I Lost My Sight at 15 but Came Out on Top
I often find myself replaying everything I have been through in the past four years. I used to have low vision in my right eye, 20/200, and was fully blind in my left eye. I read large print and didn’t use a white cane. I managed very well that way. My twin sister and I were born three months early but I have no other medical issues besides my eyes. Of course, it had its struggles, but I had never known any different so it was the way of life for me — until my retina detached in my good eye when I was 14 years old. That was the most heartbreaking moment of my life! It was never a risk, so when we found out that it had in fact detached and that was why my vision had become blurry, it was the most shocking moment I had ever been through.
I had eight surgeries in the span of six months to reattach my retina, including cataract surgery. I lost all of my sight a month after my and my twin sister’s 15th birthday. I had to learn how to use a white cane, how to use specialized technology, and had to adapt my entire way of life. There was so much going on at once — I went back and forth to the city where I had the surgeries every two weeks, then every four weeks, back to two, then every six and then back to two. It seemed like it would never end. It was a six-hour drive from my small town, and every trip was so exhausting. I never knew if it was just going to be a check-up or another surgery.
I can’t even begin to describe the emotions that were running through me — fear, hurt, sadness, anger, shock, hope, worry and so many more. Going from low vision to fully and permanently blind might not seem like that big of a jump, but trust me, it was by far the hardest thing I had ever ever had to cope with. It wasn’t just having to learn a completely new way of life. It was having to deal with the emotions that go through you every day. It was trying to figure out just how you were going to deal with it day to day. It was having to carry the burden of pity. It was seeing your family learn to deal with how to help you and their own sense of hurt at not being able to stop it.
Somehow I came out on top. I learned how to deal with everything that had been thrown at me with no warning. I sometimes can’t believe how I came through it all the way that I did. I came out stronger, braver and proud! The help and support from my family and friends is something I will be forever grateful for. They all helped me in ways I will never ever forget, whether it was showing me how to do things in new ways, standing by my side through it all, or the simple words that helped me get through the day. I will always remember my big brother saying to me, “If you ever need anything, you know I am always here for you.” He meant every single word and those few words will forever stay with me.
Yes, there are days when I don’t want to leave my bed because I can’t bear having to deal with it, but I somehow keep pushing on. Perhaps it’s my stubborn, spitfire personality that makes me keep pushing on; I dont know. There are also days when I am so proud of what I have accomplished and nothing is going to get in the way of what I want. Even though what I have been through is life-changing, there are other people who have it much worse then I do. Yes, what I have been through was beyond difficult, but I made it through, and that is something I will always smile about because if I can go through that and come out perfectly fine, I can do anything!
For others who have gone through similar situations, I would like them to know that, yes this was by far the hardest thing I have ever had to go through, but there are still other people who have it worse. You can make it through whatever losing your sight decides to throw at you. Just take all the check-ups, surgeries, eye drops, eye pressure tests, bright lights, the pain — take it all in stride because you can get through this and you will come out a stronger, braver, happier person. Yes, happier, because when you look back at what you have gone through you will learn that coming out of it made you realize all the little things in your life are the things that will always make you happy.
Also, I encourage everyone who has gone through something like this to not fight the white cane or the specialized technology. Embrace it because as scary as it seems, it is such a huge relief in the end because it makes you so much more independent. I hated having to depend on my friends and family all the time, so learning how to use those things made me feel better and gave me that confidence I needed to move on with my life. I know that anyone who goes through this will be able to do that, too.
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