Seeing is not Believing
I had always taken my sight for granted, but this past summer would make me reconsider what sight means.
I was having some problems seeing out of my right eye, so I thought to have it checked by my ophthalmologist. He checks my left eye, and it seems fine. He then spends a long time looking at my right eye. He tells me there’s blood inside my eye, and I should go see a specialist. At that point, I am getting nervous.
The specialist examines my eye and tells me that my retina has detached. She explains that blood seeped into the fluid in the eye from the tear where the retina detached, causing my vision problems.
The only therapy available was surgery, and I would be unable to work for the next month or so due to the pain and light sensitivity.
After the initial shock and sadness, I went along with this, figuring that the summer was long and there would be plenty of time to do everything. I had a lot planned for the summer, what with my job, leading the youth group at my church, and spending time with family. I figured God was giving me some time off before things got busy. I’d just start a month later. A month can go by pretty quickly, right?
After the surgery, I truly understood what light sensitivity meant. Because of the way two eyes work in unison, what happens to one eye affects the other one. My right eye was so sensitive to light that using my left eye caused the right one to hurt. As a result, I kept both eyes shut all the time and closed all the curtains in my room.
The first week or so after the surgery, I was in the dark—and in a lot of pain. Painkillers kept me relaxed. By the third week, I was completely sick of listening to the radio and to books on tape. Being stuck in a dark room was making me stir crazy and impatient.
Well, I’d just grit my teeth and wait it out. Maybe God was trying to teach me patience or something.
About five weeks later, I felt a lot better, and was set to resume a full schedule. However, my retinologist told me that the surgery hadn’t worked, and she recommended repeating the operation. I struggled over this question for some time. Should I give up yet another month of my summer? Would the pain and blindness be worth it?
After getting much advice and praying, I realized that I shouldn’t give in to my fear. It wouldn’t be easy but I knew God would be with me through it all, and I shouldn’t be afraid. I elected to have the surgery done.
The surgery itself didn’t go smoothly, but my recovery was ahead of schedule, and I was happier than I had been after the first operation. God was teaching me a lesson about trusting Him, and I had the peace that comes with that trust. With about three weeks left before school began, everything was working out well.
Then I was in church listening to a special speaker when my right eye started watering. I didn’t think too much of it, because it happened whenever I went into a room that was too bright, or whenever I was tired.
Half an hour later, however, it was as if my head imploded. An amazing amount of pain hit me, I started feeling cold and dizzy, and had to sit down, close my eyes, and put my head between my knees. An hour passed before I was able to stand up again. I went to a friend’s house nearby and I tried to sleep after taking some Advil.
The pain didn’t go away. My dad eventually called the doctor at her house and asked her to examine me.
At the office an hour later, she said the second surgery hadn’t worked either, and that the retina had detached again, again releasing blood into my eye. This time, though, the fluid pressure in my eye built up, which caused the pain.
The first two surgeries didn’t work, so more surgery wouldn’t solve the problem. The only hope would be to let the eye drain naturally. She gave me more eye drops to help this, but basically, all I could do was wait.
This was by far the worst of the summer. For the next two weeks, I was unable to sleep, eat, or see. The light sensitivity was so bad that all light bothered me, so I was in pitch darkness 24 hours a day. After two months of recovering from surgery, I had lost a lot of weight and strength. I lost patience a long time ago, and much of my day was spent questioning what God was doing to me, and why. What could I possibly learn from this? All my plans for the summer were meant to glorify Him!
My pastor pointed out to me that the problem wasn’t with my plans, but rather with the intentions behind the plans. In essence, I was telling God what I was going to do, and asking Him to bless it. I should’ve been searching for what He was telling me to do. As I thought about it, I remembered something that happened after the second surgery.
I had to go to see my doctor for a follow-up. I was still very light sensitive, so I kept both eyes closed.
You know how when you’re walking through a dark room, and you sense where everything is? “Okay, the table is a little out of arms reach away, the refrigerator is on my right, and the sink is about three steps ahead of me.” That was how I was, 24 hours a day.
This sense works well in your house, as long as nothing gets moved too much, and you know where you’re starting from. Walking around is a substantial problem once you leave the house.
In the office building, my Dad was walking me down the hall to the doctor’s room. I could sense the walls on my left and right, but it seemed as if my dad wasn’t walking parallel. Just before I thought I would hit my shoulder on the wall, I stopped.
“What’s wrong?” my dad said.
“Isn’t there a wall there?”
“No, let’s go.”
“Are you sure?”
The stupidity of my question didn’t strike me until much later. Here we are, father and son, walking down a narrow hall at around one in the afternoon. I cannot see at all, and my dad is leading me by the hand.
I’m trusting my own instincts ahead of his vision? I’m asking him if he’s sure?
How much do we do this with God? Because when it comes to our future, we are completely blind. Who knows what is coming up a year or even a day from now?
We can resist and follow our own instincts—flailing at our blindness to the future. But wouldn’t it be much wiser to trust our loving Father, who sees what lies before us? He has a purpose for all he puts in our lives, and we can step into it, trusting in Him.
I’m completely blind in my right eye now. But the pain subsided in time for school last semester. Words cannot express how happy I was to see everything on campus. Although I was far from 100%, God always provided someone there to help out when I needed it, and when we have Christ in our lives, we have a loving wonderful guide all down this road of life.
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8).
Simson Hui, Pierson ‘97
© 1996 The Yale Standard Committee