This is a story about the time I went blind…
Just kidding, I didn’t really go blind. Although I would have in one eye if it wasn’t for the intercession of St. Lucy!
How It All Started
The year was 2011. I was a senior in college finishing up my final fall semester. I had just completed the first of my finals and stood up to turn in my exam when all the blood rushed to my head and I lost my vision for a second. Normally, that wouldn’t have been a big deal… this happens to everyone after long periods of sitting. But what caught my attention was that I only “went black” in one eye.
Or at least… I thought that was what happened. Honestly, it flashed so quickly that I wasn’t 100% certain…
I didn’t say anything to anyone. “I’ll just keep an eye on it…” I thought, chuckling at my own pun. And I continued on with the rest of my day.
It happened one more time that day, but again, I wasn’t sure there was anything weird about it. The circumstances were similar to the first time; I had been sitting for a long period of time, I stood up, blood rushed to my head, and I lost vision in my left eye. Sometimes I can be a hypochondriac, so I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions — especially because the spells of vision loss were happening so quickly.
The next day, the problem became more obvious. It happened more frequently –always after a long stationary period — and I was certain the “blacking out” was only occurring in my left eye. I decided to call my dad since he’s a physician. He had the same inclination that I had originally; to sit and wait on it.
“It may be related to your migraines” he told me. “Keep me updated if anything changes.”
By this time, my friends were in on the worrying…
“Web MD says you have a blood clot in your eye…” my roommate said after goggling my symptoms.
“I do not…” I said with certainty, but grabbed her phone to read through the details anyway. “See? It says that’s common in senior citizens. I’m too young for that to be it. It’s probably related to my migraines, like my dad said.”
“But it’s only in the one eye!” she retorted.
Interiorly, I worried about that too. My gut was telling me that this had nothing to do with my migraines…
The Defining Moment
On the third day of these occurrences, things got much worse. Until this point, I had only experienced these episodes for a couple of seconds every time I stood up. That morning, everything changed. I was standing in the kitchen, washing my dishes, when the vision in my eye blacked out entirely for a full seven seconds (…I was counting… with “Mississippis” and everything).
That was it for me — I called my dad.
Since my vision was going in and out, there was no way I could risk the drive. My dad drove an hour to come get me, and then the hour home. My ophthalmologist was a family friend and had graciously agreed to see me. We drove straight to her office.
Her theory was the same as my father’s — until she used the light to look in the back of my eye… It was a retinal vein occlusion. Blood had clotted in the vein leading to my retina. It blocked the vein, causing it to rupture, and the blood to scatter. It was blood passing across my retina that was causing my black-out episodes.
In other words, it was a blood clot. The very thing we all thought I was too young for…
My situation was very serious. Not only was there a possibility that I could become permanently blind in one eye, but we also had no idea what had caused the clot — and that was even scarier.
That night, my family went to a Christmas concert at our parish. Afterwards, my dad asked our pastor if I could receive the Anointing of the Sick. Our pastor readily agreed and I received the sacrament while holding back tears.
The next morning I had an early appointment with a specialist in the city. He was concerned with my age, and with the unknown cause, but he was confidant that he could restore my vision.
It wasn’t going to be painless. As he went through the details of the procedure — of which I would have to be awake through the whole thing — I could feel my muscles tensing, and myself cringing. I won’t go into the details… but it did involve sterilizing my eye and then having it a needle stuck into it… twice…
What surprised me though was the grace I felt during the procedure. Despite the emotional and physical discomfort, I was totally at peace spiritually. I remember thinking, “Okay… since I have to do this, might as well let some good come because of it…” and I offered it up to the Blessed Virgin, asking her to use it to bring graces to her dearest intention. Doing this didn’t take away my nerves or my pain, but it made my cross more bearable… sweeter even.
The procedure was finished, but we would have no immediate indication as to its success. Waking up the next morning, only to stand up, have all the blood rush to my head and once again experience the loss of vision was certainly disheartening…
Then I got a text from a friend who had been praying for me.
“Grace,” she said, “do you know what today is? It’s St. Lucy’s feast day!”
I had heard about St. Lucy before, and I knew she was the patron saint of people with eye issues — but I had no idea that we were anywhere near celebrating her feast within the liturgical calendar. Celebrating her feast the day after my eye “surgery” felt like an embrace from heaven, wrapping me in consolation and in hope. I’m not sure I could have planned a better day to begin my eye’s healing than the feast day of the Patroness of those with vision problems!
The Saga Ends
Though feeling much more confidant, I was far from being out of the woods. The doctors were still trying to determine what caused the clot in the first place. I had to get loads of blood work done, as well as an MRI of my brain to check for tumors. I had to see my specialist every three months for a year to have my retinal vein monitored.
Every test came back normal and to this day, we still have no idea what caused the clot in the first place. Maybe it was just some strange fluke caused by a stressful semester of school and lots of eye strain from staring at the computer. Or maybe there was something else that caused it (like a blood disorder or a brain tumor) but St. Lucy’s intercession combined with the graces of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick bailed me out big time.
Regardless of the cause, whether it was big or small, I know St. Lucy had my back. After that December, I never had another episode of vision loss. My retina looks as healthy as it ever has, and St. Lucy has become one of my forever friends.
Do you have a friendship with St. Lucy? Comment below!