January 6, Hu Womack
Vision and Perspective
I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.
It was the summer of 2010 when I noticed my new glasses just weren’t working right. Having glasses since I was six – with a brief interlude after LASIK and then back to glasses when those results began to fade – I was confident it was just a minor adjustment, not foreshadowing of the future.
My eyes have always required observation and care – severe myopia, Fuchs’ Dystrophy (more on that later) less than successful LASIK – but modern medicine always had my back. I was transferred to a cornea specialist, Dr. Matt, who after explaining the gravity of the situation, reassured me at our first meeting that “I wouldn’t go blind” (not something that had occurred to me yet, but words I would hang on to tightly in the future).
A partial cornea transplant would be in my future, possibly two of them, but neither of us knew disease would progress quickly and that by 2012 I’d have two DSEK procedures to address the reduced vision and growing pain of Fuchs’ Dystrophy, or that both procedures, while flawless, would result in a significant loss of visual acuity that would force me to examine my life and make some major changes.
The gratitude I have for Dr. Matt and his team can’t be expressed. This man does surgery, conducts research, sees patients, raises a family, is engaged in his community, AND he saved my vision, all while giving me the reassurance I needed to remain positive and confident during this transition. The gratitude I have for my family, friends, and coworkers – who saw me through both surgeries, who seamlessly began offering me rides when my driving ability was reduced, who helped me make some major life changes – equals the gratitude I feel for Dr. Matt.
Skipping ahead five years to the present, many things have improved. I can now wear scleral contacts and glasses that together give me 20/30 vision for twelve hours each day. I don’t need rides anymore, but that’s not the true destination of this journey. These past five years have shown me that I have value beyond my physical abilities and that my happiness comes from being part of things that are much bigger than myself.
I’m a much happier and more fulfilled person for having taken this circuitous journey. Now I only have good days and great days.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina