No Tourist in Memphis

11 Jun

By Sue Corbitt

I am being asked if I know where I am. Do I know what month it is? Who is the President? Who am I?  I am thinking, WHY am I HERE?? A voice is asking me if I know that I am in Memphis.  Memphis? She says it is May.  How could it be May?  A male voice tells me that I should try to remember these questions and answers.  Later, someone will ask me again.

I am told that I was in a severe auto accident and that I have been in a coma for a month.  I remember dreaming of being tied down with cement blocks. Now I realize this dream was woven with reality.  What a perplexing awakening!

They tell me my eyes are badly damaged and I’ve had surgery on one of them.  I’ve also had reconstructive surgery to install plates in the area around my eyes.  I have a broken hand, broken heel bone and have a cast that I cannot put weight on.

I am told that on April 23rd, 2005, I was air lifted to Memphis from northern Arkansas.  I have no memory of this or of the month that I spent in this trauma unit. I do not know what caused the accident.  All I can remember is that the night before I landed in the hospital, I had been driving from Illinois to Arkansas and had not stopped to sleep.  Did I fall asleep while driving? I am thankful no one else was involved.  My Mother and brother traveled to Memphis right after the accident.  Four weeks passed and they returned home.  When I woke up from the coma, I was alone.  They phoned after I was transferred to my private room and were relieved that I could communicate.

A physical therapist comes with a walker.  I can move about in my room and bathroom.  My eyes are patched but I can envision this room: left of my bed is a cabinet with eye drops that are put in every few hours; to the right of my bed is my telephone; at the end of my bed is the chair that I sit in.  

A doctor comes to take my patches off.  I open my eyes and see nothing but blackness.  I am totally blind.  He says that my left eye has an unattached retina and is full of blood.  This is the good news.  My right eye is worse.  I receive help with my meals twice, and then a nurse tells me to fend for myself.  Doesn’t she know I’m blind?

After six weeks of hospitalization, I return home to Illinois. Dr. Jon Gieser of the Wheaton Eye Clinic reattaches my damaged left retina. I am eternally grateful to him and for this miracle.  I see light now! At times I see objects like doorways.  I cannot see colors and all is blurry, but I feel blessed to see anything!  Six weeks later, I have exploratory surgery to regain the sight in my right eye.  That surgery failed.  As my retina became unattached, so too did my former life…

Susie Corbitt is 56 and lives with her soon to be 90 years young, mom.  In a flash, she went from good vision to very low vision.  After 4 surgeries over a period of 2 years, the last surgery on her left retina has been successful.  Suzie says that adjusting to this life altering vision loss has been a work in progress and an interesting journey.  “I appreciate this miracle every day!”


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