Friday, June 8, 2012

Was Blind But Now I See

Today as I was packing my office desk, I found three pair of tweezers. All in different drawers. I have two pair in the car glove box. I'm excited to pack our bathroom.

Confession: because no one was at the school today except me, I went into the well-lit bathroom, looked around, looked under, took a newly found pair of tweezers out of my pocket and plucked away! Hahahaha.... the light in that bathroom is awesome! And since I have terrible eyesight, which I'll get into later, I need all the light I can get.

Is it a mute point though? Mormons believe that when we are resurrected, which is a gift we will all receive, we will get our bodies back "in the twinkling of an eye." Everything will be restored to it's perfect form...not a hair will be lost. For some people, they are really looking forward to that day (my brothers). However, I want to know if that means I will have a full head of hair (and I mean top, chin, sideburns, mustache..all of it) because if I don't tweeze, wax or in some way kill/extract my "extra" hair (and have since I was 12), people will think Big Foot lives in #14. I'd rather not appear on Good Morning America as the Sasquatch from Utah.  (My sisters and I have made pacts that if one of us was in a coma, the rest would be sure to pluck their chin hairs for them and wax their mustache. No need to look like an old Chinese man with ten rogue white whiskers while you lay there.)

Face it - the reason I don't have a fancy car is that I have spent THOUSANDS of dollars on electrolysis, laser treatments, wax strips...etc, 387 pair of tweezers....still, at my resurrection, I really hope there is a request form that let's us check the things we want to keep and the things we'd rather not get back.

I'll keep my sturdy German bones. I used to be so strong. I've never wanted to be stick skinny. 
I'll keep my hands...they are my mothers hands. 
I'll keep my back, I've never had back problems, knock on wood.
I'll keep my laid back ears, my eyebrows, nose, and hair color, circa 1976. 


You can have the chin hairs and the Martin Scorsese eyebrow back. (singular)
I want my 14 year-old boobs back. 
I want my 25 year-old calves back, minus the spider veins.
I want my 31 year-old Phen-Phen body back. I had a chin then. And hip bones.
I'd like my 4 year-old eyelashes back.
I'd like my 8 year-old shiny hair back.
I'd like to be able to sneeze without thinking "should have worn a cotton pony."
I'd like to be able to walk up the stairs and hear myself think over my crackling knees. If Andy is behind me, he has to whistle or sing over the noise because it's a little like "Whistler's Mother" minus mother...just the rocking chair creaking against a wooden floor...only it's coming from my knees!

Most of all...

I want my eyesight back. It's starting to get me in trouble. I have the eyes of an 80 year-old woman. Today someone waved at me from a distance and I waved back, tentatively as if to say "hello...whoever you are." Sorry if that was you.

When I was just months old, one of my great aunts gave me an indian blanket because she thought I looked like a little Native American baby. I have really dark eyes. Black I'd say...not like "The Grudge" black but...close. My sisters all have warm rich sparkling brown tones. Mine are like cold tar. When I was on my mission in Thailand, investigators used to ask me if my father was Thai. (I usually said he was a Japanese Sumo wrestler to which they would cock their heads back and say "Aaaah... that explains everything." ???)

The darker your eyes are, the more pigment you have, the more likely you are to have your retinas fall off. There you go. Don't say I never taught you anything.

So one day back in 2002, or 3? I felt as if I was going blind. There was a dark moon-shaped shadow moving down my eyeball and I was quickly losing sight in my left eye. It was as if someone was pulling the blinds closed. Something inside of me said "call Dr. Taylor" and within 6 hours I was having retina surgery at the Moran Eye Center in Salt Lake. Dr. Taylor had taken a cataract out of that same eye about six months earlier.

