Ecuador, Tuesday, Aug.24, 2012

I think I forgot to write about going to the Botanical Gardens last week.  Barb Q. took me, her daughter and a young teacher to the gardens.  They were quite nice. They had all different types of ecosystems.  We saw cacti, rain forest and between.  There were two buildings of orchids. One was more dry and the other more humid.  Also a building of carnivorous plants.  One was enjoying a butterfly dinner.

After we went to the Gardens, we walked to a large mall where we had lunch.  I had the regular meal of rice, beans, meat, fried eggs, avocado. Barb gave me her fried green banana.  It was quite good.  Tasted like potato.

Yesterday, Aug 23,  Elaine C.  took us up Pichincha on a cable car.  It is a beautiful view from the top.  We hikes around a bit.  The clouds lifted enough for us to see Cotopaxi, Antisana and Cayambe.  We also saw a glimpse of Chimborazo.

In the afternoon, some of the Ecuadorian ladies, Carmen and Natalia,  accompanied us on a tour of the city.  We rode in a double decker bus and had a very nice time and saw lots of sights and took lots of picture.  On the way home we had a very clear view of Cotopaxi and Antisana, but it was to dark to get a good picture from the bus.

Today, we got up early to go over to HCJB and take inventory of what is going to go into the container.  Larry also started the list of what was in the boxes.  We’ll probably go over early tomorrow in order to complete this project.

Larry spent the day on Pichincha,  helping  on a transmitter as well as observing and doing the tourist bit with the camera.

I went over to the office to see if there was more that I could help with, but everyone seemed to be in meetings, so I came back to the Guest House and finished a book I had started  so it could be returned,  worked on my quilt, did some hand washing and a load of machine wash and began packing.

Ecuador, Aug.19,2012

Today we attended the English church as we did last week.  It is a long, crowded service.  It is good, but my back gets really tired in those chairs and the people are so close, it is hard to fidget.  After church we came back to the Guest House and took a nap.  Around 3:00 we went to lunch and ordered the special.  We had no idea what we were getting, but we knew there was soup, rice and fruit juice.  We were right.  Potato soup with banana chips floating in it, chicken, rice and a salad, juice and some kind of fruit for dessert.  It was good.

Ecuador, Aug.18,2012

I still haven’t figured out the picture thing, at least I can add them, but haven’t figured out the ‘wrap around’ part..

Friday, Aug.17, we went with Quirings and Childs to the PIM’s Panecillo restaurant.  It is high on a hill that overlooks Quito.  The Virgen De Quito monument is on top of the hill.

I had a lamb stew with avocado and rice.  I think rice comes with everything.  It was all really good.

Saturday, Aug. 18, we walked around town.  We went to a huge mall and ate lunch.  We ate at the American Deli.  It was interesting.  American did not mean USA. The food was local and very good. Meat, beans and rice.  It was such a crowded place to eat.  I finally sat at a table where a man was eating and then another man plopped down beside me.  So the table was full when Larry sat down.  There was nothing empty, so you had to sit down, or someone else would!

Ecuador, August 15,2012

I don’t think I wrote anything yesterday. It was pretty much the same. Larry worked on packing and organizing transmitter parts and I worked in the office scanning documents. We ate the normal hospital food for lunch and had a meat pasty for supper.

Today, Larry piled up the boxes and moved the frames to organize them for loading into the container. He hasn’t had help for the last couple of days, so has had to do it all himself. It is hard work. In this picture he obviously has help!

I worked at the office this morning, scanning documents. I had planned to go to observe the prison ministry, but Elaine had to appear in court instead, so we didn’t go.

We ate lunch at the hospital and then walked to a mall where I bought some needles because I lost the one I brought with me. I now have 24 bright shiny new ones. 🙂 That should last awhile.

I was feeling a bit crummy so took the afternoon off. I took a nap, drank some tea and finished a quilt block. It was good to be quiet for awhile. I felt much better after a quiet afternoon.

Larry got back shortly after 5:00 and we walked to a hamburger place for supper.

Ecuador, Monday, August 13

Today was a fun day. Two of the ladies, Elaine and Barbie took me to La Mitad del Mundo (The Middle of the World)    

We saw some llamas and a baby llama nibbling on the plants at the La Mitad Del Mundo. There were several museums there to walk through. One told about the measuring of the equator and finding where it ran. One was about insects and another owed how Quito used to look. We stopped by the Ecuador Insectarium and looked at the various insects and butterflies of Ecuador and South America. I held two Dynastes Hercules Yes, they were alive.

