I can’t wait to be August. Soon it will be August, and my future will be bright. Do you know how many drafts I have in my box? I think i have at least 7… More
I had the operation.
Tomorrow will be the second week since I had it done and I feel very good. Now, I can see with both eyes, no need to cover my right eye to read the fine prints. The next time I see my doctor that is to confirm the final prescription I will need for my reading glasses.
The last post Do Not Wait Too Long was all about my right eye that is 90 percent blind. When I went to the ophthalmologist in Izmir, in Turkey, to have new glasses prescribed the doctor discovered I have something in my eyes the translator cannot translate in English, and I didn’t press on. The specialist just told me I am 60 percent blind and he can correct it very easy. That was in April 2017.
A little over a year, I felt I completely lost my eyesight because all I can see are bright lights behind a smoke screen. The moment I become mobility independent, I decided to do something about it.
A day at the beach
As I promised my niece, we will go and have a vacation at the beach before classes start in July, I confirmed we will go the weekend after my surgery.
30th June, I was sitting in the verandah of my friends resort in Saryaya, Quezon Province, 2.5 hours away from my dad’s place in San Pedro, Laguna. Tomorrow will begin the second half of 2018 and I am officially back to my old self and can say my disability journey is complete.
Is it really, how?
Aside from my physical injury and temporary disability I also had a visual impairment that I chose to ignore until it cannot be ignored anymore and finally decided do something about it.
I noticed that my right eye cannot see anything anymore, even as close as an inch into my face. All I can see are the lights behind a smoke screen. In spite of that, I still took my sweet time to seek medical help. Part of it was my injury, and the other part was fear.
Early June I sucked it up and went to seek professional help and was told that my vision could be restored. But was told what I have is the type of cataract well beyond my age – it was for those over the age of 70.
I breath easy!
For years I was able to fool myself that I have good vision and the changes in grade were associated with age, which is a normal progression of life. I wore fancy looking glasses and life went its merry way.
Last year was no different. I knew I have a problem, but I still didn’t do anything to change my situation. I wanted it done in the Philippines, and I convinced myself that we have better treatment procedures and I was not wrong except the timing.
The father of telescope.
A fitting name for the center that took care of my eye surgery, aided with the latest technology to make the operation and healing as painless as possible with very little to no inconvenience, getting you back on your own as soon as possible.
They correct the windows to the soul and restore them to its former glory.
My sister was the one who told me about the center. She was the only person that knew I have such problem. The Salesian nuns used Galileo’s services and had nothing but good words to say on the quality of care they do including the doctors.
I also found out from my orthopedic doctor that they are one of the oldest eye centers around, he knows because his wife is an ophthalmologist but specializes in glaucoma management.
Right place wrong age
When I visited the center, I was greeted pleasantly by their staff and made comfortable as I wait for my turn to be seen by the consultant. The streams of people coming in the center peaked at mid-day for consult and follow-up, but all of them are way over the age of 60, I felt out of place.
I chatted one of them that had the surgery the week before and was there for follow-up. She was gushing to tell me how clear her vision is and it’s getting better every day. She asked me back and was surprised that I am a patient and that I may have a cataract, but despite that, she assured me that I am in good hands – the doctor, the services, and the outcome and wished me well.
That conversation boosted my confidence until I was called to be seen by the doctor, I was ready to accept whatever the outcome is. It was confirmed, I have a cataract, but it’s the type commonly seen in older patients, those over the age of 70.
It was really hard to tell how I got cataract at this age but he attributed it to the kind of work I do and nothing on the lifestyle I maintain. I was assured that it can be reversed and will have my vision restored immediately after the surgery and they were not kidding.
All it took was fifteen minutes
That was the case from the moment they numbed my eyes, extracted the cataract and inserted the IOL it was done in a quarter of an hour.
The preparation was like delivering a baby – they waited for my pupil to dilate which needed four drops before they ushered me to the ER. It took longer than the actual operation.
I was seated in what looks like a dental chair and hooked up to different monitoring machines and oxygen.
Once done, headphones with music were placed over my ears to relax me until I heard the doctors shuffling, talking over my head giving information on what they are doing in my eye. All of that while I continue to relax with gospel music first, followed by instrumental music which was more the kind I like.
