Here's the eyedrops that I was taking everyday two years ago today

Eyedrops and eye pressure pills I took two years ago today.
A year ago today these are the eyedrops that I was taking everyday. I also took two pills to lower the pressure in my eyes.

My eye journey two years ago at this time took me through some very experiential waters.  My eye pressure spiked and after several surgeries my right eye took some time to heal.  The experience took me through some uncharted waters of impaired vision and pain.  

These eyedrops helped me get back on track and, of course, care from my team of ophthalmologists.

To keep track of all the drops that I needed my wife, a retired grade school teacher, made me a very simple to use chart.


Dislocated lens note: I saw two of Pastor Jeff Manion in church today

 

An iPhone picture of the opening of the service at Ada (MI) Bible Church.
This is the pastor who opened the service before Jeff Manion spoke at Ada Bible Church. Yes, I saw two of him also.

It happened again today in church where I saw two of the pastor as he was giving his sermon.  Pastor Jeff Manion of Ada Bible Church was teaching about the Five Days of Jesus as he was approaching Jerusalem during Holy Week and I saw two of his images.

It wasn't a twin brother and it wasn't an angel, I don't think.  It was the dislocated lens in my right eye that has come lose on one side.  This time it's producing doubles in the church setting with one image on top of the other.  

My eye and vision journey continues with this lens in my right eye having been dislocated several times.  It required surgery each time.

Along the way, I have acquired glaucoma and have had a retinal detachment.  

In the mornings, my dislocated lens moves and makes reading very difficult.  After a period of time, it adjusts.

However, one of my ophthalmologists on Friday said, I am not going blind.  However, he said my vision will be challenged from time to time.


I have advanced glaucoma and a dislocated lens and I'm not going blind, says Dr. Liu

 

A model of a lens implant.
Dr. Liu shows me a large model of the lens implanted in my eyes.

It's the morning after a very good visit and examination with one of my ophthalmologists, Dr. Kevin Liu of Lansing (MI) Ophthalmology.  Fifteen years ago, he did cataract surgery on both of my eyes where he swapped my cloudy lenses for implants.

For seven years after I almost didn't need to use glasses.  Prior to the surgery, I was severely near-sighted and could hardly move without wearing them.  Then, it changed in 2007 when the lens implant in my right eye came loose.  It was explained to me that because of my near-sightedness, the implant didn't anchor to the tissue as well as it should.

Me
Me

Well, it happened four more times, including now, when one hook has come loose resulting in a variety of visual symptoms, including occasional double-vision.

Through the ophthalmology practice that I go to, I have been to, at least, nine different doctors, several of whom practice sub-specialties.  They are an incredible group of healers who have an amazing amount of knowledge, but I felt confused and frustrated with a feeling of being unable to pull it all together.  I was unsure about where I stood visually.  And, of course, the big question was, "Am I going blind?"

So, Dr. Liu invited me to sit down with him to discuss my case, my present status and my visual future.  Going into the examination and the meeting, I was unsure about the outcome.  Would I get my questions answered?

Well, I feel I did.  Bottom line, I'm not going blind given my 12 years of glaucoma treatment and management with them.  He pulled out my electronic file, showed me my visual field tests over that period of time, showed me my eye pressures and how they have gone down from the forties to 17 to 19 in both eyes.  He said my disease is being managed.

 

Dr. Liu shows me what happened to my lens implant.
Using this diagram, Dr. Liu shows what happened to my lens and what the surgical options are.

 It's progression has been slow and has resulted in optic nerve loss.  But because of my near-sightedness, my optic nerve is thicker than the average.  If I recall correctly what he said, this loss result in my glaucoma being described as advanced, but not the stage where my vision has deteriorated to a narrow tunnel.

What does this mean?  I have a very complicated set of eyes that need to be watched and managed and dealt with.  My eyedrops and my regular eye exams are key.  He said the number of dislocated lenses that I've had put me in an elite category of patients.

I thank God for my sight and for everything that I've seen in my lifetime.  I also thank Him for Lansing Ophthalmology and for Dr. Liu.  He's really important to me and to my visual future.


How are you or a loved one dealing with having glaucoma?

 

A picture of my eyes
My chronic open angle glaucoma is getting more complicated to deal with.

