Olivia Durant: The Beginning

Blind from Birth

1

I remember being lifted into the doctor’s chair. He moved this cold thing near my face and told me to look through it.

2

He told me that I was legally blind.
I was 5.

3

Blindness is a spectrum. Every blind person is not the same.

I was so nearsighted I could not identify people, walk outside by myself, or watch TV.

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4

At school, the other kids bullied me because I was easy prey.
Some of my teachers treated me as if I were stupid.

I believed them.

5

I was prescribed 2 inch thick glasses.

It was like wearing a fishbowl over my face.

I would take my best guess at what was going on around me from the faint images I could vaguely perceive.  

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6

One day I was in a Sears department store with my Grandmother. I wandered off to find the toy section.

I ran back to who I thought was my Grandmother…it was the face of a complete stranger instead.

This was one moment of many that made me feel always afraid and unsure of my abilities.

I always felt lost.

7

When I reached age 9, I was given special contact lenses that gave me a small amount of peripheral vision.

8

I hid in my room and read hundreds of books.
I felt safe there.

I had my imagination.

9

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Most people assumed I wouldn’t amount to anything. 

I vowed to prove them wrong.

10

When I reached age 34, a new eye doctor mentioned an operation that could possibly improve my vision. 

I might lose what little eyesight I had.
I knew I had to take that risk and have the surgery.

It was a success.

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11

One day, I saw a stranger in the mirror and said hello. 

That stranger I didn’t recognize was me. 

For the first time in my life, I now knew what I looked like. 

12

One time I walked into a restaurant and people turned to look at me. 

Before surgery I would have assumed they were staring at me because I was stupid or ugly.

I realized they were simply looking at me, just like they were looking at everyone else.

13

Everything I thought I knew about the world was wrong.

Life as I knew it was over… and also just beginning.

14

I didn’t just gain my eyesight – I now had a second chance to live.

And I promised the scared little girl that I was that I would make the most of it.