This I Believe

Shelby - Tulsa, Oklahoma
Entered on January 18, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: parenthood
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I Believe in Miracles

“God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” – A quotation from Reinhold Niebuhr. This passage hung on our refrigerator for years after my birth, and helped my family move forward after I was born. When my mom was pregnant with me she had a virus that to this day is still unknown. This virus infected my eyes, teeth, and facial structure. My family struggled to understand why this happened, and how they could help.

Right after I was born the doctors checked my eyes, and they found something wrong. They shined a light into my eyes, and didn’t see the red reflex, which is the light bouncing back that causes the eye to appear to have a red dot. The red dot indicates that light is reaching the optic nerve, that the brain is telling the nerve to see. If light doesn’t get to the optic nerve, this part of the brain will eventually shut off and can never be restarted. The reason mine didn’t work is that I was born with cataracts. Although this was a tragedy, something good always comes from something bad. The doctor told my parents they had to operate, and I had my first eye surgery at two weeks old. The next operation, on my other eye, was at six weeks. From then on I had bifocals for up close and contacts for far away. My depth perception was very bad, and I couldn’t crawl or walk for a long time. The reason for this was that bifocals made the ground seem to come up very fast, causing me to lose my balance.

My mother did whatever it took to make sure I had the best eyesight I could possibly have. When she’d rock me to sleep, she had Christmas lights on the wall and I’d stare at them. This helped stimulate my eyesight, and to this day I love Christmas lights and sleep in front of the Christmas tree lights every Christmas.

More recently, during 8th grade, I had more surgeries. First I had nose surgery because I had a deviated septum that was blocking my whole left nostril. Next I had jaw surgery, which moved my jaw out because it was too far back and blocking my airway. Then I had surgery on my mouth. I had a lot of problems with my teeth: I didn’t have some permanent teeth, and my mouth is very small, so there isn’t a lot of room for teeth to grow. Though I missed a lot of school and had to make up a lot of work, I’m glad I did it. Even though the surgeries and recoveries were painful, I wouldn’t take it back.

Many times, especially when I was small, my mom felt lost, and didn’t know what to do, so she did the only thing she could think of: she prayed. Every day of every year she prayed for me and my eyesight. She’d ask questions, she’d do research, and she’d fly me across the United States to make sure I had the best possible doctors. Thanks to my family and doctors, so many doors have been opened to me that would have been closed if I couldn’t see. Thanks to them, I have a future, and thanks to my mom, I can see it crystal clear.