 

I'm happy that I didn't  have to have implant surgery on my right eye this morning.  The ophthalmoligist was going to implant a tube in that eye to help with draining fluid that raises the pressure in both eyes.  At the end of the tunnel, instead of finding light I could be staring at greatly reduced vision and blindness.

Late last week at a pre-op appointment, my eye pressure went down and the doctor suggested cancelling the surgery.  Meanwhile, I will go back more frequently for pressure checks.

My right eye and its problems have turned into an epic where there's drama with an imminent threat that arises for awhile and then hides behind the bushes.  

It all started with a diagnosis of cataracts at a younger age with surgery to replace my clouded over lenses with implants.  Seven years ago, one of those lenses fell inside my eye.  It had to be replaced and repositioned.  That was good for a few years and then it happened four more time.  In between, I had a retina detachment.

Now I'm facing the next chapter with one doctor saying that I had lost optic nerve and peripheral vision in the past year.  I've been to a variety of specialists who have tried to determine why the disease is worsening.

My challenge is decipering all the findings to determine what to do next.  I don't have one ophthalmologist who helps as a quarterback to lead me through the minefield of potential problems, as well as opportunities.

How about others with glaucoma, especially baby-boomers, especially those with more complications from the disease?  Are you left to figure out complicated diagnoses and treatments from a variety of sources by yourself?


Going to the next step in treating my chronic open angle glaucoma

 

Baerveldt
This resembles what they will insert into my eye. It will have drains to get rid of excess fluid in my eye. 

The pressure in my eyes has been creeping higher and higher.  Recent tests have shown that my optic nerve has thinned and that my peripheral vision has narrowed.  What does this mean?

I'm not totally sure, other than I might be nearing a hail Mary pass to reduce the pressure which threatens my vision.

Next is the surgical insertion of a drainage tube in my right eye called a Baerveldt glaucoma implant.  It's scheduled for the middle of next month.  It could work really well.  And there are chances that it may not.

I've got lots of questions and I'm trying to get answers.

How many more baby-boomers out there are struggling with the same issues?

 


I am entering another chapter in my journey with chronic open angle glaucoma

Last night, my wife and I went out for a night on the town where there was a trip to a local hospital for an MRI of my brain.  This was my third visit inside the tiny tube where my head was imaged to see if a menginoma tumor had grown.  

It's all part of a journey with my vision and my eyes that started with cataracts and then glaucoma.  Most recently, my eye examinations have shown that the glaucoma has progressed with my optic nerve getting thinner and a lessening of my peripheral vision.

 

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I'm "Thorp without an e". My bracelet from last night at the MRI

 

A highlight of this whole experience has been the times when the lens implant in my right eye would fall down and then have to be repositioned.  This happened four times and each time I had to have surgery to place it back in the right spot.  Along the way, I got a detached retina which had to be reattached on an emergency basis.

I've been to many different eye doctors who have their own specialties and I have gotten to know the people at the practice that manages my situation.

Now my situation appears to be going in a negative, sight threatening direction.  And I know that I have to be actively involved in its treatment.  

 

The State Christmas tree
We passed the Christmas tree in front of the State Capitol when we came home from the hospital last night.

 

I see two areas of personal concentration, one is my attitude where instead of freaking out about possibly losing vision, I gain strength in my faith that God is in control of all of this.  My attitude will be paramount.  

And the second is that I have the intellectual firepower to understand this, ask the right questions and make the right decisions.  

It's also important to note that my wife is with me on the front lines dealing with this and my kids and their families are an invaluable support group.

I will be back with more.


My day in iPhone pictures: Eye doctor, pumpkin spice, fluorescent lights, beet chips, raking leaves

My eyes were wide-open for most of the morning today and some of this afternoon.  Because of my chronic glaucoma and other eye problems, I'm a groupie at my ophthalmology practice.  It was a full exam today and that starts with getting my eyes dilated.

That meant that when my wife and I went grocery shopping after the appointment, my pupils were wide-open.  However, I was still able to give the camera on my iPhone some exercise.  It was an average day, but these still pictures make the ordinarrieness of the day pop with color.

 

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I'm waiting for my eyes to dilate while at the ophthalmologist's office. As a chronic glaucoma patient and one with other eye problems, I get my eyes checked real often.

 I'm a groupie at my ophthalmologist's office.  I get my eyes checked often  This comes after many surgeries and chronic glaucoma and cataracts.  Eyedrops are just part of my daily routine.

