Thursday, February 26, 2015

Serious conversations

“You have the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen.”

Those were some of the first words my husband ever spoke to me.

He didn’t care I was a few pounds overweight or about the gap in my front teeth or the dozens of other things I found wrong with myself back then.

The first thing - the most important thing - he noticed was the color of my eyes. (Nice guys do finish first.)

But the irony of his compliment crashed into me a few short weeks later when I began having trouble with my vision and said blue eyes no longer worked quite right.

It was little things at first...having to lean in closer to the mirror to apply make-up. Struggling to read the morning newspaper or my watch, check email or proof work for my PR job.

Then it got worse.

My vision fractured, as if I were looking at the world through a prism. Straight lines appeared wavy. I couldn’t read a book because half the letters were suddenly missing.

The reason?

Retinal scarring. According to the specialist, a viral infection had left behind scars on retinas in both eyes.

In simple terms, when light enters the eye, it reflects on the curved surface of the retina, which renders the image for your brain to see.

Life is great when that retina is shiny and perfect. That means light reflects off it like a television signal from your satellite dish.

But we all know what happens when that satellite dish gets a little beat up or fills with snow.
Your signal goes in the trash.

As did my eyesight.

Add in a secondary infection, and my detail vision was completely gone.

I was 29 years old.

But it wasn’t a world of doom and gloom. The secondary inflammation cleared up after a round of steroids, and much of my vision returned.

But it was never the same because scars are forever. Over the years, they’ve advanced father into my center vision. And no one can predict when that will stop.

But I can read again. It’s a process. Each eye struggles to pick up what the other is missing. And that constant shuffling leads to eyestrain and headaches.

Every. Single. Day. 

The dark isn’t much of a friend either. I once tripped over the dog when she was lying on the floor in the dark. I simply couldn’t see her.

I went flying, hit the arm of the couch and slammed to the floor. (My resulting language was less than lady-like when I had to explain to my husband what the loud noise was, that I’d tripped over the %&*# dog because I couldn’t #*&@ing see her.)

But I can drive and watch my son and husband shoot hoops and play a little one-on-one in the driveway.

I can enjoy movies and Bearcat football games. I can do just about everything I need to in life.

Then I hit my mid-30’s and began to show signs of glaucoma.

Are you friggin’ kidding me?!

So it was another round of specialists.

And another few years of appointments and tests and bad thoughts and what if’s?

Three years passed and nothing changed, so I was cleared to go about my business. Life got back to normal. At least what was considered normal for me.

And now?

The glaucoma conversation is happening all over again.

I’m 41 years old with no family history of the disease.

But new tests show high eye pressures and a cranky looking optic nerve. 

So, yeah, I’m struggling a little with this.

I’m the glass-is-half-full, everything-will-be-OK, don’t-cross-that-bridge-unless-a-serial-killer-is-chasing-you-with-a-knife kinda girl.

And my husband is sooooo not that kinda guy.

But he is today. For me. And he will be tomorrow. And the next day. Because when it comes to my “beautiful blue eyes” he is determined that I’ll have a happy ending. 

March is Save Your Vision Month. Please. Get your eyes checked. Get your children’s eyes checked.

Do it every year. I did. That’s how quickly things can change.

Even if you don’t have insurance, the cost is much less than you think. Please care as much about your family as you do about getting a new iPhone.

And hopefully you’ll get your happy ending too.

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