“There’s the little guy.”

Not exactly the words you want to hear while you’re staring at your optometrist’s ear while being blinded by a very bright, very white light.

In the moment before I asked what “the little guy” was, a couple of scenarios ran through my mind.

Not too long ago, I worked for a manager who had suffered through a detached retina. She’d almost lost her eye. Before the emergency event, she’d seen floaters. She’d had a friend sit with her through some of the beginning recovery times, because she had to turn every three hours. It had been awful, an awful experience. During times of high work-related stress (of which there were many) she would cry out, “Don’t do that. Do you want me to have a relapse? Do you want me to go blind?”

I finished listening to Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal” a few weeks ago–a book that, among other things, describes some ways the body ages. One of the stories described a woman who’d lost her eye sight. She was in her eighties. I’m just two years into my fifties, but still…

Remembering both of these stories was enough to cause my fists to clench, while my mind raced–Oh my god, am I going to be blind? What have I done?–all the while my stomach sinking with an all-too-familiar knowing that whatever this “little guy” was, it was all my fault.

I finally speak. “What’re you talking about?”

She tells me that I have a corneal ulcer on my left eye, and that I really should have come in sooner. That wearing contacts may not be such a great thing for me anymore.

I leave feeling shaken and grateful. The “little guy” is tiny. My eye will get better. And, I guess, I can learn to love wearing glasses.


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