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My wife uses pumpkin pie spice to make lattes for us as a treat during the day. The price for a small container is memorable.

 While going down the spice aisle at Meijers on Lake Lansing Road in East Lansing, we found the pumpkin pie spice.  This small container was $4.79.  For our homemade pumpkin lattes at home, superwife makes her own spice. 

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When we go to the supermarket my vision seems off kilter and my left eye hurts. It's a sensitivity to the intensity of the fluorescent lights.

For the past several months, I've noticed that my eyesight  changes every time I walk in a store like Meijers or Sam's Club.  My eyes start to hurt like I have a low-grade headache.  Doctor says I probably have a sensitivity to that type of illumination.

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It was a first today at the supermarket when we bought beet chips. Have you ever had them?

 Red beet chips!  They just about jumped off the shelf when I saw them this morning.  I love red beets.  It's the first time we saw them.  Have you ever had them?  What did you think?

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After lunch at home, we raked and bagged the leaves in our front yard.

 When we got home, the leaves in the front yard shouted out to be raked.  We filled three bags.  This is an activity that will continue for the next next month or so.


My wrinkled retina, rising eye pressure and Walgreens drugstore

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This is the instruction sheet I got with the new eyedrops. Walgreens needs to make a change to make it more readable.

I noticed the changed in my vision when we drove to and from St. Louis where we visited our son and daughter-in-law.  Road signs were fuzzy until I got real close to them.  This doesn't happen everytime.  

This is the latest of my eye challenges which started with cataracts, a dislocated lens which had to be reinstalled several times, glaucoma and a detached retina.  I tried to ignore the fuzzed-up road signs thinking that it could be a dirty windshield or even dirty glasses.

On the way home when we were driving out of the city and when I was presented with a choice of multiple lanes to take, I knew it was my eyes.  However, I had a GPS with a big than usual monitor and I had my wife sitting next to me reminding me of the correct lane to take.

The diagnosis after visiting two different ophthalmologists this week was that I have a wrinkled retina.  This seems to be a by-product of several eye surgeries I had this past year.  At the same time, the pressure in my eyes increased.

The retina doctor said my wrinkles weren't bad enough to surgically repair them.  It's something that will be monitored.

In the meantime, my glaucoma doctor switched eyedrops.  I now take Zioptan when I go to bed and Timoptic in the morning.

When I picked it up from my neighborhood Walgreens pharmacy, I got an instruction sheet that contained several hundred words.  This is an eyedrop that can have harmful side effects and it's one that has to be handled in a certain way.

The problem is that the instructions are written in big long paragraphs and in a type that has to be eight points or less.  You think Walgreens would know better and make the type bigger.  I find it almost to difficult to read.

What about other baby-boomers with eye problems?  How are you working through the changes and the eyedrops?  Anybody else have a wrinkled retina?


How are you doing with your chronic open angle glaucoma?

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I've had chronic open angle glaucoma for a long time.  Eye drops and ophthalmologists have become part of my life.  I've been told over the years that my vision should be good as long as the disease is managed.

The effort has been a journey with lots of steps.  It started with cataracts that were removed and with lenses in my eyes replaced with ones that I wasn't born with.  Along with the high eye pressure, the lens in my right eye has fallen from its perch several times and I've had a retina detachment.  

My pressure during the past six months has been low until now.  It's high again which means I'm seeing more of my friends in the eye doctor's office.  

Meanwhile, my vision has shown signs of being out of whack and I'm not sure why.  What's next?  The glaucoma doctor seemed satisfied.  He said it might be my retina again.

There's another appointment tomorrow morning.  Glaucoma patients, how about you?  Is your glaucoma experience pretty steady without many bumps and grinds?  Has it been a roller coaster ride?

 

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This is the instrument used today to measure my field of vision.

 

 


The extra piece--a meningioma tumor--in my brain hasn't grown

 

This is me.
Two words--brain tumor--felt like a taser when I heard them.

I had heard stories about friends who had friends with brain tumors.  Some required people to feed them, while others could not see or talk in a way that made sense.

That's why when I heard a year-ago that I had a brain tumor, my heart skipped a few beats and my thoughts became focused like a laser.  It was all part of a series of experiences with my right eye where they lens in my right eye kept falling off its perch and it would be put back-up.  After the recovery, my vision was worse, instead of better.

I got a MRI which showed a 6 mm. meningioma on the back of the right side of the brain.  After that I went to a whole series of opthalmologists who had sub-specialties, including neurology.  The conclusion was that it was benign.  The next point of concern was whether it would grow.

Last Wednesday, I had a MRI and I got the results back this morning.  The medical assistant for my primary care provider said that the test found that it hadn't grown.  That's one item I can take off the worry list.  

What did I learn?  Life is fragile.  I know that I have one more big reason to praise God.  My anthem in the last year has been Matt Redman's song "10,000 Reasons." I have one more reason to praise his name and this is a big one.  

 


Glaucoma patients: Check out this method for putting in eyedrops from Dr. Robert Ritch

Do you or somebody in your family take eyedrops everyday for glaucoma, a disease where high eye pressure can lead to blindness?

Right now, I have three different drops that I take everyday to maintain a healthy eye pressure.  My visual future depends on me taking these medications.  This means that over the years I have had to learn how to instill the drops in a way that ensures their effectiveness.

It's easy to squeeze the eyedrop bottle and have them hit an eyelid or some other area where their effectiveness is diminished or lost completely.  My ophthalmologhist who diagnosed me never showed me how to do it.  I was handed the prescriptions and told to start using them.

That changed with a glaucoma specialist I started seeing this spring who at the first exam had me watch this video showing an easy method for doing this and for making sure that you hit the target.

I invite those who take these types of meds to watch this.  

  1. How does it compare to what you're doing now?  
  2. Have you felt confident that your drops are getting where they are supposed to go?  
  3. Did your doctor ever show you how to do it?

 

 


What have I learned from my "eye-journey" over the past seven months?

 

My wife at the eye doctor's
This is Gladys at my last eye appointment while waiting for the doc. She was checking her eyelids for holes.


I had days this winter when I wondered if this day would ever come where my eyes felt normal and my vision seemed almost perfect.  I got the answer this past Thursday when Gladys and I went for my appointment with Dr. Wolfe from Beaumont hospital who holds office hours in our town every other week.

He did the latest surgery on my errant right eye where the lens implant kept falling out of place and would lay on the bottom of the eye.  The surgery was complicated and it involved draining the vitreous out of my right eye and attaching the implant to the schlera of the eye.  This followed surgery a month before for a detached retina.  And I had two more surgeries before that.

My vision seemed really compromised and I was starting to wonder if it would ever come back.  I felt like I was in the wilderness and I wondered if I would ever cross the Jordan.  Well, I have.

The good news from the doctor's lips

Dr. Wolfe confirmed what I was already experiencing.  The lens implant was still in place, my vision was improving steadily and there still was no pain from the last surgery.  He said it was time to get a new prescription for my glasses.  

I felt almost in shock that this chapter in my heath experience was almost over.  Whether this lasts for a short or long time, I'm ready.

Continue reading "What have I learned from my "eye-journey" over the past seven months?" »


I think my vision is better after four heavy-duty eye surgeries in the last six months

 

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Here's a little something to hang on your wall. It's my right eye this past Friday.



I'm not sure yet about the outcome of my latest eye surgery--a vitrectomy--but, I think my vision is better.  To find out, I will see the ophthalmologist who did the surgery later this week.  

 

The problem is with my right eye where the lens has refused to stay in place and in the process of being repositioned in March, I discovered that I had a retinal detachment.  Throughout the past six months, I had plenty of symptoms which resulted in many visits to my regular ophthalmologist and eventually several more who had sub-specialties relating to the eye.

Along the way I had an MRI where it was discovered that I had a brain tumor that was benign and inconsequential to the function of my eye.

For any baby-boomers or others reading this who might be grappling with eye-problems, here's the latest:

What surgery did I have this past Tuesday at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak?

I had a vitrectomy on my right eye.  Now, I'm explaining this from my lay-person's understanding.  The vitreous fluid in that eye was drained.  Tunnels were made on each side of the schlera or white of my eye where the lens implant's hooks were placed.  Then saline solution was added to the eye to replace the vitreous fluid.  I have stitches and can still feel them everytime I blink.

How much pain do I have during the recovery?

This time there was very little, almost none.  I was given strict instructions about what to do and what not to do.  No lifting.  No bending from the waist.  No driving.  No flying.  I expect that will change at my next appointment later this week.

 

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I got my hair buzzed this week. Pretty easy to take care of.


