By Chanda Temple
Picture this: You’ve just pulled out of your driveway and you’re headed to work. On the way, you hit a patch of black ice and your car goes zooming into a ravine. You hit a tree, head on.
The airbag deploys and you walk away – without a drop of blood on you. Minus a swollen right eye, you think things are good.
But future doctor examinations will reveal something else: You have high pressure in your eye, which threatens the life of your right eye. Your vision is touch and go. You develop glaucoma and later have a cornea transplant and then an eye transplant. Two years after all of that, your eyelid begins to droop. What would you do?
For Kenisha Shamburger, all she could do was lean on her faith.
“For a long time, I couldn’t read or watch TV. Things were blurred and I couldn’t see,” she said of what she experienced before the eye transplant. “I would literally have to sit in bed and talk to myself, saying, ‘You will not die. You will not quit.’ ’’
When the accident happened in January 2008 in Hoover, Ala., the airbag’s impact was so powerful that it shifted all of the nerves in the back of Shamburger’s right eye, leaving her blind in that eye. Her cornea had been damaged. She saw an eye specialist and it was later determined she needed a lens transplant. But even after the lens transplant, her vision was still up and down.
In November 2011, Shamburger woke up dizzy. She didn’t know why. Because her dizziness happened on a Saturday, she waited until Monday to see her eye specialist.
“I go in to get the (eye) pressure checked and he’s like, “Oh my God!” He runs out the room and he grabs three or four doctors and they come back in,” Shamburger recalled. “He said, ‘Kenisha, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. We’ve tried to save your eye since 2008. But your eye is gone,’’ she recalled, explaining that the eye pressure was higher than when she had the accident. “They said, ‘We are going to have remove the entire eye and do a cornea transplant.’ ’’
Shamburger, who works full time helping people with their Medicare benefits, received a donor’s eye in 2011. “It looked just like my other eye, pupil everything. I was excited,’’ Shamburger said.
By January 2013, she started experiencing another problem. Her right eyelid started to droop and the pupil started to shrink.
“I was like, ‘Oh doggone it. What is this?’’ Shamburger said.
Doctors told Shamburger that for some reason, the nerves behind the right eye were not telling her eye it was OK to function. The nerves were being lazy.
Her right eye slowly started closing. By September 2013, it had become completely shut. Shamburger told her doctor that she was not interested in any more surgeries and wanted to know her options to be “normal” again.
“The doctor said, ‘I know exactly what we can do,’ ” Shamburger said. ” ‘ There’s a doctor at the Callahan Eye Foundation (in Birmingham, Ala.) He makes prosthetic eyes. No surgery. He will measure you and make a prosthetic that will look like your other eye. People will never know.’ ”
The expert painted details, such as veins and a pupil onto the prosthetic, which goes over the transplant eye. He’s located at Cox Ocular Prosthetics, which is an office inside the Callahan Eye Foundation. She has no vision in her right eye, but she’s thankful for what she does have and that’s life. She wears glasses and hopes to soon get a contact lens for her left eye.
Shamburger is also a certified international life coach. She uses her experience to encourage others. She recently answered a few questions on how she handled her medical situation.
How did you overcome this?
“When this first happened, there were times I wanted to give up,’’ she said. “I thought, ‘How do I move forward in life with a situation like this? There were times when I would get sad and I would cry. The only way I was able to get through this was through the word of Christ. I would go to sleep listening to scripture in my ears.”
You’re single, so how did this affect your dating experience?
“I said, ‘Oh Lord, I’m done now. Who will want someone and their eye is messed up? But thank God I’m a woman of faith and I knew how to to cast those (negative thoughts) down,” she said. “I went on dates before I got the prosthetic (eye.). So even when my eye was drooping, I went on dates. The men didn’t care for real. That was my insecurity.”
You said your family helped you through this. How so?
“My mom was so positive. Even if she saw me looking sad or depressed, she said it was OK to cry. And when I wasn’t looking, my mom would cry. I didn’t know it.” (Shamburger couldn’t drive for a while, and she had medical leave from work. Friends and family picked her up, took her to her hundreds of medical appointments, on errands and to work.)
Even with all the support and faith, how did you still manage to get out of bed every day and face this?
“We can make a decision that we can either have a pity party and be depressed or … make the best of what we are dealing with,’’ Shamburger said. “I had to believe in myself and because I may have just one eye, that does not mean I can’t fulfill my purpose and live my dreams. It let me know that even though I have one eye, I can start a business and speak into the lives of other women and use this to help other women.”
“The fact that I didn’t die in that accident showed me I had a purpose and plan in my life,” she said.
Kenisha Shamburger is the author of the eBook, “Sheer Confidence: 30 Days to a Bigger, Badder More Confident You.’’ It’s available at http://www.ladiesconfidencecreator.com.
Chanda Temple is a former reporter now working in public relations. She blogs about being better in business and more at http://www.chandatemplewrites.com. Follow her on Twitter at @chandatemple. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.