28 February 2009

The One-Eyed Runner

Some local runners are known as The Bull Runner, Bald Runner, The Fit Mommy, and even Running Fatboy. And then there's The One-Eyed Runner.

Um, that would have to be me. Currently.

I haven't literally lost an eye, folks, but I am technically half-blind right now, and will continue to be in the next 10 days.

It all started when I attended a workshop last Thursday afternoon. Almost four hours of continuous staring at presentations flashed onscreen through an LCD projector really strained my eyes--especially the right eye. When I got back to the office, my right eye felt particularly sore, and I ignored the pain, thinking that I was just tired and that my contact lenses were going dry. By Thursday evening, after an 8K run, my right eye was smarting and had a decidedly red color. I had to remove the contact lens because it was causing me much discomfort already.

I have been wearing soft contact lenses for 13 years now, so I attributed the soreness to lack of lubrication of my eyes. Even though the lenses are for extended wear, I still have this nasty habit of keeping them on for more than 16 hours a day, which in the long run, isn't good for my eyes.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm practically blind, so to speak. The grade of my eyes has now meteorically risen to 900 to 1,000 due to consistent abuse of this faculty; I've been reading voraciously since age 5. When I was a kid, I'd read a book every single day after homework and during my spare time (which was a lot, because kids back then had nothing much to do except watch TV and play tag anyway). And I would read anywhere, even by candlelight during those brownout years under the Ramos administration. I was so addicted to reading that my mom had to force-feed me because I refused to put a book down during lunch hours. Not kidding.

It also didn't help that my poor eyesight is genetic. My entire family--all nine of us--are eyeglass-toting people, with me winning the gold for poorest vision. I've had more pairs of glasses than I cared to count, with each new one getting thicker and more expensive as the years went by. I was already wearing contact lenses by senior high school, but I had a back-up pair of glasses with me. And when my last pair of glasses (plastic ultra thin, ultra light, ultra expensive, ultra everything) got stolen along with my bag and mobile phone at age twenty-something, I just gave up the idea of buying yet another pair--and ended up solely relying on contact lenses.

Fast forward to the year 2009, on the 28th day of February. I am sitting on a patient's chair inside the office of our family opthalmologist, meekly listening to the doctor as he admonishes me for neglecting my own eyesight for the nth time. He makes me go through a series of eye examinations (which includes him flipping my right eyelid to check the rest of my eyeball--waaaah) before issuing the verdict: my right eye is suffering from something called soft lens syndrome brought about by overuse of contact lenses. I also have a very thin retina and am highly myopic and experiencing high astigmatism. In other words, I may need corrective eye surgery at age thirty-something if my eyes continue to deteriorate.

Dr. Rey Santos (who happens to be an excellent opthalmologist and eye surgeon--one of the best, really) checks to see if the grade of my eyes has improved the last time I saw him. Left eye: 950--no change. Right eye: 1,250. Gulp. Big change. He is about to admonish me once more in his gentle, even tone of voice (which makes me feel worse because he is such an incredibly nice person) when the sound of cathedral bells is heard from his Apple iPhone. It's his alarm for the Three O' Clock Prayer.

He excuses himself to do his prayers, and I pray from my seat, only too happy to escape from his reprimand momentarily. Upon his return, we go through the usual eye chart alphabet thing-y and then he proceeds to prepare a prescription for my new eyeglass lenses (he was disappointed to know that I haven't been wearing glasses as back-up). I am told not to wear contact lens on my right eye in the next couple of days until he deems I'm ready to do so. In the meantime, I am required to get new eyeglasses, and eventually, around two weeks from now, new extended wear contact lenses.

But, he says, I should be wearing glasses while my right eye is healing. And since it takes 7 to 10 days to order my special lens (because of the extraordinarily high grade), I am currently without glasses and contact lens.

No glasses! No contact lens! How in the world am I going to see anything? I am so blind I can only see the blurred outlines of people's faces and bodies, and not their facial expressions. If I have to read something, I would have to be three inches away from the computer screen or book page. And worst of all, I would, literally, have to be helped in crossing the street.

Me being the stupid ass that I am, the first question I asked was, "Doc, can I join in tomorrow's race? Can I still run?"

I must have looked really gloomy, because Dr. Santos mulled over my question for a while and then said seriously, "Sure you can. You can still wear your contact lens on your left eye, you know, while you run. In fact, you have really no choice but to wear just one lens--unless you want to stay in bed for the next 10 days."

Yes! I am not totally blind after all! One eye is still better than nothing! I wanted to give him a big hug and say the Three O' Clock Prayer again out of sheer relief, but I restrained myself.

Of course, it's still not easy having just one eye that can see; my right eye is totally useless at this point. So this is me typing on my laptop, with the left eye working well because of my contact lens, while the right side is just a weird blur. I feel like Two-Face somehow.

Dr. Santos has instructed me to take these special anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial eyedrops for my right eye, and another bottle of eyedrops for both my eyes to serve as a lubricant. My next check-up with him will be in 7 to 10 days, and hopefully, I'll have glasses by then. But for now, I will just have to run with only one good eye, and I think I'll manage to survive tomorrow's Botak Paa-Bilisan 5K race without tripping or falling into a pothole (I hope).

Anyway, if blind men were able to run the New York City Marathon, surely a "one-eyed" girl like me can complete a 5K race!


  1. That's why you called me handsome the other day! hahaha! I'm sure you'll get by!

  2. Wahaha. So parang mirage ka sa paningin ko? =P