Saturday, October 27, 2012

Surgery Update

Moving Right Along!
I can hardly believe this week is nearly over, and my trip to California and surgery are now in the history books. The first order of business is to thank my Heavenly Father and Savior for yet another series of blessings and prayers answered. The next order of business is to thank all of you, my dear friends and family, for your prayers, fasting, faith and help. It is your prayers on my behalf that were answered this week. Your faith, love and friendship has changed our lives forever.

We have had good friends and neighbors helping our family at home, as well as praying for us in CA. My dear mother-in-law, who stayed with the kids, was blessed by the many helping hands who car-pooled, watched kids, gave rides and helped keep everyone going where they were supposed to be. THANK YOU!

We arrived at Dr. Levine’s office in Beverly Hills on Tuesday morning. I met first with Dr. Narula, an optometrist, who did an eye exam, tested my vision, and dilated my eyes. She was a kind, lovely person and we hit it off immediately. I felt as though we could be dear friends, if given the chance.

Dr. Robert Levine, taking post-op photos of my eye
Medical Update
Vision: The results of my tests were not surprising to me, though a tiny bit discouraging. My vision in my left eye is still 20/20, but my right eye is dismal, because of the constant irritation, dryness and discharge accumulated in my eye.

Tear production: My eye is still clearly impacted by the paralysis in my face. My production of tears was tested and the results were worse than I expected. My left eye produced 27 tear drops in 3 minutes, while my right eye produced only 2 tear drops! Yikes, that certainly accounts for the constant dryness and irritation. The first solution was to try a moisturizing contact lens, to protect the cornea and keep it moistened. This is a 30-day lens, so I can try it for a month and see how it goes. Having never worn a contact, the first few hours drove me crazy, but I am getting used to it.

Eyelid spring: Dr. Levine did a thorough exam of my eye and the surrounding muscles and nerves. He believes the spring is closing my eye too much because my own muscle is starting to work a “little bit”. He explained it like this: If it takes 10 units of measurement to close the eye, the original spring was surgically implanted with all 10 units, because I had total paralysis and my eye had 0 units of ability. My nerve is slowing coming back, so my muscle has a tiny bit of movement now, perhaps 2-3 units, giving me 13 units overall, making my eye close too much.
In addition, the spring had somehow slipped out of position, and the spring was pushing down on the bottom of my eyelid, causing my eyelid to turn “inside out” a little, and creating a trough shape, instead of a straight line across the bottom of the lid. He anticipated the procedure would be a “simple” muscle tuck, in which he folded the muscle, tucked in and sutured it in place. The alternative would be to cut the end of the spring off, making it shorter and less powerful in its closing effect. So, with that diagnosis, the surgery was set.

Surgery: We reported to the Cedars Sinai outpatient medical tower on Wednesday morning at 8am. I was getting a little nervous, mostly just to get things going and underway. I hate the long minutes and hours of last-minute waiting before surgery. I was antsy and shakey while waiting for everything to start. When it was finally time, Tolan kissed me good luck and I went off down the hall. They put in the IV, then proceeded to measure my eyes carefully, to know how and where to try to position the spring and the look they wanted to achieve for the right eye. It seemed to take quite a while to get all the details worked out, but after a long while, my eyes got heavy and I could finally relax…
This was taken during the middle of my surgery. They woke me
 up test the functioning of my eye, then put me back under
sedation to finish the procedure.
I was put under heavy sedation, not general anesthesia, because they needed to wake me during the procedure to test the spring in my eye. So, after a little nap, I was awakened and asked to do a series of little tests, opening and closing my eyes, to see if the spring allowed my eye to function properly. I could heard the doctors talking, and I even heard a phone call from Tolan come in over the intercom while I was awake. It was a surreal feeling.

Moments later, I was asleep again, then woken for more tests before the procedure was final and I was brought out of the sedation.
I later learned why Tolan had called during the procedure. We anticipated the surgery would only be 2-3 hours, because of Dr. Levine’s original estimate at the pre-op, but after doing the entire procedure, he watched my eye open and close and felt it was not the best result I could have, so I went back under and he Started Over. Wow. I am amazed and blessed by this kind medical Care Giver, who more than lived up to his title. He took the extra time and effort to do the job right.

