Monday, June 4, 2007

The Second Attack - 1993

It was 1993 and Clinton and Gore were in the White House. I was now working for CSC as a quality assurance manager. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union had broken up. In 1993 the Czechoslovakian Federation had dissolved and Vaclav Havel, a writer whose works I had studied while in Czech language training, had been elected president of the new Czech Republic after 42 years of Communist rule. The Cold War had ended and relations were warming up with previous enemies. But terrorism hit home when the first World Trade Center bombing occurred in the underground parking garage. The Unibomber was mailing lethal packages to unsuspecting people. “Cheers” had ended and Sonic Hedgehog was introduced. By this time, I had divorced and I was dating “Tedd.” Movies in theaters included Jurassic Park, Groundhog Day, Mrs. Doubtfire, Grumpy Old Men, Sleepless in Seattle, and Schindler’s list.

Tedd and I were driving to visit Mom and Dad in Greensburg one weekend, and I was trying to read a book. I noticed a strange tiny fuzzy spot in my right eye, and kept cleaning my glasses. A few days later, that fuzzy spot was still there so I took off my glasses and looked at a book. The fuzzy spot was still there and getting a little larger. I silently panicked. I was terrified. Was I going blind??? I was taking sign language classes and wondered if I should be taking Braille classes instead. I was referred to an eye doctor who had me draw out the fuzzy areas of my visual field, which had taken over 50% of my right eye. If you’ve ever looked at a camera just as the flash bulb goes off and you end up seeing spots, then imagine those spots expanding to take over half of your visual field. That’s what I experienced.

I was diagnosed with Optic Neuritis, which is an inflammation of the optic nerve, and started taking steroids. Nothing really serious after all and I felt silly about panicking. I missed a few days of work and wore an eye patch for a few weeks, but eventually got back to normal.

But that strange shock was back whenever I looked down at my feet.

In the previous year, Annette Funicello went public about her MS after rumors surfaced that she was an alcoholic. In 1993 she founded a fund for neurological disorders. I still wasn’t paying attention, though, because I had no reason to. Or so I thought.


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