These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


recently i got to talking to a friend about my vision. she knew little of it and how it started or how once i lost a majority of my vision, how i dealt with it.

while the story is long, i told her i'd write an abreviated version of it here. so here goes. for those who've heard this or read it, my apologies.

i experienced a greatest freedom in the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. i was driving around -without adult supervision and had a few drinks for the first time. i was spreading my wings, so to speak. i felt quite invincible, nothing could deter me from getting off the speeding bullet i was on.

but something did. and fast.

after getting drunk a few parties, drinking some beer and driving (quite stupidly and recklessly), my summer of freedom came abruptly to an end in late july 1986.

after buying iron maiden's "powerslave" album and then being unable to read the lyrics on the cassettee jacket, i asked my brother to read them to me and i then wrote then on white paper. a week later, i couldn't read them, either.

my driving became erratic. i almost killed a construction worker while driving on a rural road (i didn't see him until i was practically on top of the guy), started to knowingly take dirt roads to avoid the highways and pretty much endangering my brother, cousins and those who were on other cars on the road.

i finally told my mom what was happening. a quick doctor's visit turned into the worst nightmare for me, from having to go to doctor after doctor, none of them knowing what i had.

in the meantime, school was going to start. i couldn't see worth shit and it was impossible to read. my peripheral vision was all i had; centrally, it was all gone.

educators wanted to put me in auto mechanics and shop classes. then they saw i was at the bottom of my class and realized they couldn't stick me in those classes.

it was such a time of sonfusion for me and my parents and family. this came out of nowhere quite unexpected. no one in my familyl is blind or close to it, just bad vision.

when the school year started for my sophomore year, i stayed home. and home was where i remained for months. i only went out occasionally, maybe to church. i just didn't feel like leaving the ranch. what for? i couldn't see anything.

all manner of things were done to try and remedy the situation. my braces were removed in a futile attempt at fixing the problem. didn't work. i started seeing a psychologist, believing i had some sort of mental problem causing my blindness. i went to a neurologist because people thought it was a nervous system related issue.

all failed. those weren't problems for me.

looking back, i think the fall of 1986 was probably one of the loneliest times of my life. i had my radio and would listen ot it (a have a soundtrack n my head of songs from those months), the houston astros on the radio and that's it.

i was on homebound for the better part of the year and only started going to school fulltime after easter, so it was probably late march or early april. but before then, i 'd go to school once or twice a week. that's how it got set up.

going to school was one of the scariest things i had to go thr0ugh. i was an awkward kid, quiet, skinny, thin-faced and pretty much unnoticeable by most students. now, i became an object of curiosity.

friends treated me differently or cruelly, depending on their mood or who was around to impress with their biting words. i got called a variety of names, including blind man, which i later took in stride. i was pushed from behind by others. mostly i was just a curiosity.

so i had to compensate for it. i resorted to humor. i think if you have people laughing with you, you've got it made. so i would make up all of these things bout why i lost my vision (none of which i can mention here and they were things i hadn't even done then). but i had my peers laughing. although, maybe they were laughing at me. i don't know.

i had to be careful not to run into objects like chairs or other things placed in the way. moving through the hallways was hell between classes.

i survived my sophomore year and during my junior year, something happened that my eyes got better and i was able to get glasses. my grades improved.

i went from rank of 12 of a class of 120 to graduating 36 out of 92. not bad, but it could have been better. it should have been way better. still, i can't complain. i got out of school, a school that didn't exactly provide me with the best education, facilities or equipment.

college was a fiasco at the beginning. i took myself so unseriously, it's not even funny. i was kicked out during my second semester, despite going to summer school to try and bring up the gpa. no doing. i'm ashamed to admit, but i was out of school my third semester. but i returned for the spring and made it.

long story short, i graduated many years later with an MA in english and went to work for a newspaper for shit wages in texas. then up to michigan i came.

obviiously i have cut out so much. i could write and dedicate an entire blog just to my eye sight. but that's a glimpse into what i went through.

my friend asked if i got depressed because this happened so quickly and unexpectedly. my first knee jerk response is no. but after writing this today and thinking about it, i'd have to say yes. it was never to the point where i wanted to kill myself or had suicidal thoughts or anything. i think i was in shock and remained that way for a very long time, that i didn't have time for other emotions or bad thoughts. i mean, who expects they'd get a virus that attacks their optic nerves and damages them to the point where their vision is shot to shit? certainly not me.

but it did happen to me and there was nothing i could do about it. still can't. to this day, i get upset when i can't see a simple thing that dawn can see or if i break a glass because i cause it to tumble off the dish drying rack or i can't pick up and go in the car or read a book (instead of listening to it on tape).

i do get angry at times. bitter sometimes. definitely frustrated.

but i have a lot going for me. i have my wife, family, friends, a home and i'm relatively healthy (except for those temporary mind lapses where i wake up nude in the middle of the street. but we're working on that. hah ha!)

there you go, d. whatcha think?