My Stitches My New Cornea:

Dec. 13 - Feb. 12

At the time of publication of this webpage Jan. 9, 2001, I had been in contact with more than a dozen people in the Fuchs' Friends group who had corneal transplants. Our experiences differed in some aspects, such as type of medications, activity restrictions, follow-up visits, number and type of stitches used, length of time to wear eyepatch, etc. This is the story of the continuing healing of my corneal transplant and is not meant to indicate that other methods or procedures are not equally effective.

Dec 13
I know I should be reserved and cautious. I've heard from other Fuchs' Friends who had this very experience after their transplants. My new cornea must settle down and settle out. I know that. But for the moment, I am sitting at my dining table with my new eye fixed on my placemat, because I can see the individual threads of the weaving! I always said to myself that when I got this "crystal" view after the transplant, I would go look at roses. And here I am staring at my placemat!!! That is how wondrous it is.

Dec. 17
My "driving adventure" a few days ago consisted of this: out our driveway, 1/2 block on residential street, into backcorner driveway of shopping center, and park. Nowhere near two miles! I figure if I can drive two miles by April 15 it will be wonderful. I know it may be much longer before my new eye is that good. I've been "winging it" with my vision for so long that any improvement seems miraculous.

Update on my vision in transplanted eye. That one night I was counting the threads in my placemat (day 29) was exceptional. I've only had one "crystal clear" day like that. Most of the time I have some double vision, a "shadow" to the right of the object. And the shadow is a bit skewed. We were on the freeway behind a car with a single set of tail lights (as opposed to those fancy ones). My non- transplanted eye saw each tail light as one light, tall, almost oval. My transplanted eye saw the oval, and then next to it another oval, but the "shadow" oval was tilted with the top toward the real tail light. My hubby was getting real tired of following that same car while I tried to figure out how to describe what I saw!

The way I see signal lights at night differs, too. At a red light my Fuchy eye sees a red fuzzy circle in the center, then a paler red large circle around it. In this second rim I see a "hammered metal" effect in the color, darker red spots "hammered" onto the lighter red fuzzy area. Finally there is a quite pale red all the way around, the way I used to see a ring around the moon once in a while as a kid. Now with my transplanted eye, I see a bright splash of red in the center, and just as if someone had drawn a great big X of light across the center point, except the X is formed of 3 strokes of light instead of just two. It reminds me of the way you often see the Star of Bethlehem depicted on Christmas cards. All in all, I get quite a light show when we go out on the streets in the evening!

Regarding activity, except for driving, I'm doing all my normal work, including last night I moved a big oak table before I realized it might be (for sure WAS) heavier than a bowling ball. Today I gardened (haven't been able to do that for months) and just tried to make sure not to get dirt in my new eye. If I give the eye a big workout with a lot of movement or computer work, I still get a slight twinge, not really pain. That's when I try to close and rest both eyes a little. Great excuse for a nap! But I do all naps sitting up, otherwise my Fuchy eye goes cloudy on me.

Dec 18
I am truly grateful that my doctor drummed into my head that a corneal transplant was not going to be an instant cure and the healing would have its ups and downs. Today my Fuchy eye is down the dumper, like trying to see through a dirty sheer curtain. I've used lots of Muro salt drops in it, and got zip results. Meantime, the transplanted eye has decided to see in triplicate today! I'm heading out to a fancy luncheon. Hope those on each side of me are wearing dropcloths. LOL!

Later that day....
I made it through the lunch. My vision never improved all day. I am exhausted just from the sheer effort of trying to see and do simple things. It absolutely does take twice as long to get anything done, and the transplanted eye is hollaring "Uncle!" by mid-afternoon. I was up to five sets of lights by 5 pm (quintuple vision). I still feel very positive about my transplant, but I can feel my impatience creeping up (like cheap underwear).

About the lunch, getting the food on the fork was the trick. After I struggled over it for awhile, I just parked the fork and gave it up for a lost cause. With all the holiday parties, I doubt that I'll starve. And, horror of horrors, I abandoned the stemmed champagne glass and went for plain iced tea. If you set down one of those stemmed glasses, you'll never be able to hook up with it again! LOL!

