An Eye Ulcer Almost Changed My Life

An Eye Ulcer Almost Changed My Life

How did this happen? I have no EYE-dea.

It is hard to remember a time in my life where I had great vision. I started wearing glasses when I was in first grade and moved up to contacts the summer before seventh grade.

The week before I left for college, my ophthalmologist told me that I had been over-wearing my contacts and needed to give my eyes a break by wearing glasses. Not liking my appearance with glasses on, I wore my glasses in moderation and continued to wear contacts. The redness died away and I truly believed that everything in my eye was fine. I had monthly disposables and would, at the latest, dispose of them a few days over when I was supposed to. You could never find me sleeping in them, and I cleaned them often and well. There is no doubt that I was a healthy contact user.

There were a few rare days when one eye would get red again; however, it never lasted too long. This also kept the thought that anything was actually wrong, away from me.

It was a Monday evening in mid-November when things took a turn for the worst. My eye had been red that day, which did not mean a lot to me, but this time, a significant pain grew as the night went on. It hurt to close my eye too tight as well as to keep it open. Eye drops would simply fall out of my eye and did nothing to help me. I woke up many times and got very little sleep. In a constant state of fatigue, I woke up much later than usual and headed to class.

Walking there was a journey within itself, as I went back and forth from holding my eye, attempting to force it open, and closing it all while dodging traffic.

After getting to my class safely and early, I sat, holding my eye for about ten minutes. My T.A. noticed my behavior and after I explained myself, she demanded that I went to the Health Center. I fought her on the subject since I hate missing class.

But, eventually found myself inside the Health Center in defeat, and I could not be more grateful that she had made me go.

As the nurses violated my eye with their unusual scans, they told me that I had a scratch on my eye. They prescribed eye ointment, which I did not even know existed, and said that I should probably go to the hospital. My mother, on the other hand, assured me that we would see an ophthalmologist when I would come home for Thanksgiving break.

Once home, we visited the ophthalmologist and were shocked to hear what he had to say. My eye did not have a scratch on it, my eye had an ulcer. He said the reason was what he called "Contact Over Wear Syndrome". Even though I had been taking care of my contacts, there had been a miscommunication. What I thought were monthly disposable contacts had been two-week disposables. It is unclear if my contacts had been that way for years or more recently.

But, if I had continued to wear my contacts, it is likely that the ulcer would have caused permanent damaged to my vision.

As a Graphic Design major, it is impossible to deny that vision is a key element. If I had lost my sight or even a part of it, it is likely that I would have had to change my major. My life in general would have been changed altogether. And this could have become my reality if I had not been forced to go to the Health Center.

Cover Image Credit: pixabay

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Scoliosis: The Curving Disease


Heather Searfoss


The Curvature

After winning the 2018 Super Bowl Philadelphia is known as ‘The City of Champions and Underdogs’. It is the birthplace of the underdog boxer, Rocky Balboa, and the home of the current Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles. It is also the birthplace of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where fighters are born and challenged every single day.

I was one of those fighters and I was fighting scoliosis.

According to, “173,000 people are diagnosed with scoliosis every year” (2018, ST&RC) and most of those diagnosed are children. I was diagnosed when I was 11 years old. But before I get into details, what is scoliosis? How is it caused? And why do we need to know about it?

Scoliosis is a medical condition that causes the spinal vertebrae to curve. It is caused by genetics, arthritis, or it may not have a known cause at all, in which case, this is known as idiopathic scoliosis. “Spinal deformity in children and adolescents accounts for the largest share (48%) of all musculoskeletal deformity health care visits – over 857,280 each year” (HCUP-AHRQ 2011) (2018 CLEAR) and this number continues to grow along with the population. But is scoliosis a serious medical condition? Yes, it is and it must be taken seriously.

Scoliosis severity is measured on 3 levels according to CLEAR Scoliosis Institute:

·Mild- Curvature is 20 degrees or less

·Moderate- Curvature is 20-40 degrees

·Severe- Curvature is above 40 degrees

I had 2 curves in my spine.

One curvature was 65 degrees which caused my rib cage on my right side to protrude and constrict my left lung cavity and, the other was 32 degrees which caused my hips to protrude towards the left side. Altogether my curvatures were 97 degrees. By the summer of 2008 my curvatures would have escalated to 100 degrees or above.

The tricky part about scoliosis is that it is a progressive disease. It is like cancer, but without tumors or chemotherapy. It cannot be placed into remission and it cannot be fully cured.

Only maintained and monitored.

“Bracing will NEVER reduce the curvature, and surgery is only a temporary solution for scoliosis treatment” (2018 ST&RC) as for me, I have been through both treatments. I wore a back brace for 2 years and I had a spinal fusion on February 18th, 2008.

To this day, I still have the bars in my back from the surgery and my quality of life has improved since I was first diagnosed in the summer of 2004 so I would say this far I am lucky.

Scoliosis is a disease that most of Americans and society do not think twice about. It is a hidden disease that can only be diagnosed with specific tools and expertise. It is a challenge for those who face it and a burden for the families who witness it. But, with this knowledge I hope we can band together and end this plague, I call

‘The Curvature’.

Works Cited

My own personal experience with scoliosis. To hear my full story please visit my blog @

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5 Things To Remember Now that Everyone Is Sick

Will you be next? Hopefully not.

It’s that time of year when everywhere you go, everyone is getting sick. You walk into work or school, and one by one, people disappear like fallen soldiers. Influenza becomes a word to fear, and "cold" no longer means the temperature. Everyone carries tissues, cough drops, and bottles of cold syrup and wields them like weapons against evil viruses. Are you next?

1. Drink plenty of water:

Drinking water is your new hobby. You must keep water bottles in your car, at work, stuffed between couch cushions, pillows in bed. If you think you've had enough water, you're wrong. Someone coughed on you at the grocery store today... Oh no.

2. Keep track of your vitamins:

Did you know a red bell pepper has over twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange? Red bell peppers are now your new hobby. You figure out ways to put them into every meal, and when all else fails, you just serve them on the side. You thought your throat was sore earlier, but it's probably just dry, right?

3. Bundle Up:

As the temperature plunges, so should you... into your closet for warmer clothes. Scarves and gloves and hats and sweaters. Keep the cold out and warm up! Plus, they act as great barriers for when everyone around you starts to sniff and sneeze. Did you just sneeze? It's just dust!

4. Tell your sick friends to stay home:

As your sick friends begin to grow and grow to an unmanageable size, make sure to gently remind them to stay home and avoid getting everyone else sick. They will probably ignore these suggestions though, so it may be best to just save your breath, which for some reason is a little tighter today.

5. Rest up:

It's official, you've woken up and you're sick now too. Stay in bed an extra hour grieving over all the appointments you're going to miss in the next few days. Rest up and try not to get anyone else sick!!!

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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