The fifteen minutes began after they cleaned my eyes and anesthesia was administered. I tensed up when I started hearing a buzzing sound on top of the music playing in my ear. My fingers started playing air piano, and the nurse holds my hand until the operation was done.
While they work on my eye, I keep seeing two red squares in front of me. The red squares after a few minutes started to have a yellow hue around it and I started to see my doctor from my peripheral vision and was told the damaged lens was out.
The moment of truth followed – my doctor was talking while he inserted the plastic IOL and as it happens, the red square with some shades of yellow suddenly had defined dots inside the box. It was like looking at a beehive, and it was so bright. I felt good and relaxed because I knew then that my vision was restored. And that was it!
I just needed to wait for the anesthesia to wear off, and I am good as new.
Like nothing happened
I went back to my hotel and slept the anesthesia off. I have to wear protective glasses but no more eye patch. If you didn’t know you will not think I had eye surgery. I slept for the rest of the day and worked up as if nothing happened. Felt no pain, it felt good.
Couldn’t believe that just hours earlier I cannot see when I close my left eye, so I kept trying to close it to make sure that the right eye can see. There was no reason for me to skip my friends “concert” because there were no complications.
The first thing I asked my doctor after he gave me post-op care is whether I can watch concerts and he said yes. I was told that I could do everything from using computers, watching TV and using mobile phones but no washing of the eyes for a week and no swimming for a month.
I ended the night feeling happy I watched my friends concert, and as soon as I woke up I declared I can see NOW!
I invite you to click the photo and listen to Side A band, the only local band I like back in the days.
Fear is only powerful in darkness. When you bring your fears to My light, they lose their fangs.
Be strong, do not fear; I will come to save you.
I Am your Light,
I recently had confirmation about my impending surgery in the coming days.
It will be a minor procedure that shouldn’t take 30 minutes from prep to post-op, but I am still worried, this will be the second surgical procedure I will have in less than 6 months. But I surrender everything to God, he will take away my fear and replace it with courage so I can go through with this new challenge and come out victorious.
THE problem I have was old news. It was discovered back when I was in Turkey during a random check. I was not alarmed because I didn’t feel any different. I thought I can wing it until I am ready to face it. When the doctor asked me if I want something done to it immediately, I said I’ll wait until I go home to the Philippines. In my mind, I will feel more comfortable talking to someone in my vernacular and to not discuss details of “the” problem with translators.
I went home for a short break and back to Turkey in June last year, but I didn’t do anything, thinking that it was not serious. I tried to convince myself that I can do something about it once I return in March of this year. But as you already know, I went home in January with a cast on my left leg and was not ambulatory until around early May.
Despite that, I could have gone to have “the” problem checked out sooner, but I experienced some emotional problem during my recovery from my physical injuries. When I was sure, I am stable, after attending a workshop and meeting new people I decided to have “the” problem properly checked by the specialist exactly a year I was supposed to.
Relieved but not out the woods yet!
From my own perspective, the problem deteriorated after realizing that my health and age is catching up with me.😁 I guess the injury magnified every aches, pain and everything else in my life. But I was still calm about it, although at the back of my mind I was preparing for the worst and was relieved when the specialist said “the” problem is reversible.
I guess it’s ironic that I work in the health field and I am very stubborn to act when something like this comes up. I do have my regular health check and follow doctors advise when it comes to maintaining them, but there are issues I ignore deliberately for reasons even I don’t know.
From the time it was discovered, work and life situations have changed. And because it doesn’t bother me as if I don’t have “the” problem I went on with life and continue what I normally do. But now it cannot be ignored, something has to be done, and I took the first step to make it happen.
Anchor to God
I attribute the result of the consult as a sign from God. I thank Him and all the saints that intervened on my behalf every day and will continue to do it for the rest of my life.
That my deliberate stubbornness didn’t put my life in jeopardy and render it permanently altered. But I am not out of the woods yet. I still have to undergo the actual operation to resolve “the” problem, and until then I cannot rest easy.
Every time I go to my therapy I pass by the chapel to give praise and thank God for everything. On my way in and out of the main hall, I passed by the statue to Padre Pio and decided I will pray to him for all what I want to happen to my life.
