It was the summer of 2012. I knew something was wrong with the way I saw things, but I just wasn't able to describe it to the doctors. When you can't see clearly, it's mostly blurry vision - but this wasn't really blurry. And it didn't seem to go away even with prescriptions of glasses. A doctor finally listened to everything I had to say and told me I likely had Keratoconus. I asked him to spell it out for me so I could Google it when I got back to my computer.
It was Keratoconus. I had to get C3R done in both of my eyes. It wouldn't cure it, but it would stop my eyes from getting worse. There isn't a cure for C3R yet. You can get your cornea transplanted, but that has way too many complications.
Life went on. I coped with it in my own ways: increasing the font size on my gadgets, sitting on the first bench in class, not driving a car at night. Then, 2018 happened.
I was speaking to a friend on the phone and we were reflecting on how the decade was for both of us. And that's when I realized that it's been particularly awful for my eyes.
It was the 21st of December 2018. I had a pimple-ish thingy on my upper-left lip. It swole that night. I consulted a doctor the next day. Took medicines. Kept swelling further. I went to a dentist. He said there's nothing particularly worrisome and prescribed medicines. He asked me to visit him again the next day.
It is now the 24th. I'm at the dentist's, telling him how there's no change in the swelling and how I feel the same as the previous day. He asked me to visit someone he knew in a bigger hospital. That person was out of town. He asked me to visit the hospital regardless and ask them to take a look at it. So I did.
It was mid-afternoon at this point. They took my blood samples. Asked me (multiple times) if I had any allergies. The blood reports were going to take a lot of time. I was feeling restless and weak. I decided to head home, rest, and take the medicines prescribed by a doctor at the bigger hospital.
I felt better. I went to meet a friend for dinner. I started feeling weak again. Headed home, took medicines, slept.
I woke up in the middle of the night feeling unusually cold. Shivering. I said to myself, "Hey, it's mid-winter and my room gets particularly cold. That's probably it."
It wasn't. It was getting chills. The only problem is, I wouldn't know what "chills" was until some weeks later. I wish I was taught about chills in school rather than the history of a random king in the country.
I took a hot shower, wrapped myself in layers of clothing, and dozed off inside my blanket.
I woke up the next morning. Headed to the washroom. Noticed my right eye was swollen. This felt like being "it". I asked my flatmate to take me to the hospital that I went to on the previous day. We took an Uber. This was around 8 AM, but don't quote me on that.
I rushed into the emergency room and told the doctors everything that had happened in the last four days. I gave my phone's passcode and debit cards to my flatmate.
I don't remember a lot of what happened that day except for a tiny part. I was getting an MRI done. It felt like a VR rollercoaster ride. I remember my third flatmate waiting for me outside the MRI room.
I also don't remember a lot from what happened the following week. The three days that followed were also full of confusion. I don't even know if it were "three" days, I like to believe they were.
I remember asking multiple times for water. The nurses would hand over a tiny cup that never felt enough. I remember seeing Batman and Iron Man emerge from the white wall I kept staring at. It felt weird. I wanted to brush my teeth but the nurses said I can't. My throat felt weird. I was wearing an oxygen mask at times. I had only seen them in movies.
One of my best friends who lived in Bangalore was out of town on a vacation. I woke up to see my parents and the said best friend along with other relatives of mine. I don't know what the time was. Someone must have called my parents - that part was understandable. The friend is on a vacation - how did he end up back in Bangalore so soon? It felt like I was dreaming again. I wasn't.
The next thing I remember is my friends discussing insurance. I remember eating boiled rice. I hated it. I remember painful syringes. I remember a doctor coming in regularly and flashing a torch at my right eye. I remember my parents discussing moving me to a hospital in Ahmedabad.
I took what still feels like the longest flight ever from Bangalore to Ahmedabad on the 1st of January. I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know what I was diagnosed with. Light hurt. Sound hurt.
I would end up being in a hospital in Ahmedabad for the next ten-ish days. A doctor would come in and tell me I've lost vision in my right eye. I remember making an Avengers reference in a text to a friend. They already knew.
I felt a lot better than I did the previous week. Friends and relatives would come to visit. We'd listen to music and eat fruits. Oh btw, I knew at this point I had meningitis of the bacterial kind.
Everyone was worried about the eye. They wanted to hear I'd get my vision back. Understandably so. I would end up visiting multiple doctors of the eye over the next month to get their "opinion". They hoped one of them would say what they wanted to hear.
I was trying to piece it all together. I kept Googling terms, trying to connect one thing with the other. I didn't know how I ended up the way I did. I wanted answers. I needed answers.
I didn't know how serious it was in December until some time in February. I could have died. It hit like a train. People knew but they hadn't told me. I felt betrayed.
I would end up confined to my home until the end of April. [That's why 2020 doesn't seem much of a change, really.] There were a lot of medicines to be taken. And there was a lot of sleep to catch up on. The medicines helped.
I went back to Bangalore in May. I had been away for more than four months. It was time to go back to normal - if there was such a thing.
A lot of things changed apart from the vision. I had never appreciated my friends and family as much as I did in 2019. They did plenty of unselfish things that I don't believe I would have. I'm sure I don't even know about most of it.
Mortality became ever so clear. Up until that point, in recent years before it, it generally felt like I spent my time worrying about the future. It seems more important to rather enjoy the now ever since, because who knows what future there's going to be. I don't make a lot of long-term plans anymore. I feel happier somehow.
I've got accustomed to the vision just like I got accustomed to Keratoconus some years ago.
"But we work with what we got, right?"- Rhodey, Avengers: Endgame
If you were a part of what went down in the hospitals and things here don't seem correct, I'd love to hear your side of it. Helps me put my story together. Drinks on me.