Friday, January 20, 2012

My Eye Surgery and Post Script Comments

Next week, I am going to have eye surgery to my left eye at an ambulatory surgical center in Albuquerque.  I have Fuchs' Dystrophy and will be having a partial corneal transplant to improve my eyesight.  The procedure is called DescemetĂ­s Stripping and Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSAEK) and is a replacement of the innermost layer (endothelium) of my cornea which has been damaged as a result of a genetic disorder that results in a hazy view of the world and eventually total blindness.

The cells that make up the endothelium of the cornea "pump out" water in the eye so your vision is clear.  With Fuchs' Dystrophy, the cells are destroyed and your vision gets blurry and cannot be corrected by glasses.

Diagnosis and staging require a cell count of your endothelial cells and examination of irregularities called "guttae"

Currently my left eye's vision is 20/40 with corrective lenses and my right eye is 20/25 with corrective lenses. As my right eye gets worse, I will probably have the same procedure done for it in the future.

I was diagnosed with this disorder in 2010 after several years of problems with my vision and the primary diagnosis was "dry eye syndrome".  Because the symptoms of Fuchs' Dystrophy mimic the symptoms of many other eye disorders, it usually is not diagnosed for several years.  It is a genetic disorder affecting about 4% of the population over 40 years of age.

I found the following video thoroughly (and graphically) illustrates the procedure I will undergo. The doctor says there is a 10% chance of complications up to and including the loss of my eye.  My doctor successfully completed cataract surgery on my left eye last May and I am feeling positive about this procedure and hoping to recover within a few weeks.  There are no stitches and the tissue is held in place with a gas bubble for a couple of days. The main complications are infection and rejection or the dislodging of bubble and the transplant.  I'll be taking a couple of weeks off work while I recover.   I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Postscript:  1/25/12. Day One after the transplant. Post Op meeting with doctor went really well, my air bubble and graft is still in tact.  No real pain, vision returning although still somewhat blurry, I could read letters with pinhole cover at 20/50 uncorrected!  The colors, now I see what I've been missing!  Color had been fading the past few years and now it's bright and beautiful!  No more patch during the day, no more lying flat on my back (yeah!). Just watching out for pain or redness and taking it easy for the next week and come back in one week. I feel great!!! 
1/25/12. 12:30 PM. I panic. Some fluid has come from my eye and a gray disc appears above my pupil.  The graft has been dislodged.  I show Ron.  We call the doctor and are routed to a message machine with the triage nurse.  We don't wait for a call back as we are nearly an hour away from the doctor's office.  We go to the office and he sees me.  "The graft is fine.  It is still in place.  That gray dot is the gas bubble (used to hold the graft in place).  I told you it would move around the eye for a few days.[No, he didn't.]"  We go home feeling better, but now I have an irritating feeling there like something in the eye. There's more blood in the white area.  I lay down for the rest of the day.
Day 3, 1/26/12. 7:30AM. Here's what my eye looks like two days after the surgery:

The gas bubble that caused my panic is situated just above my pupil

Day 4 after the surgery. 1/27/12. 8:15AM.  The swelling and redness are beginning to subside,  The vision is less blurry, I think the bubble is shrinking. There's a slight irritation like something in the eye (perhaps the stiches?). Here's a picture of the eye this morning:

Day 5 after the surgery. 1/28/12. 8:15AM. The bubble is gone.  There is no more scratchy feeling.  My vision is getting better although still blurry. Here's a picture from today:

 Day 5. 1/28/12 7:00PM. My eyesight is clear and I can see better with the left eye than with the right (without glasses).  My left eye which was over 20/400 uncorrected, is now quite good without glasses and I can read signs and print that are clear but that are blurry with my right eye that is about 20/200 uncorrected.  This is better than I ever expected! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Come Celebrate the New Mexico State Centennial This Year

This month marks New Mexico's 100th birthday as a state of the United States of America. Although it is new as a State, New Mexico is a land long populated by many cultures with the first evidence of human settlement in 25000 BC.  Our state Capital, Santa Fe,  was founded in 1610 by Spain and is the oldest capital city in the United States. 

I discovered New Mexico in an overnight stay in Taos in August, 1999 and fell under the spell of New Mexico immediately (as so many do who actually stay a day or more in the state).  The luminous light, the incredible skies, the colors of the earth, the wonderful warm and diverse culture, the smells like sage and green chile roasting and sweet pinon smoke, the deep powder of the mountain snows....kept bringing me back until I moved here from California in 2005.

If you have not planned a vacation this year, why not come to New Mexico?  All your preconceptions about our state will be blown away if you come.  Please check out this wonderful slideshow made by a couple of residents about what you will see in New Mexico.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday.  Had he not been cut down by an assassin's bullet on April 4, 1968, he would be 83 years old.  On Sunday, I walked in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade in downtown Albuquerque.  It was a happy, joyful event of several thousand New Mexicans representing all ages, classes, and races.

