The life of an ordinary woman, who'd been given an extraordinary gift. The Gift of Sight. This is my story and my life.

Archive for the ‘cornea’ Category

Corneal Stitches

Also known as “Corneal Sutures”, they are sewn in as to ensure that the newly transplanted cornea stays in place and attaches well to the rest of your eye as it is supposed to do.

After the surgeon carefully and skillfully lays the cornea in to position, he/she will thread a specialized sewing needle as to begin the suturing process.

The following is a picture of one of the types of needles that they will use on the cornea. It is called a Kalt Corneal Needle.

They will use the claw-like needle to thread the corneal stitches through to attach the new cornea in place.

There are a couple of different variations as to how the stitchings are done. And every doctor has his or her preference. Plus it also depends on the patient and their needs as well.

One is called “Interrupted”. Which means that instead of a “zig-zag” effect, there is one line stitchings that kind of resemble the lines around the sun from a child’s drawing.

The other suture possibility is called “Continuous”. That type of suturing looks (to me) something like a drawing (yep, I’m stuck on kid pictures lol) that a child made, using the old drawing toy called a Spirograph.

Then there are some cases where the doctor uses BOTH of the techniques. In the same eye. Again, it’s done on a case-by-case basis.

The following is an example drawing of the sutures that I had described above.

Post transplant, over time as healing progresses and all is well, the Corneal Specialist will look over the eye and eventually decide that it’s time to start to remove stitches. But not all are out at once. It’s a gradual and even a bit of a tedious process.

When it’s time, the doctor will ask for his Nurse Assistant to go grab the removal kit. It will have two things in its sterile packaging. A forceps tool and a blade tool.

These are called a “Meyerhoffer Chalazion Curette”. They help (as long as I do indeed have the correct blade) to cut the stitch(es) that the doctor wishes to remove.

The above set of “tweezers” are called “Arruga Curved Capsule Forceps”. And hopefully, I do have the correct pair. Once the appropriate stitch(es) have been sliced loose, then the tweezers are used to (gently) pull the stitch out from the cornea and eye area.

Anyway you slice it (get it?? lol) they must use a blade and tweezers to cut and remove the sutures. They are not dissolve-able. So removal is indeed a must.

There are VERY rare occasions though, that do warrant stitches to stay in place for the patient’s life.

But before that, they will place in some numbing eye drops and use an eye separator. This way, there is no pain and no chance of you closing down the eye as it is being worked on.

The Eyelid Speculum Device is usually metal and looks like the following…

And your eye looks like this after placement….

And no, it does NOT hurt to have it placed under the lids, nor is it painful as it is within the eye area. Cold. That’s about it. But then you have the drops placed in and all is well.

One of my awesome pals from Twitter and Facebook (we initially “found” one another through a friend of a friend on Twitter) has recently had a corneal transplant done, due to having Keratoconus (cone shaping of the cornea). Brooklin (ItsBrooklin on Twitter) is also a professional photographer who does great work with picture-taking.

Earlier in the week, while on a shoot, Brooklin had a buddy take a picture of his eye where all of his stitches were in. For Brooklin’s case, he had BOTH the Continuous, as well as the Interrupted suturing performed on his transplant eye.

First of all, THANK YOU Brooklin for letting me use your eye as a prime example of explanation for this post. You couldn’t have timed posting the picture really any better. And also, dude… You have BEAUTIFUL brown eyes. They are like Amber Brown. My favorite shade of brown.

Well, I hope that this will put your mind at ease, as well as help you to better understand the process of having stitches both placed in, and removed from your eye once you have had a Corneal Transplant. It looks scary to go through. But really, it’s not too bad. Personally to me, the worst part is honestly the speculum.

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Rosacea….

Need Support? Find Some on Twitter.

After all was said and done, I felt very isolated and alone. I knew others had a corneal transplant, but I knew no one that has. It’s a very humbling, sobering and lonely experience to go through.

Not many people that have had the procedure done, or are about to have it done, are very open, publicly that is, about having to need someone else’s cornea attached to their eye. It is seemingly a taboo subject.

There are many times that the sight-saving operation is filled with myths, half-truths and misconceptions. And for those that have yet to go through it, that can be very damaging and make the person so frightened if they have not had someone speak up that HAS had a corneal transplant to tell them of the REAL experience.

I’ve been a longtime member of FaceBook. But then, I also added Twitter to my social networking. And it’s been a God send. I have met some REALLY awesome people, from all over the globe. Special Needs parents, Stay-At-Home moms, and those that have or are planning on having a Corneal Transplant. As well as well-known sight-based organizations.

Finally, I was no longer alone. I was able to not only GET support post-op, but to GIVE support, too. Finally, someone understood the fear, the unknown future and I was able to ask questions and get some real answers.

If you are on Twitter and you wish to connect with those that have had a Corneal Transplant, or are getting one in the near future, or just wish to know more of what’s involved, here is a listing of those you can “follow”.

emmsieevans

LeChaika

ItsBrooklin

LionsVisionGift

KeratoconusGB

MichiganEyeBank

m0m23kidznKatz (ME!)

"I’m A Survivor"…. My Cornea Donation PSA Video.

Because of my own stupidity and having probably the world’s biggest brain fart, I had to start a new YouTube account. To view it and (hopefully you will) subscribe GO HERE.

It had taken me most of one evening, and a majority of an afternoon to piece together a video that is just over four MINUTES in length. To say I put all of myself in to the project is well, a bit of an understatement. But, here is the finished product.

It’s not as good as some people’s videos/PSA’s . But I think that I got the point across.

