I sat on my own, somewhat bewildered, as I wondered about how my life could change. We all have defining moments in our lives: meeting your first love, the funeral of someone close, buying your first house. But one moment that hit hard, Friday October 19th 2018, was one I am physically unable to forget.
Up until this point, 2018 had been a pretty good year. I had recently graduated from University with a 1st Class Honors and a couple awards, moved up to Exeter and even proposed to my partner. We even had our first holiday together booked to Benidorm on the 16th. But one evening on a oddly quiet Saturday at work as I peered into a mirror, I realised that my left eye was slightly irritated. Being slightly sensible, I took my contact lenses out, gave my eye a wash an finished the shift with ease.
It wasn't until the next morning I really felt uneasy. As I awoke my mind felt a little slow and fuzzy, and I instantly knew something was wrong. Naturally, I called 111 to see the best course of action. At the time they said that it sounded like a bad case of conjunctivitis, which caused light sensitivity, swelling and pain. They assured me to use the treatment they provided for a week and it would be fine whilst we went on holiday. But it only got worse.
Upon arriving back in the country, I could no longer open my eye from the swelling, the pain was becoming unbearable and I really felt uneasy. My mind felt a little slow and fuzzy, and I knew something was wrong. Staying calm and positive for my fiance's sake, I went up to A&E as soon as possible, but nothing could of prepared me for what came next.
The doctor had to look into my eye. As she lifted my eyelids, all I could see was light. It was like a huge cloud had enveloped me entirely, and I felt my vision literally melting away like thawing snow. A slow fear started to creep up my back, and I remember blurting to the doctor, “You have to help me, I can't see sight!” As the check continued time moved fast, yet also induced that heavy slow-motion horror that an unfolding trauma creates. The unusual symptoms caused much head scratching and I was moved up the hospital food chain, countless doctors trying to hit the diagnostic jackpot.
The doctors agreed I had contracted a rare virus called Acanthomeba, so rare that none of us had heard of it. My doctor said "You could lose your sight and I don't know if you'll get your vision back." Those words fell heavily on my spirits. They were not comforting, nor were they reassuring.Until that moment, I had allowed myself to believe it was a diagnosis I could perhaps triumph over. My doctor's words, however, left me with little hope. I parsed each of my doctor's words carefully, hoping for some hidden message of hope or uncertainty. But never were my spirits so low. As he spoke, I wondered how I would be able to perform daily life activities or how my job prospects would have to change from media. And all the while, I thought about telling as few people as possible. I imagined that they would not know how to behave around someone who had lost his sight. All these thoughts echoed in me as I left the hospital, my pockets filled with various eye drops and my chest filled with heartache...
(To be contiued)