Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Taking a Break for the Gift of Sight

As the Christmas approaches, and we begin to think about buying gifts for loved ones, I have to tell you about the ultimate gift I received last November, from someone I do not know and will never meet.  I carry a piece of them forever, however, as this person had agreed to be an organ donor upon death and I am the recipient of one of their corneas, that was transplanted onto my eye early last November

I have been battling an eye condition for many years that was slowly taking away the vision in my right eye.  When I would visit my ophthalmologist, every three months,in New York, I would hear a sharp intake of breath and a sigh as she looked at my eye in her microscope. She did not have to tell me that I was losing my vision.  Not even seeing the large "E" on the eye chart told me that.  I had corneal dystrophy--it was thinning and clouding--and I was prone to eye irritation, infection and corneal abrasions. My New York ophthalmologist told me there was nothing that could be done, but when I moved to the Denver, Colorado area three years ago I was told that a cornea transplant would be the solution to this problem and the group of doctors I was seeing were among the best doctors in the state to do that procedure. My transplant cornea came from the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank, an organization that yearly provides about 2,000 corneas for transplants in both Colorado and Wyoming, and to locales beyond if there is no local recipient on the waiting list. The Lions Clubs have long been active in service to the blind and visually impaired and began providing support for eye banks more than 60 years ago. Today there are over 60 Lions eye banks in nine countries that provided the "Gift of Sight" to thousands of men, women, and children.  If you are looking for an excellent charity to contribute to this holiday season, donate to your local Lions Club or the Lions Club International, to help them continue their work in alleviating blindness.

Thankfully, all went well with my surgery and the transplanted cornea healed. My vision improved to the point where I could actually read the eye chart to the third of forth line--better, but not perfect. It turns out that I had also developed cataracts and glaucoma in both eyes over the years, and both conditions have effected my vision to the point where all clarity and definition had been lost.  These conditions are most often age related--especially cataracts, which is the stiffening and clouding of the inner lens of the eye. Glaucoma is often a hereditary condition, but there are many factors that can cause it, and being over 60, as I am, is one such factor.

To control the glaucoma I've had to use quite a few eye drops the past two years, plus I've had to use a steroid and antibiotic eye drops after my corneal transplant surgery. Keeping all the drops scheduling in line was a task.  I was able to manage them all without difficulty, but unfortunately I developed a severe allergy to one of my glaucoma medication drops that severely irritated both eyes. The other eye drops were not working as well either, and my eye pressure continued to dangerously rise, impairing my vision. This lead to my doctor's decision that I need surgical correction in both eyes.  I'll be doing one eye soon, and a few weeks afterward I will have surgery in the other eye.  Recovery is slightly more complicated than the usual "do not bend or lift objects over 5 pounds for two weeks, or more," that most eye surgery entails. I will also not be able to read, watch TV or use a computer or phone screen for a week to ten days, and it will take longer for me to reach full recovery and healing.

This means that this......

....will probably not be happening in such a grand scale in my home this year! If I am able to decorate it will be on a much smaller scale.  That's OK-- Christmas is much more than decorations, cookie making and Christmas card writing, isn't it?

I have enjoyed Christmases in the past without any decorations in my home when I was traveling. Christmas is really about love of family and welcoming Jesus into our heart again as our Lord and Savior,  The same Christmas Nativity that has graced my home since I was married 41 years ago will be on display again in my home, and that is really all the decorations that I need as a tribute and celebration of His birth.

Hopefully, the "Gift of Sight" will be one of my greatest gifts in the year 2016, after both my surgeries are completed.  I want to have many more years of watching my precious grandchildren grow! They are the best gifts of all!

I'm not sure how long it will take me to be back to blogging fully, but I will try to write a new post as soon as I am able and I'll let you know how my vision is progressing.  I have many photos to share of an amazing trip I recently took to SW Colorado where I saw the magnificent San Juan Mountain ranges and visited the charming towns of Ridgway, Ouray and Telluride. This area of Colorado is called the "Switzerland of America" and it is truly a beautiful part of Colorado.

Look at the view of these mountains that we had from the house where we stayed for Thanksgiving week...

It was really a joy to be in such a beautiful place with my family and it was a wonderful way to help keep my mind off my impending surgeries. 

