Dr. Carlos Wong, who saved me from blindness in January, examined my operated right eye on May 4th and said, “Julio, you are ready for the intraocular lens implant. Your retina is completely reattached. Go to the information desk and find out on the cost of the surgical operation, and date for it.”
Taking into account the scheduled tasks I had do for CASP in May and June, and my personal needs, we scheduled the operation for June 4th. Once again Dr. Mayo gave her approval and CASP paid for it while funds were gathered to cover this expense.
Paul and Ginger Marto, my sponsors via the project between the Kansas-based CFC and the Visitacion Church in Lima, who had helped me in many ways through the years, let us know that their contribution was on its way. This nice gesture made me feel blessed and more grateful.
Domingo, one of the young men who cared for me during the post-operation recovery period of the retina surgery, came for me early in the morning of June 4th to take me to the Sacro Coeur Eye Institute, where I was waited at 8:00 am. One hour later, I was taken to the room next to the operating room, where my blood pressure was measured, and they inserted a thin tube in my vein to administer a saline solution plus anesthetic. When the surgery of the first patient ended, I was taken to the operating room seated on a mobile operating chair.
In there, Dr. Manuel Perez Martinot said to me, “Julio, if you feel some discomfort during the intervention, please tell me.” A nurse on my left side checked my blood pressure, and another one put an oxygen tube into my nostrils. While the lens was being implanted, I thought positive by evoking the words of encouragement I had received from friends. Clear into my mind came words such as “You are in the prayers of many more folks than you know”, “You are in my prayers this day”, “We are praying for you and will be sending positive, healing energy to you.” “Our prayers are with you always, and we will be praying especially for a successful surgery on Monday. God bless you, your surgeons and the whole Ann Sullivan staff and community”, “You are in the best of hands. I am sure your surgery will be a success”, “You are in my prayers, Julio”, “Ya sabes van mis oraciones y energía para ti todo saldrá espectacular (You know, my prayers and energy go to you. Everything will turn out well)”, “We will be praying up here in Canada for you”, “Julio your will and determination are strong and along with the really good surgeon who will be performing surgery, you will do great”, “You are in my prayers. I hope, God willing, you will gain as much of your sight back as possible”, “Todo va salir bien don julio, estaremos orando (Everything will turn out well, Mr. Julio, we will be praying for you)”, “I wish you a successful procedure, improved sight and a quick recovery tomorrow”….
I was still immersed in my thoughts when I heard Dr. Martinot saying, “It is over.” Then they put a bandage on my right eye, and I was taken back to the waiting room where I was given a pill for pain and rested for a while. There I realized that I could look with the operated eye and that shapes were more clearly defined, and I felt really great!
At one o’clock I was at home encouraging my 79-year-old brother Miguel to stand and walk around the room. The next day, Mother’s Day, he had been operated on the left knee and could still not move his left leg when he was discharged from the hospital two weeks later because his left leg was very swollen and he experienced great pain. The previous week of my operation I called Martin Avilez, the physical therapist of CASP, who keeps me functional in spite of the severity of my spinal muscular atrophy, and asked him to help my brother Miguel fight back his depression so he can beat his fear and walk again.
One week later, Dr. Mariella Navarro said that my right eye had no infection or inflammation, that the IOL was firmly in place, and that I could get back to work on June 19th.
Miguel was taken to his home (on a fourth-floor apartment) to celebrate Father’s Day with his children. By then he was more independent and able to go around my neighborhood by pushing his walker. One day before, knowing that I had no caregiver service during the night on weekends, he woke at 3:00 pm and entered my room to ask me if I needed help. His nice gesture moved me to tears because not only did I need help, but because I remembered how this generous man went across the city of Lima at night in 2006 to help his younger brother get into the bed and get me ready at six o’clock the next morning to go to work. My sister Rosa then could not help me physically any more, and he and Cesar, my second older brother, took turns to help me get into and out of the bed until a caregiver was found. Now I live on my own but all of them including my deceased mother Julia made up a formidable team that helped me live beyond expected. Now my will power, and CASP, is the driving force to get ahead.
On June 19th, I was back at my job. Staff of the training area where I work, who had followed all the process of my two operations, welcomed me and asked me if I could see them. Yes, I could. Seated at my Mac I could see them on the right side; and from a standing position, when Martin helped me up to release the pressure from my buttocks, I could look out in all directions.
God had made it possible that I regained much of the vision I had lost, when the retina was detached, and that light prevailed over dark, thanks to the request of many people who prayed for my health. Thanks from the heart.
My gratitude is extensive to Dr. Liliana Mayo and the Centro Ann Sullivan; Dr. Manuel Pérez Martinot and Dr. Carlos Wong who made the miracle, the staff at the Sacro Cuore Clinic that was very nice to me; Dr. Linda Lawrence whose help was crucial, Ana Mayo who helped his Peruvian friend from Spain, the Watson family who knows what it is like dealing with SMA, Paul and Ginger Marto, and the unknown donor who helped to save my retina.
Thanks also go to my brothers for being with me on this long struggle, Daniel and Domingo who took care of me, and friends who sent me their best wishes.