I am home from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with the new cornea in my right eye. I was the second patient to get surgery at the huge U-M Kellogg Eye Center on Monday where Dr. Bradford Tannen did the transplant in a little under an hour. At my first post-op appointment yesterday morning, he said the new cornea is attached firmly and showed no signs of having any problems.
Now the wonders of biology take over with the cells of the new cornea multiplying and forming new tissue. If all goes according to plan, this should eventually be new corneal tissue giving me a new sight in that eye. My right eye vision had deteriorated to the point where my sight was reduced to fuzz most of the time.
Right now, I see no fuzz, but I do have a big bubble in the repaired eye to hold the cornea in place.
I was awake during the procedure where they gave me "happy juice" as they called it. I could hear the doctors talking about getting the tissue in the right position and that was about all I remember.
I was really impressed by the patient-oriented focus of the whole experience. While awaiting my turn in pre-op, the nurses welcomed my wife, my daughter and two Ann Arbor-area friends to wait with me and to pray for me, the doctors and everybody else involved in the surgery.
Toughest part was having to lay on my back essentially the whole time from when the surgery was done on Monday mid-morning to this morning. I've never been a back sleeper and that was a big challenge for me. My wife helped to remind me to keep my head back and looking up.
What have I learned from this chapter of my "eye journey?"
- I have lots to be thankful for. God has blessed me greatly. Over the past few months, I started to worry about losing my vision. During that time, I did a careful visual inventory of everything I could remember. I came to the conclusion that I've had a full life and that my faith in God was coming full circle back to my early Sunday School days.
- I've had some wrestling matches with God during my life where I doubted whether he was listening to me. I've felt on the edge of losing the one capability that made it easier to get a handle on daily life--my sight.
- Then I remembered a book by Kara Tippets, a young mom with cancer who struggled with her disease. One night while alone in the hospital, she felt God asking her that with Jesus what else would she need. I reminded frequently reminded myself of what she said. If I have Jesus, what else do I need?
- The human body is amazing and the people who fix are also amazing. With a chronic case of glaucoma, I know that my eye journey is not over. I thank God for giving me this body and for leading me to people who take care of it.
- Family and friends were just amazing. I pray with three other guys every week who live in different parts of the country. We use a video tool from Oracle called Zoom. I'm relearning how to talk to God. One of the guys is Justin-my son; the other is my son-in-law Adam Jones and the third is my good friend Ken Alexander.
- Facebook has served as a connecting point for me and lots of other people who have promised to pray for me. I'm truly thankful for the response.
- My wife Gladys have been truly supportive every step of the way. Since my right eye started falling apart in 2012, she has probably been to 75-1000 ophthalmologist appointments. She serves as another set of ears and as an encourager when I leave the eye doctor and want to kick the can or something else.
I know this is long, but I want to stay in touch. I also want to be an encourager to those who are being challenged physically.