We also visited some of the craft shops there. We saw some Vegetable ivory  It was very interesting to see the jewlery they made and the carvings.  They were very pretty.

For lunch we had locro, a potato soup with cheese and avocado.  It was very good!

We also moved into the HCJB missionary guest house today.  It gives us a little more room in which to move.  It is very pleasant.

Ecuador Weekend August 10 -12

We were able to join a Vision Journey Tour ( and take an overnight trip to Otavalo, (a craft town) and Cotacachi (Ecuador’s leather capital).

We left Friday afternoon and made it to Otavalo in time to watch them tear down their craft stalls.  They had piles of crafts that they would put into huge bags and carry them to hand pushed wagons to take home or wherever they store them.  Sometimes they hire people to carry their goods.  Often the bags of goods are larger than the person carrying them.  It was a mass of people shopping, selling and some little ladies begging. I think it smells better than Africa.  They had food, carvings, scarves from Alpaca and pretend Alpaca. (I hope the ones I bought were real Alpaca.  They said they were).  Big bags full of shelled corn, bags of spices, piles of fruit and vegetables.  Everyone calling out their wares.  It really was a wake up to all the senses, smell, sight, hearing and even touch. It was kind of fun to barter with them. I found the easiest way was to pick up several things and ask a certain price for all of them.  It was a bit more difficult when I bought just one thing, but still worked.

Saturday morning was breakfast at the hotel,, Indio Inn in Otavalo.  It was quite nice.  We had dinner there on Friday night.  It was Bread, steak with potatoes, rice and veggies.  Fruit juice and fruit for dessert.  We also had breakfast there, which was bread, fruit, eggs and juice, coffee or tea.

After shopping until noon on Saturday we went on to Cotacachi, where we ate lunch (taco with meat and avocado filling, soup with popcorn and banana chips for croutons, chicken, vegetables, fried potatoes (we skipped the rice) and strawberries and cream for dessert… oh yes, fresh fruit to drink   On this bus trip, a couple of young girls rode the bus from Otavalo and sang to us and sold dolls and scarves  They got off n Cotacachi where they would catch another bus and do it all over again.  The older was 17 and the younger 5.  Very sweet girls.  We walked down the street in this town and saw the leather goods.  I sure wish I had picked up that leather purse for $12.  Larry will have to bring me back down, I guess. 🙂

Then we went to the town with wood carvings.  We shopped and looked at carvings, listened to a band play and sing in the city center and talked a little with an old homeless lady that has been there for a long time.  This was also a potty stop.  Paid 15 cents for some toilet paper.  The carvings were beautiful.  I bought a small hand carved nativity that was carved using the faces of local people.

Our trip home was slow.  I think it was about 7:00 when we got home.  The road winds through the mountains, with bumper to bumper traffic a lot of the way.  The mountain are beautiful.  There are green houses for roses all over, even on the steep sides of hills.  They ship roses from here all over the world.  They are cheap and easy to find here.

Sunday we worshiped with some of the English speaking people here.  It was actually in both languages for the songs and scripture, but the preaching was in two languages.  It was a two hour service.

We had lunch at a little place ‘around the corner’ and had a hamburger and fries.  I wonder if there is a place that serves Ecuadorian food, or if they are like Americans and don’t have  ‘local’ food.  After lunch we decided to explore a bit and walked to several stores, the local market and then to the Mall.  It had a lot of American shops including, McDonald’s,  KFC and  Hallmark, as well as others.

We bought a 2 liter of coke on the way home as well as crackers and hand sanitizer.  If we have a big meal at noon, we will probably snack on peanut butter and crackers  and fruit in the evening.

I forgot to mention that Friday morning, I went with Larry over to the storage area when the transmitter is, and helped to put screws back in place and a few things before our trip.

It has been a good weekend.  So far, we have really enjoyed Ecuador.  Hopefully, I will have some pictures to add soon. We left our camera charging at home, so had to borrow a camera.

Ecuador Aug.8,2012

Today was pretty much the same.  Breakfast was bread, tea, coffee, jam, scrambled eggs and juice.  I thought she said ‘tomato’ juice, but it was not the type of tomato I know.  When I asked the girls at work they said it was tomato for juice, not for eating.  It’s a tree tomato.