Marching with the Rio Rancho NAACP

A Pueblo girl helped the Emcee introduce the state and local dignitaries. Two of our three Congressmen were there - Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan, Jr. - as were several other elected representatives and judges.  I was happy to see my Republican State Senator, Sue Wilson Beffort (District 19) there.  I don't know where the Mayor was or the Governor.  I wish they had been there.  In these highly partisan times, I see more and more Republicans withdrawing their support from MLK events because of angry right-wing rhetoric that demands conservatives not recognize the impact of Martin Luther King, Jr. on American history.  The event was a celebration of the freedom, equality, and diversity of our great land.  Laguna Pueblo dancers celebrated the life of Dr. King and the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem were presented in English and Spanish.  The performances and speeches were inspiring.

My friend, Roy Cook, is of mixed heritage: Mexican, Anglo and Native American.  Born in Tucson, Arizona, and now living in San Diego, California, Roy sent photos of the Native Americans of San Diego County who marched in San Diego's MLK Parade. He wrote eloquently why Dr. King is honored by Native America.

MLK Parade in San Diego

The principles of Dr. King embodied our national principles that all God's children are created equal and entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Dr. King taught "inclusiveness" against the tide of narrow and hateful nationalism and racism.  He taught that the strong and able must look after and stand up the weak and less able.  In a society with great material wealth and opportunity, where great poverty and injustice still exist, we must all do what we can to eliminate the causes underlying poverty and injustice. 

I think the reason Dr. King's legacy rings true today with so many is because we are a divided nation that struggles to unite its people around common goals. There is hostility, not civility, among even our elected representatives. Anger bubbles up easily and violence is too often used to intimidate others or even shut down their speech.  Bullying is common, even on the internet.  Dr. King's message of love and non-violence is a powerful one.  Violence against ideas is never a solution.  The fact that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a victim of violence by someone who disagreed with him reminds us all that, although hate can stop a man's speech, it cannot stop his ideas.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Road Trip to Colorado and Other Things to Do This Winter

I drove to Colorado Springs and Denver over the weekend with my daughter

Amanda wanted to visit her old college friend, Brett, who recently moved to Colorado Springs

Amanda in Manitou Springs at the foot of Pike's Peak

Amanda and Brett enjoyed the old time amusement arcade in Manitou Springs

Followed by great hot chocolate, cappuccino...

...and delicious desserts!

It snowed Saturday night and the temperature went down to 10 degrees F.

We returned on Sunday trying to make Raton Pass (between Colorado and New Mexico) before the snow got heavier

We made it!
(Thanks to my daughter, Amanda, for providing all the above photos)

During these cold winter days, I'm enjoying some good books and tea I got for Christmas. 

 I finished the book Matt gave me, Joan Didion's Blue Nights.  This was a memorial to her daughter, Quintana.  So sad.  My step daughter, Margaret, sent me Amy Waldman's first novel The Submission that I'm presently reading with great interest.

Amanda gave me some new pastels for Christmas but the cold weather prevents me from painting in my unheated studio.

I gave my latest finished pastel painting to my daughter Mary for Christmas.

I also like to bake cookies on cold winter days.  Mary made a gluten-free sugar cookie mix and gave it to me for Christmas.  Yummy!

Cooking Green Chile Stew is always welcome on these cold days.  I break out the frozen roasted chiles from September and make a pot of green chile stew that pleases everyone in my home.

Snowshoeing is always a great adventure and excellent exercise.  The nearby Sandia Mountains have many snow shoe and cross-country skiing trails to enjoy.  The quiet of the forest as you trudge through the snow is stunning!

Amanda snowshoeing on the Deer Spring Trail

Making snow angels in the snow is always fun!

The Friends of the Sandia Mountains hold an annual Sandia Snow Shoe Race in January, and although registration is full for the January 21, 2012 race, you can come watch the event that begins at 10AM.  This is how we raise money to fund all our volunteer work in the Sandia Mountains

The Sandia Snow Shoe Race course

Another thing I like to do on these cold winter days is to watch the wild birds when they come to my feeders. 

Mary's fiancee, Matt, gave me some premium bird feed for them.  With all the snow on the ground covering their sources of food, they really love the extra nourishment.

