Visually-Impaired – Getting Documentation
My Journey to Laser Surgery
I would have never known I needed laser surgery if it hadn’t been for the silly rule of my state blindness center. I had worked with the organization a few years earlier. Had a case worker and training. Everyone who dealt with me knew I had Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) because in order to get help from them, I had to provide medical documentation I was legally blind and I had to be referred to them. My case had been open and subsequently closed after they had provided me with the help I needed on a couple of different occasions.
But now I had a new caseworker and needed new documentation.
I wondered why my new caseworker didn’t just look in my closed records. RP isn’t something that improves over time. In fact, it leads to blindness or near blindness. There is no cure.
How inefficient and unnecessary when it was documented right in my file! I had little money and no insurance to pay for an eye exam from a specialist. To defray costs and save time, I followed the advice of one person in the eye care field and went to a local optometrist at the mail, who gave routine eye exams. Most people purchased glasses afterwards. It was fast, convenient and best of all, inexpensive. I even had a coupon!
The pleasant optometrist had me look at the chart and seemed taken aback when I had difficulty reading back many of the letters. I hadn’t told him anything about my RP because I wanted him to notice a problem on his own.
He took a slim flashlight to my eye and peered closely. I could feel the light hot on my retina. My eye watered and teared up. I had become very sensitive to light. The optometrist switched back and forth from eye to eye. Finally he said, “Have you had cataract surgery?”
“Yes. Yes, I have.”
“Something is amiss with the lens of your eye. It appears to be dislodged, off center.”
I learned back to escape the glare of the light and blinked rapidly several times as my eyes adjusted to the change in lighting. The doc handed me a tissue and I wiped my eye.
“Dislodged? The lens? Well, I received my surgery overseas in the Middle East by an Indian doctor….”
That doctor and I had been thrilled at my quick recovery. Is it possible he wasn’t as skillful as we believed? At the times I had no qualms about his capabilities. Not a single one. I was in good hands at the American Hospital, where I had the surgery done. My mind whirled. “Can anything be done to re-position it?”
The optometrist rocked back and forth on his feet. “I’m not a specialist.But i would say so. Your insurance company should approve it easily enough….”
Swallowing my disappointment, I said dully, “I have no insurance.”
I had not had insurance since I returned from the Middle East. I had a retirement fund, which kept me from being eligible for Medicaid. Neither of my part-time teaching positions had ever provided insurance and when I could no longer see to manage a classroom, I set out to become a writer. My income was too sporadic to afford insurance, and I had dipped into my retirement too many times to count. I wondered if I would have anything left to live on in my senior years.
“Doctor, do you see anything else unusual about my eye?”
He shone a flashlight into each eye again. “There are areas covered with dots of pigment.” He thought for a couple of minutes and excused himself. He came back with a computer print out. “Have you ever seen a retinal specialist? It may be that you have Retinitis Pigmentosa. It’s a degenerative eye disease that …”
i shot him a pleased look. “Yes, I know.”
“I’m no expert but given you could not read back even the larger lines of the eye chart, if you have this condition, it’s quite advanced.”
“Yes, doctor. It is” I sighed. “Can you please fill out this paper?” I handed him the sheet I had gotten from the caseworker. “So I can be referred to the State for help? Also I want to apply to the LIFT for transport. Can you fill out this form as well?”
My mind had gone into overdrive, shifting into problem-solve mode.
I wanted that surgery.
I was losing my vision fast enough with RP. I didn’t need to have a dislodged lens on top of that.If that lens were realigned, would I have better sight, even temporarily?
The only one who could answer that question was a specialist, the optometrist explained.
As it stood, I couldn’t even read the eye chart. Would I now even lose my vision faster?
One step at a time, I told myself, there is a purpose in everything.
If I hadn’t needed to get new documentation confirming the diagnosis I had initially received two decades earlier, I would never had learned about my dislodged lens. A silly requirement. I had grumbled about it over and over since my caseworker informed me everything I wanted was contingent on that paper. Once that step was completed, I would receive a letter affirming I could receive job and other training from the State.
How wise our God is! Lying in bed that evening, I recalled the verse God sent me as I mulled over the situation.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
This is one of those instances things didn’t go as planned. I desperately needed to find a job. Anything until i could get my writing off the ground. If I only had further job training, I could begin to stop worrying about my finances. I knew high school graduates making more money than I was and I had a Master’s degree. That paper didn’t do me any good now that I could no longer teach. The frustrations kept mounting. The years since i had returned from the Middle East were teaching me to rely on God for finances.
That night I remembered God had a plan for me — and getting that silly paper when I didn’t think I needed it was part of His plan for my life. If I continued to trust God, He would lead me to hope.
Surely He would provide a way for me to get my dislodged lens fixed!
What trial (s) have you undergone in which God has reassured you He is still in control?