I have an eye disorder. Keratoconus.
In brief, it is an eye condition in which the normally round, dome-shaped cornea progressively thins, causing a cone-shaped bulge to develop. The change in shape and the thinning of the cornea impairs the eye’s ability to focus properly, causing poor vision. It makes simple tasks difficult, such as watching TV, reading a book, or driving a car.
You can find the full definition here.
Keratoconus & Driving: a match not made in heaven.
A few months after I turned seventeen, I was diagnosed with Keratoconus in my right eye. But as we all know, misery enjoys company, and by the time I’d reached my eighteenth birthday, the keratoconus had progressed to my left eye, too.
Within a year, and without warning, my eyesight had deteriorated so much that I now would have to rely on contact lenses to support my vision.
Happy eighteenth birthday …
… Let’s be merry.
Like many teenagers, I had dreamed of driving my own car.
Driving meant freedom, independence.
It meant not having to rely on my dad to take me to and from places.
It meant not having to sit on slow, smelly buses with rude and impatient bus drivers, listening to the tune of noisy, chattering, crying babies, children, and mothers.
Keratoconus meant that I wouldn’t be able to drive a car.
However, I was not to be deterred, so I booked a driving lesson.
During my first lesson, I was asked to read a car’s number plate from the required distance. I couldn’t do it.
Being a stubborn old thing, it took two further lessons for reality to sink in.
I really wasn’t going to be able to drive.
It wasn’t fair. What had I done to deserve this? I didn’t drink or take drugs. I didn’t stay out all night. I went to church—admittedly, my attendance was infrequent, but I still went. No other teen I knew was doing that.
What’s a girl to do?
Well, over the last nine or so years, I cried, complained, and cried some more.
I did finally come to a realisation that I couldn’t cry and whine forever. Pity parties get tedious after a while, and it wasn’t as if being miserable was helping my cause, because after all those years of tears and tantrums, I still wasn’t going to be able to drive.
So what’s a slighter older girl to do?
That independence and freedom I thought I’d get from driving, I now got through walking. I know, walking = independence and freedom, an original idea, I’m sure.
I also bought a bicycle, and I did try to use it. I huffed and puffed up those steep pathways, but we’re currently on a trial separation. Who knows whether I’ll return.
I no longer ask my dad to take me from place to place. When I need a lift, I ask my younger sister, or I call for a taxi.
I’ve learned to tolerate my bus journeys. Sometimes, I even enjoy them.
Instead of trying my best to zone out every conversation, I zone in to the more interesting, peculiar ones. Inspiration, if you will, for my stories.
And if I’m upset, I’ll cry along with the babies and the children and the mothers. (Only in my head, of course. I don’t want to give anyone the opportunity to talk to me. I’m an introvert, don’t you know.)
In life, you get all sorts of fun things thrown your way. Not being able to drive is tough. Really tough. I wish I could drive. I probably always will.
But, at the moment—and it’s a long moment—it’s unlikely that I will be able to.
And I have come to accept that there’s nothing I can do to change that. Unpleasant as that may be.
That acceptance has allowed me to move forward. Not in a speeding down a high street kind of way, but slowly and surely, I’ve come to terms with it.
Has life thrown something harsh your way? If so, how have you dealt with it?
Comment, and let me know.