Cindy La Ferle
In my case, three surgeries were needed to repair the damage -- after the first surgical biopsy.
Awake and under the knife
My next procedure was all about removing the remaining cancerous cells in my eyelid. For this, I chose the same Mohs surgeon who's treated other skin cancers on my face in the past.
|Flowers from Deb / Cindy La Ferle|
Once my eyelid tissue was in the clear, the surgical wound needed to be closed and repaired for optimal cosmetic and functional results.
Reinventing the eyelid
|Flowers from Matilda / Cindy La Ferle|
The pain and bruising weren't as bad as I'd expected. But I found it nearly impossible to read for any length of time. My emails and texts were peppered with errors, since I had trouble seeing what I'd just typed. I couldn't accurately focus my camera or edit photos. My depth perception was off, so I tripped on carpets and sidewalks. I broke a glass in the bathroom.
On the rare occasions when I left the house, I wore sunglasses or a patch over the right side of my prescription glasses. I wanted to avoid explaining to others why my right eye was sewn shut; I was tired of rehashing the whole ordeal. I preferred to say, "I just had some surgery on my eye," and leave it at that.
They say you discover your real friends during a crisis -- and I believe this is true. It helped tremendously to have the ongoing care of my sweet husband, plus the support of dear friends and neighbors who sent cards and flowers, brought me soup and meals, and emailed or texted daily to check on me.
So what do you do for two weeks when your eyesight is suddenly compromised and you're not even allowed to bend down to do some gardening?
When I wasn't napping out of boredom, I tried new recipes and reorganized my underwear drawer. I channel-surfed to find news stations I don't typically watch, aiming to broaden my perspective on current politics (which only added to my depression). Finally, I found some relief and comfort watching Gilmore Girls reruns.
Appreciating the view
All said and done, the reconstruction was successful -- and aside from the expected swelling and vivid purple bruising, the newly repaired eyelid appears to be fairly normal even after the second day of its re-opening. It will take take a few more weeks to complete the healing process, and later, my ophthalmic surgeon will reevaluate his work and decide if we need to make any adjustments. Meanwhile, I remain under surgical restrictions, resting quietly.
As both of my surgeons agreed, surgery in the eye area can be both physically and emotionally exhausting.
Prior to my surgeries, I did an online search for more info about eyelid cancer treatment. That search led me to an informative post by a young military mom who was also diagnosed with basal cell cancer on her lower eyelid. Had I not found Susan's* reassuring two-part blog post on the topic, I would have been twice as frightened by everything I was about to face.
Years ago, shortly after I completed physical therapy for my second hip replacement surgery, I adopted a "theme song" that spoke to me about getting through a painfully difficult time and finding joy again. The song was "I Can See Clearly Now," by Johnny Nash, and I've been singing it again all weekend. ~Cindy La Ferle