Live The Dream – Tony Armenti
Live The Dream – Tony Armenti
It was a Saturday and I was playing on the sand hills with my brother and the boy from next door.
We lived at the back of the railway tracks in Subiaco, a inner suburb of Perth in Western Australia.
We were using some sticks of bamboo as spears. One was thrown at my brother and when he deflected it the stick hit my face.
The fur on the bamboo leaves cut across the pupil of my eye. I was seven years, two months and five days old.
There was concern I could lose sight in both eyes.
I lay in the Princess Margaret Hospital for children for twenty-eight days with both eyes bandaged.
I remember someone tried to teach me to read braille.
Eventually doctors removed the eye and arranged for a lady and her young daughter to come to the hospital and talk with me. The girl had lost her eye a year earlier.
I remember her telling me, “Don’t worry. It’s not so bad. You get used to it.”
Her mother was a great help to my mother at the time.
I would like to take this time to thank that girl now. Thank so very much Frances Isaia for what you did all those years ago.
My first ocularist also offered a lot of support. He wasn’t just a gentleman – he was a lot more. Mr Powell helped me so much.
It was when I returned to school that the hell really started. The kids called me names like Cyclops and One Eyed Monster and I remember a lot of teasing went on.
It wasn’t just the kids at school that got me down. It was even my
own family. They said things like, “You poor thing, you won’t be able
to do this or that.”
I believed them and I didn’t do swimming and all sorts of other school
activities. I became an outcast. I’d be left behind at school when the others went off.
In sport I’d be the last kid picked because people didn’t want me on their team. They thought a kid with one eye wouldn’t be good at sport.
My family had to move and I had to start at a new high school with a whole new set of kids who didn’t know me.
Again all the teasing started. One kid in particular gave me a very tough time.
Eventually I got fed up and challenged him to a fight. He turned up at the agreed place. I asked if he would do something before we fought. I asked him to hold my eye.
He completely freaked out and I won the fight without having to fight at all.
Then I started to rebel. If someone said I couldn’t do something I set about proving them wrong.
I did indoor cricket (normal and super league), soccer, baseball, softball and football and ever played golf.
I got my drivers license and then truck license. I learnt to swim and then I learnt to dive.
I’ve done everything people told me I couldn’t. I met a beautiful girl and got married.
I completely stopped thinking of myself as having a handicap. I figure that I can still see and move around freely. This is so much more than other people are able to do.
When I lost my eye there was so little understanding and information available for people who are going through such an experience. There were also some dodgy eye makers around.
These days the artificial eyes are just so good and there is a lot more information available.
I’ve learnt that you have to have confidence in yourself. If you believe what people are saying about what you can’t do you end up being your own worst enemy.
Don’t let people put you down. Don’t let people make you doubt yourself.
Yes it can be hard but you have to make yourself get out there and do things. It is not a handicap unless you think it is.
My advice to parents of kids who lose an eye is treat your kids normally. It is not the end – it is a new beginning.
You do have to learn new things. You do have to pay more attention. You just learn to adjust.
You also get a lot of extra help from your other senses. They get even stronger and they help you out.
I think it is really valuable to talk to someone who has been through
If they tell you it will be fine you tend to believe them. They have been through it and they know what they are talking about.
What I really want to say to you is don’t just dream the dream. Get
out there and LIVE the dream. Having an artificial eye won’t stop you
having a great life – only you can.
(You can also read about Francis Isaia at I’ve Been Proposed To Five Times)
[…] Live The Dream – Tony Armenti […]
I had an effection in my left eye in 1979 (I was 6 years old at the time) Eventually I also had my eye removed. I also went through hell with kids teasing me. My story is VERY similar to yours. I was also not permitted to play contact sports like Rugby and ball games like cricket ot squash.
I did excell at waterpolo, golf and later martial arts.
For many years I had serious self asteem issues re having 1 eye and only later in life did I accept it. As I youngster I could never look people in the eye and this just drew more attention to my eye.
I am married and have a beautiful family 4 kids (Triplets that are 5 and a older boy that is 9)
My eldest boy (also named Tony) was born with a bilateral cleft lip and pallet and I can relate with him as to what he is going through.
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Thank you. By sharing your experience you’ve been a great help. Keep up your fighting spirits. God bless…
Hey Tony thanks for writing such positive stuff.
