Rachelle N. Cornea Transplant Journal

Background Info: 36 years old, KC diagnosed in left eye 15+ years ago, unable to wear contact lens for 2+ years prior to transplant, transplant candidate for a couple of years

Monday, November 10, 1997

Received a call from surgery center that they had a donor cornea for me. I was caught completely off guard. Three weeks before I was still #9 on the waiting list. This was down from #11 six months before that, so I wasn't really thinking about it at the time.

They needed an answer within an hour. Called my husband and he came home to discuss it. Decided to go ahead with the surgery basically so a few years from now it wasn't an emergency situation and have the surgeon say I should have done this years ago.

Wednesday, November 12 - SURGERY DAY

Spent all of Monday and Tuesday getting things arranged for the surgery on Wednesday. I have been extremely upset and apprehensive about the surgery these and whether this is the right thing to do. Was my eye situation really bad enough to warrant this procedure? I have been getting by with my good right eye pretty well. I can't imagine anyone more upset about this than me. I've never had any type of surgery or even an IV before.

Surgery center called me this morning and told me the donor tissue didn't test out to the surgeon's qualifications, so the surgery is off! After all that upset, now it wasn't going to happen. Called my family and told them. One comforting thought is my surgeon apparently has high quality standards. Received another call from the surgery center 30 minutes later and informed me the eye bank had found other tissue that did meet the surgeon's standards, so we were on again! I was to report to the surgery center at noon. Received another call from the surgery center in late morning that I shouldn't show up until 2:30 because the doctor was running behind. What a roller coaster day!

Needless to say, I was a basket case by the time 2:30 rolled around! People at the surgical center were extremely nice or I'm not sure I could have done it. The surgery was done as an outpatient with a local sedative. For 2 days I had been thinking about the needles they were going to poke in my eye, etc. and it made me crazy! IV drug never did make me sleepy or tired, but as upset as I was, maybe that's all the calmer I could be. I was awake and asked the surgeon not to talk about what he was doing. He made some joke about me stealing his trade secrets if he talked. During the procedure I could have easily moved if I had wanted to so I concentrated on not moving. Couldn't really see anything except a bright light overhead. Toward the end I could feel the stick of the needle as the surgeon was doing the stitches. Finally, it was over!

Recovery didn't take very long. They checked my blood pressure twice, removed the IV, and gave me vanilla wafers and orange juice. Had to take a pill to keep the swelling down. Of course, I had the big patch over my eye, but actually didn't feel too bad when I went home around 5:45 p.m. The surgery took a little over an hour, I had waited around awhile before they took me back to get prepped.

A few hours later the deadening shots were wearing off and I could really feel the stitches, they were very rough. I laid down and dozed for a little while. Absolutely hated the eye shield and patch. It's hard to look at something with your good eye when the lid to operated eye can't open too.

Thursday, November 13

Had follow-up appointment at 8:30 a.m. Medical assistant taking off eye shield and bandages wasn't going to turn down the light until I asked her too. Gee, have a little compassion! Surgeon said eye looked great and to come back in a week. Supposed to take Maxitrol 4x/day and Atropine 1x/day. Maxitrol is anti-biotic/steroid and Atropine is for swelling.

Felt good to have eye shield off though. Went home and stayed in darker basement most of the day. Can open eye a little, but still waters a lot. Can't read or watch TV. The images on TV flicker too much I think, it's really hard to watch. Laid down most of the day, but didn't sleep much because the phone kept ringing. Got prescription for Tobrex 3% ointment that I used once in the evening and once before I went to bed. Of course I wore my eye shield to bed. Slept okay, woke up several times. Laying around so much makes my back hurt!

Friday, November 14 (2 days post-op)

Felt better today. Eye is still sore around the eye socket and a little bruised yet. Can open eye a little in low light. Took a shower and washed my hair - that felt better! Wore the eye shield in the shower with a washcloth over it so my eye wouldn't get wet.

Saturday, November 15 (3 days post-op)

Worst thing about today was I had to miss the final Nebraska home football game - I'm a big fan! I didn't feel that bad but weather was in the 30's and rainy and I figured that probably wasn't the best conditions to be out in. Watched game on TV, but it's hard to keep my eye open that long. It isn't watering as much today, but that makes it dry. Maybe it's the combination of drier eye and took much TV today - the Tobrex ointment helps a lot.

Sunday, November 16 (4 days post-op)

Didn't know until this morning that the Maxitrol bottle is supposed to be shaken well before using. No one bothered to tell me that. Eye is still really dilated, which I suppose is from the drops. Started humidifier today to see if that helps dryness.

Monday, November 17 (5 days post-op)

Was able to read newspaper this morning!!! That's an improvement. I think swelling is starting to subside also. Still have a "bruise" type mark on my upper cheek, under the eye. Eye looks strange because my pupil is dilated from the drops. Light sensitivity is pretty good.

Wednesday, November 19 (7 days post-op)

Hit the one week mark. Seems to improve a little everyday. I did have a problem with sinus swelling. Apparently it's the steroid drop getting into my sinuses making them feel numb and swollen. If I hold my finger over tear duct after using drop it seems to help. Surgeon wasn't much help with this though ("Your eye is going to feel a lot of different things while healing.") Advice on tear duct came from KC link person, bless him. One week checkup was good.