Dec 19
I'm fighting off a cold, so am bundled up and spending time at the computer trying to make pictures of how my eyes see things. Van Gogh I am not! Neither is the Paint program in Windows up to the job. But for what they're worth, I'll post my Light Show here.

streetlight wi Fuchs | Stoplight wi Fuchs | Stoplight wi transplant

tail light after transplant | monitor light wi Fuchs | monitor light wi transplant

My vision is better today. Transplanted eye is seeing double, but that sure beats seeing quintuple! Fuchy eye cleared up, too. Life is beautiful!

Dec 19
Good vision day for the transplanted eye, and as I was doing my "winky" thing checking one eye against the other, I noticed a stop sign, and it was what we used to call fire engine red or lipstick red. I mean RED! I haven't seen that color for years! All of a sudden I recalled that my hubby used to tell me I was wearing too much rouge (nowadays they call it "blush"). Holy Cow! It was because I was not seeing red correctly! I didn't realize that until I began to miss stop signs, but it had been "creeping up". I am so amazed at these little miracles I see with my new cornea. Now I will pat myself on the head and revive my patience for the 6-12 month healing time.

Dec 20
I've noticed that even if my new eye starts out the morning with only double vision, it often moves to quintiple vision later in the day when the eye is tired and crabby. Shopping is especially hard because your eye has to keep darting around, and that seems to aggravate the situation.

My eye doc is big on non-preservative drops. The artificial tears I use are Moisture Eyes by Bausch & Lomb and Tears Naturale Free by Alcon. I like the Tears Naturale better because the ampule is resealable and the tip seems to be easier for me to use. And while I'm on the subject, I learned how to put in every kind of eyedrop during my first 30 days, then doctor put me on Prednisolone. I have to shake it up, it comes out milky, and I have missed my eye 50% of the time. It doesn't come out of the dropper the same way. It's like catsup. First none will drop out, then a whole big glob jumps out. Whenever I take one of them I need to be really careful if I am wearing good clothes.

When I told hubby I already need a refill of this great big bottle of eyedrops, he said, "I've got to see what the !@#$%^&* you're doing there!" Good thing they're cheap! LOL!

Dec 22
Ahaa!! Mind over eyedrop bottle. I figured out how to make that cortizone eyedrop bottle behave (the milky stuff). After you shake it 30 times, you HAFTA BURP THE BOTTLE! Then it works almost normal--or at least you can get some semblance of control over it. Just give it a little squeeze. It will burp out a little bubble. Then it's "de-activated" and won't slobber all over you. Isn't it wonderful what amazing things I'm learning?

Dec 22
Report on doctor visit post-transplant. My vision through the pinhole thingy was 20/40 minus 2, and with all the light still could be corrected to 20/50. Astigmatism is 4 diopters. I can reduce Prednisolone to 3 X a day, and don't need to see doctor for a month, unless I get the RSVP symptoms (of rejection).

Call Dr. immediately if I experience in my operated eye any of the symptoms mentioned below for longer than 6 hours:

1. Eye pain or discomfort
2. Tearing
3. Blurred vision
4. Redness
5. Photophobia

I gave the doctor my graphics of how things look to me (double & quintiple vision). He seems constantly amazed when I tell him things like how to burp the cortizone eyedrop bottle. (Yeah, like, "Where do I GET these patients?) I have two vertical stitches that will be removed in a month.

Dec 26
I can't remember when we've had so many holiday activities! And my new eye sailed through. I noticed it would feel "tired" after a long day, but the "crabbiness" seems to be lessening. My "tail light show" on the way home after last night's dinner with friends was less brilliant and askew. One thing amusing: At almost every event, people would come up to me to "see" the new eye. They told me the new eye looks brighter than the other, and the color is slightly different. The Fuchy eye is clouded over, so the true color doesn't show. From the inside looking out, I still have double and triple vision, which doesn't seem to be bothering me much. My brain seems to be taking the brightness and color from the new eye and coordinating it with the single but foggy vision of the Fuchy eye and giving me a reasonable view of things. So my eye seems to be doing fine.

