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!