I scanned in another year and a half of documents today.  Boring and tiring, but something I can do that is helpfulI enjoy the Ecuadorians that I am working with.  I took some M&M’s for break today, and the all came back to work with some in a napkin.  Tomorrow I am taking peanut butter because they either don’t understand what it is or don’t have it here.  Might taste good on the bread they eat for break.

We ate lunch at the hospital again.  Rice, chicken, cucumber sliced, carrots sort of shredded. tangerine, an unknown juice drink and soup.  $1.80 for all of that.  Tomorrow, I think we will get one plate. I’ll eat the soup and Larry the other stuff.  I usually have a bread break, so am not needing so much, but I do like the soup.

For supper tonight we stopped at a bakery and bought a meat pastry apiece and a Coke to share.  The pastry was very good $1.80 for the pastry and 80cents for the 1/2 liter of Coke.

Larry is getting a lot done. They hope to pack next week sometime.  It looks like rain this weekend.


Just thought I would put down a few first impressions of Ecuador before they are forgotten.
When we arrived at the Quito airport Sunday night, August 5 and began walking down the concourse, we were out of breath! It seemed odd to feel so out of breath and tired with so little effort. The next impression was people! Lots of people. Pretty typical for a large airport. Then cars, lots of cars. Nice thing was that they didn’t drive to fast. Apparently, they have started enforcing the speed limits.

We arrived at Angelica’s around 11:00 that evening. We were shown to a nice little room with two single beds and one double bed. We have a private bathroom. :-)There is a sign in the bathroom asking us to not flush toilet paper or any paper products down the toilet.  It is a nice clean place. Unfortunately, the view has been hidden by progress. A 6 story building on each side hides any hope of a view.

Breakfast at 8:00 in the morning. We were served coffee or tea, pineapple, papaya and a bread with cheese inside.

Geoff took us on a very brief tour of part of the mission Larry got busy digging the transmitter out of the shed. He had the help of three others so I was not needed. I walked around a bit and worked on my quilt. We went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch and brought the leftovers home for our evening meal. The afternoon continued as the morning.

Tuesday, Angelica served us scrambled eggs, bread and jam, coffee and tea. Larry went back to the transmitter and I was put to work in HR scanning documents. Rather boring, but a needed job. Good job for someone who does not speak Spanish. Usually, there is a break around 11:00 in the morning for coffee, everyone usually drinks tea and has bread. All the people in the room where I was working went at the same time. We had a good time, even if I don’t speak Spanish. I managed to finish one file of documents today, perhaps I will be faster tomorrow. We ate lunch at the hospital. Fish, rice, salad and avocado with a pastry.  It was tasty.

Tuesday evening, we had dinner with the Kooistra family. They have three children that made me think of our grandchildren. We ate pizza and fruit. We had grapes, cantaloupe,  granadilla,  mango and a white juice that was good. We walked to the Kooistra home.  It was about 1k straight up.  Quite a climb.

Hanover School Memories 1955-1968

Here I am again. This time to share some memories of Hanover School, District 28. Funny how one can remember that kind of trivia, but can’t remember the name of the person to whom one is talking!

I grew up in Hanover. We lived about 2 miles south of the school and a half mile west. It was easy to tell the directions in Hanover, because the mountains were always in the west.

My mother cooked at the school two days a week and Mrs. Kerr (the 1st-4th grade teacher)  had agreed that I could attend class on those days and occasionally other days . Sometimes when my parents were working at the church (the Hanover Church was built 1954, ’55, I was allowed to walk the half mile to the school and and attend class for a half day. Sometimes if my dad was at the church, I could walk from the school to the church. I was 4 or 5 at the time.

My mother was one of the cooks at the school for many years. Some of the others I remember were Ollie Ball, Nellie Day, Rosa Baker, Mrs. Innes, Karen Million, Jane Baker and Nettie Huffmaster. I am sure there were others, but those stick in my mind. They were all good cooks, but I particularly remember Nettie’s cookies. They were always the same size and so yummy. I also remember Ollie’s chili. It always had a clear soup. I never did figure out how she did that!

Lunch was always a fun time. We always had a mug of milk. The milk was usually provided by local farmers, including my father. He usually brought one or two gallons of milk and it was put into a big red and white machine to be pasteurized. Often the local farmer provided other produce from their gardens and fields, such as fresh corn on the cob and dried beans.