My new black cat, Beeto, loves to watch the birds, too.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I'll Vote for the Incumbent in 2012

I hope you cast your vote for the next US President in my little unscientific poll on the right. I'll take the incumbent, thank you very much.  The challengers are so lacking in the qualitities we need for President. I can't win over you Republicans or Libertarians, but I sure do lack respect for a lot of you left wing liberals who think Barack Obama doesn't deserve your support because you are "disappointed in him."  I think Jake Lamar made the point in his video below why you must help get out the vote for President Obama in November, 2012, and elect a House and Senate that will support him.  This 2012 Election is one of the most important elections we will experience in our life. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Road Trip to California

On Christmas Eve, my husband was feeling pretty good (he'd just enjoyed a Southern Comfort Manhattan that is his traditional winter drink) so he suggested we should drive to California the day after Christmas to see our friends Page and Laurie who live in Poway just north of San Diego.  After getting my approval (and Page and Laurie), we headed for California a little after 9 o'clock in the morning on December 26th.  We now have a "new" car,  having surrendered our Toyota 4Runner to a salvage company as a result of an insurance settlement that gave us a check for damages from the truck that hit us December 1st on our road trip back from Las Vegas.  This was a chance to see how our newly acquired 2010 GMC Terrain AWD would perform (albeit in perfectly good weather this time on I-40).

We passed through a New Mexico totally covered in white to Gallup.  Northern Arizona Navajo Country was chilly but generally without the white stuff.  We decided to use our timeshare owner's "bonus time" and scored a nice one bedroom condo on Oak Creek in Sedona, Arizona for the night ($69 - cheaper than a motel).  Having not eaten lunch, we were starved, so a good meal at Ken's Creekside Restaurant was very welcome.

Next morning found me photographing the red cliffs at sunrise in chilly 22 degree weather.  The heated leather seats in the GMC Terrain were a pleasure. There were hundreds of tourists (mostly Asian) doing the same thing.  I couldn't catch the full effect of the sun on all the cliffs as Ron wanted to get on the road, but here are a few photos of a beautiful Sedona morning on December 27, 2011:

We took I-17 south to Phoenix and then connected with I-8 to San Diego via Yuma, a route Ron had never seen.  He found it rather boring because it is largely desolate and arid desert. We arrived at Page and Laurie's Poway home at 3PM on December 27th.  We were married at their lovely home in their backyard in January, 2006 and held our reception outside next to their pool.  Here are some pictures of that wonderful day:

They've lost a few trees due to the 2007 fire in San Diego County , but the grounds and home are as beautiful as we remembered them.  For those who read my blog, you know I am a native Californian who lived in San Diego County from 1961-2005 so it's a sentimental journey for me to return to my old haunts.

After a wonderful lasagna dinner Tuesday night and lox and bagels the next morning, Page and Laurie took us on a pleasant tour of San Diego County.  We stopped at Orfila Vineyard and Winery in Escondido, where we enjoyed wine tasting and great weather in the temperate 70's. 

Laurie and Page at Orfila Vineyard

Ron and I having a lot of fun

Laurie and Page enjoying the "vine"

Most of the wines were a bit too tannic for me but I did buy a small bottle of sweet non-vintage California Tawny Port.  Next, Page drove us to Hernandez Hideaway just west of Lake Hodges in Escondido.  I'd not been here for many years, but I must admit I love this old roadhouse with its delicious Mexican foods and margaritas.  We enjoyed a shared platter of nachos and a round or two of margaritas.

Next, Page drove us to the USS Midway, an historic aircraft carrier now sitting in San Diego Harbor as a museum of WW II and Vietnam War era aircraft and memorabilia.

Ron is a Vietnam Veteran and so he remembered many of the aircraft and helicopters on display.

The deck under the main flight deck is like a huge factory.

The view of downtown San Diego is great from the Midway's flight deck.
There's a sculpture in the Embarcadero Park below the Midway depicting that lovely iconic photo of "The Kiss" from VJ-Day in NYC's Times Square.

The Midway's bridge
After our tour of the Midway, we headed for Cardiff-by-the-Sea to catch the sunset and dinner at the Beach House Restaurant (Laurie and Page's favorite).

Our two days in San Diego were perfect and we really enjoyed Page and Laurie's hospitality.  Laurie cooked a wonderful Swedish Pancake with powdered sugar and fresh lemon juice for our breakfast the next morning.  We were on the road about 9:15AM.  We decided to take a different route home through Temecula and Palm Springs via the scenic and tortuous Pine-to-Palms Highway.  Stopping in Palm Springs for a Sushi lunch, we enjoyed the warm desert winter temperatures.  We decided to spend the night in Laughlin, NV where we did a little gambling and went to bed early.  We left by 6AM and traveled about 9 hours to our home in Sandia Park, New Mexico safe and sound, arriving December 30 at about 3PM.  The huge volume of snow has begun to melt around our home and the sun is beautiful.  We enjoyed a quiet evening at home New Year's Eve. 
Happy New Year, 2012!