Thank God for sight
-I originally wrote this around 2013
Back in 2010, when I was training at Sitsongpeenong, I got a horrible case of pink eye the day before I left. One of the most awful experiences of my life, I would never wish that on my worst enemy. I was useless. I couldn’t even go outside, as the sun, even with my eyes shut, was too intense for me. I could not look at a computer or TV screen. I was so excited to finally be home and be able to relax. Had planned on spending some time on the beach and relaxing. Now I was stuck on the couch all day without even the ability to watch TV. All I could do was listen to movies or music.
My vision was gone and my eyes leaked fluid 24/7. After almost a week of dealing with this, I was able to get in to see my doctor who prescribed some eye drops that were supposed to clear it up. They really bothered me as I put them in, a slight burning sensation. The more the days went on the worse the more intense the pain got, and my vision had showed no improvement. It got to the point where it felt as if I was pouring acid into them. I decided to stop using them as I just had a sense that something was wrong, and they weren’t helping anyway. It was an awful time; I feared that I would be stuck like that forever. Several days later, I was on the phone with my mother and she told me how when I was a kid I had gotten pink eye and apparently was allergic to the drops so they had to prescribe me some special kind. I told my doctor this and was able to get the correct medication. My eyes starting clearing up almost immediately. Well the redness had gone away as had the leaking fluid, only problem was that my vision was still a mess. Everything was blur and the sensitivity to light was still just as bad. It was that feeling of it being the middle of the night and someone suddenly turns all the lights on. Everything bothered them. Light of any kind, whether the sun or artificial, was too intense. I had to wear sunglasses even indoors. For some reason when sweat got in them, it burned like rubbing alcohol. Needless to say, this freaked me out. One of the things I was worried most about was whether or not I would be able to pass the vision test and still be allowed to fight. I was thinking that there was no way as I could hardly see anything. I was eventually able to get in to see the ophthalmologist and have my eyes checked. I explained to him what had happened. He told me that the infection had scarred my retinas and that my vision was permanently damaged. He did however tell me that it was still good enough to fight. I remember thinking, “How freaking bad does your eye sight have to be not to pass that test?” as I could hardly see anything at all. He went on to explain that it wouldn’t get any worse but that without surgery it would never get better. He also told me that the surgery might not fix it and there was a small chance that it may even make them worse. “Ah well that’s a refreshing thought, thanks Doc.”
Well I had been living with my eyes like this for a while now and could basically function fine. I could drive and get around without too much trouble. As if not being able to see wasn’t bad enough the fact that I couldn’t even be in the sun, or around light of any kind, made it that much worse. Another bring problem, when I trained, was that when sweat would get in my eyes it would burn so badly that I would have to stop. The pain was unbearable and would make it to where I couldn’t see. It was like having salt poured in your eyes. Obviously, this worried me but I figured I would just have to deal with it and find a way to fight anyway. I told my doc I would think about the surgery and get back to him; although there was no way in hell I was willing to risk this getting any worse. I remember thanking God that I was still able to fight and praying for Him to restore my vision but that I was just grateful to be able to see and continue doing what I love.
A few months had gone by and it seemed like my vision was getting slightly better. That or I was just learning how to cope. Fortunately, the pain had diminished; at least to a tolerable degree, and for that, I was extremely grateful. Since I had that vision test done already, I didn’t have to get another one until the following year. Early 2011 I went back to the same doctor and got my yearly eye exam for fight licensing. My doctor asked how my eyes were doing, I told him that they were ok and that they hadn’t been bothering me as much. He puts me through all the normal tests and has this odd look on his face. I didn’t think too much of it. After he finishes he asks, “So, you went and had the surgery done?” ‘No, why?’ I reply. In a confused doubtful voice, he goes on to explain to me that all of the scar tissue was gone and that my vision had improved. I can’t recall the exact numbers that it was when it was at its worst or what it was at this point but it went from extremely bad to not great but pretty good. He looked extremely puzzled. I respond, “No, I thought it had been getting better but I figured I had just gotten used to it.” He couldn’t believe it, neither could I. “That is one of the strangest things I have ever seen.” he says. He tells me congrats and sends me on my way. I left amazed but knowing that God had been the only one who could have restored my vision and I got on my knees and thanked Him for my sight. The following year I got my yearly exam once again and came to find out that my vision had been restored to 20/20. Unreal!