We didn’t have a choice of food. Back then one was expected to eat what was served or go hungry. For example, the usual fare was: Pigs in a blanket one day, chili or beans and cornbread on another, Chicken chow mien perhaps another day,  fish or tomato soup and toasted cheese on Friday. We usually had sides of applesauce, spinach and other good and healthy food made entirely from scratch. Even the rolls for hamburgers were usually homemade. All very tasty and healthy. If you didn’t like the food on your plate, you just traded it for something you liked. There was always someone willing to trade. We often could have seconds if we needed it, but one plate was usually enough. I think I remember the meals were $0.15 a day.

We had heavy glass mugs and plates. The primary grades had their food and milk all served and on the table when we came in to eat. The older kids picked up their plates as they came in. In the earlier days of my Hanover school career, we all ate together at four table with a red linoleum top. Shoved together the four tables made two long tables. We had long white benches on which we sat. We always prayed a poem prayer together before we ate.

Usually, the day began with the Pledge of Allegiance.  Most of the students had arrived at least fifteen minutes before school began and would be outside playing (even the high school…especially the high school). The weather and time of  year often dictated the type of games we played.  We would play basketball on the dirt court, dodge ball against the side of the school, snowball, sledding on cardboard down the hill, baseball in the neighbor’s pasture, and we always had the old fashioned swings, slide, merry-go-round and teeter-totter (see-saw). We also played “Mother/Father May I”.  “Mother/Father” would hoist themselves up against the wall outside in the front side of the entrance so they would be higher than the other kids. The would be the ones to order what we should do and it was our job to be polite and say “Mother (Father)may I”.  If we didn’t say exactly that, we had to go back to the start line and start all over again.  First one to the parent won and got to be parent. Other favorites were jump rope and in the winter “Fox and Geese” and every room had a ping-pong table. I think that was  Mr. Walcher’s idea.  It was a good one.  We also played an inside game on the steps in the school entrance. Everyone had a corner and one was it. The idea was to trade corners and not let the person who was “it” beat you to the corner.   We played these games and more during the two recess periods and the noon break.  Grade school up to 8th grade were allowed two 15 minute recess periods a day.  The whole school was given a break at lunch, when we would all play together.  I remember high school boys helping me to bat a ball and picking me up and running around the bases with me.

The old-fashioned hand bell would be rung for the beginning of school.  The beginning time varied during my school years between 8:30 and 9:00.  We would all run to the front of the school building and line up in a straight line with no fooling around.  One had to stand tall and put their right hand over their heart and say the Pledge.  If the weather was bad each class said it in their own room. We were taught to love respect the flag. We were taught the correct way to handle and fold the flag. We were taught the meaning of the flag and why it is so important to Americians.

During my earlier years, we would have a song time on Fridays for the entire 12 grades. I think it was mainly during the years that Gertrude Williams was teacher or principle.  I don’t remember which she was, but I do remember she led us in lots of old songs.  One of my favorite was “Old Black Joe

I probably should mention that we had only three classrooms : 1st trough 4th in one room, 5th through 8th in another, 9th through 12th in the third and then we had the lunchroom.  It was school year 1958 or 1960 when it was decided that two rooms were needed for the high school and the 1st through 4th were moved up to the little one-room school on the hill.

The rooms that the 5th-8th and 9th-12th met in would make into one large room for the “auditorium”.  There was a wonderful roll down curtain with lots of advertising on it and a pretty picture.  It seemed huge to me in those days and all community functions were held in that large room.  Sunday School and Church were also held there until the church was built in 1955.  The school was also the place where voting took place.  My mother was one of what was called the Democratic Committee Woman.  They had two Democrats and two Republicans.  At election time, the high school kids would bring pies, cakes, cookies and other goodies to sell to raise money. It was a learning time and great fun.

When we were using the ” little” school for classes, we had an old coal stove for heat for awhile.  It wasn’t long until they put in a gas heater. Also, the “big” building had a coal furnace.  Dad had to go early in the morning to stoke the furnace to keep the school warm.  It was a wonderful heat.  I remember coming in from recess and standing over the register to warm up or dry out.  It was fun to wear a dress and have the heat billow out our skirts.  We were allowed to play outside in the rain or snow if we wanted.  We would take our shoes and socks off and lay them on the furnace register to dry.  We were often sopping wet and cold.  Kids nowadays just don’t know what fun wet and cold can be. Sometimes the old coal furnace would smoke for some reason and we’d have to open the windows and air out the building. The amazing thing was that we were quite healthy.  I have a nice collection of perfect attendance awards.

