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Vision without sight: Lessons from my amazing not-so-little brother.

September 15, 2010

My younger brother is now 21 years old. He is amazing. He was born almost four months early and first he beat all the odds in terms of surviving, and then in terms of his health and his development as a baby and toddler. Now he is the most amazing young man – he is an incredible athlete, he is sooo smart, he is so strong and handsome, but more than anything, he is the kindest, most genuine person I have ever met and I am soooooo proud to be his big sister.

For the most part, my brother’s prematurity has not stood in his way in life. He has not just overcome the obstacles that have come up along the way, he has flown over the obstacles without so much as glancing down to see that anything could ever have stood in his way. At the moment, he is experiencing something which to me, sounds very unpleaseant and scary and I would view as a major obstacle… An eye surgery he had when he was born somehow left his eyes vulnerable to internal bleeding and, when it occurs, it obstructs his vision.  Luckily, this has only happened one other time for him and it was many years ago. His vision is normally very good – it’s not perfect but glasses and contacts don’t help him so he doesn’t wear any, and he can still drive a car,  play sports, read, see the tv, etc.  Anyway, his right eye is normally his better eye, but last Friday he realized he couldn’t see out of his right eye very well at all. He went to the emergency room (on a bus, what a crazy – and apparently very poor – college student!). After spending several hours there and having the doctors determine that it was this bleeding caused by the surgery, he went home. I talked to him the next day. He was up-beat and said his vision was clearing slightly, and he said it had been interesting to see what it felt like to lose your vision. He said he couldn’t see the face of the doctor (or the person sitting next to him) very well at all when he went to the emergency room, and even with both eyes, couldn’t read the top letter on the eye chart. “Interesting”, he called it..I’m not sure I would have such a good attitude.

I just want to highlight my brother as a case where losing his vision did not cause him to lose his focus on what was important – he was on a bus on his own with very little sense of sight in a city he doesn’t know very well thinking about what life would be like for people who have permanently lost their vision. And the next day when I talked to him he was thinking about making a nice dinner for our brother and sister-in-law who he was so excited to see rather than worrying about his vision which was out of his control.

I am so proud of my brother, and I know that if I want to learn how to focus on the important things in life, I should really take some lessons from him!

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