Frosted Glass


I had a great vacation, and I had a miserable vacation. We were visiting our children in Helena, Montana, when I came down with Uveitis, inflammation of the middle layer of the eye. Joan drove me to the emergency room at St. Peter’s Hospital three separate times.


The first time it was a Saturday morning. I was treated by a young intern. I wanted to have confidence in this guy, but when he tried to examine my eye with a slit lamp–the one with the blue light–it seemed to me, he was not comfortable or proficient with the lamp. Anyway, he left the examination room, where Joan and I awaited his return. It was a long wait for a guy with a painful eye.


When he did return, he said that he had gone down into the hospital basement to retrieve “this dinosaur of an instrument” for measuring the pressure in my eye. He didn’t have the instrument with him because he was having it sterilized.


When a nurse brought the “dinosaur” into the examination room, the intern still couldn’t work on my eye because the autoclaved instrument was too warm. When the instrument cooled, he balanced the proper size weight on the instrument’s gauge. He lay the tip of gauge on my eye while I held my eye absolutely wide open. It was imperative that I not blink my right eye. I managed it. He pronounced the pressure in my right eye normal.


He thought I had an infection. He dilated my right eye. He taped a patch over my right eye. He sent me home with an antibiotic.


I was to keep the patch on for twenty-four hours. At eleven a.m. the next day, I was to treat my right eye with the antibiotic.


It was no fun having a patch on one eye. It may look romantic in the movies, the hero with a mysterious patch over his eye, but it was hard, dizzying work just walking. I had lost depth perception. My left eye began to feel overworked and tired. I wanted to lie down and go to sleep. I did.


Saturday evening my eye was in extreme pain. I put up with the pain as long as I could, then had Joan drive me back to the emergency room. Another doctor was in the emergency room this time. He gave me some codeine tablets and sent me home. I was to remember the instructions of young intern of earlier that day: at eleven a.m. in the morning, take the patch off my right eye and begin applying the antibiotic.


I did. The next morning, as instructed I took the patch off and applied the antibiotic. The impact: my right eye got worse! By Sunday evening, I could see nothing out of my eye except for light. It was as if I were trying to see through a frosted glass window. Joan drove me back to the emergency room around ten p.m.


The young intern was on shift. I decided that I needed to get his attention and fast. I said, “Doctor, I am blind in my right eye.” That startled him. He sent the “dinosaur” instrument for measuring eye pressure back to the autoclave.


Joan was beside herself. She told me later that she wanted to strangle the doctor with her bare hands! As for myself, I prayed. I prayed that God would sustain me in my pain and suffering. And, I prayed, not that the young intern would miraculously cure my eye, but that he would ask for help. He didn’t seem to know what he was doing. “May this be a learning experience for all of us. Dear God, I pray that this young doctor will treat this as a learning experience just as I am. May he be big enough to ask for help from an ophthalmologist.”


I did not pray for a cure, but that the relationship we were caught up in–me, the emergency room doctor, and the expert on call–would in some way be healed. Then I hoped that there would be a free exchange of information and help, so that my eye would have a good chance of being cured. I was making a distinction between a relationship being healed, meaning being made whole, and a malady being cured.


The young intern tried to lay the dinosaur of an instrument my eye several times. The weight balanced on the gauge kept falling off onto the pillow my head rested on. Was he getting a positive reading or not? He wasn’t sure. Finally, he decided to call the ophthalmologist.


As one of my seminary professors used to say, “Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, God!”


The ophthalmologist was great. I later learned that he had been practicing for over 30 years. He used the slit lamp to determine that my eye was under abnormal pressure. My eye was not infected, but inflamed. He took copious, detailed notes, with sketches of my eye. He began treating my eye with eye ointments–one to dilate my eye, one to reduce the pressure in my eye, and prednisone to reduce the inflammation. The ophthalmologist sent me home with all these medicines and with directions to come into his office the next morning.


What a relief! I felt healed, but not yet cured. I felt I was in God’s hands again!


While the ophthalmologist was treating me, the young intern stopped by once to ask how things were going and if the doctor needed anything. Of course, the ophthalmologist didn’t. The young intern then went away.


I did not want the young intern to feel bad. I was thankful that he had called in the ophthalmologist. On my way out, the young intern came down the hall. I waved and thanked him. I wanted him to know that I really appreciated that he had called in an expert.


To make a long story short, I spent a couple of hours in the ophthalmologist’s office on Monday, then on Tuesday, and then on Thursday. By Wednesday, I could see again. Upon returning to Denver, I saw an ophthalmologist in Arvada. My eye was fine. Most important, I could see, though my vision had not yet returned to what it was. But I could see this beautiful and wonderful world God has blessed us with.