Friday, November 6, 2015

Mom's New Eyes

My mom has had TERRIBLE vision almost her entire life. She is a -14, which means that if perfect vision is 20/20, she sees 20/1400. Basically, she sees nothing but a big blur without seeing much of anything when she isn't wearing her contacts or glasses. (Our family optometrist, Dr. Wilson, said that an average prescription for someone who is nearsighted is a -3, so that should give you an idea of how bad my mom's vision has been most of her life.)

Four years ago Mom was at an eye exam when she discovered that cataracts had started growing in her eyes (cataracts are a clouding of the lens). Cataracts are usually relatively slow-growing (my grandma has had cataracts for over 20 years and can still see well enough with them), but my mom's grew rather rapidly. This past July my mom found out that the cataract in her right eye was "ripe," meaning that it was to the point where it was time to operate to remove the cloudy lens and insert an artificial lens. (And when they do one eye, they usually do the other eye, too, although they never do surgery on both eyes at the same time.) This meant Mom was in for two eye surgeries.
When my mom went to see an ophthalmologist and found out all that having these cataract surgeries would entail, she burst into tears! She panicked thinking about how in the world she would be able to make the logistics of everything work, knowing that it would require a lot of help from others. My mom would need to have three doctor's appointments before and/or after each surgery, and would have lifting restrictions after each surgery, too, where she wasn't supposed to bend over or lift more than 20 lbs for one week after the surgery. (This was a big deal since Mom is my main caregiver and does a lot of my care by herself, which includes a lot of lifting. I know I'm not that big, but a lot of the things my mom does in regards to my care involves lifting more than 20 lbs.) Mom also had to stop wearing her contacts after this initial appointment with the ophthalmologist, so that her corneas could revert to their normal shape. That meant no driving, either, since she couldn't see well enough to drive in her glasses.

Mom had her first surgery at the end of August, and the second one at the beginning of October. They both went really well. One of the perks of having cataract surgery is that the doctor can replace the cloudy lens with an artificial lens that is the exact prescription that your vision is. In my mom's case her vision was SO poor that the doctors said it was basically a crap shoot narrowing down the exact prescription, and he just had to make his best guess at what would work best. Mom had been wearing monovision contact lenses for 25 years, where one lens is for close-up vision, and the other is for distance. My mom really liked wearing them, so she decided to have her doctor do artificial monovision lenses.

The worst thing about mom's surgery was having to rely on other people's help, even more than we already do. Mom and I hate asking others for help! (Why is asking for help so hard for so many people?!) Mom and I would much rather be the ones offering  to help someone else, instead of the ones receiving help.) When Mom came home from her initial appointment with the ophthalmologist and she told me about all the extra help we'd be needing, I prayed and asked the Lord to please provide someone to be there to help us every step of the way, and He definitely did. He always has these past 12 years that we've been needing helpers.

My sister Chandra was able to take family leave from her job, and would come over to take Mom grocery shopping each week. She also drove us to a couple of my doctor's appointments, and Chan also stayed with me when Mom had both of her surgeries. She was a great help! My mom's friend, Bethany, offered to drive Mom to all of her doctor's appointments, and my friends Kellie, Lacee or Heather came to stay with me when Mom went to her appointments. Our friend Laura drove us to church each week and helped with some of my personal care, too, when my mom needed to take it easy on lifting.

Mom is loving her new eyes now that she's all healed from the surgeries. She is seeing better than she has in decades! At her one week post-surgery checkup, the eye doctor told her that she is seeing 20/25. That's amazing, considering what her vision was a few months ago. It had really deteriorated this year and had gone from terrible to...worse than terrible! (It was bad with her contacts, and really bad with her glasses, which is all Mom had been able to wear since mid-July.) Mom says that it's SO nice to be able to wake up in the middle of the night and be able to see what time it is. She's loving her new eyes and is so pleased with how everything went. She needs reading glasses to see/read at close distances since her eyes were so poor to begin with, but other than that she is seeing nearly perfectly without glasses or contacts. Modern advancements in technology and medicine make miracles happen!

Mom had to wear these big sunglasses that blocked out a lot of sunlight for a week after each surgery. For some reason Chandra was quite envious of Mom's shades, so when Mom had her second surgery, she got a pair for Chandra (who was thrilled). Here they are modeling their glasses:
I had to try them on, too, and we even made Christian give them a try:
Not only did Mom come home with awesome shades; she also came home with a couple of wicked bruises! (From the IVs.)
Mom decided to give her old glasses to our family optometrist, Dr. Wilson, because she takes frequent mission trips to Haiti to provide exams and eyeglasses to people there who are too poor to afford them. She's always happy to get old glasses from people like my mom who have extremely poor vision, because there are people in Haiti that have vision that poor, and glasses with a prescription like this old pair of Mom's are hard to come by! The picture below isn't very good, but it shows Dr. Wilson (right) with the woman she fitted with my mom's old glasses.
Above are a gargantuan, ugly and out of style pair of Mom's old glasses from the 1980's that she recently found. We sure got a kick out of seeing Mom in these glasses again. Why this style was ever popular, I'll never know!

After Mom's surgery(s), her doctor took a picture with her, and then sent a thank you in the mail. The picture on the right is from Mom's first surgery, and the picture on the left is from the second. Mom didn't know that she would be photographed the first time, but when she went back for the second surgery, I told her to give a big thumbs up to the woman taking the picture. As you can see from the picture, Mom did just that!


Barton Levesque said...

I am glad that cataract surgery is available now as an option for people. Many men and women have had to have this type of surgery done and it completely restored their vision. It is good that your mom had the support of family and friends. Asking for help is not always easy but sometimes we find we get lots of support.

Barton Levesque @ Glenmore Vision Center

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