Our playground was very big.  We were not fenced in.  We were told where we could not go and for the most part we obeyed.  Who wanted to miss recess or worse by disobeying?  I feel so sorry for the kids that are fenced into little areas and then the parents and teachers wonder why they can’t sit still.  We had real big silver metal playground equipment.  The first equipment I remember was an old chain that used to be a swing, but had broken and had a knot tied in it on which one could sit..  It was a thrilling ride to be twirled and pushed on it.  We also had an old teeter-totter that my dad would paint and fix(very often it seemed).  Also a wonderful old merry-go-round.  One could hold onto it and have the big boys push it and at a fast speed, one’s feet would swing up perpendicular to the swing and parallel to the ground.  I think I remember someone having a broken arm from that game.  Then the school got the monkey bars, big swings and slide.  One could jump out of the swings, shinny up the legs of the slide and hang upside down an all three.  Great fun.  One boy broke both wrists by jumping out of the swing backwards.

We had a dirt basketball court, so we didn’t host many games.  I think that sometimes our baskets were a little taller than the ones in the gyms because our court got scrapped by a road grader to get rid of the weeds.  We practiced …boys and girls together and everyone from about 4th grade up could play.  We did play other schools, but our small numbers did not work in our favor. The boys did a little better and we had fun. Claude Akers was the girls’ coach.  The volleyball court was the same, but we never played other schools in volleyball.  Our softball field was up the hill and through the north fence in the neighbor’s pasture.  It had been there many years. Sometimes there were cows out there and we had to watch where we ran…not just because of the cactus. Good memories!

School always ran from day after Labor Day to Memorial Day.  At the beginning of school we would be given a Chief Tablet, one or two pencils, an eraser and our own stick of clay in the color we choose.  Everything smelled clean and new.  We read out of “Dick and Jane” books, we learned real history and science, not the rewritten stuff or theories taught as truth.

My parents drove the bus and did the janitor work most of the time while I was in school.  My dad drove the bus for a long time, long before I was born.  I have no idea how long they drove buses and did the up-keep of the school.  I remember going to the school in the summer and helping with the cleaning.  Pounding erasers, washing blackboards, washing windows, cleaning those boards that go around the perimeter of the room, scrubbing the desks  were among my jobs.  Dad painted, repaired and did what needed to be done to keep the school neat and in good order.  The little school building, the teacherage and garage were painted frequently too keep them looking nice.

The teacherage was a four-roomed house where teachers lived so they wouldn’t have to drive back and forth every day.  The first teacher I remember living there was Mrs. Plunk and then the Dick Ginn family.  Later Mr. and Mrs. Walcher lived in half of it and we had 5th-8th grade class in the other half.  I was in 5th and 6th grades when they lived there .  Later the teacherage was auctioned off and it was moved off the property.  I don’t know what happened to the garage.  The old one-room school has, unfortunately, been left to fend for itself.  Hopefully someone will take pride in the school again and put a little time and paint into it.

Did I mention that we did not have indoor restrooms?  We did not get indoor toilets until about 1965. I don’t remember exact dates, but I do know it was in the mid-sixties.  That was a big deal.  My dad built an addition that contained a storage room, and girl’s and boy’s restroom with a shower even.  That was quite nice.  Before that was built the boys had an outhouse at the top of the hill and the girls just north of the school.  I don’t ever remember feeling that it was a problem to run out there.  Most of the time it was a very good excuse to have a run and get a bit of exercise.  The hallway that was turned into the hall to the restrooms was previously a cloakroom.  It had hooks for hanging coats and hats and plenty of room for boots, if one had any.  The far end had cabinets and was used for storage.

Usually our teachers would get books from the Colorado Springs library and bring them to school for us to borrow and read. Later we had a bookmobile that came every other week.  It was nice to get to browse through all those books.

As I said before, my parents drove the school bus.  The first one I remember well was a big black suburban type.I don’t remember if it was Ford or Chevy, but it probably was one or the other. I know there were others before that one, but that is the first I really remember. Dad made a bench to fit along the side where the door was.  It fit over the wheel well and 3 kids could sit on it. We didn’t have to have seat belts, so 4 or 5 would be in the back seat, 2 or 3 in the middle, 2 or 3 on the bench and 2 in front.  The number depended on the size of the kids, but usually the older kids got the back seat and front.

