The story I am about to share is one I have held in close proximity to my heart for at least 4 months now. I have shared it with close friends and family, but until now, I was unable to find the words within me to break the ice. I want to be 100% clear that this story is not being told to accrue a following of pity-pansies. For 4 months I have been internally and externally fighting a battle of fear and sadly, the inevitable.
Below is a wonderful excerpt from FRAGMENTS, written by philosopher Jean Baudrillard. It does not hold a title, but it somehow gives justice to the way I perceive my glorious new reality. Following the excerpt, I will share the meaning behind, “The Blind Gem”.
Deafness is a lesser affliction than that not being able to see. Because seeing is a constant marvel, and there is a sort of perfection of the visible. Vision enchants what it touches. Even ugliness becomes miraculous by the simple fact of sight, the eye, color, and the pure joy of appearances.
Hearing is more visceral and dramatic, and hence closer to fear.
Closer to language and meaning, and thus closer also to stupidity. For the absurdity of language is more penetrative, more poignant, more laden with meaning, than that of the spectacle and sight. This is why I would be more prepared to accept being cut off from the world by deafness, which spares us from its absurdity, than to be deprived of the sight of the world, even if the scene presented were an obscenity.
Hearing has more to do with the sexual, and deafness with the sexual impotence, whereas sight and the gaze have to do with seduction.
To live without seeing is to live without being seen – even if this does not prevent blind women from putting on makeup, and indeed doing so in front of a mirror.
It is to live without seduction.
A world without watching eyes is like a sleepless night, peopled with inner nightmares.
July of this year was HOT! Do any of you Californians remember? Thank God my rice bucket’s air conditioner didn’t give out on me, like almost every other aspect of my life did that month. Despite the heat, I was happy. Summer was coming to an end, my memory bank filled to the brim with spontaneous adventures and a new appetite for my future as an aspiring veterinarian-to-be. All of my ducks were in a row in regards to my education plan and I was so fortunate to have landed a job with a company specializing in stem cell treatments for animals. I had a boyfriend who pushed me to believe in myself and the qualities I at one time could not recognize. I had wonderful parents who supported me at any cost, no matter how far fetch the dream. I had a best friend who did not mind dancing like an ostrich in the middle of Main St with me. I was surrounded by love.
Then.. I made an optometrist appointment. An appointment about 6 years overdue. Since graduating high school, I consistently held two to three jobs at once. I neglected myself in regards to my health. For years I squinted and fought through migraines and blurred vision. “Emily, why do you always look so high?!” These symptoms I lived with were apart of what I considered the norm.
Movie theaters, dark alleys, bars.. For as long as I can remember my vision had been virtuously absent in low lighted situations. Ignorantly, I presumed this to be how everyone else perceived the world.
I walked into the Optometry office and checked in for my appointment. I was there for a visual test. I was there to pick up a prescription for glasses. So, as I waited for the assistant to call me in, I chose a bitchin’ pair of red Dolce and Gabbana frames. They were a tad bit over priced, but when glasses fit your face and don’t make you look like a Monkey’s Uncle, it’s a sign to bite the bullet.
“Miss Goyette! This way please.”
I sat in a metal chair that looked like it was borrowed from Hannibal Lector’s lair. There were eyeball-torture contraptions EVERYWHERE. I specifically remember feeling smug, thinking THANK GOD I am not here for anything serious. This is ridiculous to admit, but my worst fear at that point was that I was going to be told I needed bi-focals; coke bottle lenses that would surely doom me to nerdville.
The doc entered the room and got right down to business. I started reading the letters from the wall. I glided through the first two rows of fat over-sized letters. As I ascended down the line, I noticed the horrific disadvantage I had while covering one eye. Without compensation of the other eye, my vision was complete shit. And I noticed something terrifying.
“Emily, dear, sit back for a moment, I would like to test a few other things.”
A few tests turned into a series of eyeball prodding and eyelid manipulations. Tests were repeated once or twice, and the whole time the doc remained quaint and pleasant. He engaged in small talk and complimented my “big blue diamond eyes”. After about an hour, the man sat back on his stool, crossed his legs and with a sad look in his eyes said to me:
My dear, I am afraid to be the bearer of bad news, but you have glaucoma. And it is advanced. Very advanced. Your angles are closed. And your pressures are through the roof. Normal pressures are between 10 and 20. I have checked your eye pressure three times. Your left eye reads 52 and your right reads 48. I cannot let you leave here until I can lower them to a safe level.
I was dumbfounded. I had heard of glaucoma vaguely from my experience in the veterinary field, but I had no idea what this meant and I did not understand the severity of the diagnosis. I assume my face reflected this thought process, so the doc did his best to explain in the simplest of terms.
Angle-closure glaucoma, a less common form of glaucoma:
- Is caused by blocked drainage canals, resulting in a sudden rise in intraocular pressure
- Has a closed or narrow angle between the iris and cornea
- Develops very quickly
- Has symptoms and damage that are usually very noticeable
- Demands immediate medical attention.
ABOVE: An open angle
The increased intraocular pressure can permanently damage vision in the affected eye(s) and lead to blindness if left untreated. Glaucoma has been called the “silent thief of sight” because the loss of vision often occurs gradually over a long period of time, and symptoms only occur when the disease is quite advanced. Once lost, vision cannot normally be recovered, so treatment is aimed at preventing further loss. Worldwide, glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness after cataracts.
The doc places multiple RX eye-drops into each eye in hopes to reduce my intensely elevated pressures. He releases me to leave with a referral in hand to see an ophthalmologist immediately. It was surreal. I felt disoriented. I went to the desk to pay for my visit. The woman was speaking to me, but all I could hear was “Blind, blind, blind, blind, blind… You could have gone blind, blind, blind…” She handed me my receipt and I walked in shock back to my car. I fumbled for my keys and entered my car. I closed the door and viciously closed my eyes. My thoughts flickered through scenes of my past. I envisioned sunsets, the sea, the moon, and above all, my greatest love in life.. the horses.
I darted for my iPhone and called my father. It rang for what seemed like an eternity then went to voicemail. I hung up. Then immediately redialed. He answered.
And that’s when the strangest thing happened. I was awake, but my voice was at the moment, stolen. Have you ever been deeply immersed in a dream, a nightmare? And just as the monster is about to envelop you into his sinister grip, you attempt to scream, but your dream-self is incapable of producing even the slightest vibration of a sound wave. This was me, in real life, on Wilshire Blvd. ….Trying to tell my dad that I was just diagnosed with glaucoma, at age 22.
TO BE CONTINUED.