was blind — temporarily. With a bandage covering my eye, I got a taste of the worst case scenario. I took a deep breath, pushing away the panic. Only time would tell if I was crazy or a genius for choosing to do this surgery.
Five hours after surgery, the nurses happily waved goodbye to me — for this supposedly small surgery, I wasn’t privileged enough to be hosted by the hospital overnight. Armed with a ludicrously large pair of sunglasses, I moaned my way through the two-minute drive to the closest hotel. The two-hour drive home was out of the question. The surgery had started at six a.m. so it had been a long day, and as nausea and pain faded, my stomach demanded my attention. Hubby located a nearby kosher restaurant and I stumbled inside like a one-eyed bandit.
We sat down at a free table. We didn’t need sight to realize we had the immediate attention of our next-table-neighbors. It took all of three minutes for the guy to angle his chair in our direction and, attempting to sound casual, begin a conversation with the now familiar, “So, what’s your story?”
Well, technically those weren’t his first words, but his gaze shifting between my bandage and my husband’s hearing aids said it for him. The expression “it’s none of his business” flashed into my mind, but was quickly replaced by a different thought. Instead of complaining that people don’t understand me, I realized suddenly, I can educate them so they do understand me — and others just like me. In between spoons of chicken soup, I explained the anatomy of the eye and the problem with a Marfan’s eye, where the lens is often dislocated. As I dealt with the slippery noodles of my Chow Mein, trying my best to aim for my mouth without the benefit of fully functioning eyes, my husband took over the class on Disability 101. Taking off his hearing aids, he let the guy and his son feel what it felt like having it on their ears. Their mouths hung open as they contemplated a life different from their own.
“You guys are amazing,” the man declared, “I appreciate my eyes and ears so much more now.” I felt a flash of awkwardness, feeling rather like a zoo exhibit, but it was quickly followed by a warm feeling of pride. Whatever the result of this surgery, if it could be the cause of positive change in people around me, there was a spiritual meaning in it. The problem with a hidden disability is that this will never happen on a regular day — unless I chose to initiate an open conversation.
My sight tested every bit of patience I had, coming at a painfully slow pace. When it did finally show up, I took a look at the world around me and cried. I saw acne scars on my face, pain etched onto faces around me, I saw the negative details I hadn’t been able to notice before. The clouds looked so grey, I looked so imperfect, I began to wonder if seeing more was a good thing. Maybe the ignorance I had before was worth the challenges of navigating life without sight? Then I got glasses. Glasses took my eye the final step the implanted lenses hadn’t been able to, and suddenly there was the sun peeking through the clouds. I had never realized how beautiful the deep green of the trees is and as I looked in the mirror again, I saw the smile on my face that made the faults fade into insignificance. For the first time, I glimpsed the spark in my eye that yelled “I’m alive.” I closed my eyes and thanked G-d, for modern medicine and the gift of sight.
To be continued…
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 515)
Oops! We could not locate your form.