Thursday March 14, 2013
Looking for a silver lining
By CRYSTAL NEOH
A spunky 16-year-old lass shares her struggles with a vision-threatening condition.
WHEN you were younger, did you harbour ambitions that were sky-high, and believe you could achieve them with your own strength? Well, I had that sort of dream when I was a kid. Until it all came crashing down last year.
I was born premature at seven months. Studies have shown that premature babies have an increased risk of developing strabismus (crossed eye) and I had a squint in my right eye.
Iíve always wanted to be a surgeon, but every part of me knew that it was a very difficult ambition as I was very short-sighted.
I could only see colours with my right eye, while my left eye needed extremely thick glasses. I started wearing spectacles at the tender age of one.
As I grew up, it was a little tough to make new friends as my crossed eye drew a lot of unwanted atttention. Friends used to tease me when I was in primary school. They joked that I might accidentally cut a wrong nerve with my scalpel.
I used to laugh it off, but I felt terribly disheartened. I scored 5 As in my UPSR, and was glad I finished primary school well.
When I went for my annual check-up in December 2011, the ophthalmologist had horrible news for me. He told me that my right retina was detached. I was scheduled for surgery the next day.
Unfortunately, the retina was too severely detached, so I was scheduled for a second surgery in March 2012, this time in Singapore.
My parents and I flew to Singapore for my surgery on March 14. We prayed that everything would turn out fine.
However, when I woke up in the hospital ward the next day, I couldnít even make out the outline of the objects around me.
A few moments later, I felt an excruciating pain in my left eye. It grew into a migraine that blacked out my vision and I started throwing up because of the unbearable pain.
My parents and I were very frightened because the surgery was conducted on the right eye, not the left.
To our shock, the doctor told us that I had developed acute glaucoma in both eyes due to retinopathy of prematurity. (Retinopathy of prematurity is a vision-threatening disease caused by abnormal development of retinal blood vessels in premature infants.)
I went in for a third surgery a week later, this time to control the high intraocular pressure (IOP) in my left eye. It took about three weeks for the IOP to decrease. Then, I went back to my hometown, Penang, in mid-April. However, my IOP shot up in June, and I was hospitalised again.
The medication and eyedrops did not help stabilise my condition. I couldnít even study properly for my PMR exam as I was in and out of hospitals. I had to stop my music lessons, too.
This unfortunate series of events threw me into a period of depression and hopelessness. Everything was blurry and there was no clear path ahead of me, literally.
September came around, and I went for my fourth surgery, a second attempt to control the glaucoma in my left eye.
When I went back to school two weeks later, I decided to stop wallowing in self-pity. My PMR exam was coming up in a fortnight and I was behind in many subjects. Whatís the use of feeling sorry for myself, I figured.
That was a turning point for me. I thank God for the people who stood by me when I was at the lowest point in my life. My doctors, nurses, family members, teachers, friends, church members and even people I didnít know were always there to offer words of encouragement.
When I couldnít read the words on the board or the small fonts in my books, my teachers and friends read them out loud for me. Thanks to them, I managed to score straight As in my PMR last year. Without the support and help of everyone, I wouldnít have made it. I am eternally grateful to each and every one of them.
ďI cried because I had no shoes until I saw someone with no feet.Ē My father pasted this quote on my closet. I never fully understood its meaning until I went through 2012.
My condition has stabilised over the past two months. Now, I live one day at a time.
I count my blessings; even though I may not be the healthiest or the most fortunate person around, Iím still alive. I am emotionally stronger now. I am surrounded by love, and this has given me the strength to push on. And thatís all that matters.
I have decided to pursue a career in Psychology in the future because I want to be there for people who need help and support. I want to give them hope because I was given hope when there seemed to be none left.
When life is at its worst and you donít know what to do, donít give up. The storm will pass. God is faithful, and He will not put us through a tribulation that we are not strong enough to bear. Thereís always a silver lining behind every cloud. Always. Even if you donít see it.
CLOSE TO HEART
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