I saw the cornea specialist in Jacksonville on Tuesday. We have not made a final decision yet--he wants to look at my more recent records, which I didn't have copies of. These include a scan of both eyes, which is important to me because the scan of the left eye shows some things that he isn't able to see because of the corneal damage in that eye. I would like to have both eyes done, but he may recommend leaving the left alone since it is "quiet." He said the right eye is a very good candidate, but he wants to wait on making a decision to ensure that there are not other things that need to be taken care of first. The right retina is partially detached, and naturally he wants to be sure that this is an unchanged problem.
Once he has my records from Dr. Trese and the retina specialist here in Florida, we will talk by phone and make a final decision about what to do. The biggest barrier is funding. They can set it up at a hospital that takes Medicaid, and since the hospital arranges for the purchase of the cornea Medicaid would probably cover that cost. That would leave me the doctor's fee, which is very expensive. I am contacting the Lions Club here to see what the chances are that they may help me with this. I'm also researching other options.
I am extremely impressed with this doctor! He asked a lot of questions about what my expectations were, what my visual functioning was like after my transplants (when the cornea was still clear), etc. He explained the risks to me but didn't use them to discourage me. This is a very new procedure, and he has done only a handful of them. However, they have been on people who (like myself) have multiple eye problems, and the results have so far been positive for everyone. His main concern was that I understand that the potential for improvement is limited because of the damage to other parts of my eye--yes, I do very much understand this, and my expectation is to get the most out of whatever I do have to work with in both eyes if possible.
There are some other interesting things worth noting about this doctor. His office is not busy--his solo practice is very new, and he schedules patients far enough apart so that he can take time to answer questions. He comes out into the waiting area and greets people, sees them off, etc. The sighted friend who went with me was very impressed with the decor--she has other disabilities and has a lot of experience with doctor's offices, and she said the decor made her feel very relaxed. I'll bug her for a description that I can post because I think it would interest some of you. What impressed me most is that his office manager told me one of the reasons he established the solo practice instead of continuing to work through the university of Florida is that he wanted to have control over the way he worked with patients and not rush them. He really seems to have a heart for helping people who are at the end of their treatment options, and he wanted the freedom to do just that. I think my experience would have been very different if he had still been at the university. I would have been just as impressed with his treatment of me as a partner in the decision-making process, understanding of low vision issues (something very rare for a cornea specialist), and his bedside manner; but I wouldn't have had the opportunity to see that this is really his passion. The fact that I've seen that makes me a lot more comfortable, and I have never felt so relaxed in an eye exam setting!
There's something that I need to talk about... I'm kind of afraid to talk about this, afraid it will sound fake or fanatical or something. I'm afraid because of the discussions we've had on MOL about people being hurt at healing services, afraid that healing is just too sensitive a topic for people. But I also know that God heals and that the fact that it doesn't happen all the time doesn't make it not true, and I know I need to talk about what has happened to me. I don't understand it all, but I know I can't not talk about it.
I think what I'm going to do is post some stuff that's already written about the 1992 experience. It might be repetitious, but I need to set the stage for what I'm going to talk about.
I and my classmates were quite naive but used the buzz words of the Christian faith with ease. I found that often portions of the Bible were quoted out of context. One night in February, 1991, as a group of girls from my dorm were holding a discussion in my room, a girl stated that healing was an experience which naturally followed salvation. I could feel my face redden with anger. The implication of her statement was that if I was really saved, I would have been healed of my blindness! Who was she to judge me, and where had God promised this? If she was right, then what was wrong with me? I was a good girl. I prayed often--even several times a day. I didn't always read my Bible, but I didn't know anyone who did. I didn't say hurtful things. I never questioned whether Jesus died to save me. But I was blind!
Desperate for understanding, I challenged her statement. "Maybe God doesn't always heal," I said. "I was born early, and I'm alive. That's the miracle He gave when my parents prayed."
"Are you sure your parents didn't just say, 'As long as You let her live?'" she asked.
Anger erupted inside me. My parents' instruction was the foundation of my faith. How could she tear that foundation down by questioning their faith? She didn't even know them! I was deeply troubled. What if all that my parents had taught me was wrong? What if I was not really a Christian? What if my parents had never really prayed with faith for my healing? I consulted my pastor, my uncle, my professors... I even started reading the Bible excessively, searching desperately for the truth about healing. In April, I summoned my courage to ask God to heal me. I became convinced that I had heard a promise in my mind, and I began to believe that He would heal me in time. I tried to believe that healing could come at any time, but I struggled with feelings of disappointment and doubt. In July, 1991, I discovered the passage in the ninth chapter of John where Jesus tells the disciples that the reason that a man was born blind was so that the work of God could be displayed in him. I knew that Jesus had then heale the man, but I tried to content myself with the idea that the work of God did not have to be healing. It could be anything that brought other people into His Kingdom. However, when I lost my vision that year, I began to find reading the Bible very difficult, especially when it led to reading about someone who had been healed. My idea for self-soothing had failed.
Why would God want me to be blind? Why wouldn't He want the best for me? Why would He want me to have a disability which would prevent me from accomplishing tasks that other people take for granted--a disability which forced me into a role of dependence on other people who, more often than not, would rather not be bothered or who treat me as an inferior being worthy only of pity and patronizing compliments about how brave I am? And if this wasn't what He wanted for me, then why did He allow it? He is my Father. Wouldn't every father in his right mind want the very best for his child?
As I asked myself these questions during the weeks following the reappearance of the gray curtain, I continued attending classes at Anderson University, where I was preparing for music ministry. Strangely, one of my classes was called "Christian Understanding of Human Experience." Taught by Don Collins, the campus pastor, sessions often felt more like a large discussion group than a class. This was the primary reason why I enjoyed the class. On October 23, the discussion met me where I was.
