Other Stuff, Teaching

The Girl With The Wonky Eyeball

A rare photo of the offending eye, making me look like a crazy lady…

You know, on this Body Positive road I have been walking, I have learned to embrace and love most of what makes me, me. I can look at my Plus Size body and love it for the space it takes up in the world and the things it can do. I can love my giant, flat feet and the fun sucking sounds they make on the floor. I can love my grey hair and the story of wisdom and experience it tells. But one thing I cannot seem to forgive, embrace and love is my wonky eyeball.

As a child, I developed Amblyopia, commonly known as a Lazy Eye. (Or as a friend of mine once called it, Scramble Eye.) My parents took me to a doctor who tried the typical course of action… glasses, eyepatch, etc. Honestly though, that crap never really works, and my parents soon elected to go forward with surgery on my sad three year old eye. (For which I am most grateful.) Essentially, what happened was, the surgeon removed part of my eye muscle to make it stronger. The first time, it was over corrected and I was looking rather cross eyed. Definitely not cute… so I had surgery a second time. After that, my eyes have always looked and functioned normally… most of the time.

People with this condition often lose 3D perception. Like, I was never able to see a stinking thing in those Magic Eye books, and think everyone who did was a big liar. I don’t bother going to see 3D movies either. They always make me nauseous and give me a headache. Also, most people with a Lazy Eye have issues with depth perception, which must be why I am crazy uncoordinated!

Most people who only know me from photos, don’t know that I even struggle with this. I immediately delete photos that include the offensive eye. On days when I am excessively tired, or unfocused (or have had a few adult beverages) my eye forgets that it had the surgery. Instead, my eye decides to go on an adventure of its own and wanders off. When that happens, my brain shuts off the signals coming from that eye and favors the stronger one. In fact, I really don’t know it’s happening most of the time. But, boy other people do! That’s what’s so troublesome!

As a teacher, I’m never able to forget my flaws. Kids are merciless and they will point out every tiny thing that is wrong in the most blunt way possible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Your eye looks creepy!” “What’s wrong with you?” “Who are you even looking at?” “Are you talking to ME or him?” It’s so embarrassing and I usually want to slink away and hide. I can deflect any mean spirited comment about my weight, my hair, my clothes and not care too much, but oh that wonky eye!

A few years ago, I had a student who blurted out loud, “Mrs. Nafziger, you have a Lazy Eye!!” I immediately slapped a defensive hand over the pesky thing and said, “So?!” He just said, “ So do I. That’s pretty cool.” It didn’t make me feel cool. It made me feel sad.

I hope some day I will learn to love my wonky eyeball as much as I have accepted the rest of me. I just don’t right now. The kids have been mean lately and it makes me want to cry. All I am saying is, as empowered as I want to be, I have my struggles too. Hard truth.

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