How can that be, you might ask? Well, as far as I knew, I was normal, and the fact that I could always draw well (and spent hours drawing), probably threw people off. Mind you, the fact that I’d be an inch from the paper should have been a clue...
In any case, when I went to register for school, a nurse was there to do a routine eye check. At first she thought I was kidding when I said I didn’t see any ‘E’ let alone a big ‘E’. Soon after she was basically scolding my mother with, “This girl needs glasses!” And what a difference glasses made! My very limited world was suddenly so much broader – even though by everyone else’s standards I was still visually impaired at a best case 20/50.
When I was a teen I went to a specialist that told me I’d probably go blind by 40. Now if that isn’t something to look forward to! Mind you, when you’re fifteen, that seemed really far away, and life would be pretty much over at forty, anyway, right? So I didn’t worry about it too much. My fortieth birthday rolled around, and all was still stable. Then as I approached 45 things started to change. A rapid decline in my right eye meant I needed surgery to remove the lens which was dangling by a thread. I underwent a three hour surgery where the eye was opened, drained of its vitreous fluid and a new lens was implanted just under the cornea.
Technically, all should have been well. Except the brain is a funny thing. My brain would not accept the new information that was now coming into it through the revised eye. My left eye shut down as well, and I was now almost totally blind. I describe it more like a ‘white out’ than a black out. I could see light, and some colour, but there were no definitive shapes of any kind. If I closed my right eye and held a book about a millimeter from my left eye I could make out the words, but that was it.
My two weeks of leave from work stretched into five months; I was blind for two of them, forced to use a white cane and all to get around. During that time I knit a sweater by ‘feel’, listened to audio books including the Bible, and played the piano – a good way to stop relying on the notes or looking at the keys! It was actually a wonderfully relaxing, restful time where I just spend a lot of time praying and where I was forced to slow down. It made me so grateful for the things I did still have and it helped me to realize that even in blindness, God was good.
After a second surgery and another three months of recovery I could see better than I ever could see before – 20/40 in both eyes. That’s still not as good as the average person, but for me it was a miracle.
Are you kidding? Besides all the other things I had to contend with, I now had both ‘glaucoma like symptoms’ AND ‘macular degenerative like symptoms’?! The only treatment for the one is the thing that causes the other and so I went through a regime of treatments and counter treatments for about four years.
The result is that I am now almost totally blind in the right eye with little hope of the sight ever coming back. The left eye is still holding out, although my last visit to the specialist confirmed some movement on the part of the implant which needs to be closely monitored.