Today I am reminded at how fragile and temporary happiness can be. Tonight I witnessed another student breakdown after receiving devastating news about the long-term health of their eyes and their vision. I was so completely heart-broken for this person, whom I've just barely began to know, that tears immediately sprang to my eyes. I could identify with every feeling she was experiencing and I was by no means alone. Every other person here at the MCBTC has had this moment, in fact, The moment where a doctors words can yank all the hope that you have been desperately clinging to from your grasp , causing a helpless spiral into the land of grim reality.
I will never forget the moment where I knew with absolute certainty that my vision loss wasn't simply going to heal itself. It was August 19, 2010. I was sitting in the exam room of my retinal specialist at the Kellogg Eye Center. My doctor sat down with me and patiently explained the medical details of Purtscher's Retinopathy (more about Purtscher's .) He made it very clear that while I could expect some vision to return for 1-2 years after the loss, it was highly unlikely my retinas would heal to the point where I'd be able to drive again.
This was devastating to me and I took it very hard. Picturing a future where I couldn't watch my daughter grow up, take in the beauty of Michigan seasons, read voraciously, or teach I felt breathless and an eerie mixture of calm and panic began to rise in the back of my throat.
What I appreciated so much about that moment is the doctor didn't remove hope from the outcome he projected, but he did speak to me realistically and honestly. That was the first time ANY doctor who treated me over the previous 3 months had done this. Every other doctor, even if they had NO experience with ophthalmology, pushed hope down my throat like it was just another pill I had to swallow.
The plus side of being in a place like the MCBTC when this terrifying occurs is that you are surrounded by people who have experienced this exact moment for the exact reasons you have. Whether they have lost their vision slowly or suddenly, partially or completely, it doesn't really matter. The shared knowledge of how isolating it can feel to have the world literally disappear before your eyes is a bond that ties us all together. Not that this makes hearing any sort of devastating news any easier, but it does enforce the fact that you are not alone.