Thursday, January 13, 2011

A New Year

As many of you know the last few months of 2010 were eventful, huge, difficult, devastating, amazing… It is impossible to choose just one adjective to describe. In September Charli Grace received a cornea transplant in her left eye. We found a gifted surgeon in Atlanta, with extensive experience performing transplants for children. We knew we were taking a risk but, we stepped out in faith. Things couldn’t have gone more perfectly. In less than 36 hours her eye, which had been completely blind, was crystal clear. Her vision went from 20/1260 to 20/400 overnight. We held our breath, vigilantly administered anti-rejection drops, and watched our daughter in wonder. For nearly two months everything was perfect, but as you have probably guessed by now things didn’t stay that way.

On October 25 Charli awoke with her eye terribly swollen. Fearing the worst (rejection of the cornea) we rushed her to Atlanta. She was admitted to Scottish Rite Hospital with orbital celluitis, an infection of the tissues surrounding the eye. A CT scan showed that the actual eye was unaffected. She was put on IV antibiotics and powerful antibiotic eye drops. Two days later, despite the antibiotics, the infection invaded her eye resulting in endophthalmitis. (We later discovered that this was caused not by her corneal graft, but by the tube shunt placed in 2008 to relieve her glaucoma.) Even her team of doctors, leaders in their field, were shocked at how aggressively the infection spread. We spent 8 long days in the hospital. Charli had 3 surgeries to correct the damage. At one point we feared she would lose the eye all-together. Thankfully, that did not happen. It has been a long, painful recovery, but Charli is better. Sadly though, we have had to accept the reality that her left eye will most likely never see again.

To call this an emotional roller coaster would be an understatement. I have asked some hard questions and been in some pretty dark places. But as this story unfolds God’s grace shines through on each page… even the really crappy sad ones. Literally hundreds of people, from Holiness sisters to Benedictine monks, have prayed for Charli and our family. Our family and friends showered us with love and kindness in countless ways. My 3rd grade class even organized The Charli Grace Foundation (complete with officers) during my absence.

And Charli… sweet, amazing, stubborn, strong, brave, Charli… She’s the hero of the story. At one particularly low point I wondered if she would ever be the same after such trauma. But praise be to God, her spunk and spirit continues to amaze everyone around her. I’m glad to report that she’s back and…


Is this the way that I had planned for things to go? No way. Have I had angry moments where I cried out WHY? You bet. Is God good? Does he want what is best for us? Yes and YES, even when it is hard to understand. We're hanging on to that hope with all that we've got.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. --- Jeremiah 29:11

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