Waiting for word about my eyes and what's wrong with them

Right now, the vision in my right eye is just a bunch of fuzz

Lots of older baby-boomers are experiencing some really serious health problems.  You name one and a good number of people are struggling with all aspects of a health challenge.

As a member of the first class of baby-boomers, I realize that what I'm experiencing is nothing compared to what others are dealing with.  I'm not complaining, just sharing with the hope that we can learn from each other.

My right eye has been fuzzy since Thursday afternoon since I tried to read a wine bottle label at Sam's Club on the southside of Lansing.  Just for fun, I closed my left eye and read absolutely nothing with my right.  There was nothing there, just fuzz.

I've been through a bunch of tests, including an MRI.  I'm waiting to schedule one for my carotid artery.

I'm waiting for the results on the birth battery of tests.  That's probably the hardest part.  

Do I have any fear about this?  Yes.  I'm turning to Psalm 34:4 for help.  "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."  

However, I still feel something inside of me saying that I have a good reason to be afraid.  Then I throw Psalm 34:4 at that voice.

The pastor asked, "How much time do you have left on this earth?"

We go to the same church service twice, once at home on Saturday night and then on Sunday.

We have our own little house church on Saturday nights, where we eat supper and watch the service from Ada Bible Church live on our computer sitting on the table.

We've done this more than a month and we love it.  We are prepared for Sunday morning and we have a chance to talk about the sermon before we walk into church to hear it again.  The teaching this weekend is about living a resilient life where you bounce back from some kind of experience that takes recovery.

 The sermon this weekend is based on 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 where the Apostle Paul writes to the believers there about how anxious he is to go be with Jesus.  His body was wearing out and he shares about the world to come after death.

Paul reinforces the point that this life doesn't always go well.  There will be groaning.  It could be health, job or relationships.  

It's the next life that we need to be living for.  Is the next life all about living in robes and standing on puffy clouds.  Our pastor quoted a booklet about heaven by Randy Alcorn where he said what heaven is not.  And he raised the point that there are certain things that we enjoy down here and there's no reason that we can't enjoy them here.

I'm anxious to hear it again.  It's particularly relevant to me right now as I face the uncertianty about my eyesight and anything else that may be affecting it.

I know that in the next life I will be living with Jesus.  However, until that day comes I plan to live for him in this life.  I want to serve him.


Would this be a good cover shot for my book of letters to my grandson?



He loves rainbow ice cream.
My grandson Xavier shows that eating ice cream can trump just about any other pleasure.


I'll never forget the day that I got a call from a nephew I never knew I had.  He had been on a hunt for his grandfather, my dad, and found me on the web.  

He was looking for information about the rest of his family.  His mother was my sister, actually half sister, and somebody I never met.

I want my grandchildren to know their grandfather and what made him tick.  There are plenty of stories that might shine a light on questions they could ask eventually.  Maybe, I can help with that.

It's not a story where I'm expecting readers to get out their little finger violins and play them.  No, not at all.  But, can my grandson and granddaughter learn more about themselves by knowing their background, at least part of it?

There's plenty for them to be proud of.  That includes both my side and my wife's sides of the family.  I've been amassing information for awhile.  

What do you know about your grandparents?  Would you like to know more?  Would it have made a difference?  

How am I going to handle my first real brush with fear as a senior citizen?

This is where I lost my MRI virginity
My Thursday night date with Gladys was at Sparrow Hospital getting a MRI

I've had eye and vision struggles for a while.  I have zipped through cataracts and glaucoma, blepharitis and menobianitis and an artificial lens in my right eye that moved.

Last week at Sam's Club where I routinely walk through the wine section, I picked up a bottle to read the label.  It was fuzzy.  I closed my left eye and there was virtually nothing there.  I closed my right eye and with an open left eye it was perfect.

One of the tests this week has included an MRI to see if anything is going on in my head.  There is a concern that it might be a blood flow issue.  It could be something else like a mass.

Do I have any fears about losing my sight or having it reduced greatly.  YES.  How am I managing that? I feel the need to share that journey as the medical types try to find a resolution.

Do I feel like God is in control?  YES.  But, it's hard to grab onto that reality through the eyes of faith.  

This won't be the last I'll talk about this in this space.  I know this is going to be a journey.  

The MRI?  Incredibly loud.  Felt like some kind of sound torture on Homeland.  But that's the way for them to find out what's going on.  I'm all for it.

Stay tuned.


I got my "family patriarch" membership card at a beach house in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Two very important people in my life
Me and my grandson and new granddaughter at a family vacation in North Carolina

I think I know why I really like the television series Parenthood which is about the daily life of a big family where there's plenty of real life.  The grandparents, their kids and the grandkids live life as part of a functional family unit.

We had a chance to bring our family together this month at a beach house in North Carolina where we woke every morning to the sun coming up over the Atlantic Ocean.  It was a big, beautiful house right on the water.

Our daughter, son-in-law and their two kids from Bosnia flew in and our son and daughter-in-law drove in from Washington, D.C.  Then there was visits with our son-in-law's family who live in North Carolina.

It's hard to describe it in words.  We were right there everyday with each other.  We ate together, played Monopoly, read books with our two-year-old grandson, talked, took some pictures and talked some more.  

I took lots of pictures to look at and share.  I'm blessed bigtime by God, way more than I ever deserve. I love being part of a family.

I've already added grandparent to my resume.  One of my kids referred to me as the family patriarch like Zeke Braverman on Parenthood.  You know, I kind of like that.  

Stay tuned for more, like pictures of my wife and grandson finger-painting with chocolate pudding on a granite countertop.