29 November 2008

Just keep me where the light is

Hey there. I haven't posted here in quite some time, and I can't say exactly when I will again. This isn't a pity post or anything, I just feel like venting, and if the internet (or Xbox Live, for that matter) is good for anything, it's for letting shit out.

(Please ignore any spelling mistakes/typos in this post, I'll explain why.)
I've always had problems with my vision. A long time ago a good friend of my parents noticed that when I was interested in something (read: TV), I would sit extremely close to it. And just stare. She suggested to my parents that I should get my eyes checked out, and sure enough I had shitty vision. Since then, as anyone who's ever met me knows, I've worn glasses. And not just any old "hey, I need to see the road better" or "curses, this crossword puzzle is clearly difficult due to my lack of spectacles" glasses. No, I've been rocking the half ton of glass attached to a landfill's worth of plastic and/or metal. Granted, technology has improved a lot since the late 80s, but not tons. Even now, the frames I wear have broeken down a few times, unable to hold my lenses due to the bizarre perscription.

But glasses are glasses, big friggin' deal. Everyone wears them.

In second grade I was hoofed in the back of the head by a kid who was trying to kick someone else. The result was retinal detatchment in my left eye. I don't hold the kid who did it responsible, and I honestly hope he doesn't carry any burden for causing it. I do blame the person he was trying to kick, because as far as I remember he rather deserved it . I just feel bad for being in the way of the kick delivery, as I would have enjoyed watching him recieve his uppance. Oh well, karma will take care of it in the end.

So I ended up having two surgeries, trying to repair the damage done to my eye. I can't remember any of it, either due to my being doped up (I'm told that they use medicinal cocaine for eye surgery, so...yeah), or I've just blocked it out. Little of both, I'll wager. I do remember my school being super supportive of me though. I still have, somewhere, a bundle of get well cards and signed letters from friends and people I didn't even know. I even got a stuffed white tiger, I guess he was the mascot of our school. It was the nicest show of kindness I've ever been given, and I'm still extremely grateful for it.

I quickly learned that kids are dicks. Then again , who hasn't gone through school without feeling ostracized for one reason or another? Some kids have silly bowl cuts or wear dumb clothes or smell odd. I had the most goddamn ridiculous glasses you've ever seen. Clear beige plastic frames with coke-bottle lenses. No big deal, right? These also had SIDE-GUARD. I was wearing a ross between swimming goggles and horse blinders. I don't blame kids for laughing about it: between my shaggy hair, baggy clothes, and silly-ass glasses, I looked like a goddamn malnourished owl.

Oh, I also wore an eyepatch for a good while after the surgeries, so make that a pirate owl.

When an eye ebecomes obsolete or useless, it naturally begins to protect itself. I develops a thick white coating called a cataract. Most people seem them on old people, zombies, or the Undertaker when he used to reach his purple glove out at you and roll up his eyes. I had one start developing not long after the surgery, and while I totally support nature doing her thing, the last thing I needed was another bit of ammo for the world's jerks. I went from grade 3 to grade 11 watching people stare at me cockeyed when I spoke with them. I had people coming up to me out of the blue asking me what was up with my eye. Nice. In grade 11 I got an amazing ceramic lens that covered up my left eye.

The procedure for getting the lens was very strange. The doctor poured this blue goo into my eye. It felt...odd. It was wet and cold, like someone had replaced my eyelid with a trout. I had to just lay back and stare up for about 20 minutes until the trout goo hardened. It was then transferred to a mold for making a ceramic cover that perfectly fit my left eye. The doctor then hand painted it using pictures of my right eye. When I went back to school I was no longer stared at for my weird eye, I was living the life of the typical ignorable nerd. It was great.

Funny story about the lens: in university a girl saw me one day with the lens in and the next day without it. She asked me what was wrong with my eye.I told her I had "Oculopigmentosis", the rapid loss of colour in the eye. I told her that itwould go back to normal the next day, and oh wow! It did!

Between then and now, things had been pretty much smooth sailing. I had been in and out of university and college (yeah, yeah), and I met my wife, Elaine. The last few years have been great.

About a month ago I began seeing flashes in my right eye. I diddn't worry much about it, as it's happened a few times before and it disappeared. When the flashes stayed after a few days, I started to freak out a bit. I went to my optometrist who "hmm"ed and "ahh"ed, and got sent to the opthamologist who did my original surgeries. He did some "hmm"ing and "ahh"ing of his own, and they both concluded that it was the viscious jelly pulling on the sides of my eye, and that I shouldn't worry.
You know what? I think it's called vitreous jelly, or something. I odn't know.

Anyhow, that was a huge relief. I got hope, went back to work, and hoped the flashes would go away.