Dec. 28
Riding in the sunny side of the car, I looked down at some paperwork in my hands, and I could read the printing with my transplanted eye! It was 6-8 pt bold type, and I was seeing it through my old trifocals and wraparound grey tint sunglasses. I was so startled and delighted that I exclaimed to my husband, "I can read this page!" Later that day I walked across a parking lot and felt fantastic when I could distinguish what was a speed bump, what was a shadow, and what was a line painted on the asphalt. I wasn't inching along and testing each new thing with a careful toe before I took the step. However, by that time my moment of crystal clear reading had passed, but it had given me great hope.

Dec. 31
Work worries gave me insomnia last night. I slept only 4 hours. My group of Fuchs' Friends and I once figured out that less sleep (less time with eyes closed) frequently gave us a better vision day with our Fuchy eyes. I also had figured out that my Fuchy eye cleared up faster when I was working at the computer, which I did last night after waking at 3:30 am. So that gave me a head start on my Fuchy eye. As my husband drove me to an appointment, I noticed that the day seemed so sunny and bright. I didn't put it all together until I was punching in the numbers on an electronic keypad to take the lockbox off somebody's front door (the house had sold). The numbers on that keypad just jumped out at me! I had never seen those numbers so clearly, and I've been using that keypad for 4 years. The transplanted eye was having a very good morning, and the Fuchy eye was cooperating. Wow! Paperwork suddenly was easy to read, with crisp black text on crisp white paper. Not the gray on gray I normally see. I felt like stopping people in the grocery store to babble about my vision. I couldn't wait to get in a bright light to look at a ring I own, which has appeared lately to have a brownish stone. Today it was sparkling and red, the way it was when I bought it 15 years ago. I'm reminding myself that tomorrow I may have the triple vision again, but for today I am totally enjoying what can only be described as a near-religious experience.

Jan 4
After a few days of so-so vision, today my transplanted eye is seeing beautifully again. If I hadn't forgotten to put the Muro ointment in my other (Fuchy) eye last night, today I would have been able to drive, absolutely, no question about it. It is astounding how "greyed-out" my Fuchy eye is in comparison to the new one. And that eye was my "good" one before the transplant. No wonder I was having trouble getting around. I am relaxing a bit about sleeping on my transplanted side. I was being extra-cautious about that. And I still wear the "tea strainer" eye shield at night. My transplant was Nov. 14.

Jan 9
I came down with a cold over the weekend, and the runny nose and coughing seems to be aggravating my Fuchy eye, and the transplanted eye is going through a stage of quadruple vision. So I'm not trying to thread any needles. I noticed that my brain seems to be having trouble pulling together the best vision from the two eyes, so I feel a bit discombobulated, but still managing to get some files organized and computer work done with the help of my cheapie drugstore reading glasses. My co-moderator Bob at Fuchs' Friends theorizes that when we are tired our brain is less effective in "melding" the input from the two eyes. Sounds about right.

I've mastered the Pred Forte eyedrop bottle. Did I mention that I can always tell when I DO get those drops in because I soon get a weird taste from them. But it's short-lived and tolerable. I rarely feel a need to use the liquid tears now. I have no irritated or dry feeling in my new eye anymore.

Jan. 10
Today I drove myself--8 miles!!! My Fuchy eye is on its best behavior today, and the transplanted eye is seeing double, but my brain is pulling together the data from both eyes and I can see better than I could when I quit driving 1 1/2 years ago. Not only could I read street signs, but I was reading the logos off the back of people's cars. It was better than Disneyland!

Jan. 11
Today on an auto trip on the freeway in a off-and-on rainstorm that mixed with patches of sunny sky, I noticed a rainbow. We don't see many rainbows in southern California. After my initial surprise, I began doing my winky thing to see how each eye was seeing it. The Fuchy eye (used to be my "good" eye) could not see the rainbow, and neither could the transplanted eye by itself. But together they could see it! All the way home we saw rainbows, and at one point a double rainbow. Since neither of my eyes was having a particularly good vision day, I took this as a sign of great hope.