I was winding down a semi profesional career Muay Thai boxing in Thailand where I run my own gym teaching Muay Thai, when I was stabbed in my left eye following an argument outside a seven eleven store.
I felt completely devastated when told my retina was damaged beyond repair, and I would lose sight in my left eye.
Since then I have come to terms with what happened and am trying to remain positive for the future.
I think getting back in the ring would be foolhardy as some boxers suffer ruptured eys with resulting loss of vision.
However I remain very active and train just as hard as I ever have.
Thank you for sharing your story!
I too have an artificial eye, but not because of an accident. At the age of two I was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in both eyes, though thankfully only one eye was removed. I have gone through similar experiences and got discouraged at times, though I had a lot of help from my friends. I realized that I was different and at first I didn’t like it so much but then I realized that I actually enjoyed being different. I also like to prove people wrong, that I can do whatever I set my mind to.
So thank you again for sharing your story!
That is a wonderful, true story and inspires me to write my own experience for the benefit of parents of children who have lost an eye, as well as for the “victims” themselves. I am 58 now and lost my left eye in a home accident a few days before my fourth birthday. Some elastic suspenders had gotten stuck behind the cushion of a sofa, I pulled on them to free it, and it snapped back, with the metal buckle striking me in the eye.
I was so young that I only remember bits and pieces of the whole experience, including the time I spent in the hospital. Obviously, it became a life-changing experience, but, until I was in my 30s, not for the best. My parents always saw me as being disabled and not capable of accomplishing much in life. As such, I was never encouraged or pushed to excel. That didn’t stop me, however; it just made the experience of doing so more of a challenge.
My toughest times were in school. Kids were just as cruel then as they are today, so I had to endure the name-calling, bullying and not being picked for sports teams. My parents never let me play team sports such as baseball or football. In high school, I was the only person (out of 22) not selected to be in a club that was voted on by fellow students. It was devastating, and I could hardly wait to get out of school and prove myself on my own.
Shortly after H.S. graduation, I took up tennis and became quite good, playing at 3.5 – 4.0 USTA level until I was well into my 40s and the “itis brothers” starting causing more bodily pain that it was worth. I certainly wasn’t a great player, but very competitive in area tournaments. My greatest pleasure was beating a very good friend who didn’t realize I was monovision. It was hilarious to hear him say, “You mean I’ve been being beaten by someone with ONE EYE?” As a tough military officer, it was hard for him to take… you know, being beaten by an inferior form of the species!
I struggled socially and didn’t date except sporatically until my mid-20s. There were plenty of full-vision guys out there, so I couldn’t imagine why a nice girl would “settle” for someone like me. That is, until I got a call one evening from a beautiful school teacher who called to ask me to take her to her school’s Christmas party.
I couldn’t believe it! Anyway, we had a great time, fell in love and have now been married for over 30 years.
There were two other major factors that changed my life and allowed me to focus on the positives that had eluded me for so much of my life. First was that I had an enucleation of my eye and was fitted with a full prosthesis that provided a much more real look and provided (limited) movement of the prosthesis.
That replaced scleral shells that I had worn up to that point. Secondly was completing a 13-week Dale Carnegie course. The combination truly opened my eyes to optimism and self-confidence that I had mostly lacked in my early years.
During the past 20 years, I have had a very joyful life, full of a fun career in the newspaper, radio and TV industry, even doing on-air TV newscasts and hosting other TV shows. I starting doing about whatever I wanted to for recreation… tennis, motorcycling (lots of it!), canoeing, camping, swimming, water skiing, jet-skiing, etc.
Parents, if you’ve gotten this far reading my story, if you take nothing else from my experience and the experience of others, it is that you MUST be a source of total encouragement to your child who has lost an eye.
Don’t you dare tell your youngster he/she can’t do something because of his vision. Fill him with hope, love and the encouragement he needs to make his life not just good, but great. Whatever his attitude is about his situation, you are his greatest influence in making his life whole.
I can’t belive how simalar our stories are, reading yours it was like thinking back to my life, Im only 19 now, lost my eye at 5years to retinablastoma, and since that day nothing has been the same, and I got knokced back by the army at 16 saying I couldn’t join after putting everything into it, got bullied from 5 to 15. Just the same comments from people all the time, it all got to much, but within time I over come it, and i finally met someone who can love me for who I am, and we are now enganged and have a little boy on the way, and I feel that my eye is now just part of my life and I wouldn’t change it even if I had the chance it makes me who I am and why would I want to change that.