Tagged with: Cataract Surgery | Rapid City | Eye Surgery |
Story and Photos Courtesy of Northern Plains Eye Foundation
“A Christmas Story” conjures up memories of the movie where a bespectacled boy named Ralphie dreams of getting the perfect Christmas gift, a BB gun. On Christmas morning, after Ralphie looked frantically for a box that would hold the BB gun, he finds one last present under the tree. The film ends with Ralphie lying in bed with his BB gun with a voiceover stating this was the best present he had ever received or would ever receive.
At Northern Plains Eye Foundation (NPEF), we have the privilege of taking part in “A Christmas Story” every year through NPEF’s Christmas Gift of Sight, a program that awards sight-saving surgery to those in need. This year’s Christmas story is that of Cathy Mayes, who like Ralphie had only one wish for Christmas. Cathy’s wish was to regain her sight.
In the fall of 2009, Cathy noticed her vision began rapidly changing. “Everything looked like I was looking at a funny mirror at an amusement park.” She learned she had a macular hole in her right eye, making her close to legally blind. Surgery was her only option, and the longer it was put off, the less chance for her to regain her vision. Due to existing medical bills, no insurance and estimated surgery cost of fifteen thousand dollars, Cathy began to face the prospect of going blind. “I don’t give up on life. It’s too valuable,” Cathy stated. However, that Thanksgiving, she insisted her six children, ten grandchildren and five step-grandchildren gather for a family picture, in case something happened.
To continue to work, her office was equipped with low vision devices and a large flat screen monitor. She struggled to drive and her pursuit of her bachelor’s degree had to be put on hold, as on-line coursework was not available in large print.
Dr. Nathan Weiderholt and Dr. Anne Britton suggested submitting an application to NPEF’s Christmas Gift of Sight. Shortly before Christmas, Cathy was informed she was awarded the Christmas Gift of Sight. “Never would I have ever thought this would be possible,” she tearfully recalled. “I felt like part of a fairytale.” Like Ralphie, Cathy felt this was the best present she ever would receive. But, she faced a long journey ahead.
Dr. Prema Abraham of Black Hills Regional Eye Institute performed the surgery to repair the macular hole. In order for the eye to heal properly, Cathy had to lay face down for two weeks, not moving from her position and taking all sustenance through a straw. Post-surgery, “I saw a huge difference,” she said.
Later, Cathy began noticing halos when she looked at things. “I was really scared something major was wrong,” she said. She’d just learned her son and his fiancé were expecting their first child, and was worried she would never see her new grandbaby.
The diagnosis was cataracts, often a result of eye surgery. She was referred to Dr. Terry Spencer at Black Hills Regional Eye Institute, who performed cataract surgery. Her prognosis – she no longer has to wear glasses, which she has worn since 8 years of age, except for reading.
“I have never been so touched by anything in my life, and I now plan to utilize this wonderful gift of sight to prove hope exists for others,” Cathy gratefully said. “This gift has reaffirmed my belief in people and the spirit of giving. With the blessing of my husband and children, we will be looking at those who do not have anything, and hopefully be more caring, understanding and giving for all.” Cathy plans to resume work on her Bachelors in Chemical Dependency Counseling, a goal she aspires to reach by 2014, so she can continue to help others in her community. “I tell people every day, be thankful for everything you have in your life.”
To share in the joy of giving the Christmas Gift of Sight, donate today or phone (605) 716-6733. Merry Christmas, Cathy!
Picture Information: Cathy and Dr. Spencer visit before her surgery. (top right); Cathy receives her gift from NPEF. (middle left); Dr. Spencer checks Cathy's eye before surgery. (above left); Dr. Spencer performs Cathy's cataract surgery. (above middle); and Dr. Spencer is all smiles after a successful surgery. (above right)