I am a healthy 29 year old woman. Well, I might have some spatial awareness issues (walking into shallow pools at brunch after only two cocktails, for example) which result in bruises in very weird places. But, looking me over, nothing worrisome. Yet at 29 years of age I have a deep fear of losing my vision. I have a deep fear of losing my ability to witness and absorb every hue of this life. Now this fear didn’t develop out of thin air. When I was 15 years old I went to the optometrist for a routine eye exam. I had never had any eye issues and I didn’t even wear glasses, but during the exam the optometrist (the wonderful Dr. Cleary) found a tear in the retina of my left eye. To this day, we’re not sure if it was congenital or trauma-induced (retinal detachment runs in the family and I had many not so pretty headers in soccer). Regardless, I was rushed from small town Plainwell, Michigan to Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids and finally to Detroit to see a retinal specialist. Side note: even as I’m typing this out, my hands are sweating and the whole thought of writing about this is not pleasant. But—pressing on.
The surgery to repair my retina was successful but, because it was noticed a little late in the game, half of the vision was lost in my left eye. A year or so later, a cataract developed and I had a voluntary surgery to replace the foggy lens (during spring break of my senior year, actually. Party on). At 18 years old, I had never broken a bone in soccer. I had never jammed a finger more than a handful of times in volleyball.
I have no allergies.
I’ve never had a cavity.
But I go to at least two ophthalmologists (different than optometrist) every year to examine, dilate my eyes, and make sure that all is well.
And today is the day. I hate it, and at the same time I recognize what a privilege it is to be able to do this. To take extra care. To be insured to do so.
It’s a human right to be healed.
It’s a human right to be well.
I’m sure I will be well.
And for folks who are able, please go get that full eye exam (dilation and all). And eat your carrots. Xo.