David McKenna – Don’t Lose Confidence

I was seventeen when I lost my eye. A bit of metal got stuck in it. I thought I’d got it all out. I went to sleep and in the morning my sight was blurry. I had to wait six hours in emergency. They kept me in hospital but I started losing sight. They got the metal out. I still had the puncture wound that got infected. I started getting better but then things changed. I lost my sight and the eye started to look different.

My family were disappointed and angry that I stuffed my eye up. They were angry I went to sleep and didn’t go to the hospital straight away. I felt angry with myself too. I couldn’t believe it at first but then it sank in. I just thought I’d get a contact lens. I didn’t do much about it and then I went to jail. I asked to see the eye doctors but that didn’t happen. It is only now I am going to get a scleral lens to make it look ok again.

In jail people thought I couldn’t play sport. I didn’t get picked because I’ve got one eye. They thought I’d be no good for the team. Now I am included and I do play. I just won Most Valuable Player award in the football. At first I was pretty wary. I didn’t want to get my head taken off. I played off the ball for a while. In basketball I got hit in the good eye. That stopped me playing for a bit. I still drive although I’ve lost my licence at the moment. I’m a pretty good driver.

At the time I lost my eye I was with a girlfriend and she didn’t seem to care. I think because she was with me before it happened. My kids look at me funny. My older boy, he used to say, “Dad got a sore eye”. My little girl she’s two and she is starting to look at me funny. That’s why I wanted to get my eye fixed so the kids don’t look at me funny.

You lose a lot of confidence when you lose vision in one eye. Sometimes when people are angry, they know it’s my weakness, they have a go at me – they say I’m ugly. At times I felt that way. I don’t believe it about myself now.

The experience of losing the eye has made me respond to medical things differently. One morning I went to pick up my baby daughter. I could tell straight away things weren’t right. She wasn’t crying as she normally would. I took her straight to hospital. She had meningococcal and was in hospital for three weeks. The hospital told me that getting there so quick made a difference to how things turned out. She is fine now.

If I had any advice for a young bloke about to lose his eye I’d say don’t lose confidence or self-esteem. Don’t worry. Be yourself and you’ll come to grips with it.

As told to Julia Sutton. Reprinted with permission from David McKenna. You may link to this story, but please do not copy or otherwise circulate.