When you are in good health and have decent eyesight, it is easy to forget how important and precious your sight can be. We met someone recently that reminded us of how devastating the loss of sight can truly be and wanted to share his story.
Michael visited us a few weeks back and we learned that his sight was deteriorating to the point of not being able to see at all. Now, for most folks, this would be concerning, scary even, but for Michael, it was potentially life-altering.
Michael has ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or what is commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a disease that affects the nervous system weakening the muscles throughout the body to the point of not being able to use them at all. It is also the disease that Stephen Hawking had, and much like Professor Hawking, Michael’s condition had progressed to the point of being confined to a wheelchair and only being able to communicate via blinking and software that translated the movements of his cheek into words and sentences.
Mike operates this software, called EZKeys thru Words+, on his laptop computer with a sensor connection clipped to the left front side shank of his glasses. A cheek movement triggers the sensor in association with the rows and letters. The process of determining each letter is painstakingly slow. Yet, this was his only method of communicating with his wife, his friends, and the outside world, and sadly his vision had deteriorated to such a degree that he was losing the ability to read the screen which guided him in communicating. As you might surmise, the potential loss of this ability to communicate was devastating/heartbreaking.
Imagine for just a moment that you are facing the possibility of no longer being able to talk with your loved ones. You no longer can express your thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Your interactions with the world now become a one-sided pathway. You can still experience the world but can no longer express yourself within it.
When Michael came in, PCVI ophthalmologist Dr. Ambati quickly realized the severity of his worsening eyesight but more importantly the impact that the loss was having on his life. After a thorough examination, the cause of Michael’s deteriorating eyesight was determined, and cataract removal for both eyes was recommended.
The cataract surgery went well, and Dr. Ambati confirmed everything looked good in the eyes the day after surgery with a Saturday afternoon house call. While it is very soon after Michael’s procedure we are extremely happy to report that Michael’s vision is returning, and he is once again able to communicate with his wife, family, and friends.
Restoring sight can help relieve suffering in so many ways, especially if sight is one of the last abilities one has left. We are grateful to Michael’s wife Traci and the care team in helping take care of Michael after the surgery. We will update further when Michael comes in for his next follow up but are very happy with his results and are incredibly pleased we were able to assist him in once again being able to communicate with his loved ones and the world at large.
We are ecstatic to report that at his follow up visit, Michael’s vision has improved dramatically. He is able to watch TV, work on his computer and even watch his son skydive. Life appears to have gotten back to normal, which is exactly what we wanted to happen.