I used to blame a sporting injury. Lost sight of one eye, you see, playing rugby.
Blindside flanker, for comedic effect. Cauliflower ears gave the claim some credence. Much cooler, I thought, than real reason. Cataracts!
At unexpectedly early age of late teens or early twenties. I forget which. Because life since has been bit of a blur. A lot, to be honest. In a good way.
In hindsight, I put life-changing experience down to too much post-op time on my hands.
Repeated surgery, repairing resulting retinal detachments. Or not, with right peeper, which went awry.
So much so, it reduced my rock of a dad to tears. For only time in living memory. With frustrated rage, I realise now.
Yorkshire’s Partially Sighted Society shortlisted as Association of Optometrists’ Charity of the Year, recent National Eye Health Week and World Sight Day prompt case study confirming there is life after visual disability.
Awaking to a world awash with black, both eyes bandaged, prompts a bed-bound boy to fully focus on the future. Guide dogs and white sticks awaited in deepest, darkest musings.
Traumatised thoughts turned to children, yet to father, but feared I would never see. Scary enough scenario without serial sex predator Savile stalking same Leeds hospital wards. I would not, clearly, have seen him coming.
Enforced solitude was a visionary card. One I was determined would be winning, not losing, hand. Having stared long and hard into abyss of worst case scenario, I acquired an appetite for life Mr Creosote with the munchies couldn’t crave. I didn’t carp at such carpe diem lifestyle, rejoicing in new-found joie de vivre.
It was this born-again lust for lifer, blinking through rose-tinted glasses – patched during piratical times pictured, suitably blurred – who ventured to Tardis-sized northern health centre that doubles as prosthetic central, where we one-eyed men are king.
What an eye-opener! Photos aplenty of tots suffering similar plight, likely prone to insensitive kids’ cruel jibes.
A mould was set in anaesthetised socket before staff appeared with what can only be described as a bag of artificial eyes. For that it was, staring, glaring aplenty. Following photo of surviving organ, perfect-ish match was found.
Request for late great rock n role model Bowie’s differently dilated replacement refused, the bespoke orb became intricately adorned with microscopic spider’s web realistically red veins.
Literally not looking back since joining monoculus ranks of Banks, Roosevelt, Joyce and Degas, I still turn blind eye to disability in true Nelson fashion.
Impaired field of vision has not stopped me clocking up myriad miles. Nor curtailed 40-year chosen career, admittedly now staring at screen that would give most multiplex cinemas an inferiority complex.
I regularly reflect now on those single-sighted mini ’uns, hoping their glass eye lives have also become half full, not empty.
And today, when watching my healthy child cradle my thriving grandchildren, from a long-dry duct still sometimes flows a grateful tear.