This week was Elder Teals Eye Surgery. But before that their was a trip up Mars Hill on Wednesday with Sister missionaries that have completed their 18 months. This will have been strange for Elder Teal as they were in his MTC group and so it marks a milestone for him too.
(Sisters serve 18 months Elders 24 months)
It is traditional for the missionaries to start and end their missions with a testimony meeting on Mars Hill. It was also a farewell for Elder and Sister West who Elder Teal got to know early on in his mission while serving with them in Thessaloniki.
Thursday was surgery day. Elder Teal had attended a pre-op appointment on Tuesday. During the pre-op they remeasured the extent of the coning and discovered it had got worse since the last measurements in early December. This reassured everyone that acting now was the right thing to do, before the cornea was too thin to correct.
Thursday afternoon passed really slowly for us as parents waiting for news. We are grateful that the tension was occasionally broken by messages from Sister Heder with pictures and updates.
Photo call before leaving the office, this one came with a tag line "team Teal"
Arriving at the clinic, interestingly they have a mission too !
Sister Heder and Elder Peel grab a quick selfie while Elder Teal books in
The procedure is done in two parts. Firstly a laser is used to reshape the cornea to a more correct sphere, removing traces of coning. Then over a 30 minute period collagen drops are placed on the eye and a reaction is stimulated by using a bright UV light. This second process is know as cross linking and reinforces the cornea to prevent further coning. The procedure is done using local anaesthetics.
Elder Teals advice is to make sure your head is comfy, on the headrest before you start, because you are not allowed to move once they begin !
The waiting nearly killed Elder Peel !
After the procedure with plastic eye protectors taped over his face and contact lenses on his eyes to protect the cornea,
We received a brief Skype call on the evening of the procedure but due local anesthetics in his face and a strong pain killer injection, Elder Teal was not very talkative. We had a quick chat with Sister Heder while in the background Elder Peel was laying his companion down on the sofa !
For the following days as pre planned Elder Teal and Elder Peel moved into the mission home.
Dark glasses protect the eyes from light by day and the plastic patches were stuck back on at night to stop hands touching eyes while sleeping. Drops 4 or 5 times a day and the contact lenses permanently in for 5 days
On Friday night we had a much more successful Skype call that put us much more at rest. It seems the first night Elder Teal had experienced the "significant" pain that had been warned. But with a good mid afternoon nap by the second evening things had settled
Ever accommodating, Fridays evening meal in the mission home was by candle light as the room light was to much for the sunglasses to cut out.
By Sunday things had settled but Elder Teal didn't attend church just to reduce any risk of infection. The laser reshaping makes the cornea an open wound which is an infection risk.
Monday morning, up and about ! Vision was not quite back to pre-surgery, but he still had his protective contact lenses in and the eye-drops had made his lashes matted so that probably didn't help. This picture was taken as the Elders were setting of to go back to the clinic to have the contacts taken out.
5 more days of plastic patches at night and eye drops by day. Vision is currently better than expected and all signs are that the degeneration has been halted and vision should be much better once thing have settled down in the next couple of weeks.
We never realised sending a son on a mission would involve waiting for news on eye surgery from a distance and we never knew how much trust we could put in another couple to look after our son. Mission Presidents and their families are amazing people !