Blind from Birth
I remember being lifted into the doctor’s chair. He moved this cold thing near my face and told me to look through it.
He told me that I was legally blind.
I was 5.
Blindness is a spectrum. Every blind person is not the same.
I was so nearsighted I could not identify people, walk outside by myself, or watch TV.
At school, the other kids bullied me because I was easy prey.
Some of my teachers treated me as if I were stupid.
I believed them.
I was prescribed 2 inch thick glasses.
It was like wearing a fishbowl over my face.
I would take my best guess at what was going on around me from the faint images I could vaguely perceive.
One day I was in a Sears department store with my Grandmother. I wandered off to find the toy section.
I ran back to who I thought was my Grandmother…it was the face of a complete stranger instead.
This was one moment of many that made me feel always afraid and unsure of my abilities.
I always felt lost.
When I reached age 9, I was given special contact lenses that gave me a small amount of peripheral vision.
I hid in my room and read hundreds of books.
I felt safe there.
I had my imagination.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Most people assumed I wouldn’t amount to anything.
I vowed to prove them wrong.
When I reached age 34, a new eye doctor mentioned an operation that could possibly improve my vision.
I might lose what little eyesight I had.
I knew I had to take that risk and have the surgery.
It was a success.
One day, I saw a stranger in the mirror and said hello.
That stranger I didn’t recognize was me.
For the first time in my life, I now knew what I looked like.
One time I walked into a restaurant and people turned to look at me.
Before surgery I would have assumed they were staring at me because I was stupid or ugly.
I realized they were simply looking at me, just like they were looking at everyone else.
Everything I thought I knew about the world was wrong.
Life as I knew it was over… and also just beginning.
I didn’t just gain my eyesight – I now had a second chance to live.
And I promised the scared little girl that I was that I would make the most of it.