Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful festive season, surrounded by loved ones (and if you’re anything like me, too much chocolate). My blog has been a little all over the place as of late, primarily due to the fact I’ve been in the early stages of my transplant recovery. For those of you who don’t know, I had my second cornea transplant on 28th October 2016
I arrived at the hospital about 7.45am and felt sick to my stomach the entire way there. Unlike my last transplant, everything happened so quickly I barely I had time to gather my thoughts which in hindsight, I much preferred. About 9am, I was wheeled down to theatre and the panic started to kick in. Although I remained composed and pretty upbeat, in my head I was questioning my decision. What if my body rejected the new cornea? What if it made my vision worse? What if it ends up being the biggest mistake I’ve ever made?
In recovery, I was given anti sickness medication because apparently I had thrown up (I have no knowledge of this). The surgery went well although they had to keep pumping me with anti sickness meds. Then came the best part: morphine. After that, I was giving everyone thumbs up, high fives (no-one left me hanging) and was ridiculously happy. Based on my left cornea transplant, they had a much better understanding of my pain threshold (or lack thereof) and went out their way to make me as comfortable as possible.
My night in hospital was pretty uneventful given I just slept a lot. I found that I could open my left eye fairly comfortably to at least send a quick text, pick up a glass and get myself to the bathroom (I had a huge patch on my right eye, as well as a very attractive arrow drawn on with permanent marker to ensure they operated on the correct eye!). The next morning, my patch was removed.
My eye looked disgusting, I’m not going to lie. The whites of my eyes were bright red and I wouldn’t have looked out of place in The Walking Dead. I knew with my left eye that I took inflammation really badly, but this was blood-red and terrified me. My surgeon didn’t seem too concerned and was happy all sixteen stitched were securely in place so off I went with a mountain of pills and eye drops.
The first ten days of my recovery were complete hell, I’m not going to lie. I know there are some people who read my blog who have keratoconus and may be considering a cornea transplant, but I’m not going to pretend it’s an easy journey. The pain wasn’t unbearable, but it was constant. It was like an object was trapped in my eye and I just wanted to cut it out. I cried myself to sleep, begged my mum to give me all my pills (dramatic I know, but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind) and seriously doubted my own strength. Even at my lowest point, something told me to keep going because I’d been here before and I’d survived.
My first check up went really well. My surgeon informed me that my eye was blood-red because at the end of my surgery, they injected my eyeball with an antibiotic solution – how lovely. He said the whites of my eye would return to normal in due course (which they have). There were no early signs of rejection, which was my biggest fear so I was over the moon! That was definitely my biggest fear.
I’m now over two months into my recovery and there have been some ups and downs with my stitches, a few emergency appointments and I’ve shed the occasional tear or two. Visually, I’m not experiencing dramatic improvements but it is a long, slow process. Given that my eye still has fifteen stitches embedded in it, the cornea isn’t sitting flat which naturally makes things blurry. I’m not worried t all, I’m really optimistic.
Cornelius (my new cornea deserved a name!) has settled in well and I just need to keep on top of all my eye drops. My eye looks normal and you’d never guess I’ve had a cornea transplant but I’m still living in a bit of a blur which is hard sometimes. I hide it well and don’t let it hold me back but it is so frustrating. I think people assume that because my eye looks normal it’s ‘fixed’ and this infuriates me because I’m still in the blur I was before. Sometimes I have good days, sometimes bad but it’s just down to the cornea settling in.
I’m really excited about the future now. Chances are I’ll need glasses but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. The thought of not living in a blur, not questioning everything I see and potentially driving a car again makes me so unbelievably happy. I don’t often give myself praise, but I’m so proud of how I’ve dealt with keratoconus over the years. I haven’t let it define me or just admitted defeat. Of course there’s been anger, tears and the odd book thrown across the room but I haven’t sat back and felt sorry for myself.
I think the day of the final visual exam (which could be 12/18 months off so I try not to get too excited) is when the emotion of the last six years will all come pouring out. It’s been such a long journey but I feel like I’m finally getting somewhere. Bring on 2017!