Behind Those Eyeglasses



The family's medical insurance afforded me a new pair of eyeglasses delivered today. My optometrist pre-arranged it a couple of months ago to cover a huge portion of my supposed co-pay. After a series of visits with my retinal specialist, my left eye can now see better, needing a combo of upgrade and downgrade with my prescription eyeglasses.

My 2016 is marked with multiple visits to my retinal specialist. It actually started on New Year's Eve (December 31, 2015) when my retinal specialist flew from the Big Island to Oahu, where Honolulu is located, to do an emergency surgery on my left eye. Then a visit after two days, then after a week, after a month, after two months and then four months. I have yet to reach the once-a-year visit.

My family and I waited for him in an empty building a little late on the 31st. It was almost the new year, all establishments where his clinic was located were closed. Even the building was closed. My ophthalmologist was adamant that I see him that day - neither the following day nor the day after the new year's 1st day. And while sitting on one of the steps in front of the building, I received a call from the Queen's Medical Center, informing me that my ophthalmologist reserved an operating room for an emergency surgery that night.

I was aghast. Probably because it's the 31st, my ophthalmologist did not explain my condition too well to me. She handed me a prescription for my eyeglasses but failed to mention there was something serious.

"Why we are all in a hurry? Can't we wait until after New Year to do the surgery? Would a 2-day wait make a difference?" I was sitting before a biomicroscope, just before the retinal specialist did a retinal examination.

"You've a retinal detachment, and it's considered an emergency condition. You can be permanently blind if we wait until your next visit to treat it." He was patient, telling me the condition was rare, the majority of those who developed the disorder were people over 40, and had an eye injury after trauma due to a collision or a fall. My profile, however, did not fit in any of those categories. It could be hereditary for me, he concluded.

"You didn't do anything to have it. So, you can't do that much to undo it." For him, that was how a genetic factor operates.

We talked some more. We went over the pros and cons and then agreed to wait until after my next visit to decide on the surgery with finality. We would try the non-invasive procedure that night and see how my retina would respond.

I spent the 1st day of 2016 with a color-impaired left eye as a side effect. It could only see in red and green. My retinal specialist gave me a 0.02% chance of having a better light-sensitive layer of tissue via a non-invasive procedure.

But on my visit on the 2nd day of January, my left eye was not just back to its usual multi-colored state; it was also 20% healed with the detached part of my retina flattened. That day, my retinal specialist crossed out the surgery option. He would do another round of the non-invasive procedure and observed.

This was the second time a scheduled surgery for me was halted. The first one was in late 2014 when I broke my talus bone. I was in the operating room, waiting when the ortho-surgeon checked on the 3D image of my left foot and realized it was already healing.

His beautiful parting words to the Interns and me were unforgettable.

"Our body is a beautiful creation. At an optimum state, it's capable of healing on its own. Sometimes, there are things we would only learn in practice. This is one of those few."

So, these eyeglasses are special, not because it is largely free. But because it reminds me beautiful stories of transition, redemption, inspiration and faithfulness. Happy New Year!



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