I have jokingly referred to myself as a marvel to modern medicine on more than one occasion. Those who’ve had the pleasure of being around me the last few years can definitely attest to this. I have been diagnosed with a slew of issues, most which aren’t very troublesome, but definitely annoying. Just off the top of my head, I’ve had TMJ, Slipping Rib Syndrome, Achilles Tendonitis, and even Hand Foot Mouth Disease (you know, the one that more commonly affects toddlers?!)
Most recently though, I decided to buck up and go to a therapeutic ophthalmologist for my eyes, rather than my usual optometrist. You see, for years, I’ve had problems with my eyes. Nothing too major, but I have been wearing glasses since around the age of 8. Those of you who need the math, that’s nearly 17 years of my life that I’ve need corrective lenses. You never really think much of it. Sometimes, you get blurry vision, sometimes your eyes itch. It’s normal, right? That’s what I thought anyway. Or maybe, it’s those damn allergies. Texas can be unforgiving with the pollen sometimes. So this past year, I began to experience pain like never before. Now, I’d had pain in my eyes before, so this wasn’t too alarming at first, but it was different. My eyes would literally ache, they’d water constantly, they stung, itched, and it eventually became unbearable to even keep them open during the day. I tried relentlessly to find a specialist who took my insurance, and for months, I found nothing. It was very discouraging, and I was beginning to think I’d never find relief. I tried every eye drop I could buy over the counter, but relief hardly came, and when it did, it never lasted.
So in February, over 7 months after my initial symptoms became aggressive, I finally got an appointment for the ophthalmologist. I was a ball of nerves in the waiting room, filling out forms, making sure to detail how I’d suffered with migraine headaches nearly every week since age 13, my recent bout of blurred vision, and especially the unbearable pain and aches in my eye sockets. I got called back and began a routine eye exam. After the usual, “1… or 2?” banter, the first thing this doctor says is, “has any doctor in the past ever had trouble correcting the vision in your right eye?” Well, of course not. Or at least, not that I was aware of. So, long story short, she asked me to identify the first letter on top of the chart with just my right eye. I reluctantly say “It’s an E” to which she replies, “Did you say E because you can make it out, or because you know it’s an E?” Of course I know it’s an E. I’ve been looking at that chart for years!
After nearly an hour of tests & dilation, she sat me back down and explained to me what was going on, and how we were going to begin treating it. First and foremost, my eyes are incredibly dry, which is more commonly referred to as Dry Eye Disease. In addition to that, I also had a bacteria in the roots of my eyelashes, which they said was most likely causing my blurred vision. That was pretty gross for me to think about, but apparently, this is a very common happening. Lastly, I was told that my optic nerves were quite enlarged. She confirmed this by taking images of my nerves and comparing them to “healthy” ones. For those of you who aren’t quite aware, this is often a sign of glaucoma. For me, this meant that I’d be classified as “glaucoma suspect,” especially due to my family history. You can imagine my disappointment and utter disbelief to hearing this. I mean hell, I’m only 24, how could this possibly be happening to me, right? Adding to the list of ailments I’ve already got, this was just discouraging.
And with all this sudden information being thrown at me, I was overwhelmed by emotion. Y’all, I really cannot express the relief that overcame me leaving that initial appointment. Finally, a doctor listened to me, took all my concerns into consideration and answered ALL my questions. It gave me hope that I’d soon see some relief. And I did! After this appointment, I was prescribed a horde of medications for my eyes, eye drops and ointments, in hopes of treating my dry eyes and bacterial infection. And sure enough, at my one month follow-up, my dry eyes didn’t hurt so much, my vision was rarely blurry, and best of all, my migraine headaches were so scarce, I’d stopped keeping track of how often I was getting them! It was incredible to see the change that these medications had on my vision. Even more so, it gave me a confidence I’d honestly begun losing for a while. The side effects of the medications has been worth it, definitely a reasonable price to pay for my precious eyesight.
Nearly four months have passed since I went to my initial appointment in February. And they have not been easy by any means. Besides dealing with the vision problems, I’ve been coping with the loss of my grandma. I have lost many, MANY loved one in my life, but none have hurt quite like this. You see, my grandma has always been a beacon of light for me. She was such a strong woman, always fighting, always persevering. I’d been dealing with a lot of anxiety leading up to her passing in November 2017. For the entire year, it was always “be strong” and “we’ll get through this,” but in worrying about my grandma, I’d completely ignored my own body’s warnings. I didn’t need to worry about me, I just needed her to get better. I know that if my grandma had been in a better state of mind, she would have scolded me for not getting checked out sooner. My grandma always put us before herself. A selfless woman who, even after living with her for several years, never loved me any less for the kind of person I was. When I lost my grandma, I began to really start losing my faith in God. I questioned Him a lot. I asked why a lot. Why her? Why now? And for a long time, I couldn’t really sort my feelings apart. And it really wasn’t until I went in for my appointment, 3 months later, that I felt both calm and relieved. I thanked God over & over, thankful that my diagnosis wasn’t much worse, that I hadn’t permanently lost my vision, and ultimately, that there was still hope in getting better.
With that hope, I began to focus my attention elsewhere. It was around this time I re-joined a gym and began channeling all these feelings into my workouts. I needed to take better care of myself. I needed to live my best life. That’s not to say that I’ve forgotten my grandma and her impact on my life. Oh no, she’s still with me. Every day, I speak to her. And every day, she speaks to me too. In her passing, I’m beginning to find peace. Peace knowing she’s no longer suffering, and even more knowing that she’d want me to keep going and take care of myself. I’ve fixed my eyes on God to guide me through this journey. I’ve battled weight, injuries, depression, and too much more to name. But I know that through God, it will be possible to overcome. I’ve come too far along now to just completely give up. And so I won’t. I refuse. With God as my witness, I will journey on, strong as ever! Sharing my story gives me the motivation to keep going. I often come back and read my previous posts to reflect on just how much of a story I have to share. And I’m not done yet. We’re just getting started!
Listen to “Fix My Eyes” by for KING & COUNTRY here!