Thursday, November 20 (8 days post-op)

Numb sinus seems to be improving a little. Drove to the post-office today with my ugly post-surgical sunglasses today. Mainly traveled on light traffic, residential roads and did okay.

Saturday, November 22 (10 days post-op)

Went grocery shopping today, but got a little dizzy while looking up and down the aisles!

Sunday, November 23 (11 days post-op)

Eye seems to get dry a lot - started running humidifier again to ease air dryness. Still difficult to watch a full day of football. Have to "rest" my eye by closing it for an hour or so.

Thursday, November 27 (15 days post-op)

Last day for Atropine drops! These are the ones that dilate my pupils. Everything seems to be okay. Still have to rest my eye in late afternoon.

Sunday, November 30

Eye seems to be a little better - I can watch more football today! Started using Vexol 1% drops today (finished with the Maxitrol).

Monday, December 1

Put up outdoor Christmas lights this week. The cold outside bothers when I come indoors.

Wednesday, December 3 (3 weeks post-op)

Eye still isn't as dilated as it was before - gradually getting back to normal. Only using Tobrex ointment once or twice a day, mainly at night. Eye feels better since off Maxitrol a few days ago.

Saturday, December 6

Nebraska played on TV today and I was able to watch the whole game! We had plans to travel to this game, but obviously didn't go. Redness in lower lid seems to be improving too.

Sunday, December 7

Watched NFL football today and everything seems okay. It's getting easier to watch. Vision is still pretty fuzzy though.

Monday, December 15 (1 month post-op)

Check up today. Eye is doing well. Surgeon removed 2 stitches today (at 12:00 and 3:00 positions, I think). Changed to Vexol 3x/day for 4 weeks, then 2x/day for 4 weeks. Follow-up visit scheduled for 2 months. Eye regressed a little for a week or so, because of removing the stitches?

Last week of December (6 weeks post-op)

Flew to Orange Bowl game. Still not able to wear eye makeup everyday - makes my eye sore to remove it.

Mid-January, 1998 (2 months post-op)

Eye is much better, it's doing really well. I've been wearing eye makeup several times a week now. Surgeon had me schedule an appointment with optometrist for January 15. He told me the eye looks good. The cornea is a little "rough" but that is normal and goes away. Vision correctable to 20/50, but far-sighted. I was near-sighted before.

On January 16, surgeon's office calls and wants me to change to Inflammase Forte drops 2x/day.

February 1

Eye is starting to get sore, red and blood shot. Eased off on eye makeup - maybe I over did it? It was feeling so well before.

Friday, February 13

3 month checkup scheduled for today. Surgeon said my eye was scratched and wanted to know if I've had a contact on that eye!!! Of course I haven't, I don't know what happened. He tells me to put ointment in my eye and discontinue Imflammase Forte drops and come back in one month for corneal topography. Also gives me samples of GenTeal lubricating drops to use during the day. It really bothers me how I could have scratched my eye because I've been so careful!

Monday, February 23

Eye has been really red and sore the past few days. Called surgeon's office and naturally he is out of town today and tomorrow. Made appointment with alternate doctor since I don't want to wait another 2 days. That doctor told me to take Vexol 4x/day again until I come back and see the surgeon. I'm afraid the graft is rejecting.

Tuesday, February 24

Eye feels better already and isn't as bloodshot and sore.

Thursday, February 26

Appointment with surgeon today. Eye feels a lot better. He tells me there is scarring where the eye scratch was and hopefully it will heal. I asked if the graft was rejecting and he said he saw no evidence of that (but then he didn't see my eye on Monday). He told me to take Vexol 3x/day for 5 days, then 2x/day for 5 days, and 1x/day for 5 days and to come back in a month.

March 20

Had an appointment with my optometrist today to check the prescription for the contact in my "good" eye. He looked at my graft and said it looked more like a dry area than a scratch. I've been using the GenTeal lubricating drops a lot to keep my eye moist.

March 24

I've struggled with a red, sore eye for the last month. The only time it feels okay is when I'm exercising during the morning and haven't put drops in my eyes for a couple of hours. I begin thinking that maybe it's the drops I've been using so I quit using the GenTeal and buy some Celluvisc which I know other transplant patients have used.

March 26

Eye feels much better. I have an appointment with surgeon again today and ask him about the eye drops. He says it's unusual because those drops are very gentle, but I get his approval to use Celluvisc. He also switches me to FML 0.1% drops 1x/day and wants to see me in a month.

March 28

Wow! My eye feels much better after several days without GenTeal. I must have some kind of reaction to the preservative or something.

April 27 (5 months post-op)

Eye has felt much better this last month using Celluvisc. Have appointment with surgeon today. He removed a few more stitches and tells me everything looks fine. I can make an appointment to get fitted for a contact lens! I decide to wait until after my vacation in the first half of June.

June 15 (7 months post-op)

My vision is 20/30 (far-sighted) without correction and nothing my optometrist does makes it better, so we decide to forego a contact lens at this time. I've been using Celluvisc about 6 times a day. When I try to cut that down a little, it seems like my eye feels okay, but a few days later gets sore. So I guess I'll have to keep using it for a while. Using FML 0.1% every other day now.

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