How is the vision in my right eye after the surgery?

The doctor told me that it could take up to a couple of weeks for the fluid in my eye to settle down after the surgery.  The way he explained it during the exam the day after the surgery, my eye was like a snow globe that had been agitated with the particles floating around.  My right eye vision seems to be improving each day.  

Do I have any fears about what comes next with my vision?

Yes, I do.  Last March, as the doctors were getting ready to say that I had recovered and the lens had stayed in place, I got checked by a retina specialist who said I had a detachment that had to be repaired immediately.  Along the way, the lens loosened and fell back.  

What do I do with that fear?

I ask for God's help to trust him.  I could still lose vision in one eye or both, but I serve him and I will live with him in my next life.  I have that hope to grab onto.  Sometimes, my grip loosens, but I haven't let go.

What about all the people praying for me?

Thank-you.  Thank-you.  Thank-you.  I felt the prayer and the concerns while I was being rolled down the hall to the operating room and while I was in the recovery room.  My wife has never flinched from being at my side.  She reflects the love that has been given to her.  Thank-you God.

That's where I stand now with my vision.  I've learned a lot and will probably share more as I sort this out.


My notes from a week after my retina detachment surgery

It's been a few days more than a week since I had my retina detachment surgery at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak and today was my first major field trip.  What did we do?  We went to church and then to Culvers for lunch and then home.

Since the surgery, I've been limited to laying on my left side on the couch and while sleeping.  I was given the green light to get up for ten minutes out of every hour.  On Friday, my ophthalmologist gave me the go-ahead to sit-up, but still sleep on my left slide.

 

Palm Sunday at Ada Bible Church.
This was taken at church this morning with my iPhone. It was Palm Sunday and crowded.

 

What kept me sane during that time?  My wife for sure.  She's always encouraging and looking forward, but has the eyes of a cop.  She had a sense for whenever I shifted to the wrong position.

My MacBook Pro and my iPad also helped greatly.  Some mornings I woke up pretty early and I'd listen to devotions on the Our Daily Bread mobile app.  It's a few Bible verses with a story or illustration used to make a point.  I was motivated to play each devo several times along with the verses with the goal of seeing what I could take from it.

I would listen to their Bible study discussion called Discover The Word.  I listened to each day's programs for the month of February and March.  I would usually include a video from their Day of Discovery.  What great stuff.

 

My granddaughter's first oatmeal.
We got to see our granddaughter take her first bite of oatmeal in Bosnia where she and her family live.



 

On the secular side, I watched a screencast I subscribe to Screencast Online which provides tons of useful info about the Mac and its software.

I have more ophthalmologist's appointments for this week.  I feel like I'm getting better.  I hope that my eye verifies that.

That's the short version.  I will try to publish more bits and pieces as I walk through this experience.


How resilient will I be in bouncing back from a detached retina?

 

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Super-wife is really helping me move through this.

 

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Sitting on the throne this morning waiting for the doctor.

 Anybody who has followed the saga of my right eye on this blog will know the difficulties I've had during the past month where the lens came completely loose from its moorings and fell to the bottom of the eye cavity.

It has been a long month.  My wife and I were regulars at my ophthalmologist who I'd see as often as daily and occasionally I'd see somebody with even more specialized credentials.  

I went through long bouts of really poor sight and pain where I felt like demons were behind my eye shooting mini spear guns.  And all the time I took a variety of eye drops and other eye meds.

Yesterday, my cornea specialist was ready to sign off on me because of progress with my vision and with my pain.  I was ready to dance and sign going down the street in our neighborhood.  This chapter seemed to be coming to a conclusing.

Then I went to my retina specialst who said I had retinal detachment in my right eye and needed to be taken care off right away as in tomorrow.  As I was trying to work my way through the shock, I heard the word air bubble and that they would put one permanently in my troubled eye.

The recovery period can be long and it sounds uncomfortable.

But, my thoughts keep going back to a sermon series that we had at Ada Bible Church on The Resilient Life where lessons from the Bible were studied on how to deal with times in life when you get slapped down.  How do you get back up?  What do you do with you situation?  How can I use it?  Can I get back up?

I'm trusting that God has a plan with this and that I will resume my platform here in the near future. 


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.

 


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.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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.

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The cover comes off tomorrow.




Getting ready to start the day at the hospital

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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.