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Greg Voeller, 51- Baseball injury

Social media handles:

None as of yet

Where are you from:

Native Oregonian

Where do I live now:

Beaverton, Oregon

Greg Voeller, sitting in this home office with his eye glasses on and wearing his prosthetic eye
Greg Voeller

Tell us a little about yourself:

My name is Greg Voeller, I am married raising a son and a dog. I have strived to live a simple life with family at the center of my world. Most of my time has been working in healthcare as an X-ray/MRI technologist for over two decades.

I graduated from college in Radiology and was proud to serve others in need for many years. I love the outdoors and have been around sports my entire life. Faith is very much a source of strength for me as well as family and community.

I enjoy engaging with others when the opportunity presents itself and try to listen, laugh, and learn from others as much as possible.

What's your eye story:

On December 16th, 2022 I got off work and like most nights, drove my son to his practice at the local batting cage. I think you might know where I am going with this.

I was asked by the coach to help pitch batting practice and of course, jumped at the chance to help out. As a former pitcher myself and already have pitched many years of batting practice, I was eager to help out and be a part of the team.

Well, after careful positioning of the safety screen, I started pitching to the first batter in the cage, and no problem. The second batter I got started and was just finding my rhythm when a line drive up the middle caught me square in my right eye with my glasses on.

My momentum when releasing the ball from my hand while pitching took my head maybe a baseball's width past the safety screen and yep, that is where the line drive met my right eye.

My eye was definitely on the ball. Sorry, bad humor. I took the blow pretty well considering I had a blowout fracture and also a small subarachnoid hemorrhage in my brain.

I did not lose consciousness but definitely went down to a knee to regroup. My immediate concern was the kids. I did not want to be a source of attention, so I stood up as if nothing happened and walked to the restroom.

I did not realize at the time my vision was gone, I was mostly concerned about the bleeding and whether I needed stitches. Well, an obvious yes, so I called my Superhero (my wife) who came and drove me to the emergency room.

My son stayed at practice, I told him I just needed a few stitches. Well, upon arrival the triage nurse took one look and said “OH this is significant” and rushed me back.

This is when I realized my right eye was not registering any light. Two ambulance rides later I ended up being evaluated by some specialists and was in surgery early the next morning to assess the damage.

Long story short, three surgeries in total took place over the course of a couple of months. The second was the enucleation to remove the damaged eye and some surrounding musculature.

The third surgery was to repair the orbit and facial fractures. I now have a prosthetic and consider myself very lucky and grateful to those who helped me so far in recovering from my accident.

What has been the most challenging mentally:

Tough question? As a believer that things happen for a reason, my eye injury so far has prompted me to look for a greater or different calling in life. Quite possibly it is to just be more available for my family and their needs.

It might be too early to tell. I don't know. This has been my biggest challenge. I was never really sure I was performing my true calling in life, and now my injury has prompted me to face life differently. I am improving, but staying positive and accepting myself as I am is my biggest challenge and adjustment thus far.

What has been the most physically challenging:

Outside of the lack of vision, the facial numbness- eyebrow, cheek, right nostril, right lip, and rt upper teeth and the front side of gum line on rt side are daily reminders. I usually experience a heavy mask-like sensation most of the time but escalates after eating and on hot days. Most likely a circulatory issue caused by the injury along with the nerve damage. Oh, driving/parking a big truck is no longer a favorite of mine.

Where are you now in your recovery:

Well, almost 9 months post-accident but with 2 months of yo-yo surgeries it is probably more like 7 months. I do have my prosthetic which was a game changer for me. My concussion issues persist but are tolerable. I do believe I still struggle with some Neuro-fatigue adapting to being monocular. Mentally, I am working to stay positive and find a different calling in life if possible. Getting some coaching with Shelby has been instrumental for me.

What advice would you give to someone going through their eye impairment journey:

Give yourself some Grace! Time to heal, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Find support, even if it is online. Take care of yourself during this time and when you feel ready, you will become a source of strength in the lives of others just by loving yourself as you are. It's not easy, but start with you! Still a work in progress for me. Also, the small wins in life matter. Every step you take for yourself is what counts no matter how big.

Who is your eye Surgeon and Ocularist:

Dr. Laura Gadzala ophthalmologist

Christina Leitzel (formerly King) ocularist

How did you find Eyehesive:

Recommendation from Ocularist Christina Leitzel/King

Eye-Powerment Coaching Program Testimonial:

1. Initially, prior to starting the eye-empowerment program, I felt

lost with the loss of an eye due to injury. Even though the medical side of the injury was being addressed, the emotional, mental, cognitive, and experiential aspects of the injury were largely missing. I needed to read about having one eye so I bought a book. This was a start but needed to connect with and hear others with the same loss. This is when I had a conversation with my ocularist and she mentioned the Eyehesive online community. I checked it out and attended a free Zoom meeting. It was a great thing to share and hear others at different stages of their recovery. This is also where I decided to try some coaching with Shelby.

2. I started receiving coaching with Shelby on a month-to-month basis. My primary reason was that I needed someone to talk with who had experienced the same injury. I knew my family would provide some support but I needed to expand my help to include someone who could mirror back and help keep me accountable for navigating life during my recovery. I felt this task would be too much of a burden for my family at the onset of my recovery. Extra help was needed.

3. So I meet with Shelby once a week, and just completed the first 5 months of the program. She has been instrumental in my recovery. She always brings positive energy and most importantly listens. She has a unique gift when listening where she is able to mirror back to you with understanding and empathy. Most important for me, we just have a conversation and develop strategies for reaching goals in the recovery process. I guess I knew my limitations and knew I would need some help with losing an eye and the life change that needed to happen for me. Even though I still have work to do, I have made some definite gains in my recovery and much of that is due to enlisting Shelby to be that mirror in my recovery steps, thoughts, and goal setting.

4. I would definitely recommend the program to others, especially during the first year of their eye removal or vision loss. Undoubtedly, the program could help at any stage but this is where I am currently. Simply having a support person who

can act as a mirror for you in your recovery and help accomplish goals (big or small) is huge. It still takes work, but I always feel more inspired after talking with Shelby. Thank you is not enough!

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