I have been truly blessed in my life and I am grateful for each and every day. I may not have the best, most perfect eyes, but they have shown me so much beauty throughout my life, and in all my travels. Please say a prayer for me that all will go well, that I will not suffer any complications, and that my vision will improve to the best that it can.

Please click on the highlighted links in this post to learn more about the eye conditions I wrote about, and please make a New Year's resolution to include a visit to an optometrist or ophthalmologist to have an eye check if you have not had one in recent years. 

Thank you my readers for your long and loyal following of my blog.  I fully plan to continue writing Mille Fiori Favoriti as long as I am able, as it has enriched my life in so many ways.  I began this blog in 2007 and it has brought me friendships from around the country and around the world!  To each and every one of you I wish you a beautiful and blessed holiday season and a very Happy and healthy New Year.

I'll "see" you soon!

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Fish Creek Falls, Steamboat Springs

Wouldn't you like to hike up an winding trail through beautiful aspens groves to see a majestic 283 foot waterfall in a wilderness area of Colorado?  A place like this, that is very accessible for all to see, is Fish Creek Falls just five miles east of Steamboat Springs, in the Routt National Forest.  (All photos, and photo collages, in this post will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on)

There are several hiking trails from the parking lot at the end of Fish Creek Falls Road ($5 a day parking fee, at this writing, for an all day vehicle pass).  One trail is an easy 1/4 mile (400m) and ends at a viewing station where the entirety of the falls can be seen. Another trail goes straight down into the U shaped valley that was formed by glaciers during the Ice Age.

Click on to enlarge to see the trail map.

Along the scenic overlook trail there were many interesting placards to read.

Click on the photo collage above to enlarge it to see the info on the other placards.  They give information about the importance of water to the ecological balance of Colorado and its wildlife and trees. Snow melt makes up the bulk of water in our state, and that water also feeds into many other states water supplies.  The average US household uses over 600 gallons of water a day! Conserving water is important everywhere, as our population grows worldwide.  The Fish Creek drainage is one of the highest producers of water in the state of Colorado.

Our first view of the Fish Creek Falls!  We visited in early October, so the stream of water going over was not as great as it would have been with the spring snow melt time, as the Steamboat area receives over 300 inches of snow throughout the winter. It also increases flow after a summer afternoon thunderstorm.

Even though they were not at peak flow, the falls were still impressive!

Can you see the man at the upper left corner of the falls?  He is taking their photo from a  precarious ledge near the falls. This perspective shows the height and size of the falls.

He sat by the falls for some time and I was very relieved when he climbed back on top to safety.  I would not recommend anyone doing this.  I'm sure it is not allowed and that it can be very dangerous!  

If you'd like to listen to the sound the upper Fish Creek Falls made please click on this direct link to a short video I made on my Mille Fiori Favoriti facebook page.

A close up at the bottom half of Fish Creek Falls...

.... and the lowest section roaring over the large boulders on the bottom.

People were also exploring the bottom of the falls. I don't think the water is very deep, but I'm sure those boulders could be slippery!

My husband and I did a loop trail that lead to the bottom of the falls and along the way we saw a placard that described the history of the falls and their importance to Steamboat and many other watersheds. Please click on the collage to read this info.

My husband and I looked at the falls in this area, from a historic bridge that crosses over the creek.  It was first built in 1927, and replaced in 1988.  If you'd like to listen to the sound of the roaring waterfalls at this point click on this direct link to that video on my Mille Fiori Favoriti facebook link

The trails along Fish Creek reflect the Riparian zone and are full of lush foliage--ferns, shrubs, berries, scrub oak, pine and aspen trees.

Even though peak autumn color was past prime at the time of our visit, we still saw some beautiful colors and I had fun photographing much of it.......

...as you can see by this photo mosaic!

It was almost the end of autumn in NW Colorado, and soon snow would be falling, making the Steamboat Springs ski areas come alive!

Back home in our area, SW of Denver, we've already had snow a few times!  It doesn't last on the ground very long in our altitude of 6,000 feet. The sun comes out and most of the snow melts quickly, as the day time temperature goes into the 50's and 60's We've also been walking a new trail that was made by our community's trail club near our home. It leads up towards the foothills and gives us a good workout!

This is Thanksgiving week in the US, and I know many of my readers will be busy cooking, traveling and celebrating. Enjoy and be safe! This year, we gather together with our families and friends to give thanks for all our blessings, let us also say a prayer for peace for this turbulent world!  

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!!

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