I returned to the Specialist’s rooms to have my stitches removed. There were only a few stitches inside the empty eye socket, but they had actually become my major irritant, itching and becoming more uncomfortable as the days passed. It was not exactly a place I could scratch, even if I had wanted too, but I did find some relief from just pressing the dressing against the area.
Up to this point in time I had never experienced stitches. My tonsils had been removed the year before, but that was of little consequence compared to what I was experiencing now.
When the dressing was removed the doctor made the kind remark “that’s an eyebrow that needs taming”. A delightful comment to remind a young woman that a monobrow was forming behind her bandage!
While the doctor worked on my wound I was making a very low sound in my throat as I exhaled. It was like a deep sigh. Over the years I have realised I make this sound whenever I experience pain, as if it is some primal gut instinct (or should I say throat instinct!). At this time I was however unaware I was even making the sound, I guess I was just trying to find a happy place.
“What are you making that noise for?” he asked, uttered less as a question and more as an irritation.
I should have replied “I don’t know, but I am eighteen, I’ve just had my eye removed, maybe I am trying to comfort myself, because you sure aren’t helping.” Instead I fell silent, feeling embarrassed and ashamed as though I had failed some test.
After the procedure we settled down to talk. Time to deal with the elephant in the room. Time stopped while he shuffled papers and prepared his performance. Hurry up, speak.
No sign of anything outside of the eye.
He actually said, “We didn’t know what we had until we sent the eye to London for examination.” In lay man’s terms, I had a growth on the nerve ending of the iris and it was rare. I was the thirteen recorded case in the English speaking world to that time. There was that number thirteen again.
In time the doctors would write up my case for publication and my primary doctor over the years, received phone calls from around the world asking for information about my case and that all important question: is she still alive?
The next step for me was to wait six weeks until everything healed and then the process of life with a prosthesis would begin; as well as living with the fear that something might happen to my remaining eye.