Also those years were years of bad sand storms.  I remember school being closed because of the blowing sand.  It ruined many windshields and the school would have piles of sand in the windows and there would be a fine layer of sand on everything.  Sometimes roads would be blown shut with sand.

In high school we used to raise money for trips.  Usually we went every other year and Juniors and Seniors went together.  We raised money by selling magazines, and having spaghetti suppers and movie night.  We also had soup dinners and talent shows.  We had a lot of fun preparing and doing these things together.


Me and KC

KC is an abbreviated form of the word keratoconus.  Keratoconus is a progressive disease in which the normally round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape. This cone shape deflects light as it enters the eye on its way to the light-sensitive retina causing distorted vision. Keratoconus can occur in one or both eyes. I have it in both eyes.

I don’t remember when I first heard the word keratoconus. It just seems as though that word has always been a part of my family’s vocabulary. You see my sister was diagnosed with keratoconus when I was only 6 or 7 years old.

I remember how sad everyone seemed to be because of the difficulty she had with her vision. She got her first pair of contact lenses in 1958. They were those old fashioned hard kind. I remember her having such a hard time getting used to those things. Her eyes watered, hurt and she squinted a lot. Finally, my parents took her to a different ophthalmologist. Her contacts were not fitting properly and she had abrasions on her cornea. A new fitting helped her a lot, but her eyes were always squinty.

When I was about 9 years old, I got my first pair of glasses. I never wore them much because they didn’t help. I remember hearing people talk about seeing individual leaves on the trees, etc. but I never noticed any difference. I do remember the school nurse always scolding me because I usually forgot my glasses and she said that I would see better if I did wear them. I was a good girl, so I wore them. When I was about 14, the doctor began talking about contact lenses for me. I refused, because I remembered what my sister went through. Finally, someone convinced me that I would be able to see better with contacts, so I agreed to try them. In 1966, I got my first pair of hard contacts. I adapted to them rather easily. I followed the doctor’s instructions to a “T” and I did fine. I also threw away my glasses. I could finally see!

I lost my first contact lens about 5 months later when I went with my father to check out a prairie fire that looked like it could be threatening our property (this was in Colorado where I grew up). I climbed up on the running board of the pickup and the wind just whisked it right out of my eye. Was I ever sad! After that we carried insurance for awhile and I also had a spare pair, but I only lost one other during my years at home, so we dropped the insurance. The other contact I lost, I dropped on the floor and couldn’t find it. A few days later my mother found it stuck on the bottom of the toilet bowl. It had bounced on the floor and hit the toilet just right to stick.

KC didn’t slow me down much during high school and college . During my high school years, I played basketball, volleyball and other sports. I loved basketball the most. I made 3-pointers before they gave 3 points! That was my favorite shot. I also excelled at ping-pong. I practiced a lot. At college, after I beat a few boys and the girl who was considered the best, no one would play with me any more. They didn’t want to get beat! I practiced enough to learn how to accommodate for my vision. I could still see the ball and had good reflexes.

After my sweetheart and I married, we went to the island of Bonaire to live. We were missionaries with a missionary radio station, broadcasting God’s Word around the world. Bonaire was where I lost another lens. The water was beautiful. One could just look into it and see the beautiful white sand. So, of course, I wanted to go snorkeling and in order to see when I snorkeled, I had to wear my contacts. I was putting on the snorkel and mask when the snorkel swung around and hit me in the eye. I was standing in the beautiful, warm, clear Caribbean when my lens popped out never to be seen again. I did have a spare pair.

Later we moved to South Africa. Fortunately, I took a spare pair of contacts with me to that country, not knowing what I might find there. I also took a lot of bottles of solutions and cleaners — enough for three years. Good thing I did. Eventually, I was able to occasionally find solutions in Johannesburg and Durban. I did find a doctor in downtown Johannesburg who was recommended as a possible fitter. My friend and I took the train from Roodepoort where we lived, to Johannesburg and then walked to the building where this eye doctor was. I did not get contacts to fit there because of the “strange” fitting my eyes took. It was a nice trip in spite of not finding someone to fit my contacts. We went shopping and had “tea” in one of the department stores. I was disappointed that I was not able to find someone to care for my eyes, but I was not desperate to get new lenses, I was trying to locate a doctor just in case the need arose. I never did find a ophthalmologist in South Africa.

