Thursday, September 22, 2011

Redirect Attention

Dear Friends,

Thank you for visiting my blog. I haven't updated this blog since 2008 because my attention was placed somewhere else, including writing in CHINESE. Please click on the following links to check out my blog posts.

For Chinese Articles (中文文章), visit

For English Articles (英文文章), visit

God bless,

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Another Eye Operation

Yesterday, Tuesday, July 29th James had another eye surgery. The gas bubble in his right eye was removed. The macular hole was found open. (Apparently fluids were leaking through that hole behind the retina and causing detachment.) Part of retina was cut and reattached to eye wall with laser. (Good news: No buckle was needed since the cut already relax the retina.) Then silicon oil was inserted into his eye. The operation went smoothly from a surgical point of view. We were released by the hospital before 3 p.m. James had a bad headache for a few hours after we got home but he felt better in the evening and was able to sleep after taking one tablet of Motrin.

This morning, at the post-op, his right eye pressure measured at 20. Doctor checked him out and reported, "No bleeding. Oil stayed in the back. Cornea a little hazy and will stay that way for a few days. Will the silicone oil close the hole? Unlikely because gas did not close the hole twice."

From the doctor's perspective, it was a successful surgery to save the overall vision of James' eye. Ever since his condition was diagnosed, the doctor's number one concern is to keep the retina attached. During the last few weeks, he tried everything to help the retina reattach and stay attached. Even on Monday, he warned us that unless the retinal detachment was taken care of in a timely fashion, scar tissues could develop and would negatively affect the overall vision in the future.

From my perspective, I wonder how well James could see. Doctor reiterated that the operation might not close the macular hole but definitely would save the overall vision. Today, the doctor explained in details what he did and why buckle was not put in. He cut part of the detached retina out to relax the retina and used laser (at the bottom and some mid area) to reattach the retina to the eye wall. There is now a smile on James' retina! The cut would affect James' peripheral vision on the top. The doctor joked, "That's not too bad unless you are a squiral eating some nuts and worried there are a hawk preying above."

He told James to keep moderate level of facing down in the next few days but confirmed that he could fly (without the gas bubble). While the two of them were joking around (both have great sense of humor), I was wondering "So could he see (well)?"

As if he could read my mind, the doctor told us most people would ask "can he see? can he see?" but this is a question without an answer for at least the next 4-6 weeks!

The process of diagnosis, treatment and recovery of both James' left and right eye taught us to appreciate what we have, not taking anything for granted. We know God has a plan for each and all of us. All these complications are due to high near-sightedness and the shapes of James' eyes. Now that we experienced what else could go wrong, even the high eye pressure on his left eye last year seemed to be a blessing in disguise.

The doctor said James' left eye recovery (from surgery on 11/13/07) was exceptional and the right eye struggles (from surgery on 6/10/08) are more common. And I thought the left eye was the tough one because of high eye pressure, vomiting, severe headache etc. Imagine us being able to board a plane for Europe last Christmas Day, only six weeks after vitrectomy on his left eye! And now James could see far with his left eye. Would induced high pressure in the right eye fix the right macula as the left? We would never know. But we are thankful for the recovered vision whatever that might be.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Prayers and Support

It is amazing how many people are praying for James. Our hearts are filled with gratitude to know that people care. One thing I have learned through the years is that we need to tell people our problem if we want their understanding and support. Of course not everyone cares to the same degree. As long as we don't expect empathy from everyone, we are usually surprised by how many people actually care, and how deep some people support us.

One of the persons on our list of prayer partners is a brother from another church. Another friend introduced him to me after James' operation last year because he had similar experience. (It turned out I met his wife and daughter on a cruise in summer 2001. What a small world!) I spoke with him and got some ideas about what to expect from vitrectomy, and he was added to my list.

Yesterday, he read my latest prayer requests and wrote back ... maybe he and his wife can have dinner with James and me someday? I wrote and said we had to wait for James to get better and asked whether we could call him and talk. Tonight we called. He and James shared their facts, thoughts, agony, pains and experiences. I listened in amazement. What a relief it is to know we are not alone as we face such challenges.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Surprised! Anxious!

On Monday morning, I drove James to have his eye check up. When the nurse declared 12 as his right eye pressure, we were really happy.

Then the doctor checked his eye thoroughly. Surprised! He found a small break (i.e. detachment) towards the bottom of the retina. After explaining different treatment options, the doctor added gas to the bubble (through a hole that he already made before the surgery) and prescribed more eye drops. He told James to stay in the face down position (day and night) for the next 5-7 days so that the retina would have a chance to reattach.

"Now the gas bubble will take longer to dissolve. There is a 70-80% probability that this small fix and face-down rest will work. Otherwise something else (including another surgery) has to happen."

Facing more unknowns, I grew anxious. My heart sunk but James tried to comfort me as we left the clinic. "Thank God we are in the hands of an expert who found the problems in a timely fashion. And he knew what to do."

I worried and prayed. Later, I sent an e-mail to our prayer partners in the afternoon.

