Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Soulful Match

I have my new glass eye!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
9:00 am: I arrive at Denver Optic to continue the process we began on December 23, 2009. Walter Johnson is my eye guy here in Denver, and hand-crafted my brand new glass eye. While he was busy creating an important part of my appearance, I took the much needed quiet time to read "Bake and Be Blessed" by Father Dominic so I'd be ready for our Lenten study on bread baking.

Walter would study my real eye, then disappear to paint for a while. (I wasn't allowed to be in the painting room, as there are dangerous fumes. Trust me, I tried.) He'd reappear, look me in the eye once again, and then head off to PaintLand, adding more details. Unreal how fast it went from a simple white orb to a piece of art.

I love the fact that I could update my pals on Facebook throughout the entire process - they provided a great source of community and morale boosting at just the right times!

When Walter wasn't heading in and out of the painting room, we would be heading in and out of the patient room. Back and forth, back and forth - Walter needed to view my real eye in natural light. He was observing what my pupil would do when we would switch from florescent light to natural light. He'd shine a flashlight in my real eye so he could gauge how big to make the pupil on my new eye.

Near the end of the morning, we added a clear contact lens to the top of the new eye, so we could see what the pupil would look like with some depth. I also got my first look at my new iris - I was blown away by the detail and color. (For a while now, my real eye has been green/blue and my glass eye has been cloudy blue. The glass eye has also faded in color and clarity, so seeing this new, sharp, crisp eye was amazing!)

It always amuses me to see the red veins added to my glass eye - it involves randomly placing little red threads to match my real eye. It's just thread! Crazy!

12:00 pm: I'm sent away for a bit so the eye can 'cure' (guess my book was right on about being baked and then blessed!)

2:00 pm: I return to Denver Optic, ready to see my new eye in its final stages. Walter places it in my eye, and I head to the mirror for the first look. I'm not sure I can really describe what that moment is like - the anticipation level is high, my hopes are absolutely soaring. This isn't like changing one's hair or glasses - the eyes are the SOUL of who a person is. Much more than matching the hue of the iris, my new eye needed to match my soul.

We place the new eye in for a few seconds, only to discover two things: (1) deep inside the new eye, many, many layers down, the black of the pupil has blurred into the iris, and (2) the golden color on the iris was too sharp, almost cat-like. Not good. :(

This required Walter to remove the top layers, un-blur the pupil, and soften the golden color. This also meant he had to keep my new eye overnight. Ugh. My heart just sank. Transitioning to a new eye is hard enough, even when things go perfectly well. Having this random anomaly happen just when I'm supposed to be starting to love my new eye was so disappointing.

6:30 pm: I head to church for our Wednesday Worship in a rather foul mood. God must have a sense of humor, however, for our first song of the night was "Open Your Eyes" followed by the words in the Psalm, "...lift thine eyes..." - funny guy! Lots of great Bethany people there to cheer me up, and Ruth Ann invited me to stay and help assemble food packs, which put me right into action. The physical work and great conversations helped me re-focus (ha ha) on what was important (helping out the local food pantry).

Thursday, January 28, 2010
12:00 pm: I return to Denver Optic once again, praying the new eye has done what it needed to do, and is ready to become part of me. Walter comes to the room with my new eye, and I head to the mirror once again. Having only spent about a minute with my new eye, this was yet again the first new look. It was AWESOME! The golden part of the iris was clear, but not bionic. The pupil was crisp and right where it was supposed to be. I, of course, immediately start crying. I was smiling from ear to ear, though, so Walter wasn't too alarmed!

Called my parents, showed my Bethany family my new addition, and sang songs of praise in the Sanctuary. Thankful God created such unique people who can make the life of someone born with one eye as normal as it gets. Thankful to my parents for connecting me to such people and for being so supportive. Thankful for the patience and trust one needs to get through such an adventure. Thankful to friends who care enough to ask questions and cheer me along. Thankful to God for all of the above...and then some! All is well with my soul!

My new eye and I are still adjusting to one another. I can feel every move my tiny real eye behind the glass eye makes. It's such an odd feeling that I have trouble describing it to people with two natural eyes. It's kind of like wearing your left shoe on your right foot. You can still walk, but it's uncomfortable and you feel this constant urge to fix it. As time goes by, it will begin to feel more and more like a part of my face.

It looks simply fantastic, I must say. All reservations I had about having a new person make my eye have disappeared. The colors are sharp, the pupils are lined up, and the fit looks just great. Amen!

Check it out:

Still being crafted. Looking good...

Love the shape. And the veins.

Clear and Cloudy
I didn't really notice the size difference until now!

This really helps you see the shape and definition of the shell and the depth of the pupil (OLD). Guess all those trips to the hallway and the flashlight in the eyes were necessary!

You can see those veins close-up. Do you see the little red dot? That dot is EXTREMELY important for the first few days: when a new eye is inserted, it feels just WRONG. So, the artist puts a dot on the UP side of the shell. North, if you will! That way, if it turns around in my socket, I can re-position it so it's facing the right way!

One of a kind piece of art.

This really shows the color and pupil detail of both eyes -talk about an upgrade! Glass eyes fade over time - one typically wears a shell for 5 - 7 years, and I was able to eek out a full 10 years!

(Yes, there's a freckle underneath my glass eye,
Photobooth takes the image backwards on the computer.)

(Yes, there's a freckle underneath my glass eye,
Photobooth takes the image backwards on the computer.)

Relieved, emotionally-spent, overjoyed,
thankful, soul-matched, two-eyed Brenda!


kenan said...

Very nice ;-)

Colleen said...

WOW! It looks beautiful! And beautifully written! Thank you for taking us along with your journey, it was fun to get excited with you.

Heather said...

Beautiful! I'm happy for you!

Toby said...

Brenda! This was so great to read. And the pictures are absolutely jaw-dropping. What an amazing transition and comparison! Can you imagine what I looked like glued to my computer reading this...knowing what I know about your eye process from way back when?! ;) You look SO beautiful in your final pic -- the hair, the eyes, the soul, everything! Thank you for sharing this. So happy for you!

Corrina said...

I am so happy for you! It is amazing!!! You with your eye and me with my hearing aids, we are all set! Lol!