Post Surgery: When all was said and done, Tolan took me back to the hotel and we both laid down and took a long nap, mine was wonderfully sedation enhanced sleep, but Tolan looked pretty grateful for the rest, as well. That night, I stayed in bed and rested, and Tolan walked over to the Farmer’s Market and the Grove shopping area, grabbed a bite to eat  and stretched his legs. A while later, he returned with a bowl of hot corn chowder soup for me (just what I wanted), then he gave me all my prescriptions and eye drops, put on the first dose of antibiotic gel, ice packs and it was off to bed.

Thursday morning we had breakfast, then I laid back down and iced my eye for another hour, which really helped the swelling to go down. By the time we got to the post-op, my eye looked “good”, with very little bruising or swelling.

Dr. Levine was pleased with the general appearance of the eye and the incision area. It will still take some time for the rest of the swelling to go down to see how well my new open/close functioning is, but during the procedure, Dr. Levine tested it several times and was happy with the result, so we anticipate the final result will be the same.

We were then blessed to have a delightful few minutes to chat with Dr. Levine and Dr. Narula. We asked about how the eye spring surgery came about, and were fascinated with the history he told us. He started a center for patients with facial paralysis years ago, in Los Angeles, with Dr. Clough Shelton, the Neuro-ENT who assisted with my craniotomies and has followed me closely since my facial paralysis and hearing loss. These men have helped thousands of people have a better quality of life and I feel truly blessed to be in their care.
Dr. Robert Levine, me, and Dr. Narula
Before we left the office, I was fortunate enough to get a photo with my kind doctors, and get a wonderful hug from Dr. Levine. Had we hours to chat, I have no doubt we could have shared many stories of medicine, miracles and the Holy Land (we all had personal experiences there) and become true friends.

 Tolan and I even had time to go to lunch and stop by the beach for half hour before heading out on our return flight to Salt Lake City. The 87 degree weather at Long Beach was a bit more welcoming than the 35 degrees and snow we found when we got home, but the scenery inside our little house was well worth braving the cold. It was wonderful to be reunited with our sweet, loving children, each who prayed daily for mom and dad while we were gone.
This week will be one of trying to stay down and rest, though I will ever be tempted to jump back into life. I am trying to make my recovery better by actually resting and using the compresses, as instructed. I am a slow learner when it comes to taking time to recover.

Life is hard, there is no doubt about that. But goodness, kindness, love and charity still abound, and I am incredibly grateful for all the glimpses of good I witnessed and felt this week! Did you see glimpses of good this week? Please share them with us!


  1. So glad everything went well with your sugary. Hopefully you will see good results fast!!! You are such a positive and great example to me:)

  2. Jodi, I'm so glad everything went so well, and that you are in such good hands! I love your positive attitude and hope that you are blessed with a speedy recovery and a great outcome. Love ya!

  3. Jodi,
    I'm am so happy for the many miracles and spiritual moments you have had in your life. I'm really glad you share with us all, and set such a great example of a spiritual, humble women of our Father in Heaven. I wish I could have been closer to feel like I was able to help some but just know you are loved and in my heart.
    Love you, Brenda

  4. I feel soo bad I had no idea you were going for another surgery. It sounds as though it was successful?! I hope you are recovering well. Know that I think of you often and wish I had more time to get together with you. I miss and love you! Lets get together soon and catch up.

  5. Welcome home! I am excited to hear that your muscle is starting to work more. Baby steps, huh?
    Also, my blog is Hope that helps. Again, I am glad everything went well, surgeries are always a bit scary.

  6. You continue to inspire us all Jodi! Thank you for sharing your sweet experiences.
    You are in our thoughts and prayers.
    Aunt Deanne & Steve

  7. I am so glad you posted this update. We went out of town for the weekend, and I was a MESS without my computer! I thought about you all weekend long. Hooray for wonderful modern miracles, kind and wonderful people, and you!

  8. My dear Jodi,
    It was so great to be able to catch up on your latest. Sounds like amazing medical professionals took care of you. I am hoping that your new spring will be a great asset and you'll be back to winking at Tolan in no time! (:
    Love you tons,

  9. I have been considering having the eyelid spring put in for my FP. This was a helpful post. Thank you and good luck.