The American Foundation for the Blind estimates that 10 million people
in the US suffer from vision impairment. Being monocular, or only
having the use of one eye, is just one form of impairment.
I was happily expecting our second child when I was diagnosed with an ocular melanoma, a rare form of eye cancer. At 35 weeks into the pregnancy we found ourselves frantically throwing things onto a motorhome and trekking for San Francisco to see the world's leading oncologist for my kind of tumor. I subsequently lost my eye to my cancer, but that seemed a small price to pay for the chance to stay with my precious family. We returned home days later with one less eye and one more child. It was a bittersweet time.
|Photo by Elizabeth Steeneck|
At a cancer check a few weeks later my doctor told me that when people lose a body part they grieve like it's a family member. His words proved true. Learning to live with and occasionally grieve the loss of sight is a lifelong endeavor. When I lost my eye it seemed everyone told me about someone they knew who only had one eye. I wondered who all these monocular people were. I had never known someone with only one eye, and I had certainly never dreamed I would be one of them.
No, I don't think I'm handicapped. But sometimes I feel awkward in social settings when I can't see the person right next to me. On days when I bump into things I wonder if I'm really that klutzy or if I would still bump into them if I had two eyes. I hate being in pictures because I never feel like my eyes look quite right. If I have to wear an eye patch, sometimes I tire of people staring or pointing at me. And I don't really love it when kids or teenagers tell me my artificial eye looks weird or point out that it doesn't move normally. (For more information on dealing with one eye, I feel this article represents it well.)
I had cancer and I am still alive and with my sweet family, and that is what matters most. But living with only one eye presents a few unique circumstances and has made me a more compassionate and aware person. Occasionally on this blog I will share some of these feelings and experiences in the hope that readers will better understand how to love and respond to those they meet who seem different or handicapped. I will include links to these posts below; some of them are light hearted, some are serious, and some will reflect the deeper joy I have found as I have moved forward with life. I welcome your comments or thoughts on my posts.
Thanks for reading my blog!