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4 posts from April 2018

My journey to keep my vision takes another step with a DSEK at the U-M in Ann Arbor

My education about the amazing architecture of the human eye continues with a cornea transplant in my right eye on May 21 at the U-M in Ann Arbor by Dr. Bradford Tannen.  He will do a DESEK.  If I understand correctly, the surgeon uses only one layer of the cornea which allows it to be grafted onto my eye.  This avoids stitches meaning a much shorter recovery time.

Throughout my 18 year experience with eye surgery--10 of them--I've always taken the cornea for granted.  I never dwelled on the important role that it plays in vision.  When mine in my right eye started to swell, I noticed the difference right away.  My visual impairment was very noticeable and it happened quickly.

I found on YouTube this video explaining the procedure.  I totally realize that efforts to keep my vision has become a journey.  This is one more stop on the road of that effort.

With my fuzzy vision, my wife and I went to church--Trinity-Lansing--last night


Even though this cornea stuff is starting to bug me with the blurry vision and all, we decided to go to church last night.  If ever I wanted a clear line of communication to God, it's right now.  

What I learned while attending the service was both encouraging and troubling.

First, I experienced very directly what other visually impaired worshippers must feel when they attend.  The service is not real user-friendly for those with vision problems.  I could see the big screens, of course, but, I couldn't read the words.  For me, they just weren't there.  What's the answer?  I don't know.

I'm glad my wife was with me.  However, when the service was over and we were out the door, I discovered that I forgot my Promise Keepers baseball cap in the pew.  I almost asked my wife to go with me to get it.  I didn't want to stumble into anybody or anything .  I went in by myself knowing that this was a safe place to get turned around.  I found the cap and found my way out again.

The sermon was from 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 where the Apostle Paul prays about the thorn in the flesh he had been given by God.  It was some kind of physical ailment and God told him it wasn't going way and that His strength would be made perfect in Paul's weakness.

I walked out of the service with an uneasy feeling in my gut.  What if the vision thing doesn't clear up after the cornea transplant?

With deteriorating vision, going to the fabric store in Mason with my wife

Fat Quarters at a Mason fabric store

While I'm waiting for my appointment with a University of Michigan cornea specialist for a transplant, I'm dealing with vision that seems to be quickly deteriorating.  I'm not sure I understand what's happening other than my visual life is changing quickly.

As I wait for the April 17 appointment, I'm trying to pay attention to what I'm feeling and to the possibility that this could be my new normal.  I'm scared and I admit it.

When my wife yesterday asked, do you want to go out for lunch in Mason, a small town just down the road, and to a fabric store there, I jumped at the chance.  

I think my biggest enemy right now is sitting home waiting for God to flick a switch to turn my vision back on.  I still have to live life and do it somewhat safely.

The fabric store was a cornucopia of colors and patterns and I could see those if I got close enough.  Stepping in and out of the store and the restaurant was more tricky.  My depth perception needs to be recalibrated.

Today is our Saturday night church service.  The adventure continues.

Add me to the list of baby-boomers with cornea problems

When I got up yesterday at 6 a.m., I assumed my usual position on our couch with me on one end and my wife on the other.  This is almost a ritual where we drink our first cup of coffee and read the news and some emails.

It was different this time.  I couldn't make out the words regardless of how big I made them on my iPad Pro.  As a longtime glaucoma patient and as one who has had numerous eye surgeries, I was warned that this day would come.  I was warned that my eyes could reach a tipping point where the optic nerves would start to fall apart to never be made whole again. 

Well, because of a drain surgically implanted a year ago, my eye pressure has never been better.  

Now, it's my cornea, the outer layer of the eye that protects it and which helps focus images which go to the retina and then the optic nerve.  Because of so many surgeries in my right eye, I have plenty of scar tissue which affected the cornea.

In a little more than a week, I will be examined by a specialist at the University of Michigan to determine whether he can do a cornea transplant.  

I've always depended on my vision.  Now I'm having to recalibrate my thinking.  I hope to document this journey which seems to be far from over.