After about three years in South Africa, we moved to Swaziland, Africa. This little third world country is beautiful and the people are friendly. It is dry and dusty, just as Bonaire and Colorado are. No eye doctors there at all. My eyes did fairly well during our 18 years in Africa. I did manage to get my eyes examined every three years while we were back in the US. I needed new lenses every time. Sometimes my eyes would begin to give me trouble before the three years was over. That was tough. I think it seemed to be associated with having children. The last two years before we left Swaziland, an American optometrist came to set up a clinic in Swaziland. He loved trying to fit my eyes. He never did, but he collected all my old lenses and enjoyed looking at my eyes and trying various things. When the electricity went off, he had a sign outside the window he would use to check vision and he would hold lenses in front of my eye to see if they would help or not. He wished he had equipment for fitting KC eyes and so did I.

We liked to go camping for vacation, and sometimes it was kind of rough camping. I would boil water or get water from the restrooms and have it beside my sleeping bag, so I could wash and put in my contacts first thing. I sometimes would have to have Larry guide me to the bathrooms because I didn’t want to put my lenses in right away. It was a challenge sometimes, but I never did get any eye infections from using the water in Africa or from being stingy with the solutions by using the soaking solution more than one day. I only washed my lenses in the morning. I must have been taught to do it that way with the old hard lenses. Now we are supposed to clean them in the evening after we take them out.

My sister continued to have difficulties with her eyes. She loved to sew and had four wonderful children to sew for. It got to the point where she could not see to sew or do many of the things she longed to do. A cornea transplant was scheduled. She did have the transplant in 1978. Tragically, the man who gave the donor cornea was a trapper and had, unknown to the doctors, died from rabies. My sister had begun to see with her transplanted eye better than she had for a long time. Within weeks she began have horrible headaches and in a short amount of time God took her home. She left four young children and a husband who loved her. The youngest child was three years old.

My eyes continued to worsen, but I looked at it more as an inconvenience than any thing. I continued to need regular changes in my lenses. In 1986, I let my ophthalmologist convince me that rigid gas permeable lenses would be much better than the old hard ones. I had resisted changing them three and a half years before because I figured that the others were working fine and I didn’t want to mess with something new. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it attitude. Those new RGP lenses were like feathers on my eyes. When he put one in my eye there in his office, I just sighed. It was wonderful! I was sold! We finally returned to America to stay in 1989. We stayed in Colorado for a short time where I saw my old ophthalmologist. We were not there long enough for me to be fitted for my new contacts so he gave me some prednisone drops to help me tolerate my contacts until I could find a new doctor. The Hunt was on.

In Indiana, I called optometrists. I called ophthalmologists. If I couldn’t find anyone who knew what keratoconus was, I checked them off my list. I finally found an optometrist about 25 miles away. He did fit me with a new lens after making me go without for about 6 weeks. It didn’t help any to go without and I told him it wouldn’t, but he had to try. He was very sympathetic. He patted me on the knee and called me honey with a sad look on his face. He wanted to send me to an ophthalmologist to see if I would be a good candidate for a transplant. I told him I wasn’t ready for that yet and I’d probably have to see an ophthalmologist again when I needed a transplant so why waste the time and the money. I didn’t go. I never went back after I got my lenses. It took too long to get fitted and I didn’t like his “poor you” attitude.

I have also had doctors, and nurses tell me that I should have backup glasses. They have tried. They have even tried after I have gone without wearing contacts for an extended period of time and glasses alone don’t work. They make absolutely no difference in my vision. The doctors I appreciate the most are the ones who can tell that my eyes are bad enough that going without contacts is not going to improve anything. It did allow abrasions to heal, but did not cause any positive change in my vision or eyes. The only plus side of going without contacts is that no dust or mess is visible to my eye. I miss a lot on a good day anyway!

Although, I had reached the point where I could no longer drive at night, KC continued to be more of an annoyance than a real problem. I could still work around it and do what I wanted.

I went to a local ophthalmologist for my next check up. They didn’t have a contact lens fitter, but were getting one. I waited for him and he was wonderful. He looked at my eyes and said.”We’ll start with what you have and work from there.” He always scheduled me last on his list and stayed late to do as much for me as he could. I kept him and his staff late many time. I am so thankful for him and for his wife who allows him to do this. He bought me 10 years before I needed a transplant. The ophthalmologist in that office has seen me at very odd hours. He has come in at 10:00 at night when my lens flipped over and stuck to the inside top of my eye and removed it for me. He actually couldn’t find it himself and thought I had lost it, but it was there and he persevered until he found it and got it out. He never charged me a dime! He has also seen me on Saturday when I was having rejection problems after my transplant and did not charge and he was not the one who did the surgery. I am blessed with wonderful doctors.

