Friday, March 28, 2014

Transplant complete: no vision for many months


Today is the day after my cornea transplant.  What a journey this has been.  After waiting for 6 months to have the surgery, it finally happened.    I have been without any vision in my left eye, aside from being able to see light and darkness an occasional fuzzy shape, for almost 18 months.  I had adjusted to sight in only one eye, and at times during my wait, struggled with the idea of even taking the donor cornea, feeling that I could make due without it.  Making due, however, isn't all that God has for me, so at 6:30am yesterday I registered as patient #4 at the Wheaton Eye Clinic. 

I can't even begin to count the number of prayers that were being offered up on my behalf prior to and during my surgery.  Every single one made a difference.  I woke yesterday with such a calm  'blessed assurance' that it could only have been from God.  I even found myself praying for Scott that he wouldn't worry about me and for patients #1-3 who checked in prior to me once we got to the Surgery Center. 

They called me back and began the pre-op protocol.  The hairnet, the warm blankets (those are the best part...) and the IV.  Then the eye drops began...lots of drops.  I had no sedation and no calming meds at this point, but my relaxed demeanor was heaven sent.  At the prompting of a sweet girlfriend, I kept replaying the verse from the familiar hymn "turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace"
It was perfect because suddenly nothing mattered but Him. 

As the surgeon came in, I remember her telling Scott and I how beautiful the donor cornea was.  My only concern was knowing where it came from.....a clue to this mystery family we'd been praying for over the past month.  All she knew was that it was from a 54 year old who had died of a massive heart attack.  Thankfulness swept over me and as I was wheeled into surgery my prayer changed.

I was awake for the surgery.  I had numbing drops and shots all around the eye to block the pain.  I felt some of it but I kept fading in and out as I dreamed of my precious kids, my amazing Scott and my donor.  I felt the stitching of the new cornea in place (see the tiny stitches in the photo above) and the final step was the worst, two shots directly in the eye to curtail rejection. 

What a journey, I sill have no sight, it will take months for this donor cornea to work in tandem with my eye, but I have no pain.  Tonight I am tired, incredibly grateful for my huge circle of amazing friends, my family, my mom who is taking care of two of my kiddos, my right hand assistant Abby, my adoring husband, a family who I have never met who lost their dear loved one this week, and the possibility of seeing a blade of grass again this summer.   Thank you for all of your support as I recover.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Time for the transplant.

In five days my life will be forever intertwined with someone I've never even met...and I'm nervous.
Organ donation is a beautiful concept that represents the amazing promise of returning a damaged body back to its original state.  For me it represents the promise of sight!  The chance to see things with depth again instead of in only two dimensions through a single eye.

It's a gift...but I have to be honest, not just to you, but to myself for those days far into the future when I reflect back on this spot in my journey...once this is all over and the details are washed out to sea like sandcastles covered by salty ocean water at high tide. 

I'm preoccupied with wondering about, worrying about, and praying for my cornea donor.  I wake up thinking about him or her....wondering if they are suffering or if they have a family who will be lost without them.  I wonder what that cornea has I watch the news and hear about shootings and child molesters and tremendous humanitarians,  I wonder who will be the original owner of my cornea.  Will my donor have known Christ?  Will they be sure of their salvation? Are they still alive today or have they already died?

As I dig through these layers and get to the root of my preoccupation, it is dawning on me that this gift doesn't have to be one sided.  Just as the cornea is offering me the chance to see my world again with new depth, I have the opportunity to cover strangers with prayer.  I will be able to reach out to this donor family some day and give them a visual connection with their loved one.  My gift will not be an organ that is hidden deep in my body beneath tissues and bones, it will cover the surface of my eye.  The tissue that will cover my iris, or colored part of my eye, a clear dome, that will be outwardly visible.
Whether this cornea is coming from a beloved father of small kids who has lived a sacrificial life, a teenager who was killed in a drunk driving accident whose life was cut way to short, or a convicted felon serving life in prison looking for one good decision to redeem a life destroyed by bad choices, I need their help.  Thank you God for the promise that on March 27th, 2014 there will be a donor eye hand selected for me and the promise of a new family that I will be forever indebted to.