They don't mess around with retinas. If you let it go too long it won't reattach itself. But mine was barely torn. They went into my eye, ironed the falling flap back up, put in a gas bubble, burned it in place and that was it. Because the tear was on the top, the gas bubble would rise, pressing the retina back into place until it dissolved. I didn't have to do much but keep my head out of the path of any flying balls, fists, or set pieces. I laid low for 24 hours until I had to build a wedding cake for some friends, and I got food glitter in my eye. For 10 minutes until the glitter had dissolved, I thought I was going to die. Turns out even food glitter can cut your eyeball. (Shout out to the WHEN cast!)

Forward to 2009, the day of the St. George Marathon. We were standing at the finish line (not because we had just run through it!'re funny) cheering my brothers on from the bleachers as they crossed it. I thought the sun was so bright. Unusually bright. I was trying to open my eyes wider but I couldn't. It seemed like I was going blind in my right eye, only this time, there was a lightning storm going off inside my head. There were thousands of small black "flies" swarming around in the air in front of me. Turns out I was just looking through loose blood cells. 

Because there is no retina surgeon in residence in St. George (WE NEED ONE!) my eye doctor said we would need to drive to Vegas as fast as we could get there, the tear was very close to the macula. The nurse called my current insurance and they said, "We will not cover an out-of-state surgery." Even though, it would only take me 90 minutes to get to Vegas and 4 1/2 hours to get to Salt Lake. Nor would they cover any doctors at the Moran Eye Center. Ah, modern insurance. We would have to wait until the next morning when the IHC doctors in Salt Lake were working. They assured me that if I took it easy, the tear would/could not get any worse. But by the time I arrived in Salt Lake, the tear had crossed the macula and I was completely blind in that eye, at that point. Because the tear was so bad, the new doc inserted a gas bubble behind my eye that would push the tear flat and, hopefully, encourage the two halves to be whole again. 

I was commanded to lay on my belly and looked down for two weeks. Not kidding. I had to keep that air bubble up against the rip. The doctors were afraid that the altitude in St. George would burst the bubble. So, my good sister Paula borrowed a massage table from a friend and I spent 24/14 looking at the carpet in the guest bedroom at my parent's house. BUT...I could SEE the carpet. The table was wooden, so my hips were screaming out...sleeping was nearly impossible, but I could see. I found ways to use my laptop on the floor and my cute nephew and I watched cartoons on Netflix for two weeks. He had a black eye at the time as three year-old boys often do, and the matching "ow-ees" bonded us.

At the end of the two weeks, it was discovered that the gas bubble hadn't worked. The tear wasn't sealed. So I went back to another doctor, another surgery, to put a silicone ball in my eye which would need to be removed (surgery three) in three months. But I didn't have to look down. And I wasn't blind. Because it took me so long to get into a doctor I lost a lot of peripheral vision, and 3-D movies are lost on me, but I still wear the glasses for Andy. He says it's not that cool anyway.

Imagine knowing how to put the human eye B.A.C.K. T.O.G.E.T.H.E.R. Imagine it! Spending eight years or twelve in school to learn how to put a retina, one of the smallest tissues in the body, back together to save someone's eyesight! Who thought that up? Who was the first guy to cut into an eyeball? To care enough about eyesight to go to Harvard or Standford or wherever expensive and get good grades to boot! I'm so grateful. I asked my first retina doctor why he chose to specialize in such a specific body part and he said "Great payoff. Restoring eye sight is pretty important, I guess."

Ya think?

Next time you are walking through nature, or watching a play, enjoying artwork, sunsets or just tweezing your chin hairs in a well-lit bathroom, think about how crazy amazing the human eyeballs are! When I think about all the people in the world that doubt the existence of God, I just have to think about the eyeball. Only someone omniscient could figure that out.

When I think about it, I get all teary-eyed. God gave us all a few million things to see too. Summertime in St. George brings in multitudes of flowers, those national parks, the extra long days and time to enjoy them a little. I just want to tell Him "thanks for the eyeball" - that was a pretty keen invention on His part. How did He know we would need our eyes so much? Because He needs His to watch over us every day.

I know. Woot! The eyeball! So cool.

All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty
Who has made all things well.

Cecil Frances Alexander