Getting ten stitches in my head didn’t faze me at all. In fact, the BYU EMTs and the doctors all commented on how calm I was being. I didn’t freak out at the blood or the tightness I felt in my head as they stitched me up. It was the announcement I received weeks later that seemed to change my life.
I have been in and out of eye doctors for as long as I can remember. I got glasses in kindergarten and I had an issue with eye pressure in second grade, which still has me seeing specialists. I was used to reading the letters with one eye covered and taking peripheral vision tests. But the question I was asked in April of 2010 was a question no eye doctor had ever asked me before. The doctor had dilated my eyes (another routine to me), then he sat back and asked, “Have you received a blow to the head recently?”
As a matter of fact, I had. The ten stitches were the result of being hit in the head with a metal dish washer door as I was working for BYU Catering. The door opened like a garage door above my head, and it had come off of its track. When I tried to pull it back down, it came down very quickly and struck me in the head. That’s how I ended up in the ER. But I didn’t understand what that had to do with my eyes.
“You have a cataract.” I sat there and felt disbelief. Cataracts were something that much, much older people got. Not college students. The eye doctor proceeded to tell me that it was very small, in my right eye, and down so low that I wouldn’t even know it was there. He had only been able to see it when he dilated my eyes. He explained that sometimes cataracts are caused by getting a blow to the head; the impact of the dish washer door killed some of the cells in my eye. “UV rays will cause it to grow, and down the road you could end up needing surgery. But if you’re careful and wear sunglasses and hats so the sun can’t get into your eyes, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Now I carry my sunglasses all over the place. I own multiple sun hats. I will even resort to squinting my right eye when it’s extremely sunny outside and I somehow forgot my sunglasses or hat. My mom thinks I’m over-reacting, but I’d rather be paranoid than in an operating room. It feels like I’m waiting. I’m waiting for the cataract to grow. I’m waiting for my vision to start to go away. But will I realize in time? Or will my left eye compensate and I won’t notice how the problem expanded until its too late?