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Topic: Acceptance (01/12/04)
TITLE: 20/20 Vision and Blind
By Glenda Lagerstedt
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I sat on the hard table, head in hands, listening to the babble of children's voices around me. I was acutely aware of how little I was contributing as a staff member at the child care center. It is important to listen to children; it is also important to watch children. And watching was rapidly becoming something I could no longer do.
It had started a number of years ago as an occasional minor annoyance. I noticed during conversations with people that my eyes sometimes had a disturbing tendency to close involuntarily. Gradually the frequency and intensity of this strange anolamy had increased to the point that I knew I had a serious problem. While I was able to drive using what I was later to learn are known as sensory tricks (gripping the steering wheel tightly, pressing areas around my eyes, singing, or humming) I was finding that when I was with people it was quite impossible to keep my eyes open for more than a few painful squinting seconds at a time.
Thus began a frustrating round of doctors and medications bringing no answers or results. Months passed before finally a Neurologist diagnosed the problem: Benign Essential Blepharospasm (BEB), a rare neurological disorder of unknown cause, a dystonia, in which the basal ganglia area of the brain sends out wrong messages to the muscles around the eyes, causing spasms that result in the involuntary closure. While there is no cure, there are treatments to relieve the distress.
Much is written about Botox injections directly around the eyes as a beauty treatment to reduce wrinkles in that area. To BEB sufferers, however, it can offer wondrous relief for a period of several weeks by semiparalyzing the affected muscles, intercepting the false messages. My Neurologist recommended Botox.
Now, I have to say here that punching a hole in my flesh with a needle anywhere on my body is anathema. Yet I sat willingly in a Neurologist's office to experience what would give new meaning to the term "eye contact". (There was no bravery in this act, only an intense sense of relief that life could return to normal. Some things are worth the price.)
Relief was initially dramatic with injections repeated about every three months but after a year and half they suddenly became ineffective. Untreated. this disorder can result in complete closure of the eyes for long periods of time, making the victim functionally blind even with 20/20 vision. As the weeks passed, I nearly reached this state myself. I was no longer able to work or drive or even perform many simple household duties.
I couldn't argue with the Blepharospasm verdict but I did take exception to the 'benign' and 'essential' parts of it. It was neither; who thought up this stuff anyway? Scientifically, there is a different slant on these words but I was in the mood for neither logic nor acceptance.
Thankfully our God promises never to leave us alone and He is faithful to that promise. Several treatment options were still available and one of those was FL-41 sunblock glasses, a combination of red and yellow tint that had only recently become available for the relief for BEB sufferers. I decided to give them a try.
For the last two years I have been back working and driving. There is still discomfort particularly in social or stressful situations as well as an undue sensitivity to light. But I am able to manage my disorder with a sense of thankfulness that it isn't worse than it is and have found peace in acceptance of what is, and rejoicing in the touch of His hand.
The best of all is that I am accepted in Him. He has restored my natural eyesight with little of the former discomfort. There are times that my spiritual eyesight isn't what it needs to be. It is good to know through experience that He is a healer and that He can and will handle that problem as well.