A Tale of Lost Sight

There are a lot of things I was going to write about as of this morning… but I swear I can’t remember any of them. In the meantime, due to popular demand ( and by popular demand, I mean afrobabe and undacovasista’s requests) , I’ve decided to talk about … THE EYE *insert dramatic music here*.

The whole drama started on the 2nd of January 1994 (whew! 14 yrs, I’m old!) a mere 3 weeks before my 7th birthday. We had gone to my dad’s place in Delta for Christmas, and were due to be on our way back to Lagos the next day. Because we had a long drive ahead, my sis and we got the go-ahead to pour soft drinks in our flasks to put in the freezer overnight. I couldn’t find any drink but Maltina in the fridge, so I took it, and headed to the kitchen only to see my sis with a bottle of Sprite, which I would have preferred.

She told me she got it from the kitchen store, so I went in to check (I should have just let sleeping dogs lie, right?). In my quest to scout the numerous crates on the shelves, I must have rocked an empty Sprite bottle some shelves up, and it began to rock. Panicking, I reached out to grab it before it fell, and in the process, I slackened my grip on the cold, wet Maltina bottle. That was my last vision for a while. I recall looking down to see the bottle smash and seeing Maltina pour everywhere before realising something entered my eye.

Now, being a kid, I started bawling and scratching my eye, thinking it was just the drink that had poured in. It wasn’t. Some pieces of glass had flown in as well…

Upon reflection, I shudder at the thought that I was actually scratching GLASS in my eye. Anyway, parents ran in and made me stop while I continued to bawl. They took me in the bathroom and washed the glass out, but I was traumatized somewhat and refused to open it. I slept in their bed that night, and the ride back to Lagos passed in a subconscious blur. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday, and we couldn’t really find any good, open optometrist. Desperation drove us to LUTH where we recommended to some woman named Dr Majekodunmi. I write her name cos she’s a quack.

We went there the next day and she said we needed to stitch up my eye, cos the glass had scratched the coloured part and I remember there were like 3 or so thin white lines at the top of the darker ring by the pupil. We did the stitching in what would be the first of many surgeries. I still couldn’t open the eye. It stayed closed and I stayed home until June that year. During that time, we got tired of the woman’s stories, and my dad began to contemplate shipping me abroad. At the last minute we found this really cool, rather new optometrist 5 minutes away called Eye Foundation and went in for a chat. The doctor was very optimistic, and that month we did about 3 more surgeries. Apparently Dr Majekodunmi used the wrong type of stitches in my eye, and they had complicated the situation. My lens was damaged.

I opened my eye sometime in June. It felt so amazing. But 2 problems, my vision was blurry because they had to remove my lens, and the eye had no tolerance to bright light i.e bright lamps, daylight. I was perpetually squinting for months after.

The next 6/7 years was a whirlwind of glasses, and eye tests, and 3 cornea transplants rejected by my body, to lasering to remove the liquid pressure in my eye that was escalated by the constant trauma. It was so bad the hospital ended up doing some of my surgeries for free. My sight was like a man with a terminal disease. With each test, and each rise in pressure, it slowly faded away, as my eye got coated with a thicker and thicker layer of protein. By secondary school, it had pretty much turned a weird blue-grey colour. I lived with it, and it barely affected me. I think it’s because I had it from so young. Finally, I think it became clear I wasn’t seeing again, and my doc suggested cosmetic contacts. I got those the week of my graduation from secondary school and wore it all trhough university in my left eye.

But it wasn’t the end. Apparently, lack of use, and the glaucoma induced blindness resulted in a weird growth on the top of my eyeball. It looked like a little grey boil, and it pushed on my eyelid. That gradually grew and by graduation, my doc decided it might not be wise to leave it there. He’d been throwing the idea of an orbital implant around, but my parents were obviously not too eager to take out their daughter’s eye. I didn’t care.

An irritation to some accidental water in my eye last March finally sealed the deal. Within hours of visiting the hospital, I was back at work drafting a request for medical leave. The night pre-op and that morning, the story passed to most of my friends and they called me up to encourage me. I was just worried I would be walking about with a hole in my head. But I was happy, no more irritating contacts!

