In May 2013, I was told that I two options; live with the pain for the rest of my life or have my eye removed. It was not an easy decision. In fact, it was the hardest decision of my life, thus far.
Despite the relationships I lost, I still decided to go ahead with the operation and to have my eye removed. I needed to make the decision that was going to best benefit me, not anyone else. So on the 4th of October 2013 at 9am, I went into theatre and had my eye removed under an amazing surgeon, Mr White.
Over the following months were the most challenging and difficult months, I was alone; I suffered from severe depression and anxiety. From one appointment to another nothing ever seemed to go right. I was in pain, but no-one knew why. I hated my artificial eye. I couldn’t bare to look at myself in the mirror – I was so ugly. I didn’t have a ‘normal’ eye: never did and never will. I felt like I was a broken vase, but I was trying every day to stick myself back together with a brave face and fake smiles. No-one knew the hurt I was feeling inside. No-one knew what my mind was thinking.
Finally, in January 2015, I started to accept my artificial eye. I started to accept that this is what I just need to live with. But I knew that there was something else I had to do. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew there was hope for me.
In February 2015, I was at a meeting where a lady was talking about how ‘shit happens’. One phrase she said changed my life and changed my view of my artificial eye: “You may not be normal. But it is ‘your’ normal. It is a new normal.” WAS SHE TALKING DIRECTLY TO ME?? That’s it. I am normal. It is not a normal for everyone else – but it has to be normal for me.
In March 2015, I met John Pacey-Lowrie, and what an amazing man. He was able to fit me with a better fitting eye, and one that looked so much better cosmetically better. I now feel that I am finally on the road to acceptance, and on the road to feeling normal and being able to accept this part of me. I am not there, but I can see it. It is so close.
My journey has not been an easy one: it has been full of disappointments, setbacks, pain (physically and mentally) but many positives have come out of it.
1. I have learnt who cares and who doesn’t and realised who my true friends are.
2. After having a lot of help and support from RNIB, I have found a lot of hope there and now volunteer for them in different areas.
My advice for anyone going on this journey – whether expected or unexpected: give yourself time. Do this for yourself, don’t worry about anyone else’s words or thoughts. You are beautiful. You are special. And you have a new normal.
And for anyone reading this who has a friend or family member who is on this journey – please, please, PLEASE at least try to be understanding. Don’t judge. Don’t be insensitive. Give the person their own space and their own time to heal for themselves.