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Senior Column: Patch it up together

I never expected to write a non-fiction piece about a parasite eating my eyeball, but here I am.
Sudden onset blindness and severe eye pain led to a pretty scary diagnosis that changed my plans for my final semester of college, to say the least.

Originally, I was hardly concerned by my rather disastrous fate, certain I could make an eye patch look very Captain Jack Sparrow chic. I confirmed the hard way that Johnny Depp is objectively much sexier than I am when I ended up looking more suitable to yell, “Are ya ready, kids?” before launching into a tune about a hyperactive yellow sea sponge.

In general, I had thought that despite this setback, I would keep attacking life with the same zest I had become quite known for and prided myself on. I was wrong.

For months, I hid in my room from everyone and everything, even my closest friends. My grades slipped from A’s to C’s in a way my cup size never has. I found out a body can live off a diet of exclusively pain pills, occasionally seasoned with salty tears. Showers did not exist. Sleep was not a possibility.

I became the knockoff version of myself, but not even an acceptable cheap imitation; anyone with taste buds can tell the difference between a creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookie and an Oreo.

I couldn’t do anything, and it wasn’t because I wasn’t trying.
Before, schoolwork had always come easily, friendships bloomed naturally, employment opportunities seemed endless and drinks were rarely on my tab though always in my hand. I lived by a motto of “do what makes the best story” and felt unstoppable.

So I guess I’m here to tell you that you’re not unstoppable.
I stopped, abruptly, unexpectedly and completely, at a time in my life when I thought I’d be going full speed. And the world kept going without waiting.

Luckily, even though I stopped, I remained in motion, thanks to the people who pushed and pulled me along. Help came in all forms: rides to my weekly ophthalmologist appointments, “cheer up” parties, homework notes, snail mail, work accommodations, food delivery, constant check-in texts and more. Help came without difficulty, question or complaint.

To my friends and family and professors and cats: thank you for moving me when I could not move myself.

Chances are, no one else reading this will ever end up with an eye-eating parasite. But something may stop you – maybe for a day, maybe for a year, maybe for forever.

You may find out you are not as strong or capable as you had once thought. I did. It may not always be all that you want, but all you can do is all that you can. So I guess I’m here to tell you that’s okay.

And ultimately, with the right support system, maybe in a way, you are unstoppable. Even with an eye patch. Are ya ready, kids?

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