I never would’ve guessed that my last fight would be the very last fight of my life. On March 14th, 2005 was the day that my life would be forever changed in a dramatic way. I got into an altercation with my brother, and it caused me to be where I am today, and where I will probably be for the rest of my life. At the tender age of fourteen, I got into a fist fight with my brother, and this time it wasn’t like our usual fights. I would walk away the loser of much more than just the fight, but also my sight.
I was already partially blind due to mal-practice at birth, but I still had good vision. I was not considered legally blind because I still had perfect vision in the “good eye.” I wore glasses to keep that eye strong. My retina had been detached in the right eye during my birth due to the doctors mishandling of the forceps, so my vision was already delicate. I didn’t find out why I couldn’t see out of that eye until I was an adult. I had always been told that my optic nerves never developed in that eye. I also developed a cataract in that eye at the age of five due to the trauma to the eye.
My brother and I got into the fight over a radio because of me changing the station that was playing. For most people, this is probably such a trivial thing to fight over, but in the violent household and environment that we were living in, this was the norm. Since my brother did not like the fact that I had changed the channel on the radio, he became enraged with me. We began to fight for the radio. He hauled off and punched me in the eye, and I immediately saw red dots. I thought that maybe my eye had been cut and that I was bleeding in my eye. I thought that it was just a minor injury and that I would be back to normal in no time, but I was wrong. That one punch caused me to be in darkness for the rest of my life.
After the fight was over, I tried telling my family that I was having trouble seeing, but I wasn’t believed. My sight did not go away right away, but it was the start of the damage. Losing the vision in that eye happened over time until I woke up one day and couldn’t see anything. When my mother finally did take me serious and took me to the doctor, it was found that it was too late. They could do nothing to fix my vision. Too much time had passed, and the tissue of the eye had already started scarring over. Since it took my mother seven months to get me help for my vision, the doctors didn’t hold up much hope of me getting any of my sight back. Surgeries were performed to see if it would make a difference, but sadly it was useless. From that one fist punch, my retina had become detached and the damage was irreversible. At that point, I felt life was now not worth living for me since I could no longer see.
My self-esteem took a huge nose dive. I felt that I would never be able to live a normal life. The only people that I had ever seen that were blind were elderly people and that happened with age. I thought that I was too young to be blind, and I went into a deep depression. So many scary thoughts were going through my mind. I kept replaying that day over and over wishing that I could rewind the hands of time and do it all over again. Well, my reality was that I couldn’t get a redo, so I had to deal with the circumstances that I was left to deal with. Not having any family support didn’t make the transition any easier either. I was left to deal with this tragedy all on my own.
Over the years, I learned to adapt to my new situation once I finally got out of my depression phase. It was a long and treacherous journey filled with many nights of tears and self-pity. I had to take a hard look at myself and my situation and wonder if I wanted to be that cripple or disabled girl that had to have someone do her basic needs for her, and I knew that was not the life I wanted for myself. So, I began to embrace my new life and learn all that I needed to know so I could live a normal and happy life. I learned braille, computers with the aid of text to speech software, independent living skills, and how to travel alone with a white cane. These skills were very necessary for me to live the life I wanted. I took on every new task with gusto because I was determined to be as independent as I possibly could. I didn’t want to feel like a burden to anyone, and I wanted to be able to take care of myself with minimal assistance.
There were times when I just wanted to give up, but whenever I would think of the outcome if I didn’t push myself, it made me go even harder to learn all that I needed to know. I would always think of people who had other disabilities that were worse than mine, and I would think that I was lucky to just be blind. Even though I could no longer see physically, I could still walk, talk, feed myself, think for myself, and all the other great body functions we take for granted. I felt that things could’ve been worse and I know that I am blessed. I eventually started mentoring people who were just like me. They were struggling with the life that they now had to live because of their visual impairment. Before going blind myself, I would have never known that there were millions of people all over the world just like me young and old dealing with the same situation. Some weren’t taking it so great like I was at one time and others were taking it in stride. So, I look at my situation as a blessing in disguise. I could’ve died that night, but instead god had other plans for me.
I enjoy encouraging other blind and visually impaired people to become as independent as they possibly can. I always like to say, “Just because society sees us as being handicapped and unable to do for ourselves, doesn’t mean that we must live up to that standard or stigma that is placed upon us.” I take pride in knowing that I can do for myself despite what others may think or say because they are not in my situation. It took a while for me to get to where I am today in my thinking, but I am glad that I experienced all that I have in life because it made me the person that I am today. I wouldn’t change one thing about my past because if I did, then I probably wouldn’t be the same person that everyone knows and loves. My faith has a lot to do with how I got through my situation and remain positive about it. I feel that god doesn’t make any mistakes in our lives, so what happened to me must have happened for a specific purpose.
Now, I’m not going to lie and say that life is easy because of course it’s not. I still struggle everyday with the fact that I can’t experience some of the day to day activities that most people who can see take for granted. Driving for example; I would love to be able to drive myself to and from work every day. I would also like to be able to go into a grocery store and pick out my own items without the assistance of someone. Going out to a place that I am not familiar with without assistance from someone who can see is something that I also wish I could do, but I am thankful for the blessings that I do have. There are some out here in the world who have it a lot worse than I do. I get frustrated from time to time when I must depend on someone who can see to read stuff for me or help me fill out paperwork, but that is minor compared to the circumstances that others must go through on a daily basis.
As of right now, there is no cure or treatment for my eye condition, but I have faith that one day there will be a way for me to regain my sight. If that day never comes, then I am comfortable in who and what I am. I have adapted to my life just fine and enjoy all the many blessings that god has bestowed upon me. I do not let my disability stop me from living and enjoying all that life has to offer. My life had to be adapted to fit my new situation of being blind, but with the way technology is, it makes it a fun and great learning experience for me. I had to come to the light by accepting who I now am and loving myself despite my circumstance. Every negative occurrence doesn’t have to be a tragedy. Sometimes things happen for a reason because life is something we have no guarantees in.
As an author, my visual impairment does throw up some road blocks that I have no control over. For instance, I have to depend on people to design my book covers and my website for me. I tell them what I imagine my items to look like, but the fact that I can’t see them for myself makes me have to trust their creative skills. I do have someone close to me check them out for me, but in these instances I have to go on what someone else thinks. As someone who used to be into graphics and drawing, the fact that I don’t have that ability anymore sometimes does get to me. Being artistic was a gift that I was proud of, but now I have to use the artistic talents of someone else to get my message across the way I picture it. The fact that I have seen before makes it easy to tell someone how I want something to look, but it still isn’t the same as me designing what I picture myself. When you have a visual impairment, you have to learn to trust people. There are things in life that having a visual impairment will alter, but there are ways to get around it. Everyone needs someone else for something since no one is totally independent and able to do everything themselves. Having that knowledge brings me relief and makes it easier for me to accept my circumstances and live life to the best of my ability.
I shared my story to encourage and inspire those who may be struggling with circumstances in life that they may feel have made them lose hope in themselves. There is still hope if you have faith in god and in yourself. You may see a situation in your life as a mountain or hill that is too steep for you to climb, but all you have to do is step back and evaluate your situation and figure out a new way to accomplish that task. Look at your situation in a positive light instead of as a bad thing. What could’ve happened to make your situation worse? For me the other outcome would’ve been death, so for me losing my sight was a minor inconvenience than losing my life. Every situation won’t be that easy to look at in a positive way, but to grow and accomplish whatever you are trying to succeed at you must see the light at the end of the tunnel.