You know, those small, horrid, painful lump on the inside or outside of the eyelid.
Most people have one or two of them a year, but I seemed to have them every other month.
That was a horrible time for me. It was embarrassing. I didn't want to go to school and it was also very painful. But I wasn't taken to the doctor for that - as was common in the Caribbean in those days, I was treated with herbal medicines.
Basically, my grandmother or my mother warmed a pepper leaf against the lamplight, plastered the pepper leaf with Vicks Vapour Rub and applied the cure-all to my eye.
Then, when I was 9 years old, I also started having terrible headaches. When one headache lasted for three days, my mother decided to take me to an optometrist, assuming I might need spectacles and that eye strain might be causing the headaches.
But back in the 70’s there still wasn’t a permanent eye care professional on my island, so an optometrist flew in about twice a year, providing eye exams from her hotel room. My mother happened to be a waitress at the Buccaneers Inn hotel where the optometrist often stayed, so she took me to see her on her next visit.
I had to wait hours to be seen, but I was intrigued about what would happen inside that room. The room was dimly lit and the soft-spoken, blonde optometrist introduced to be to that famous eye chart. Then, she diagnosed me as being near-sighted and promised to send me some spectacles in the coming months.
I was excited to get my new spectacles at first. But the eye infections and headaches continued and when I started being bullied at school and called “Four Eyes”,
I became discouraged and stopped wearing my spectacles.
I don’t recall getting another eye exam until I was about 15 years old.
By then, my vision had worsened and I was prescribed thicker spectacles for near-sightedness - which of course I never wore.
Because I was 15 and those huge, black-rimmed spectacles were too unattractive.
And because I didn't feel that they helped my vision.
Unbeknownst to me, I had been misdiagnosed. I was slowly losing my sight. Poor vision had become my norm. In fact, I had become so accustomed to poor vision, I did not realize my devastating situation until my vision was horribly impaired.
That happened one day in 1998.