Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Little Cayman

In January, we rented a house in Little Cayman with ten of our friends. I was excited to have a long weekend, but in the back of my head was wondering why we were leaving one island to sit on the beach in another island. But I totally underestimated how wonderful an island getaway can be! It was better than I could have imagined. It really felt like a little pseudo family vacation. We rotated handling the meals, laid around in our pjs together every morning and played games together every night. It was such a relaxing and happy weekend!

One of the more "thrilling" parts of the trip was our ride in the tiny Cayman Airways plane. The plane only sat 16 people, with an open cockpit to the pilots.

Once arriving, I was immediately enamored with the sister island's airport. The little wooden plaque above the overhang says "Terminal A, Gate #1."

This is the five bedroom house we shared. The downstairs had a kitchen, huge living room and a table that could fit all 12. It was perfect!

We arrived right at sunset. I grabbed my camera to get a quick shot as we settled in.

After playing several rounds of "mafia" (or "werewolves" as my family calls it), we went out to star gaze. My jaw literally dropped when I saw this:

(Photo by Jenn Smith)

Because Little Cayman is so remote and there's so little light pollution, you can see millions of stars. You can see the Milky Way. You can see stars behind stars. It was incredible. I don't think I've ever seen so many stars at once.

Saturday afternoon was filled with kayaking, football, reading, games, and napping.

Coconut bocce - how island-y

Another gorgeous sunset

Day 2 - more of the same. I don't mind looking up from my reading and seeing this:

No one can resist sunset pictures

The whole group! I love these people.

(photo by Jenn Smith)

Our flight left at 4:00 on Monday, so everyone did their best to squeeze in some final drops of relaxation.

Check in at the tiny airport was a joy. Here's check-in/baggage weighing/security.

Rollerblading down the runway - why not?

Headed home

It was an awesome weekend - I really didn't want to leave! It was a little easier knowing we were flying back to another beautiful island though. So thankful for wonderful friends and memories!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Weekend Sun

Ok, time to hit up some of these overdue posts. These pictures take place the weekend of January 13-14...over a full month ago, I know! But since I've finally got them edited, I might as well share.

Friday night Brent, Walter and I went to the beach to watch another lovely sunset. I don't know why my days feel too busy to make sunset gazing a more regular occurrence. It's a shame really.

Brent, post-Christmas vacation, pre-surgery. He was supposed to be wearing glasses the three weeks before surgery (contacts change the shape of your cornea), but he insisted on taking them off before every picture. Which is also a shame because he looked really cute in his Harry Potter-esk glasses.

On Saturday afternoon, we hung out at the Ritz beach with Jeremy and Sheena. Ah, I love luxury. You can't beat heavily padded loungers and soft, thick towels.

Sun for some, shade for others

I don't even really have anything else to write here. After my last wordy post, you're probably welcoming the break!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cincinnati Eye Surgery

Sorry for the long blogging absence. Hopefully it made the heart grow fonder. I actually have a good reason this time - we took a 13 day trip to Cincinnati for Brent to get surgery on his right eye. Normally I am am too Type A to abandon chronological order on the blog, but this one's worth skipping ahead.

I'll start at the VERY beginning. I'm not going to pretend I know all the science or correct vocabulary for the eye, so here's my simplified overview. Brent has had bad eye sight since he was very little. When I met him, I was fascinated to find out he was "legally blind." He has detached lenses in both eyes, which means his lenses were only held in place by a few fibers. He wears incredibly strong contacts, -14.5 in the right eye and -12 in the left. Even with his contacts, his vision was only correctable to 20/30.

Starting around November, he noticed his vision getting significantly worse, specifically with his right eye. So when we got home from our Christmas travels, he went to the eye doctor in Grand Cayman and they found he was only seeing 20/125 WITH his contacts. That means what most people can see at 125 feet, Brent would need to be at 20 feet to see. The doctor suggested a modified version of a cataract surgery to fix the problem. The eye doctor Brent saw in Cincinnati before we moved had mentioned this before, but at the time it wasn't worth the risks/downsides. So Brent started looking into it, calling the Cincinnati Eye Institute, asking insurance what they would cover. We were thrilled to find out that the surgery would be completely covered through Brent's insurance and they would pay to fly us both there.