Well here I am almost three years after that original vision scare. I was sitting on my bed in Thailand, at Sitmonchai, watching a movie on my computer. All of a sudden my eyes started getting all weird. Kind of hard to explain it but it was almost like when someone takes a picture and you just have that flash of light in your eyes for a while after. It’s was like when a light is in the corner of your eye and when you try focusing on it, it keeps moving. Well it was like that accept this was more of a big circle and it was all these really tiny triangular objects that were all different colors, like a kaleidoscope spinning around and changing colors. Needless to say it was really freaking me out. I kept trying to remember if I had been poked in the eye or had gotten something into it during training. Started thinking that maybe it was from staring at the computer screen for too long or something. I closed my laptop and tried to read a book for a while.
My eyes started getting worse and the light, or whatever it was, had gone from a small object to a much larger one that was almost completely blocking all of my vision. I was having a difficult time seeing anything at all. Not only that but I started feeling this dark presence and it was creeping me out. All these scenarios started running through my head about if I went blind tonight and what would happen tomorrow. I pictured going through the airport blind, not being able to do anything and having to be helped the whole way. It seemed like a definite possibility if this kept getting worse. I wondered if I should go grab someone and see if we could go to a 24-hour eye doctor, if they even had something like that. I started panicking. I didn’t know what to do. Just then I said a prayer, halfheartedly I must admit, almost a wish. I asked God to heal me and take whatever this was away and restore my vision. It was still there and the more that time passed the more I freaked out. I was thinking how fragile we all are and how quickly things in our lives can change. Was I going to live the rest of my life like this, or worse? I picked up my Bible and started reading, which was almost impossible. The more I read the more powerful the words became to me. I had opened it up to where it had last been bookmarked, can’t remember when the last time I had read it was. It was on Psalms 91, which I had underlined all of. I started reading out loud to myself and drew strength from this. The more I read the better I felt. I thought that I was starting to be able to see but didn’t know if it was just because I was focusing on the words or what. I felt that I could still see that weirdness in the corner of my eye. I put that in the back of my mind and continued. “No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.” These words were so powerful to me and I felt them giving me strength. As I finished the chapter I closed my eyes and prayed. I thanked God for everything He had done for me. For restoring my sight the first time, for always showing me the way even when I saw none, for taking any fear away from me whenever those thoughts would creep in my mind. For allowing me to turn my life around and giving me the strength to do what I do and for allowing me to touch countless people’s lives in the process. I thanked Him for giving me this gift of being able to fight and even if I was never able to get in the ring again I thanked Him for all I had been able to do. I thanked Him for being with me regardless of whether my vision came back or not; I knew that He would get me through it no matter what. I asked Him once again, this time with full faith and sincerity, to restore my sight and to take whatever darkness this was, which I could physically feel in my room, away from me and away from this place. I said Amen, opened my eyes. I looked around, my vision was back, that light, or whatever it was, was gone now. My eyes still felt a little weird, but my vision was definitely back. Almost coming to tears, I thanked God. I was once again reminded how fragile this life, and everything we have in it, is. I thanked God for restoring my vision, again, and for everything that He has done in my life. I thank God for all of you and am grateful for every person I am able to affect positively in this life.
I am not writing this to try to preach to anyone, or to say you need to believe this or anything like that. Just sharing what has happened to me, as I always do, and I know that there are people out there that will take some good from this. Faith is something that is extremely personal and unique to each individual. I find that we out far too much emphasis on the team aspect of beliefs to where it completely contradicts what so many of us so we believe in. When it comes down to it, no one knows anything for certain and no one’s beliefs are any more ridiculous than anyone else’s. We are all trying to make or way through this crazy, scary world and if you find something that you believe in that gives you hope and makes your life better than go for it. We should embrace our differences and love one another regardless of our beliefs.