Sunday, July 27, 2014

Open My Eyes That I May See - Tracy Krauss

Paul's blindness at his conversion holds special meaning for me. Like Paul, I too have been blind - literally. I was born with a congenital eye condition known as Ectopia Lentis or dislocated lens. The lenses and the lens sack are misshapen and in the wrong position. Besides that, I have bilateral amblyopia (lazy eyes in both eyes), mild exotropia (one eye wants to wander), myopia (nearsightedness), and astigmatism (wrong curve to the cornea). Pretty much everything that could be wrong is wrong! I could never see well, and in fact was diagnosed ‘legally blind’ once I went to an eye doctor, but for the first five years of my life, nobody knew!

How can that be, you might ask? Well, as far as I knew, I was normal, and the fact that I could always draw well (and spent hours drawing), probably threw people off. Mind you, the fact that I’d be an inch from the paper should have been a clue... 

When driving in the car, if someone said, “Look at the horses!” I’d go, “What horses?” which would be met with, “Quit being silly!” Or when I’d say, “Isn’t it cool how when you turn your head to the side you can see three of everything?” I think my family just thought I was a bit slow…or strange… or maybe as the fifth child, my parents were too busy to really notice… 

In any case, when I went to register for school, a nurse was there to do a routine eye check. At first she thought I was kidding when I said I didn’t see any ‘E’ let alone a big ‘E’. Soon after she was basically scolding my mother with, “This girl needs glasses!” And what a difference glasses made! My very limited world was suddenly so much broader – even though by everyone else’s standards I was still visually impaired at a best case 20/50.

I spent my growing up years going to specialists and undergoing every test known to man, all with the same outcome. After examining me, the doctor would inevitably look surprised and call in all his colleagues for a look. Apparently, my condition is a bit of an anomaly. I’ve done some research and most people with the condition have other genetic disorders as well, as in dwarves, giants and people with downs syndrome… (I don’t have any of these conditions, or at least not that I know of. *Smile*.)

When I was a teen I went to a specialist that told me I’d probably go blind by 40. Now if that isn’t something to look forward to! Mind you, when you’re fifteen, that seemed really far away, and life would be pretty much over at forty, anyway, right? So I didn’t worry about it too much. My fortieth birthday rolled around, and all was still stable. Then as I approached 45 things started to change. A rapid decline in my right eye meant I needed surgery to remove the lens which was dangling by a thread. I underwent a three hour surgery where the eye was opened, drained of its vitreous fluid and a new lens was implanted just under the cornea.

Technically, all should have been well. Except the brain is a funny thing. My brain would not accept the new information that was now coming into it through the revised eye. My left eye shut down as well, and I was now almost totally blind. I describe it more like a ‘white out’ than a black out. I could see light, and some colour, but there were no definitive shapes of any kind. If I closed my right eye and held a book about a millimeter from my left eye I could make out the words, but that was it.

My two weeks of leave from work stretched into five months; I was blind for two of them, forced to use a white cane and all to get around. During that time I knit a sweater by ‘feel’, listened to audio books including the Bible, and played the piano – a good way to stop relying on the notes or looking at the keys! It was actually a wonderfully relaxing, restful time where I just spend a lot of time praying and where I was forced to slow down. It made me so grateful for the things I did still have and it helped me to realize that even in blindness, God was good.       

After a second surgery and another three months of recovery I could see better than I ever could see before – 20/40 in both eyes. That’s still not as good as the average person, but for me it was a miracle.

I’d like to say it ended there, but I guess God is still teaching me. Shortly after my second surgery, I started experiencing extremely high pressure in my eyes, due to an allergic reaction to one of the drugs used during surgery. I had to implement a cocktail of three different eye drops to control these ‘glaucoma like’ symptoms. Another side effect took place about a year after my surgery. Because of the invasive nature of the operation, I developed a macular infection – a huge mass of swelling on the retina that acted like macular degeneration…

Are you kidding? Besides all the other things I had to contend with, I now had both ‘glaucoma like symptoms’ AND ‘macular degenerative like symptoms’?! The only treatment for the one is the thing that causes the other and so I went through a regime of treatments and counter treatments for about four years.

The result is that I am now almost totally blind in the right eye with little hope of the sight ever coming back. The left eye is still holding out, although my last visit to the specialist confirmed some movement on the part of the implant which needs to be closely monitored.

Am I concerned? Of course. On the other hand, I am not anxious. I am resting in the knowledge that God is good and He knows the course of my life. My agenda isn’t God’s agenda, but I know that in every aspect of my life – large and small – He is with me every step of the way. Like Paul, I have learned to be content in every situation.

Philippians 4: 11-13 says, “ … for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am, I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

The above post is a short excerpt from Tracy's devotional book: LIFE IS A HIGHWAY: Advice and Reflections On Navigating the Road of Life

Tracy Krauss lives with her family in Tumbler Ridge, BC where she writes, teaches school, paints and enjoys life. Visit her website for more details.


Carolyn R. Wilker said...

You've had a lot to contend with, but you are still shining like the sun in your writing and expression. Keep going, girl!

Kathleen Gibson said...

Oh, Tracy. I had no idea. May God continue to provide you with his eternal perspective on this temporary (as believers, all our illnesses and disabilities are temporary!)problem. And keep sharing that with the rest of us. You inspire me -- again. Blessings.

Peter Black said...

What a story you share with us, and what a reality you've lived and are living! Tracy, thank you for providing this window on your life and testimony of grace and faith.
Your title instantly reminded me of the opening lines of the lovely aspirational hymn:

Open my eyes that I may see / Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me / Place in my hands the wonderful key / That shall unclasp and set me free / . . .*
* Clara Scott / Fred Morris

Susan Harris said...

What a testimony to the heights God has allowed you to soar in spite of disabilities. Makes me wonder what a powerhouse you'll be when you get your new eyes in heaven. Go girl. You're an inspiration.

Tracy Krauss said...

Thanks to all for your encouraging comments. I consider my trials very minor indeed to compared to others. God is good!

Ginny Jaques said...

A great testimony, Tracy. Thanks for meeting hardship with the kind of faith that glorifies God and encourages the rest of us!

Bobbi Junior said...

God says he will meet us in our struggle. Your testimony, and your writing accomplishments along the way prove this to be true.

Thank you for stepping out and letting us see this part of who God is making you to be. May we all accept his good a perfect things with such grace.


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