It was such an answer to prayer, and I'm still amazed to think back to how God's hand was shown through all this. First, our insurance is probably better here than it was in Cincinnati, so it works out well that the surgery needed to take place while we're in Grand Cayman. Secondly, even though the surgery was mentioned to us before, Brent's poor eyesight was a pre-existing condition at the time so we would have had to cover a lot of the expenses. The crazy thing is, Brent's vision had to get significantly worse for us to really consider the surgery again and for insurance to pay for it. I even think it's cool to realize that God planned for this legally blind guy from South Carolina to marry a girl from Cincinnati, which happens to house the nation's largest eye institute. I am reminded of a blog post I wrote in October of 2010 which reflected on all the amazing, unexpected, and mysterious ways God has worked so far in our lives. This is just another one to add to the long list. I love to think how God knows our whole story from start to end, and how he puts things in motion sometimes YEARS before they come to fruition. "I remembered the old days, went over all you've done, pondered the ways you've worked, stretched out my hand to you, as thirsty for you as a desert thirsty for rain. Point out the road I must travel, I'm all ears, all eyes before you." Psalm 143: 5-6.

Phew, what a long prologue! Jumping ahead, we told my mom, dad, and Joy that we were coming, but got to surprise the rest of the family at Sarah's birthday party. It was so great to see the look on their faces! We had the first meeting with the doctor on Monday, and the surgery was scheduled for Tuesday.

Overall, it was not a fun experience. Brent's surgery was 1 hour and 45 minutes long (he was awake the whole time). The doctor said it was very difficult, but he was able to replace the lens and keep the membrane. Brent was in a lot of pain during the surgery, which was not supposed to happen, but he had tape over his lips so he couldn't tell them he needed more numbing. He threw up on the way home and for the next couple hours, so we went back to the doctor to make sure his eye pressure was ok. The doctor said everything looked good, and it could have been the eye patch that was causing the nausea or the medication Brent received. He tested the right eye's vision, and already Brent could already see 20/60, which was great progress for only 3 hours after the surgery. Brent was not well for the next couple days, sleeping a lot, walking around a bit like a zombie. He got a cold/flu while recovering, which made things worse. Then he got his first ever migraine on our last day and was in such terrible pain, he just laid awake in a dark room for 8 hours. We aren't sure if that was due to a rise in his eye pressure or just purely coincidental, but it was awful to watch (and a lot worse for Brent to endure!).

Brent's vision continued to improve at our doctor appointments. He was seeing around 20/50 when we left. Now he would say he is seeing better than when in Cincinnati, but still not as good as his left eye, so maybe he's around 20/40? As the eye continues to heal, hopefully his vision will keep improving over the next couple months. He has a doctors appointment in Grand Cayman in March. It will be interesting to hear an offical update then.

We were incredibly blessed by all the emails and facebook messages people wrote. While Brent was sick after the surgery, I read him everyone's notes and he was very encouraged. We love our friends and family so much!

And now for some pictures from the trip...this one is right after surgery.

The awesome banner our Grand Cayman friends sent to my mom's house. It was such a great surprise!

Day 2 after the surgery

Brent got a little stir-crazy over the weekend, so we went to Krohn Conservatory to get out of the house for a bit.

They had a beautiful pre-Spring exhibit with all kinds of colorful flowers and trees. It was a nice escape from the cold Cincinnati winter!

One day Joy took off work so we went to Dunkin Donuts to play bohnanza. We did this twice when she visited us in Grand Cayman, so it was fun to "recreate" those memories.

So that's the whole story (for now!). Since being back in Grand Cayman, we've been busying catching up with work and friends. After the stress of the surgery and various sicknesses, I can't even express how good it felt to be back on our island home. Right now, there's no where I'd rather be!