My eye continued to worsen. I wore glasses over my contacts to help with the astigmatism and, of course, my age made reading glasses inevitable. I was working with children with learning disabilities and was having difficulties distinguishing letters, reading upside down and seeing across the room. It was quite annoying. The children thought it very funny but were quite understanding. They knew what it was like to have disabilities. I could still drive, but not at night especially not if it was rainy. The glare and star bursts from all the droplets of water made it impossible. It is still very difficult even after the transplant.

Three years ago, I could no longer tolerate a contact lens on my right eye. I had been going to the eye doctor every week for months as he tried to help me. He had me go without that lens for a couple of months. During that time we took a trip and on my return three weeks later my eye had deteriorated considerably. An appointment was made with a cornea specialist for the next week. After seeing him, my transplant surgery was scheduled for three weeks later.

I was a little apprehensive about a transplant. I knew that what happened to my sister was the exception, but it did bring home the dangers involved in any surgery. The list of complications that the nurse reads to you is very unlikely to happen, but when someone you know dies as a result of a surgery, you know that those complications, no matter how unlikely, can happen.

August, 2004, I received my new cornea. I was a little disappointed with the immediate results, but it was better than it had been. I felt as though I had been hit in the eye with a baseball and had a beautiful little bruise under my eye. I was so pleased. The pain I had been suffering for months was gone. I could read stop signs! After 14 months, the stitches were taken out. Not much change in vision. New glasses helped some. I was scheduled to have some relaxing incisions made and cataract surgery. That was rather painless, some discomfort, but not bad. My vision improved dramatically. My eye lid began to droop badly after all the surgeries and was impairing my vision. I had eye lid surgery to improve that. I had “natural” eye shadow for awhile after that. The eye lid surgery helped a lot. Later the ophthalmologist did some more “relaxing” incisions in his office. They also helped a lot. My vision is now 20/30 in that eye. It is better than my left eye with its contact lens. (No, I am not considering a transplant in the left eye. It is doing fine with the lens. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”). I still need glasses to help with the astigmatism and for reading, but I am so blessed. I was off work for 5 days after my surgery. I never stopped driving in the daytime. I spent my recovery time working on the computer. I have had no light sensitivity since my surgery. I did have light sensitivity before the surgery.

I have had rejection problems and am using prednisone drops once a day for the rest of my life. I also have problems with dry eye and have to use drops for that and keep a humidifier running and take supplements for dry eye. I can see better at night, but still don’t drive much after dark. I see better in the daytime and can read again. KC is still a nuisance, but not really life altering for me. I use larger print on the computer and make adjustments where needed. I am now able to read street signs without stopping the car somewhere and walking back to read it. I don’t remember when I was last able to do that. Things still look a little fuzzy, but are so much better. I do make odd mistakes in reading when I can’t tell for sure what the letters are. But it is so much better.

I just returned from a check up with the ophthalmologist and my eye is doing fine. The omega 3 capsules I am taking and the artificial tears are improving my problem with dry eye. I am sure that the added humidity of summer weather has also helped. My vision is good. I am so grateful.

As I think of my life with KC, I am reminded of a young girl at the school where I work. She completely lost her eyesight in high school. She learned how to make her way through the halls and graduated with very good grades. What really impressed me was that she was a cross-country runner. She did not let blindness rob her of her joy of running. She found a helper to run with her. She held onto her helper and ran. She never came in last. To me she is an example of trust and making the best of something that would get lessor people down and depressed. I am so thankful for my sight and the improvement my transplant has made.

I must end this being thankful for the excellent doctors God put in my way to care for my eyes. I believe that I could not have had better. I am also thankful for the family who allowed the corneas of their loved one to be used to give someone else sight. It was a very humbling experience to think that because someone died, I can see. Words do not come that would adequately express my thanks to that family, but I do thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Although I am not blind, the words below written by Fanny Crosby express somewhat my feelings are about KC.

Oh, what a happy soul I am,
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don’t
To weep and sigh because I’m blind.