With the results, I received from the doctor, I can’t help but be thankful that some of my prayers were answered. So I like to share with you the simple prayers I say in front of his statue when I am in the chapel and when I am alone in my room.
The inner void in your life is so vast that it can only be filled by Me.
Don’t listen to the voice of despair but tune your ears to My voice that says,
“You are good, and the plans I have for you are beautiful.”
I am not anymore injured, nor I am disabled. I am back to my old self except I have marks to prove something had happened to me before. The scars (Happy Scar) that reminded me that as a person with no superhuman power I am vulnerable physically, mentally and emotionally (My Road to Recovery Is Bumpy, Now that I Am Thinking of It).
What I experienced in the last 5 months of recovery gave me the opportunity to really dig into the issues people with disabilities have in their lives (not that I don’t do it every day for the last two decades). But most of my experience is not comparable to those I’ve seen in the field where I work. The struggles that I complained and whine about are nothing to the struggles people experience living in camps or even within their own community.
I become spiritual when the accident happened, and I thank God more and more for the experience. I learn to appreciate more my life and the people I encounter in it.
When I had the accident The Day I Broke My Leg, I was overwhelmed by the attention I got from my landlord and colleagues – that they are willing to look after me until I am comfortable enough to be on my own.
How many people will do that for you?
The same when I was at the hospital. That one week in January that I was there was both fun and funny (on hindsight). Although I did not cry, I was like a cry baby always pressing the help button and asking the nurses to do things for me even in the wee hours of the morning. I know I disturbed them because I can see sleep in their eyes when I needed to go to the toilet at 3 in the morning or I needed adjustments in my bed very early because I cannot stay still and all my beddings hanging off it. But I don’t see them angry or annoyed. I like to think, I am fun to be around because while I speak English, they answer me in Arabic or French and when no translation is possible, hand gestures and head movements enough for us to understand each other.
It was enough time to have a routine, I eventually became friends with most of them at that time. But I am sure by now I am just a memory or maybe forgotten, but I will not forget them. I tried to get their names but in the chaos of checking out I lost my list, and photos are all that I have of them. God knows how thankful I am for them looking after me. Extended to the two ambulance guys that brought me to the airport and back to the hospital and airport again until the airlines finally allowed me to fly home.
There is not a day since I left Tunisia that I am not thanking God for sending me those people. For crossing their path and making my experience as a person with injury good despite it happening overseas and life-changing. I felt that God is working in them and I pray every day for them, that they continue to be a blessing to others they encounter in their lives and in their work.
If I have a way to get this story to them, I would like for them to know that there is no amount of “thank you” enough to show my gratitude. I can only continue to pray for them and ask God to continue to bless them and to let them continue to give kindness to all the people they care in that hospital.
From the hospital reception to the ER nurses to my doctors and the floor nurses and aides that kept me company all through my one-week stay at Clinique Amen La Marsa, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
To my family in Tunisia, the couple that adopted me and never left my side, waited for me and being there when I was out of surgery, thank you. I believe that God brought me to your home for a reason. When I needed help, you did not hesitate and even offered me a place in your heart to make me feel comfortable being alone in a new country.
To the friends I met, truly Filipinos are people of the world. Who would have thought that the first meeting we had would be a start of a lifelong friendship? At my lowest time, when I was not allowed to fly the first time, you were there. You took me back and brought me to the hospital safely and there again the next day as if God has planted you on my side until I am up in the air and landed in the Philippines.
With the 6-month grace period of recovery I give myself coming to an end, it is time to express my gratitude to all the people that helped me through this disability journey from Tunisia to France and here in the Philippines.
It has enriched my life and had opened my eyes to a new perspective on the kind of work I do and made me want to do more. Nobody can tell me now that I cannot advocate for disability because I am not disabled, because, with the little time I was in that shoes, I can say I understood the struggle. Living with it even for a short time reaffirmed that this is what God wants me to continue doing. So continue I will.
I do not wish for this kind of accident to happen to anyone, but this is a good opportunity for me to pay the kindness and generosity allocated for me forward in anyway possible.
Je vous remercie!