The Story of my Cataract

To Whom It May Concern:

Please forward this letter to my surgical team. I have written this as a token of appreciation for the outstanding care that I received on the day of my procedure.

There is so much, for me, that goes into the story behind my cataract. It developed gradually, at first, as a result of an airbag injury in 1998; but then progressed very rapidly during my pregnancy in 2007. There was a lot of wondering and planning how I would support myself and my son once my eye progressed to the point that I could no longer perform the job that I had been trained to do. There was even more wondering and worrying how monovision for me would affect the myriad of things that I wanted to show and teach my son.

I feel very blessed as I have a very strong “good eye” to carry the burden; and that I have adapted well, and with patience, each step of the way. But still, the thought of surgery was very unnerving. Through the original accident recovery and subsequent years, I was seen by a very good ophthalmologist for whom I have great respect for many reasons – including his own admission that he was not comfortable performing my surgery himself. On two separate occasions, he referred me to Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Wilmer Eye Institute. Both of these visits were disasters! During my first appointment I saw a young doctor who could answer none of my numerous questions, but was able to stop me in the middle of one of them to discuss his social plans for the evening with another young doctor who was passing by in the hallway. (Yes. This discussion did take place in my exam room.) During my second visit, I sat in the waiting room with my infant son for 5 hours before finally seeing the surgical doctor. He was in my exam room for maybe 5 minutes and never looked into my eye once. He spent his time doing dictation, talking to a nurse about another patient’s implant which had apparently become contaminated, and then turned to me and said “now let’s get you scheduled for surgery!” Needless to say, I picked up my son and left in quiet tears. After all, Hopkins is supposed to be the best, so if they couldn’t help me, what was I to do?

I don’t quite remember how it is I came to see Dr. Catherine Smoot who immediately referred me to Dr. Jason Yonker. She spoke very highly of him, and for good reason. It is very difficult to put into words the ”what” about Dr. Yonker that made me feel comfortable enough to proceed with surgery. He made no grand promises…and he was very honest and straightforward about the complication in my case…but he took the time, and possessed the knowledge, to answer ALL my questions. Still, it was something much more than that…something that cannot be rehearsed or practiced. I sensed a true and silent confidence in his own abilities that was devoid of arrogance; and a slow, calm patience that promised he would not be rushed or pressured. And I felt like he genuinely cared. I was not a number to him. I believed he was just as vested in my outcome as I was. Collectively, I KNEW that no matter what the outcome, I could be confident that he had done the best job possible.

And so, I came to AGH. And, once again, I was blown away. By this time, it was for the better! I have been in the healthcare field for over 10 years. I have worked in different medical institutions across the country. NEVER have I seen a team like the one I had at AGH. Each person I met with was welcoming and inviting. From the information desk, to registration, to volunteers, to the nurses, to the anesthesiologist, everyone treated me like I was an old friend. What I find amazing in comparison to other work environments was that the nursing team was not only friendly to me, but also to each other. They truly worked together as a team. Everything moved quickly and seemingly effortlessly, but again, everyone involved me in conversation and made me feel included in the process. My nurse, Tammi Griswold, took the time to share encouraging words with my mother who was extremely anxious; and fortunately for me, Dr. Yonker took the time to explain to my then 2-year-old son that mommy wouldn’t be able to lift him up after surgery.

I just can’t put into words how much it has meant to have such a warm and caring team involved in something that has caused so much distress to my family for so many years. I want to extend my sincere appreciation and respect to my AGH team from 09-01-2010. I speak very highly of AGH as a result of my experience. I never would have guessed that there was such a gem sitting in my own backyard!

My recovery has gone extremely well. Little things are very exciting these days – like being able to line up stickers on new toys, or taking pictures with my son where both of my eyes go in the same direction, and being able to play catch with my son. Oh – and as a result of his experiences with Dr. Yonker, my son has decided that he wants to be a doctor, too (especially if there is a coffee shop next door)!

Thank you all!

Christina Forsythe
Salisbury, MD