4 weeks old.
That's how old I was when the first medical crisis started. My dad was changing my diaper and noticed my left eye wasn't responding to light or movement. Unsure of what to do, the Paediatrician set us up with an Ophthalmologist, and I was quickly diagnosed with a Cataract. At one month old, I had my first operation. They removed the lens in my eye and began putting a contact lens on top of my eye. Several months later, the other cataract developed and they repeated the surgery on my right eye. Two more eye surgeries followed in the next couple years to remove scar tissue and tighten the muscles. I've worn contact lenses on my eyes ever since.
Looking back, my parents joke about how the neighbours must have thought they were torturing me every morning and night as one of them held me down, screaming while the other placed or removed the lenses. In those days contact lenses were relatively new and quite finicky. They were a rounded, hard, plastic-like lens that if not placed perfectly on the iris, were quite painful. They were removed each night by a tiny little plunger that suctioned them off of my eyes. For many years, to not mix them up, they were given two different colours. Most of my pictures of me 10 years and under, are of me with one blue eye and one green eye.
Next came the eye patch. After the cataracts were removed, poor vision remained, and my left eye was substantially stronger than my right. To improve my vision I wore an eyepatch over my left eye to strengthen the right. How I despised that eye patch! It was itchy, hot and pulled my skin, not to mention made me a target for onlookers with questions and jokes. Once standing in a line at the bank with my mom, a man behind us looked at my mom and said
"So did you punch her eye out?"
Kids were more curious than cruel. I would get asked if an eyeball existed behind that patch on a regular basis but I didn't mind. Sometimes I would even come up with silly responses to freak them out.
"Oh no, not behind the patch, but I do have it here in my pocket!"
It was just part of my daily life and we learned to deal with it all. My dad had a hard time getting my lenses in and out (he was the one who'd pin me down while mom did the lens job), so on nights when mom was working, he would pack me and my brother up and drive to her work so she could take them out there. It made things like sleepovers and being watched by babysitters tricky, but we made it work. Eventually technology improved and lenses became more like the soft pliable material we use today. I was then able to put them in and out myself.
Along with the cataracts came an eye condition called glaucoma, which means the eye has a high build up of pressure from the fluid. Every 6 months or so, we would make the trip to Sick Kid's Hospital to see Dr. Levin. He performed a few of my surgeries and remained my doctor for several years. I would take eye drops to keep the pressures down and he monitored them closely. My other doctor who maintained my contact lenses was Dr. Brent, a kind and caring man who actually was part of the team to first use them on children. He was passionate in his field, extremely intelligent, and so gentle. I never left his office without a handful of smarties. I continued in his care until his retirement in 2016.
Other specialists became involved and I was bumped around to handle issues that came up over the years. Further surgeries were needed to tighten my eye muscles, correct double vision and combat my glaucoma. I was even once involved in a clinical study to advance research on children born with cataracts. My parents did genetic testing when I was a baby but no explanation was found as to why my eyes are the way they are.
Did God make me this way on purpose? Were my eyes just defective? Is it just a result of living in a broken world? I don't have the answers either, but I do know some things.
I know if I had been born 50 years before my time, I would have grown up blind.
I know God doesn't make mistakes.
I know that I appreciate my eyesight everyday. There are many children who were and are born like me and aren't able to get the care I received, and even some that did, are still considered blind.
I know that God works all things for good and that He used the struggles we went through to tell a story of redemption and provision.
I also know that our bodies are a gift, a beautiful and complex gift and all of us are fearfully and wonderfully made.
I don't know what the future holds for my vision. I still see doctors who monitor my sight and pressures and I know more surgeries will probably happen as some point. Will I keep my vision for the rest of my life? I really don't know. Some doctors have told me it will deteriorate with time, others say my glaucoma could suddenly knock it out all at once. What I do know, is that God has given me the ability to surrender it to Him. I pray that I will see our children get married, our grandchildren be born, and my husband's stunning eyes as a 90 year old man, but I trust that even if those things don't happen, I will be okay. My sight was a miracle as a 4 week old infant and it'll be a miracle for the rest of my life.
Author - Erin
Follower of Jesus, on a journey to glorify God and to advance His Kingdom while battling Chronic Illness in the everyday life. Diagnoses include Lupus, CVID, POTS, IBS, Hemiplegic Migraines and other Autoimmune conditions.