Artificial eyes (not for the squeamish type)
I initially started this blog to shed some light on how a person gets through life feeling differently then everyone else. Not being able to hide my flaws and constantly having to explain why my eye looked different from yours. I was writing to let anyone else who may be going through anything similar (inadequacy of any kind) know that others are dealing with the same things.
I have spent the last three years writing my memoirs, reflecting back on a lifetime of memories both good and bad. In the process I found that I really enjoyed writing, and the people who I shared my stories with gave me such wonderful compliments and encouragement that I began to write about other things. I ’ve been writing about my day to-day experiences and random thoughts about life. Today, I’m back on track, This post is a serious look at what I went through after the removal of my eye and the path to a new me. A little over a year ago…..
It was the day after my enucleation,( a term used for eye removal) I was at home, on pain medications and wearing a big white pressure bandage that covered half of my face it seemed. It’s called a pressure bandage because it’s attached so tight that it actually hurt. It wasn’t a bad pain, just very uncomfortable. I slept a lot but that was uncomfortable also. My doctor told me to sleep sitting up, either in the bed, chair, whatever, just don’t lay down. I had pillows propped up everywhere but it just wasn’t good enough, I wanted to lay down so bad. I was determined to do whatever was necessary to make this surgery successful. I had made the decision to do this and I wasn’t about to mess this up! I remember that first morning, walking into the bathroom and looking in the mirror, I was shocked to see how horrible I looked. My hair was tousled and the bandage looked as if I were in a scene from a horror movie. I knew my eye was gone and I wondered what it would look like. I didn’t like to think to much about that because I wasn’t sure at this point how I would handle all of that. I was just taking every thing one step at a time.
Before my surgery I had researched everything I could find on eye removal so I would be as prepared as possible. I was blessed to have a wonderful surgeon and a team of nurses that were supportive in every way. If not for Dr. Vick, I would have never considered this. The way I looked at it, I had gone for fifty years, why do anything about it now? She gave me the confidence I needed to go through the process. I also reasoned to myself that she was a woman, she specialized in cosmetic eye surgery and she understood (to a degree) what I had gone through. I remember her saying to me, “Sherry, there is no reason for you to live like this any longer, lets take that sick eye out.” Even so, I found that my best source for information came from an online forum that I found called “losteye.” http://www.losteye.com/ Everyone there either already had or is currently dealing with serious eye issues. I was able to discuss with real people about the real deal, emotionally and physically. They were a tremendous comfort to me and I continue to stay in touch with many of them.
I was in a relationship at the time and we had been dating for seven months. The day after my surgery, he broke it off with me. Looking back now, I know it was the best thing, but at that time…..how does a guy break up with a girl the day after eye removal? Yes, I was upset and if you knew my history with men, you would understand my feelings of total failure. (you will have to read my book to understand all the elements in my story.)
There was not a lot of pain, I took my meds religiously and kept the ice packs on for twenty minutes every hour to keep the swelling under control. The pressure bandage came off in four days, Ice packs and meds everyday for two weeks, four weeks of wearing an eye patch and going back to work. One week of being back on the job I experienced one of the biggest disappointments in my career. I was being demoted (in a sense) I would no longer be allowed to write plans for the individuals that we served because I did not have a college degree. I had done this job well for eight years and was even recognized for it. yet overnight, it wasn’t good enough. I felt slighted and overlooked. This is when I lost my enthusiasm for my job, it hasn’t been the same since. Then the moment I was so impatiently waiting for, my surgeon gave me the go ahead to make an appointment with my ocularist. He would be the one to custom make my artificial eye.
An Ocularist is the most important person in this world when you need an eye. Dr. Imm is the most talented man I know. A ocularist will custom make each person’s eye to look exactly like your other one. In a one day session, he pours a liquid muddy like consistency into your eye socket and in about fifteen minutes it has set.It feels cold, wet and very weird but no pain at all, he takes it out and that is the beginning of your artificial eye. It was totally amazing to watch him form, paint, glaze, and paint again layer over layer. I was enthralled in how the process was so detailed. I am an amateur artist myself and I was mesmerized by what I was watching. He meticulously measured and compared to my “normal” eye over and over again, fitted and refitted so my eyelid would open and close as it should.
I , of course was not a “normal” patient because my eye had been so swollen for so many years that the skin on the eyelid had stretched. I was to have two more surgeries in the next six months to tighten and make the eyelid look normal. But on this particular day, I received the best gift in the world and it was from a complete stranger. I left that day from Dr. Imm’s office with two matching eyes that looked perfect!
It’s not as bad as you might think……artificial eyes are not round balls like they were long ago. Technology has come so far now, it is shaped like a contact lens and it fits over an implant that is put in during your surgery. I do not have to take it out unless I feel like I need to and I have about seventy percent movement. I cannot even explain to you in words what it felt like to go home and know that I was looking like a normal person for the first time in fifty years. All the way home I was looking in the rear view mirror!
Its been a year now and I still have to take a double look in the mirror sometimes to believe how awesome it is. People don’t stare anymore, I adore wearing makeup now, I have so much more self-confidence and I have a fantastic new boyfriend that loves me for who I am.
I am so grateful and LIFE IS GOOD!!!!
My gut instinct tells me to share my story and reveal the things I’ve gone through. I want to attempt to motivate others who feel as though they are alone and there is no hope, to show them that by listening to your intuition and following your dreams, you can achieve success. Live with a passion for something, remember this is YOUR LIFE, not someone elses.
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My Story begins here…….