I could not believe I was having the surgery, until I was having the surgery. It was at that moment just before I walked into the operating room with my eye frozen, a THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING moment.
Even though I’d been told years before that a cornea transplant was the only treatment option for my Fuchs’ Dystrophy, I did not believe it. It would not happen to me, and I put it out of my mind. Was this a way to cope? Was it denial? I could not think about this surgery or all panic would break out inside of me.
The way they prepare you for a cornea transplant is pretty much the same way they prepare anyone who’s going to have cataract surgery. In the eye clinic they brought us in one-by-one, sat us in the big recliners, and prepared to give us medicine to relax and calm, and drops to clean and freeze our eyes. When I was brought into this room, I was sat down in the biggest recliner at the head of the two rows of recliners on either side and was told that I was the “Queen” that day. The only difference that I noted, was that I was prepared to receive intravenous sedation, and instead of getting drops to dilate my pupils, I was given drops to restrict them. When the surgeon and my cornea were ready, I was walked into the operating room and lay down on the operating table. The sedation was mild with the intention that I not fall asleep. I was to be able to say “stop” because I had to cough or sneeze. To my knowledge I was awake for the whole procedure and I looked up at ceiling watching the dancing light show before my eyes. Swirling, bright, sparkling jewels. At one point I felt a tremor go through me. The surgeon stopped and said something along the lines of “Don’t do that.” But I had to say I had no idea what had happened there. Possibly I fell asleep and jerked awake. Another thing they really don’t want you to do. Once the surgery was finished, I was wheeled out to lay in recovery for an hour. I’m pretty sure I slept then. When it was assessed that I could go home, my driver came, they wheeled me to the car, and I lay down in the seat as far back as it could go, keeping my head back and my chin pointed up when transferring.
In just thirty-five minutes, the transplant surgery was done.
What do you see when you are blind?
When I have imagined blindness, I have always thought that it would be dark. Black, like night, when you are fumbling to find the bathroom and there is no light. But the blindness that has enveloped me is light - a white fog that one day would white-out my sight like a blinding blizzard.
The condition that I have is known as Fuchs’ Dystrophy, a degenerative cornea disease for which there is no cure. There is limited treatment to manage the symptoms but those will not stop the eventual progression to blindness. The only way to prevent this blindness is with a cornea transplant. Last week, I became a cornea transplant recipient. The path to a new vision is now beneath my feet and I have taken the first step.
"Andante Grazioso" (Mozart Piano Sonata No. 11) Watercolour on Paper
This is the last painting I finished before my first cornea transplant surgery. It was inspired by Mozart's Sonata No. 11 as the title suggests. Can you feel the music in this piece?
Welcome to my vision journal.