The procedure was pretty quick. I couldn’t have been in there for up to 3 hours. I made a point of rolling my eye one last time before the anaesthesiologist pressed the syringe that would knock me out. When I got out however, I think I imagined the sensation. I remember murmuring, ‘It hurts.’

It kinda did. A dull ache going through the left side of my face. But it was hidden beneath layer after layer of bandaging and I couldn’t do much. I was given what I consider the BEST PAINKILLERS EVER. Instant action, they put me right back to sleep every time I took them for the next 3 weeks. The morning after, a nurse came in to take the bandages off for a post-op consult and I remember my mum and I freaked. It was huge and swollen and very fleshy. I couldn’t open it, naturally, and I was in no hurry. The next few weeks were cool, sleeping, eating, watching tv… The only sucky part was putting the anti-biotic in. Cos it was an ointment, and it required me to open the eye. I admit I rarely used it.

After a month, the swelling was down, and my eye a pink, fleshy shell of its former self. I got a prosthetic eye a few days later. It was uncomfortable at first, but I’m all good now. And thanks to the orbital implant, I can still move the eye and cry. Cool, huh?

The prosthetic is not 100% the right size, and my lid is a bit slack from the swelling of my old eye so, when I’m tired, it tends to close/drop a bit, but I’ll get by till I can get a custom made one done.

So, erm, that’s it. Really long. Sorry.


23 thoughts on “A Tale of Lost Sight

  1. First!!!

    Wow, I really commend you for your strength because I don’t know what I would have done if I were in the same situation. Do people ever ask you about the eye?

  2. Wow Babe,
    you, no doubt are one heck of a strong lady. Ain’t no way I would ever have been able to go through that with an attitude like yours.
    Well done.

  3. Wow…

    That is an endurance story…I had my own war with my eyes and traveling all over Nigeria looking for solution but girlllll….you are the bomb to have passed through that and still remain unaffected by it.

  4. @ rayo
    Yeah people ask! For strangers i just say, ‘it’s a long story’, but for new friends I tell them the whole deal, and take pleasure in their squirmishness! I also threaten that Ill pop it out just for laughs!

    @naija chickito
    I dont know why, but it just never bothered me. People around me knew better than to make fun of it, except for one or two jerks. I wont say i didnt notice it, but it could have been worse right?

    but thanks!
    What can i do… its part of my life now!

  5. Wow! You’ve certainly been through a lot with your eye!!

    I love the way you can speak about it so openly and how you’ve adjusted, and just get on with life…I admire that a lot!

  6. Oic…yea because I was squirming the whole time. I actually had to pause between paragraphs so that I wouldn’t pass out.

  7. @undacovasista

    another tale..another squirmer… success!

    you bet I can! But ive been equally threatened to not try it… sigh!

  8. Whao!

    You are one hell of a brave lady!
    I’m proud of you

    But that was pretty truamtic Se?

    Lots of hugs and kisses

  9. Awww. I thought this was about the Jessica Alba movie. This was better though. You’re one tough chick to have gone through that with such grit.

  10. if you’d consulted me, i would have told you afrobabe can be a bully when she’s in the mood.

    when i saw your pic, i thot your eye looked lazy, especially your facebook pic. your courage is commended, and you’re beautiful.

  11. wow, Nuff props!! How brave.. and the fact that you can talk about it shows how strong u are, its obvious u aint letting it bother you, dats good, and i applaud you for dat. Where is Dr Majekodunmi now?

  12. Happy birthday love. May this year bring only the best of the best because you deserve it.
    Enjoy your day!

  13. oh dear… all these comments!!! Thanks everybody! I never really saw it as a big deal so much, so being told i was brave is kinda cool!

  14. wow! I love your positive attitude towards this. I am so happy that the prosthetic eye is working out well so far.
    Your parents, friends and doctors also seem to have been very supportive!
    U r gorgeous anyway!

  15. the first thing that struck me was the way you spoke about this…. not with bitterness or hate or self pity… but with a certain acceptance of facts and self… that’s really beautiful, seriously….

    As for that dr majekodunmi…. i already hate her. If you don’t know what you are doing, recommend some damn antibiotics (so you can get your money) and refer the patient to someone else….. don’t put someone’s health at stake because you want to play doctor…

  16. Eiyaah! That was alot stuff going on for just one child. I’m sure that experience made you a stronger person. Good luck with the other eye!

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