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Struggle For Clarity
My life was a blur, foggy images, and mixed colors. That was how I woke up every morning before I put on my glasses. My glasses were these outrageous spectacles that were as thick as a coffee table. They appeared even bigger than those my grandmother wore. Yet I had worn them all my life, and they had become natural to me. I could see, and I remained satisfied. And through my childhood years, simply satisfied is what I was, but nobody wants to be just satisfied in his or her life. Still I remained just that until the day of my surgery. When I discovered “Clarity,” and how quickly it could fade away.
For many years I had waited for my eye problems to be fixed, and it was finally going to happen. I was told that I had cataracts in both eyes and that the doctor was going to surgically remove them from my eyes. I’ve always heard that surgeries were scary, but I didn’t think much of it; nothing bothered me, nothing scared me. I just took things as they came. All I could think of at that time was the Big Mac I was going to eat the second after I got out of the surgery. I didn’t care that they told me I couldn’t eat after the surgery; I was going to do it anyway. They starved me for twelve hours, and I was going to feast.
Sadly my struggle didn’t involve a greasy, cheesy, burger. My struggle began with the aftermath, after the clarity that came from a successful surgery, after two short years of enjoying the natural light and beauty of the world. After all of this, my true struggle begins when I was told of another surgery, that they hope could save my vision. Through all of this the word hope stuck with me, a simple four-letter word that I now relate to ignorance. Truthfully to people like me “hope” really means “I don’t know” or “We’re trying, but there are doubts.” Never did I expect doctors to seem so hopeful, and become utterly and completely wrong in the end.
These first words began a process that seemed much more involved and complex than I ever expected. First I was told of a lens detachment in my right eye, and thus, I experienced my first stroke of fear. However, I proceeded through the process and kept a good 95% of my vision. Another victorious win! I thought. At that moment, I was blissfully unaware that I had only won a single battle, not the war.
Another visit to the doctor and my process began to pick up its momentum. This time the doctor told me I had a retinal detachment, and the surgery was critical, dangerous, and in general, a nasty process. This was the first time I heard a doctor admit he wasn’t sure of my visual future. The doctor continued to explain that it wasn’t just one surgery that I needed, but two. The fact that it was a two-part surgery added to the fear I had already felt for quite some time. The first surgery would be to implant a buckle as well as oil to hold and heal my eye. The second would be more like touch up, to remove and check to make sure everything was secure. During the entire conversation the doctor used that same word, “Hope,” the entire time. Looking back now I become agitated any time that word is used in any medical institution based on my experience. I would ask, “Am I going to still see out of my left eye?” The doctor would then sit down and look me in the eyes, not my mother, and would say,
“Yes, you’ll still see, but I’m afraid you’re going to lose a vast majority of your vision, but maybe not. I’m hoping to save as much of your vision as I can.” The room would grow silent for a moment, but then I began to question again.
“Sports, what sports can I do? Can I still play hockey, snowboard?” Yet again the doctor took a moment to gather his thoughts, but this time was longer. His breathing was deeper, and I realized he was having a hard time saying what had to be said.
“I’m sorry but any sports that require too much shaking of your eye is too risky. You cannot play any contact sports for the rest of your life.” With those few words, I didn’t know how to reply. Tears? No, sports aren’t everything, I told myself, but at the same time they were my outlets, a part of me that was being stripped from my grasp. These moments that were actually only several minutes in time lasted a couple hours of labored breathing in my time. It never stuck though, I wouldn’t accept it and so I kept asking the same questions.
“Is it fixed; can I play sports again?” The answer never changed, however. It was just simple no, and no.
These surgeries labeled critical, dangerous, and nasty by the doctor had a huge crippling effect on my life. I became unable to endure in any physical activities for two months. I continually went in for checkups, and then, towards the end, it happened again. I was told that I had another retinal detachment and then later, another after that. Two more critical, dangerous, and nasty surgeries, and I had hardly any vision left to show for it. To me it was useless: no point what so ever. It ruined my life. Sports were gone, possibility of driving was debatable, and my entire physical world was shattered. After all of this, a final decision was made to leave the substance called oil in my eye, thinking that removing it was the cause of the repeated retinal detachments. With the oil in my eye, they could not put a lens in my eye, leaving my eye as an M&M with the substance sucked out of the shell. A vital part of me had become so brittle, so small, and so aggravating.
I am grateful to have one good eye left, but I’m crippled now, and dealing with all the effects is irritating and difficult. I’m not as fearless as I once was; simple things in my life I now question, is it going to harm the only good eye I have left? People see me and don’t realize that I feel crippled, because I don’t want to be and I try to ignore it. I have to be careful, though. Ignoring what’s there can be dangerous, and I fear sometimes I risk my sight more than I should for simple joys, but maybe I’m too ignorant when I think, “I don’t care…. I need to be me!”