They did, but they were replaced my a stringy mass in the immediate center of my vision. Hey there, more vitreous jelly. Again I panicked and went to another optometrist (who, funny enogh, only charged me half price for a full eye exam). He confirmed that yet again, it was the jelly doing its thing. I went back to the opthamologist to double check, and he agreed. He's since told me to come back in 2 months for a checkup on the movement of the goo.

In the last few days I've been noticing a mass moving in from the left side of my vision. At first I didn't worry. I figured I was just being a hypocondriac about the whole thing. I'd seen three optometrists in a fortnight, of course I was prone to freaking. The mass has moved slowly, but ever steadily, into my field of vision. This one, however is much larger than the last. It blocks pretty much all my view. I can't read anything, and it's the reason why I put the typo disclaimer up top there. I can see thorugh the goo, a bit, but it refracts the lgiht like crazy. . It's like I'm looking into a mirror in one of those shitty haunted houses they have on Lundy's Lane in the falls, or like I'm looking through a glass of water as it's being swirled around. It's also giving everything a red tinge, so that's kind of a trip.

Like I said earlier, this is not a pity post. I'm not writing this for condolences or whatever, as I'm not that shallow and they might not even be in order anyhow. There's chance this thing could pass. It has been a wakeup call to me though.

My mother has been a huge inspiration to not only me, but to countless people she's met across the country and around the world. She's entirely blind and you wouldn't know it. She's tenacious, proud, and unflappable about the lot she's been dealt. When I was really young she put me in a "special" class to learn how to touch type. I was taught my an extremely foul-smelling woman called Marta. I learned how to touch type on a green-and-black screened Apple //e. All my friends were out at recess or in gym or whatever, and I was trying to learn the difference between the home and upper row from an Eastern European woman who smelled like a wharf. I resented my mother for a long time for that because of my own foolish pride. She had me in the class so I could be prepared for a possible future where I wouldn't be able to see the keyboard that I was typing on. Today is truly hte first day that I have had to use that skill, and though there's chance that I won't need to use it for long, I'm utterly grateful for it.

The rest of my family has always been there for me, whenever I needed anything. Even my in-law family has been more giving and generous than I could have ever wished. I am always in their debt, even though I know none would ever ask it to be paid out.

My friends, my closest friends, have alaways been a huge support base for me. I know that ounds stupid, that's what friends do, but bear with me. A true friend is someone who mocks you for your stupid hair, for your dumb clothes, or your shitty handwriting. They'll never make you feel self conscious about your glaringly obvious flaw. They'll stand up for you when anyone else wouldn't, even wehn the odds are stacked against them. I'm not going to list names, they all know who they are and I want you all to know that I'm more grateful for your friendship than you'll ever know.

The most important person I want to write about is also the hardest person for me to write about. I'm sitting on the couch right now, not even sure if I'm typing into the text field, and when I look over I can only make out the silhouette of my beautiful wife. Every time I shut my eyes I can see her face, I have all her expressions memorized. I only need to hear her voice and I know exactly how she's feeling, what her mood is. I can see her, in my mind, on the first day we met. I can see her expression when I proposed to her. I can see her in her perfect dress as she walked up the asile on our wedding day. I can even see her pissed off at me, soaked with rain and freezing in London when we couldn't find our hostel. I'll never forget any of that. She's always been so kind to me, as she is with everyone she meets. She carries with her such a charming grace that I absolutley cherish. The way people look at her when we walk into a room makes me feel a pride I can't explain (the closest I can get is through Jeff Healey's song "Angel Eyes"). Elaine has been the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, she is my lost second half now found. She calms me when I become afraid of the future, makes me laugh when I mope about my problems, and helps keep me grounded in reality. I'll always have her next to me, and how I got to be this lucky I'll never know. I love her with every fiber of my being, and I make it my life's work to make sure I show that.

If I come away from this ordeal with my vision fine, I'll obviously be ecstatic. If not, I at least have a brain, all my limbs, and my wife and the rest of my support system. There are worse, much worse afflictions in the world than blindness. There are people dying from lack of food, water, medicine. There are people under constant threat of attack. There are people who were never given a fair chance at a "normal: life. There are people who live with terminal illnesses and have a deadline stamped on their forehead.

I have been etremely lucky to have such a great safety net of loving people around me, and I don't take that for granted.. I know I'll be alright, whatever the outcome. Please think of the people with legitimate problems. Please go and donate to the Breast Cancer Sociey, give to the MS Society, go Jump Rope for Heart, take part in a Walk-a-dog-a-thon, support the United Way, give to Child's play, offset your carbon footprint, volunteer to remove land mines in Ethiopia, help at a soup kitchen, be a Big Brother or Sister. Do something. My point is that I can sit here and write a blog post in the comfort of my home and I know that wether or not I can see it, my home will still be comfortable tomorrow.