Corneal Itch relief…. A Video Tutorial.

Let me first say I HATE my voice lol. And I am not looking my best at the moment, thanks to a stupid Rosacea breakout.

But as I had promised a few weeks ago to a few people, especially @BeaSereneInLife on Twitter, here is the quick tutorial of how to SAFELY relieve ocular itching without compromising your graft.

Well, I hope it helped a bit to know a few new and simple tricks. Let me know what you think of the video and the advice. And if you have ideas for future blog videos, then shoot them my way.

Thanks for watching.

The "Founder" of Sight Resorative Services.. A History Lesson

Richard Townley Paton, M.D. was a man with a mission. A mission to retrieve and safely keep cornea tissue at the ready for doctors to use of their patients in need of the Gift of Sight.

In 1944, Dr. Paton had founded the Eye Bank for Sight Restoration in Manhattan, New York, along with his partner, Dr. John McLean of New York Hospital. A place that would help with harvesting, testing, readying, and transporting viable corneas to doctors and the patients in need of help in regaining their sight through corneal transplantation.

Dr. Paton also did some of the earlier works of helping to perfect the surgical procedure, before Founding the wonderful and now American-wide acclaimed, eye bank.

Some of his corneal donations came from those within the prison settings of convicts whom had consented to the donation of their eyes after their death by execution in Ossining, NY.

The Eye Bank, which is on East 64th Street, was the first organ/tissue banking system to accept eye donations. And it was a joint-effort institution between a total of twenty-one New York hospitals.

From that point on, more eye-collective banks were beginning to open throughout the country. Slowly but surely, more banks opened, and more people had their sight saved, and their lives more enriched due to the thanks and ingenuity of two men who forged a path to a positive means to restore sight to those that otherwise had little to zero chance of ever seeing again.

Medical advances of today in the world and works of sight restoration have made them to be THE most successful transplant of all transplants done in the United States and around the world.

At the age of eighty-two, on February 27th, 1984, Dr. Paton sadly passed away. But not before completing his mission of giving the Gift of Sight to as many people as he could. Thanks to him, myself and MILLIONS of people around the world are seeing things that most of us take for granted.

(initially posted to YouTube on April 27, 2011)

Emotional Times… Tissues Have Them, Too.

When everything had happened and my cornea perforated, thanks to my own stupidity in the end of it all (knuckle slipped from my brow and BAM!), all I felt was fear and anxiety.

I didn’t know what was going to happen next. Was surgery going to be needed? Will I have an eyeball? What happened next?… Those questions haunted me daily all the way up through my transplant surgery.

Then, the anger started. I was mad at myself. I played the “should haves” and the “what ifs”. And they all were aimed at myself. If only I had gotten the skin condition treated sooner. If only I had gone to a better doctor in the first place over the reoccurring eye infections.

There were SO many things I should have, and could have, done different. Then maybe, I would not be where I ended up.

After the surgery, and about a month of recuperation, I started having bouts of depression. It was nearing Thanksgiving (my surgery was 2 days before Halloween and is an entirely different entry altogether) and I had to go in to see my Corneal Specialist for a check-up.

Out of the blue, I started to bawl. I cried so bad, I think that the poor guy was scared I’d pop a stitch and raise my optic pressure through the roof.

Finally, I had blurted it out… Something I had kept silent until that point. I felt guilty. Like I had stolen something. Like because of MY carelessness, someone else had to “pay” to let me make it all right.

I was suffering from Survivor’s Guilt. And a nasty case of it, too.

When my first (and only to date) bout of rejection came in January of 2010, I felt that anger boil up inside of me all over again. I was doing EVERYTHING right. My drops, my pills, my shield. No bending or lifting. Still though, I was rejecting.

I was scared to lose this precious gift. And I was scared that I was letting my donor and their family down.

These days, two years and almost two months later, when things (like the popped stitch that infected and abscessed) go wrong, I get scared. And yes, I get angry. Again. But only at myself and my eye.

I AM SCARED all of the time, but try to keep it in the back of my mind, within the deepest depths. I could reject today. Or tomorrow. Maybe not for another 20 years. Or (hope to God) never. But the POSSIBILITY is always there.

Most people that have never had to go through this type of transplant just view it as “just an operation” and “just eye tissue” that happens to be the “most transplanted thing on the body” with the “most success rate”.

But it does NOT mean that we are any less vulnerable to our emotions as TRANSPLANT Recipients. It does NOT mean that we are ANY less grateful or appreciative, or mindful of our gift, or of our Donor and their family.

A friend of mine over on FaceBook, that I had met through a Transplant group and has had a Liver Transplant had brought up something that I have never thought of. But after “listening” (AKA reading) about it, it made complete sense.

We all (from corneas to hearts, to lungs to skin grafts) suffer quite possibly from some form/amount of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)… What we went through BEFORE our transplants, going through the transplants knowing that (for most of us) someone had to DIE in order to help us live, and the side effects from post-surgery.

That all combined really takes a toll on the Recipient. Emotionally, mentally and physically. Transplants, even in the most simplest of forms, can honestly take their toll on the patient. And in turn, on their family and caregivers (another post for a later time).

So, know my fellow Corneal Graft brothers and sisters, you are NOT alone in your thoughts and feelings. We are not weak. We are strong. And what WE went through is just as much of a “big deal” as those that get a heart, a liver or a lung. Our sight was saved. And our lives were made better.

Because our Donors and their families gave the ultimate gift one can ever receive. The Gift of Sight, and of a better life.