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A chapter from the story of my life

By Heather R. Breaux -   May 31, 2007

Happy moments that will last an eternity are usually what float in and out of a pregnant womanís mind when she daydreams of a life with her unborn child.

But I think that it is safe to say that a womanís worst fear is to give birth to an unhealthy child or have a child develop a serious medical condition that would set the stage for the rest of their lives.

What youíre about to read is a chapter from what will one day be the story of my life - a part of myself that I have only shared with my family and close friends.

I was born on November 28, 1981 in Raceland at St. Anneís Hospital, one of the smaller, but not too shabby hospitals in the area in the 1980s.

My mother was in labor while my family waited for my arrival, but no one knew at moment that three months later her first born would have to undergo surgery.

My grandmother was trying to put me to sleep in her rocking chair when she noticed a white spot in the iris, the colored part, of my right eye.

At first she thought that it was just the reflection from a nearby light, but what she and my family would soon find out was that a cataract was growing on my eye.

No infant can intellegently grasp the concept of being sick or having to have surgery - there is perhaps only a subconscious fear that canít be communicated.

But at the tender age of 3 months, my family stood together with both fear and love for me, and prayed as I underwent surgery to remove the growth - a condition that if went untreated could leave me blind in the eye and perhaps overtake my entire eye leaving it almost completely white.

I imagine that performing surgery on an infant is a terribly complicated task for a pediatric ophthalmogist and the doctorís did their best to complete the surgery without any complications.

Unfortunately, saving the vision in that eye couldnít be done.

About 90 percent of the lens had to be removed, leaving me with extremely low vision and a small pupil similar to that of a catís eye.

Luckily for me, my eyes are brown and the irregular pupil is hard to notice unless you are a few inches from my face.

I canít remember when or at what age I discovered that I was blind in my right eye.

Perhaps it was when I got my first pair of glasses in sixth grade because I became near sighted in my good eye and could no longer see the chalkboard clearly - or maybe my parents sat me down and explained to me what happened.

Not being able to see since practically birth was normal to me, so I guess there was nothing to ask about.

My disability never really stood in the way of anything I wanted to do. I played outside like all the other kids and made good grades in school.

And at the age of 15 I got my driverís license with no special restrictions.

I went to my senior prom, graduated high school and even finished college - just like everyone else.

But just around a month ago I began to see a shadow in the peripheral vision in my right eye.

Yet, because the sight in that eye is so poor, the shadow would come and go and most times I couldnít even tell that it was there.

At first I ignored it, chalked it up as just a temporary floater or spot that would go away on its own, but then the spot turned into colored spots and weird shades of light - pretty odd for someone who hasnít been able to see anything out of that eye.

I made an appointment with my eye doctor and was refered to a retina specialist.

I was diagnosed with iritis - an inflammation of the iris and a detached retina.

The doctor also discovered two holes in the retina in my left eye.

For most people, iritis is treated with eye drops and the retina is repaired with a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy that will also help to preserve sight.

Well, for me, perserving my sight really wasnít an option, but because my right eye has not developed into an adult eye like a normal eye does, it is not strong and the vitrectomy is necessary to save the eye itself.

My surgery is scheduled for early June, and because my left eye is healthy and strong, my doctor was able to repair the two holes found in the retina with an in-office laser procedure.

I am told that the success rate for a vitrectomy is high and the risks are low, but I am also told that I have a unique eye and that changes the ratio some.

I have no memory of the surgery I had as a baby or of my recovery, but I am an adult now and the fear and nervousness of both is very real.

I always expected to encounter problems with my eyes when I was older and had already seen all I needed to see - not at the age of 25 when the future before me is meant to be a long and enjoyable one.

To all of my readers, this excerpt from my life is not meant to bring pity.

It has been hard functioning in my day-to-day life with this stress weighing on my mind.

Imagine a teenage girl scribbling her thoughts down in her diary, kind of like I used to do when I was younger.

That was how I discovered that I wanted to be a writer, closed off to the world in my bedroom writing about how I felt and what was interesting in my life.

I realized that it was easier for me to communicate with a pen and a pencil and these days with a keyboard and a computer.

Instead of jotting down witty or humorous thoughts on my opinions about the world, this week I decided to let you all get to know me a little better - to see a different side of me, let you know whatís really been on my mind these days.

At some point in all our lives, we will face adversity in one way or another and hopefully you have a way of letting it all out and having someone listen.

I wish you all the best and good health.

Thank you for listening.

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