Was blind, but now I see

I remember the day like it was just yesterday.

I left lunch with my mom and went to my annual optometrist appointment. Business as usual.

Or so I thought.

My appointment that usually takes under an hour, took more than two. I thought the hardest part of my day would be which frames I wanted.

During the initial testing and after looking at my eyes up close, my optometrist Dr. Schell had me do additional tests. He was trying to be calm, I could tell. But the look of worry was evident in his eyes. Which is sort of ironic.

“We need to do some more testing. It might not be covered by insurance, is that okay?”

Nonchalantly, I replied, “always – you only get one set of eyes after all!”

After the additional testing, the optometrist came back in the room and said, “So you’re going to need a specialist. I rushed a referral.”

I was so confused. I mean, what? I thought I was seeing as good as expected, considering I’ve always had astigmatism and am near (or perhaps it’s far)sighted. 

The doc eventually explained to the best of his abilities, that I had what he suspected to be Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension, with advanced Papilledema.

He asked about my medical history. Any prescriptions I may have taken. Any conditions I had but didn’t list. And then he asked me to explain how I felt on a normal day.

Before I could even think about how I felt on a typical day, I thought silently, “Shit. Is this because of the edibles I took in Vegas? I knew they were a little too good.”

I had daily headaches but chalked it up to stress. I worked in advertising, you know. I remember many a night working until dawn because every detail of a campaign about detergent needed to be perfect before sending the blessed version off for the Super Bowl.

I also explained my dizzy spells. Which I figured was lack of sleep.

My optometrist explained how these symptoms further confirmed my diagnosis of papilledema and Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. He explained how symptoms can even mirror a tumor.

Left untreated, blindness is most certain.

My eyes were (and are still) how I make a living, quite literally. And they are how I experience the world. 

Thinking of a life where I could not see the beautiful patterned clothes I wore, the sunsets on a summer day, or the faces of my loved ones – that nearly broke me.

But I didn’t give up. And thank God for that.

I eventually began working with multiple specialists and after a year of treatment, things improved.

At a check-up, I remember being told my vision could be here to stay.

I nearly cried.

I finally had made near peace with the prospect of going blind.

And I told myself it was okay because I was already blind in a way.

I consumed so much materialism and had no real life.

I worked myself to the core, experienced the nightlife scene almost every night, and coveted brands with obnoxious labels scribbled across them.

What was I seeing? It sure as hell wasn’t life.

Healing wasn’t easy and it took countless MRI’s, MRV’s, MRA’s, awful medications, and more lumbar punctures than any one person should endure in an entire lifetime.

And as much as I would never want to wish that ordeal on my worst enemy, it helped me grow. 

I didn’t stop being addicted to my work, but I did live life a little more. And I didn’t consider going to trendy clubs and drinking until 2 am “the life” anymore.

I had fun going to museums, brunching with friends, walking the dog, and spending time with my family.

I could see what life was about, and for me, that meant experiences.

We consume things that we are told are cool, but we might not even enjoy them.

It’s corny and cliche but our eyes are useless if our mind is blind. These two things work in tandem. 

By having no real internal vision, and by not living a life of purpose, we are already blind.

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