Saturday, June 6, 2015

Author's Eye Crisis

"No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays." (Luke 11:33-36 NASB)

I had intended to move past eye disease after yesterday's post. When lightning started flashing in the periphery of my right eye, I thought I had been writing about eye disease entirely too long. When a large "floater" drifted into my central vision and decided to stay there, I was certain I had tarried until I had begun to develop "sympathy symptoms". The floater worsened, the lightning increased, and I wasn't quite so sure. 

After a few minutes at the computer spent trying to see around the large floater, it was obvious there was a real, not imagined, problem. Every physician knows to take "flashing lights" seriously, and the devotional series had only reinforced that. I prayed. I text'd my prayer partners and family to pray, made an appointment, and headed to Bible School for our last day. The flashing intensified again and I left for the ophthalmologist's office, hoping to be worked in. 

I've known Dr. Bill Brawner since we were both in training. I've never been so grateful for his expertise and his caution. He spent an incredible amount of time examining my eye to be certain of the diagnosis. Posterior Vitreous Detachment. No retinal detachment, which I had feared. 

This is how the National Eye Institute describes it: "Most of the eye's interior is filled with vitreous, a gel-like substance that helps the eye maintain a round shape. There are millions of fine fibers intertwined within the vitreous that are attached to the surface of the retina, the eye's light-sensitive tissue As we age, the vitreous slowly shrinks, and these fine fibers pull on the retinal surface. Usually the fibers break, allowing the vitreous to separate and shrink from the retina. This is a vitreous detachment."

As the vitreous fibers pull away, they can pull so hard that they cause a macular hole or a retinal detachment, damaging vision. It has a 10% risk of retinal tear, with half of those leading to retinal detachment. My tugging fibers did none of that, and I pray they don't. I praise God for my intact retina. The light show is a little disconcerting, but it should resolve over the next few weeks.

Vitreous detachment is very common over the age of fifty. Even though I feel 25, the number of birthdays I have celebrated is part of the problem. The near-sightedness I've had since childhood is implicated, as well. There's not a single thing I can do to prevent a second vitreous detachment (except, of course, pray. You can be sure I'm doing that.)

What is so strange to me is that I had risk factors for Posterior Vitreous Detachment, but was powerless to change any of them. There is nothing I can do to decrease the risk, and nothing to increase the risk. It's simply life unfolding in an unexpected way. It happens, and it is very common.

Life is full of unexpected surprises that are not always as pleasant as we might hope. This one caught me completely off guard. I am certain, however, that our omniscient God was not caught off guard at all. He knew the challenges I would face yesterday and He made preparation in advance. My friend and ophthalmologist was in his office. They could work me in at the end of their schedule. I had already planned to be in Tupelo, only a few blocks from his office. 

We cannot prevent every difficulty we encounter. We cannot avoid trouble. Some of the things that come our way, like mine yesterday, are due to nothing more than the failure of frail flesh. It can be frightening. Loss of vision could have drastically impacted my life as a writer, but the peace that passes all understanding was enough to see me through. Looking back on yesterday, I am amazed that I was never beset with fear or anxiety. I trusted in the One who promised to see me through. 

For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 
'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 
(Jeremiah 29:11 NASB)

Today, I'll do the things I always do, look past the floater, and try to enjoy the light show flashing in my right eye. The failure of my own frail flesh brings me one step closer to the time when I will step into my eternal home, and that is cause for rejoicing.

If you aren't facing a personal crisis now, you have in the past or you will in the future. Personal crises are a part of life, though never scheduled or anticipated. There is no need to tremble in fear or collapse from anxiety. As believers, we can meet our challenges head-on, confident that the One who is ultimately in charge will be with us, every step of the way. 

"The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." (Deuteronomy 31:8 NASB)

When life happens in unexpected ways, remember Who holds your life in His loving hands, and take hope and help from the One who will see you through.