By: Heather Casparro Wenzel
It was like every other New Year’s Eve; I was packing my bags to go out of town with my husband. We had gone out of town the last couple years to attend his best friend’s New Year’s Eve party. I had no idea that January 1st, 2014 would start a chain of events that would forever change my life.
I was a newlywed, just two months married and the previous month I had just graduated with my masters in nursing administration.
I had big dreams.
First, I’d take a higher paying job and then we’d to sell our home and purchase a new one in the country…
But none of those dreams ever came to fruition.
As I woke on New Year’s morning, I reached over to turn on the bedside lamp and began frantically blinking my eyes. Something was wrong. As I slowly moved toward the bathroom to turn on a brighter light, I noticed that the vision in my left eye had become cloudy. I could not see at all.
I remember my heart beating so heavily, as though it would come out of my chest. Completely distraught, I called my eye doctor. Once I heard the voice on the other end of the phone, I began sobbing. They scheduled me the next morning for an early office visit. As I sat in my eye doctor’s office, he informed me that my retina had detached. He went on to explain that I had also ruptured multiple optic blood vessels and there was bleeding in my eye.
Usually, once a retinal detachment occurs, surgery needs to happen soon after. But the bleeding into the eye made matters worse so I had to receive several shots to help stop the hemorrhaging, and wait a week and a half before they could operate.
My first retinal surgery happened at the end of January 2014. A surgery that normally takes 30 minutes ended up being an hour and a half. During the surgery, they placed a silicone bubble in my eye to keep the retina attached. When this happens, you must keep your head in a downward position for one week. This means keeping my head down for EVERYTHING — showering, sleeping, even eating. If one complies with this position, surgery is more likely to be successful.
Retinal surgery is usually mildly painful but because mine lasted longer than average, the pain was excruciating. As I sat in the patient room for my two-week, post-operative appointment, I began to notice the vision in my right eye becoming cloudy. Once the physician came in to examine my eyes, he informed me that, yet again, my retina had detached.
One week later, I was taken to surgery for my second retinal procedure.
This time with more dread, anxiety, and fear because I knew what was coming.
Eventually, I would sit in that doctor’s chair two more times to hear those horrid words:
In four short months, I ended up having four surgeries — each one more complicated and more painful. In the end, I was rendered totally blind in my left eye and mostly blind in my right eye. To date, I have only 30% of my peripheral vision in the right eye – which, at best, is fuzzy.
That following spring, my doctor finally said, “Heather, there’s nothing left for me to do.”
I immediately thought, That’s it, I can’t do anything!
I went from saving lives as a nurse to not even being able to care for myself. I needed help doing everything: getting the mail, taking a shower, doing my hair, even making a cup of coffee. I was unable to do common things like make dinner or wash the clothes. I felt useless as a new wife.
I fell into a very deep and dark depression. I felt as if life was not worth living. I had no hope. I was sure that my husband was going to leave and I would be sent to an assisted-living facility so someone else could care for me. I remember lying on the couch alone one day because my husband had gone to work and I recall being so angry at God. I thought, I would just be better off dead!
I remember saying to myself over and over again that, I was just a burden without any life plan. I felt that there was no way God would be able to use this situation for His glory, and it would just be better if I was out of everyone’s way.
As I laid on the couch, I begged God to let me die.
Sometimes, when we ask things of God He says, “No.”
On that day, He told to me, “NO!”
That day, He saw me on that couch and He heard my cry.
He told me to, “Get up, and take back what the devil had stolen from me.” (Deuteronomy 30:3) In that instant, I felt my depression lift. God reminded me that I have authority, and I am His daughter.
Not long after, I began taking rehabilitation courses to learn how to cook, clean, and manage finances. Even with His grace, I learned how to do my own hair and makeup – sightless. God came beside me, picked up every piece of me that was broken, and put me back together.
I thought my situation was of no use, but God has used this horrible, tragic event over and over again.
I don’t know what the devil may be whispering in your ear, but he is the master of deception and the father of lies. He would prefer you live your life far from God – isolated and oppressed. I don’t know what hurdle you may be trying to overcome, or what situation you’re facing…but I do know…if you give it over to God, He will walk with you, He will be your guide. He will never leave you (Deuteronomy 31:6).
He sees YOU, even when others can’t.
It has been seven years since I lost most of my sight. Through this journey, I have learned so much about myself and what it means to really be a child of God. My relationship with the Lord has grown so much stronger and I am able to use my testimony to share the simple truth that – with God, all things are truly possible (Matthew 19:26).
God has given me the authority to take back what the devil meant for harm. So, while I can’t even see these words on the screen, or your face if we would meet in person, I am still an OVERCOMER!
I cook, I clean, I do endless loads of laundry. I even became a mother. Though I cannot see my daughter’s face, I nursed her, changed her diapers, cared for her and now…she is a thriving, spunky five-year old! Today, I serve in ministry with my local Mother’s of Preschoolers (MOPS) and have the honor of coming alongside other mothers, helping them in their journey to becoming the best daughter of God they can be.
God has taken my brokenness – my blindness – and used it for His glory.
Let God have whatever impossible situation you think you’re in and let Him show you how He can put your broken pieces back together too.
You don’t have to stumble in the dark any longer. He sees you. He knows you. He hears you. He will be your guide.
Today, give Him permission to lead. Let Jesus be your eternal HOPE!
“Praise be to God and father of our lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those on any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”2 Corinthians 1 3-4