Jan. 14
Today I worked a multi-level Open House, one I had worked before my transplant. The big difference? Now I can navigate all those stairs with total confidence! My depth perception is astonishingly better since the transplant. Even on days my vision is still "off" a bit, the depth perception is right on target.

Jan 18
I saw the doctor for an unscheduled visit this week. I noticed a dull ache in the transplanted eye Sunday and Monday, so heeding the RSVP warning signs (redness, sensitivitiy, vision problem, pain), I got a checkup. No problem with the transplant, but doctor thinks all the coughing-my-head-off with this cold might be causing extra pressure on the eye. My eye pressure was 18 (up from the 12-13 of previous visits). I was surprised that the vision in my transplanted eye is now 20/60 uncorrected (improved from 20/300), but the vision in my usta-be-best Fuchy eye has dropped from 20/50 to 20/60.

Jan 24
I've been thinking how grateful I am for this transplant. No matter that the sharp focus is not there yet, no matter the commitment to eyedrops, sleeping on only one side, and all the inconveniences, no matter that I must always be aware of the signs of rejection---No matter. I had forgotten what the color of blue looked like in the sky. And now I see it again.

Jan 24
My transplant was 2 months and 10 days ago. Today the vision is holding at 20/60 (and bless my Fuchy eye--it improved to its usual 20/50). The doctor removed three stitches to help work out the astigmatism, which is 4.5 diopters. I'm on Pred Forte (cortizone) every 2 hours for the next two days, and back on Ocuflox (antibiotic) every 4 hours for the next two days. No pain involved whatsoever.

Jan 26
My transplanted eye still gets tired. I had three stitches taken out Wednesday, and my eye has been bugging me yesterday and today, a minor eye ache, just enough to be annoying. I know I need to close it and get away from this monitor. Wouldn't you know today would be the day I have a lot of computer work to do.

Jan 31
The doctor took three stitches (holding stitches, not running stitches) out of my transplanted cornea a week ago, and I think I popped another one on Friday trying to hang a blanket over the bedroom window on one of these extra cold nights. Today all the irritation feeling is gone, and the difference in my vision is that now my "ghost" or shadow image appears directly below the actual object, rather than off to the right. During normal activity I can't tell where the shadow image is located. It just isn't sharply focused. But at my computer monitor I can easily see by the print on the screen and by the tiny green light that shows my monitor is "ON" whether the ghost is two, three or four, and exactly where the ghost image is in relation to the real object. I feel that it is good news that the images are now lined up neatly one under the other instead of all over the place. I have great hope that we are dealing with the astigmatism problem successfully. But even with the astigmatism, my vision is so much better than it was three months ago that I could just sing!

Feb 12
My new eye got a major workout this week. I had to fly to Michigan alone for a funeral, a trip that includes getting from one side of Chicago's O'Hare airport to the other. My husband wanted to order a wheelchair for me, but my vision happened to be good and I made it under my own steam. I also kept the carry on luggage as light as possible. During the trip I noticed that the air conditioning on the plane and the cigarette smoke at family gatherings was quite irritating to my new eye. I kept the eyedrops flowing. Most of the time my vision was quadruple or worse. I had to do unusual (for me) activity, such as trying to hoist myself up into four-wheeler vehicles. I was careful not to slip and fall on the snow and ice, but the cold itself did not seem to bother the eye. However, I had to work very hard to keep myself from dwelling on the possibility that I would have eye trouble on the trip. By the time I got in the airport in Calif., in very difficult circumstances and with a heavy suitcase to schlepp (luckily, with wheels), I was totally freaked out. I gave myself a Pred Forte eyedrop standing on the curb at the airport, no mirror, dirty hands, in the dark. I babied the eye the next few days with extra drops, and after three days home my eye seemed to have recovered.

This hurt my dignity more than it hurt my eye.

The story of my healing continues Here.


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Through a Glass, Darkly

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