Yesterday (Tuesday, 6/24/08), I had client appointments before James' doctor appointment at 4 p.m. To prevent his retina from detaching more, the doctor decided to use laser to weld the retina to the inside wall of the eye ball. Don't ask me how, but I watched the doctor working 360 degree on James' eye for 20 minutes in a dark room. The green laser lines reminded me of the atmosphere of "Laser Quest." Eventually, the doctor added more gas and sent James home with painkillers.

After dinner, James had severe headache and I almost rushed him to the doctor. Good thing we were connected by phone and the doctor explained that the pain resulting from those laser burns would quiet down but any headache caused by severe high eye pressure would continue. He called us twice within the next two hours. James' pain indeed subsided so we could go to sleep.

I rested too but I woke up. Let me just write this down.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Acts of Service

Tomorrow James is going to have vitrectomy on his right eye. This morning he had a pre-op appointment. Since the eye clinic is closer to our son's place, we went there after visiting James' mom and slept over.

Once everyone was up, Scott asked, "Hey Dad, do you want me to give you a haircut? You may not have one for a few weeks." "Sure!" James exclaimed. I'm sure he was pleasantly surprised just as I was. So many things had happened in the last few weeks that haircut was not on our minds. But Scott showed he cared.

One of the five love languages promoted by Gary Chapman is "Acts of Service." How blessed it is to have a son willingly voluntarily giving daddy a haircut! We felt loved as we drove to meet James' eye doctor.

Friday, June 06, 2008


Just got woken up by an earthquake. It seemed big to me but only shook once. Was I in a dream?

Needed to decide what to do. Check USGS and found latest earthquake in SF Bay Area --

Magnitude 3.5 Friday, June 6, 2008 at 2:02:53 am at epicenter
a few miles from Morago, Alamo, Danville, and Oakland.

Around midnight 26-27 hours ago, I finally published the newsletter that I had been written since the beginning of May. As I wrote about the Sichuan 7.9 earthquake, I thought about the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that was a 7.1 surface-wave magnitude.

It was on October 17. I was in my office when it happened. My tall bookcase fell and blocked my closed door. Thankfully I was not hit. I was able to slowly moved things out of my way and opened the door. Where were you?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Whose Things Are In Your Mind?

I was pretty calm on May 5. When the doctor said he might have a slot for surgery on May 22, I reminded James that he already bought ticket for June 2 and the gas bubble would mean he had to cancel the trip. James still wanted to go so he took the next available time, i.e. June 10.

Doctor L was very encouraging. We don’t want him to suffer like last time. We can now better foresee his complications and take specific preventive measures.” At that, the good doctor offered to poke holes in the right eye of James with laser that day.

All right. So may be James is truly in good hands. His new condition (or progressive worsening) is found in a very timely manner. Part of me knew the advantages of surgery, and another part of me wanted to have things under my own control. How about me? I was booked to speak on June 7 and June 14 which would be critical dates pre and post operation.

The safest thing is of course to cancel the June 14 workshops now. But I hate to tell the organizers about the “bad” news. After all, the Mandarin and Cantonese workshops were originally scheduled for December 8 of last year! The Cancer Care groups were very gracious when I told them about James' surgery last time. Although they probably could find other speakers, they said they wanted to wait for me. I am now embarrassed to tell them this is happening again!

Could I trust that the complications would be minimal since doctor L knows James' eye structure and reactions pretty well? Should I go by faith that God will make a way for me to speak on June 14? I thought about it for the next few days, and a Bible study with the elderly fellowship gave me clear direction from Mark 8:29-38.

It started when Jesus asked, "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

Peter immediately answered, "You are the Christ.”

All is good until Jesus started to teach his disciples the reality of being Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. But watch what happened when Jesus spoke plainly to his disciples that "the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again" -- Peter took Jesus aside and began to REBUKE him.

Wow. I see myself easily make similar mistake. I want only the good but not the bad from our Savior and Lord. But just like Peter, my perception is distorted and when I doubted His good intention. I too "do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

Have I forgotten what God could do? Am I once again ready to accept His will? Am I trying to save ourselves using my ways according to my time table?

Just When I Thought Things Were Settled

When James saw his doctor on January 11, we heard good news. His left eye was recovering very well. A 3-month follow-up appointment was set, and our lives returned to normal. I gave six workshops at BASS in March and started accepting new speaking engagements when it was clear that we would be staying in the Bay Area.

Imagine our surprise when James saw his eye doctor on April 21. Although the OCT scans showed that his left eye was healed, the
sack of his right eye was now clearly pulling his retina!

The following weekend, I attended a four-day conference for professional therapists in the business of helping couples. Then I went straight to work at Fremont. When I got home on Tuesday night, James casually mentioned, “My right eye started seeing wavy instead of straight lines.”

He waited for a few days (hoping his vision would improve on its own). Finally, he sent an e-mail to his doctor. We got an appointment almost immediately for the following Monday. We went in on May 5, and a new OCT scan showed a very tiny macular hole in his right eye.

How could that be? Even though we SAW how elongated his right eye had become, even though we SAW how his retina was being stressed and pulled, how could it happen so soon?

The timing is NOT right! We are making new plans for our church, James would be traveling one week in June, many co-workers would be away this summer, and I recently scheduled speaking engagements at various churches and organizations for the next six months. I repeated "Not Now" to myself and in prayers. Then it dawned on me. If not now, when?

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1).