An Eye Ulcer Almost Changed My Life

An Eye Ulcer Almost Changed My Life

How did this happen? I have no EYE-dea.
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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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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.
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It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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I've Recovered From An Eating Disorder and Exercise Addiction... Now What?

I am ready to be simultaneously healthy and fit, rather than hurting my body while trying to be fit.
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While recovering from an eating disorder and exercise addiction, I purposefully didn’t force myself to work out much or put a huge emphasis on working out.

As I continued to recover, I also did my best to not deprive myself or restrict any certain foods, which I have an extensive history of doing. Exercise and eating healthy are two of my biggest passions and two things I have been surrounded by my entire life. My parents are marathon runners and we were "that family" that wasn't allowed to eat candy or junk food.

However, recovery meant letting go of the suffocating hold that I had on these two passions.

My recovery has primarily been in the last 6 months, even though the issues I struggled with started in 9th grade. I turned my focus to body-acceptance, forgiveness, and healing — and away from negative self-talk and hatred for my struggles.

I hated what was happening, but didn't control being pulled back towards it.

For me personally, recovery has been a journey I've primarily taken on my own. It has taken A TON of hard work. It has required training, not unlike physical body training.

This kind of training has been mental and physical — training the thoughts, ideas, and beliefs in my mind and training my physical responses and actions. From harmful, life-consuming actions to beneficial, life-giving actions. Recovery is more than worth it.

It has been difficult, to say the least, but so necessary, eye-opening, and freeing, as anyone with these types of struggles knows.

You have to fill your mind with truth, find support (even if it's very small), re-train your mind, and be fully invested in your recovery — in order for it to happen.

For internal struggles like eating disorders and addictions, there is no perfect formula or set of steps to follow. There's no pill you can take or encouragement someone can give you. Everyone's story is different and recovery comes with a lot of ups and downs.

I've come to a point in recovery where my body and mind are ready and begging to dive back into better eating and consistent working out (with a better, healthy mindset of course.) I'm really curious as to if anyone else with similar struggles is at this point or has been here. I am excited about health and fitness, and excited to be able to enjoy these things that I love. But there's still a sense of fear in the back of my head.

It’s hard for me because uhhh... Where do I start!?

What do I do?! The last time I was fully invested in fitness was years ago.

I went from feeling like a fitness and PRO to feeling like a complete newbie.

I am ready to be simultaneously healthy and fit, rather than hurting my body while trying to be fit. One of my MAIN goals for this summer is to get back into a clean eating lifestyle (that allows me to feel my best!!) and to find a consistent fitness routine that I will be excited about and will stick to.

Crossfit workouts used to be my PRIDE and JOY, and I desire to find a place or activity that allows me to LOVE fitness again.

I've found confidence, peace, and joy without restriction, obsession, and deprivation... and I'm ecstatic to be able to incorporate balanced, safe health/fitness back into my life.

Cover Image Credit: StockSnap / Nirzar Pangarkar

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