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.

A Trip Down Memory Bliss

Tuesday, Bubu and I decided to go down to our uni – Babcock, to see about getting our certificates and a reference. I was just happy for the day off. Alas, I didn’t even get any of the extra sleep cos the instant my sister got up and started moving about around 5, I was ruined. She left not long after, and instead of going back to bed like an intelligent person, I decided to try and see if I could convert her South Park DVD into iPod format.

I met up with Bubu at about past 10. Okay, sorry, what I meant was, I left my house after many accusatory calls from Bu at past 10. She was waiting to see someone at Obalende, and finding her location was a quest in patience. It was sweltering, and I admit I got there a little peeved, cos I knew that we won’t be able to make it back in time. And I was hoping I would… so I could possibly see Certain Som1. The annoyance soon became a mild acceptance.

We headed off at about 12, Bu driving, stopping to buy Pizza at the Mobil on the Expressway. Just like we used to back in school, after a joyous weekend at home, or whatever magical place we would have found ourselves spending the night, most usually Bubu’s crib. The ride to school was ridiculously long, and during the drive we both noticed the abnormal heat while guzzling pizza and mountain dew and reminisced about how it seemed to always be bloody hot in Babcock. Even when it rained. As far as most people were concerned, that school was cursed with its own special climate. It didn’t help that there was this urban legend that said the school was built on an evil forest against some witch’s advice or some crap. I personally didn’t understand how all them girly-girls would succeed in making it to class from our distant halls with their powdered faces intact and shine free while I was mopping up buckets of sweat from just half the distance.

We got to school and did a little making up. After all, if YOU got a chance to go back to a place where you had been made to wear shoulder-length, dark hair, minimal make-up, no jewelry and SKIRTS for 4 years, won’t you try to make an impression??? To be honest, we were still wearing skirts cos BU officials can be psychotic like that, and most likely won’t give us the time of day if we looked so ‘horribly indecent’. Bubu looked dashing in her own right, what with her red-black hair. We made a point of prancing around the place and reveling in our conspicuousness. 🙂 It was funny to remember the many demerit point I gathered for my nails, or an unintentionally low necked top, or even a bit too much armpit showing (yes, they gave our boys such little credit).

The more we walked around school, the more we remembered all those afternoons in between classes, how we would carry our laptops and base ourselves in the cool confines of the cyber café and download as many songs as we could with our time or the engineering lab… assuming a class wasn’t going on in there. The school’s actually looking better these days, and they’re actually (FInaLLY) tarring the remaining roads, but neither of us had the energy to reach the hall area.

An average day in our final year of school was quite simple. Wake up late (cos in those last days we campaigned for no more 7am classes), took our sweet time, unless of course it was a Tuesday or Thursday or maybe Sunday when they were serving Pap/Custard/Oats with moin moin/akara/plantain; in which case we’d be up and out of the hall by 8 to get to caf before the 9am closing time. Yes, we were caf ninjas (considering the other options – provisions or the crap they sold in the mini grocery, I think we did well). However, if it wasn’t a breakfast day, we’d rendezvous (by we, I mean, me and my posse, Bubu and Kitty) at the junction that connected all three of our separate halls, and buy a nice cold cup of ‘lemonade’, and then try to finish it and chew up all the ice before we actually got to the class. There, we’d proceed to sit somewhere in the middle. You see, the front was for what we dubbed the F.R.V.Ps – Front Row Village People (those that got to class on time ALL the time, asked all the questions and did all the stuff front row people did), and the back was for the really unserious/unbothered/late people. I take pride in the fact that I was okay. We’d then listen to mp3s/browse for free on my phone/copy notes/maybe listen/draw(in my case)/gist/receive calls/finish our lemonade/sleep for the rest of the class, depending on the lecture and the lecturer. We were known for always doing the above in class, and once one of our lecturers banned us from sitting together. Oops. The way I wrote that, we may sound unserious, but I we weren’t BAD, our notes were always (kinda) complete, and our attendance was great, and we did stuff we were supposed to, besides, I like to think of myself as less theory and more practical. 🙂

