Appearances

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short essay on one of the bravest people I ever met.

Submitted: July 02, 2016

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Submitted: July 02, 2016

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Appearances.

When I was fourteen I suddenly went blind. Nobody knew why. I was taken to hospital where I stayed for a while undergoing tests. The conclusion was that is was retrobulba neuritis in both eyes and I was treated with steroids.

That was the first time but over the next four years I had many more episodes of temporary blindness lasting anything from a couple of days to a couple of months at a time. During each episode I was confined to the Eye unit. As this is so often a symptom, I was also diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, wrongly as it happened but it still had a massive traumatic effect on me. It was eventually proved to be a long running viral infection of the central nervous system that just favoured attacking my eyes, although not always. I had times when I was in a wheelchair too.

But this is not about me. This is about a man I met during one of my hospital stays. If I ever knew his name I don't remember it now, but he was one of the bravest people I have ever come across.

I guess he was in his late twenties but bear in mind I was sixteen so not necessarily any good at all in assessing age. He was, or rather he had been, a truck driver. He had been putting air in one of the tyres, got distracted, and the tyre exploded in his face.

He had spent a lot of time in other hospitals before making his way to the eye unit. He was, and would remain, deaf. He could no longer speak due to the damage that had been done both to his mouth and to the bone structure of his face. He was completely blind in one eye and only had very partial sight in the other.

A lot of reconstruction work had been carried out but he still looked a mess, many would say almost monstrous. People avoided him. They did not know what to say. He certainly did not want their pity. In the time that I was there I never saw him have even one visitor. I would watch, when I could see, and he was so depressed. And with good reason! The nurses did their best but did not have the time to dedicate to him.

I was by then in a rebellious stage about my treatment. I would not stay in bed but would get up and go and visit him. Sometimes I would just sit there with him. Sometimes I would talk away, even though I was well aware that he wouldn't hear me. The doctors and the nurses left me to it.

He could never respond, not being able to smile or make any other facial expressions. But I think he liked me to visit. He never moved away or turned towards the wall as he so often did when left alone. He was still himself, still a person, and just wanted someone to treat him as such.

I left the eye unit while he was still there waiting to be transferred somewhere else. By the time I was next admitted he was long gone. Even now, so many years afterwards, I still find myself wondering what happened to him.

Now I am not a religious person. Religion is not an essential prerequisite to compassion. I talked to him because I wanted to, because he did not deserve to be ostracised. Outside appearances tell you nothing about a person; let's face it, some of the nastiest people are the most attractive.
 


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