HomeAccident & recoveryThirteen months later

Some 13 months after my accident, I am doing well. I look almost normal, if you don’t look too closely. My upper eyelid works and has an epicanthic fold to match my right eye. My lower lid doesn’t move, and the rim is usually quite red, but it does cover the lower part of my eye, and the upper lid meets it when I blink. The nerves in my face have come back a lot and continue to revive, slowly. My left cheek still tends to be somewhat swollen. I either overproduce tears or they do not drain from my eye properly, so I have to wipe my eye frequently.

As for my vision, I’m still largely impaired. My central vision is still gone. My peripheral vision is much sharper, as I now wear a contact lens (in lieu of a lens implant) in combination with glasses. I know that I am seeing something with my left eye, that my brain is incorporating some input from it, because I can now tell when the contact lens is out (I have a problem with it sometimes falling out): I feel more blind without it and less blind with it. I would say that, functionally speaking, the correction may add from 5% to as much as 25% to my overall vision, depending on the level of light. I still run into things a lot on my left side. Without central vision, I am not sensitive to light, but without a functioning iris, I need to protect against overexposing my retina, so I am careful to wear sunglasses outside. (You would think that, living in Arizona, I would already have made that a habit, but I never felt the need before.) I have been able to stop all medication for my eye. There had been concern that I would develop glaucoma, but I seem to be maintaining normal pressure in my eye without medication.

Emotionally, I’m good. I experienced a period of grief this summer, after I realized that the doctors have done about as much as they can for me. Until then, I had been so focused on recovering that I hadn’t stopped to consider what I had lost. I had to stop and retreat for a spell. Having grieved, I am still grateful. I have recovered much better than any of my doctors ever expected, and I learned that I have far more support in my life than I ever realized. I say it again: I am a lucky, lucky woman.

And my creative juices are flowing again. When I first resumed turning back in January, it felt like I had never stopped, but around March I mostly quit turning again, because of pain in my eye. When I resumed again in September, this time I felt like I had lost my skill. I felt clumsy and blind and incompetent. I’m getting back up to speed now. Most important, the ideas and the love of the work are flowing again; for a while, I was so focused on feeling ineffective that I let the flow nearly stop. I knew the flow was back when I started dreaming about making art again.



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