After class, we’d keep on doing what we were doing DURING class, or go browse or go to the halls to eat/sleep/play games. In the evenings, we’d pretty much get out late for worship, and towards the end, Bubu and I started stabbing them altogether (my attendance card for worship was a disgrace) or perambulating around school till we got caught and went to the nearest worship center. After worship, our larger posse would slowly assemble and we’d usually proceed to make a noisy, happy nuisance of ourselves till 9.30, when we had to get to the halls again. Good times. Viva once remarked that she didn’t know how we all got out with 2.1s. To be fair, we read when it was necessary. In terms of the course I did, I consider myself, better than some people. At least I can get around a computer (even if I always seem to suffer from viruses and spyware). There were of course, the constant clashes with authority, the changing to an ‘illegal’ skirt while walking to class (I was a pro), the cooking (oh, that alone needs an entire book chapter) but aren’t all these things what University is made of? Even in a touchy, self-righteous Seventh-Day Adventist one? I could go on all day. Maybe one day I’ll write about our very first hall in 100 level. That was slumming at its most adventurous.

But to finish my original story, we did in fact, not get our certificates. Apparently, because the school changed its logo (last year…cough), it won’t be ready till beginning of next year. What??? Oh well, at least I only have to work 4 days this week.

Flashback 1: Social Misfits

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Now playing: Republica – Ready to go
via FoxyTunes (Ed:This is part one of a special series of stories I’m going to share about my past.

I’m going to dedicate this to a close friend of mine…)

Recently, I was talking to a close chum from secondary school, and she suddenly says, ‘You know, we turned out alright, didn’t we?’ I’m confused at first, and then she clarifies and I think, hmm, she’s right.

The 2 of us bonded over art. So , as you can imagine, normalcy was out of it from the word ‘go’. We weren’t social butterflies in school. You know them, those boys and girls in your class that constantly look and act like they’re hot stuff. It’s a universal characteristic of adolescent education. To be fair, we all wore uniforms, but you could ALWAYS tell. Looked the most conspicuous and danced the most at our rare social events, had the most elaborately weaved hair, had their little cliques… all that stuff. Some of them were quite tolerable, in fact. In junior school, they even NAMED their clique *eye roll*. It was more famous for the silliness than anything else. I was pretty grounded, and thus, never cared. I had other problems. I never considered myself a catch in secondary school. I was (still am) overweight, and I had a creepy, grey left eye that people actually noticed a lot less than i thought. My friend was better off, I felt. Slim and neat, and perfect looking. But we weren’t in that crowd.

On the flipside however, as she so bluntly put it, we didn’t qualify to be nerds either. Some people over-compensate for their poor social life with academics, we just … didn’t.

I mean, we weren’t DULL. I did well enough, especially in Biology and English (2 awards I DESERVED to get IMHO, but lost to some other chick and class valedictorian respectively, pah!), but again we weren’t geniuses. Ironic, as we sat right in front of class. Upon reflection, I’m not quite sure why I did that. I used to nod like crazy, and half the time, when the class was half-full i’d move to the windows of the back to write. She was the TD guru, and together we.. yup, alternated the fine art prize each year till our finals.

I think, now, that people had a bit of a problem with the two of us, and I heard a lot of stupid comments from those people. A few people liked to call me her ‘follower’, or make a remark about our size difference, one of my teachers (a religious, and vaguely touchy guy) said I must be jealous of her just because she had a bf. Totally unnecessary, dude. But mostly, we were called the ‘Corona Twins’ (yeah, I went to THAT school). At the end of the day, in our final year, when we practically head-to-head for the Fine Art prize, our Art teacher (great guy, instilled in me the absolute refusal to use erasers when drawing, and as such I only draw in pen) gave me the prize, while she took the TD. But there were no hard feelings cos everyone was happy. Girl, you were happy, right???

We weren’t perfect ourselves, I recall for a few months we kind of just drifted apart, and till today, I’m not really sure why, I know there are things we did that offended each other (is that English correct?!?), but we defied the odds, didn’t we?

And these days, I’ve recovered a little from the complex that plagued me, and not to toot my own horn, I’m a bit of a babe. No Halle, but I get by. 🙂 She too, is looking great. We still aren’t solving rocket science, but she’s close. Closer than I am anyway. I just want the world to look pretty.

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Now playing: Republica – Ready to go
via FoxyTunes