"Why should we believe in God?" Don asked. The room was silent--most of us were still thinking about the subject matter academically. Don was not. He began to tell us about a former student who had dome into his office one day with a complaint. She could not concentrate in her Bible class. He asked if anything important had happened to her recently.
"How did you know?" she asked. She began to tell him her story. While walking to the grocery store, her father was hit by a drunk driver. At the hospital, she prayed, believing what several verses promise: that whatever she asked in Jesus' name she would receive.
Her father died.
"I really don't believe there is a God," she told Don.
Tears filled my eyes, and I fought to keep them inside. I began to shake uncontrollably, and I heard no more of the discussion. I knew only that I understood why she had been struggling. Why did God take away my remaining vision when I had prayed specifically for healing? It wasn't enough that I didn't get healed. He had to take away the little I had. What kind of God was this that I devoted my life to? Was He even there?
On January 23, 1992, I decided to tell God once and for all how I felt. I had been attempting to read through the New Testament, but it seemed that every time I began reading, I was reading about people who had been healed. By this day, I had finally had enough. Was healing available today or not? If not, then I didn't want to read about it. If so, then I didn't want to believe in a God who obviously didn't think I was good enough to deserve it. I threw down my braille Bible and started typing in my journal file on my computer. I unleashed all the desires I had hidden for the previous six months while trying to convince myself that God would use me as I was and that the desire for healing was a stumbling block placed in the way of my spiritual growth by Satan. I released all the pain which had been building since the doctor's admission that he didn't believe that lowering the pressure in my eye would lead to the return of my vision.
The desire won't leave me, Lord. I don't know why. I don't know whether it is a stumbling block or not. I don't want to focus on it--I have been over this and over it and over it before; what else can I say? But I have to ask You for it. ... I remember writing in April that I heard You say You would heal me. Please don't let me hear in vain. Tell me I didn't hear wrong. This IS the desire of my heart, and it will not leave me. ... I want to believe You can do this. I really do. I want You to do it, if You will. I don't know how much faith I have in Your ability to do it.
Immediately after writing those words, I lifted up my head--and gasped. How could my mind play such evil tricks on me? Or had my roommate really left the reading light on over her desk? I crossed the room and held my hand under the lamp. It was warm.
Unsure whether to be excited or confused, I called Angi at the campus box office, where she was working for the afternoon. "I don't know what to think of this," I told her.
After I finished the story, Angi suggested that I accompany her to a Bible study led by the pastor of her small Charismatic church. Although I was not entirely comfortable with aCharismatic churches, I agreed to go, thinking that perhaps I could gain some understanding of what was happening to me.
We arrived at the pastor's home after dark. I approached the house hesitantly. As I neared the door, I saw a light in the window. Just like the lights in the hallway at the hospital, that lamp showed me that I was not dreaming. God had answered my doubt by building my faith. Over the next few days, my vision continued to improve. By January 26, it was once again useful for locating doorways and large objects which could serve as landmarks. Over the next few months, I experienced periods of extreme light sensitivity which were followed by clearing of my vision. After each of these periods I would notice that there were a few minor improvements in what I could see. One evening in April, I identified the color pink, something which I had not done since childhood. In May, 1992, I saw the doctor again. Despite the improvements in my vision, my pressure remained dangerously high. I was referred to a glaucoma specialist in Houston who confirmed this fact. "You need to have surgery as soon as possible," he stated flatly. Shocked, I questioned him. "But my vision is fine," I protested. "With your pressure at this level," he acknowledged gravely, "you could lose that vision at any time." The surgery was done one week later, on June 8. It was supposed to be a measure which preserved my remaining vision. The doctor did not anticipate improvement. My vision improved.
here's something I left out of the book that maybe I shouldn't have left out. This is so scary for me to talk about! It feels very ... I don't even know the word.
On that day in January, 1992, when I was praying, I started writing again after I saw Angi's light on. I wrote about recognizing that I had a lack of faith, and I wrote about my feelings and questions concerning how I would explain things to people if/when God healed me. Then I wrote, "I feel something in my left eye for the first time..." To be honest, I actually attributed this to feel-good mentality, something like the placebo effect. I wanted God to heal both eyes, so I "felt something." And I dismissed the experience.
Well, after my surgery in June, my right eye was patched for a few days. No big deal except that I kept seeing light and even some very large objects. I tried hard to write that off, but I knew I couldn't see well enough to be seeing out from under the bandage. That left only two answers. Either I was crazy, or I had vision in my left eye. The eye hadn't been examined when I was a little girl unless it was painful, but it was well documented that I had never seen out of it. However, beginning in 1994, I had fairly consistent results with light and object perception in the doctor's office. In 2000, when they took my stitches out after the first cornea transplant, my right eye was patched again with tape all around. The nurse brought a wheelchair in, but I thought she hadn't gotten it yet. But I pointed to it and asked, "Is that my chair?" And I got up and got in it.
My old childhood eye reports say that my left retina is completely detached. Six months ago, I had a scan of both eyes which showed partial attachment in both eyes. This week at the doctor's office, I saw hand motions better with the left eye than with the right. He's wanting to see my scan and Dr. Trese's report before making a tecision.
I understand now that what happened to me is real and that I have a verifiable change shown in medical evaluations. And I understand that I need to testify to God's work in my life. I am just afraid of being perceived as crazy or that maybe people won't believe me. But I also know that people don't have to believe me in order for God's truth to be proclaimed. I just want Him to complete whatever this is He's doing in me.