How an eye surgery built my self-confidence

Natalie Grinder, Staff Writer

When I was 10 years old, my nurse practitioner noticed something odd about my right eye. It was not in the position that it was supposed to be in: rather, it was going in towards my nose, and I had no control over it. They thought it would be best to refer me to an ophthalmologist, who continues to keep an eye on it for about 6 months with no improvement.
Unfortunately, the medical community was not the only one to notice that my eye was not where it should be. It grew more and more obvious until it got to the point where it was impossible to hide, and soon enough, my classmates at school too notice. At first they thought that I was doing it as a joke and laughed, and when I told them I wasn’t doing it and I couldn’t help it, that’s when the bullying started. It was a constant joke between my whole grade that never seemed to end. I stopped wanting to go to school in the fear of being bullied again the next day.
Since my eye wasn’t getting better, the ophthalmologist thought the only way to fix it was to get surgery. My family and my doctors started trying to find the best time to get the surgery done, and ultimately they decided that it would happen during the summer because then I wouldn’t have to miss school and I could take as much time as I needed to recover.
Finally, the date for the surgery was set. It was scary to think that every day it got closer, and what was even scarier is that there was no guarantee that the surgery would work. The surgeons had to clip both eye muscles because that is how they make sure that the affected eye stays in place and doesn’t affect the other eye. There was even a small chance that the surgery could affect my eyesight worse.
Before surgery, third grade school photo
Because of all of these things, I was very nervous when I went in for the surgery. To help calm my nerves, my doctor promised me he would come and talk to me before I went into surgery, and he did. He did his best to reassure me that everything would be ok, and I trusted him.
After the surgery, I stayed home in bed all day. I was scared to open my eyes. What if the surgery didn’t work? When I finally decided to take a chance and cautiously crack one eye open, I saw flowers, get well cards, and most of all. I could truly see. The world around me was better, clearer, and it was no longer as if I was trying to look at my nose. I had almost forgotten what it was like to have normal vision, and for a moment, it was overwhelming.
Flash forward to today, nobody would ever know that I went through this, unless they knew me before surgery or were very perceptive and noticed the very faint black lines in the corner of my eyes.  Even though leading up to the surgery was disheartening and the surgery itself was scary, I am so happy that I went through with it because it has made such a difference in my life.
I have so much confidence in myself now, and I have learned not to listen to bullies. While it might seem like a non-traditional motivator, without a doubt, my eye surgery has made me the person that I am today.