This is a super hard topic for me to write about. It’s been in the back of my mind for months – but I really hate talking about it, so I keep resisting. Since we all know that what you resists, persists – I’m going to just get it out there, and out of the back of my mind.
In 1996 I had eye surgery to correct Strabismus in both of my eyes. Strabismus = lazy eyes.
That’s right, I said eyes. Like BOTH of my eyes. They took turns wandering off in different directions. Never bothering to let me know which one was going to stay put.
The problem started when I was 5 or 6, and my parents immediately took me to an eye doctor. He slapped some glasses on my face, told me to do some eye exercises and left it at that. It didn’t help.
Fast forward to me at age 12 – still struggling with lazy eyes, still no solution. And trust me when I say that it is not easy to go through life with eyes that don’t appear to be looking at the person you are talking to. Kids have no social filter, so they just say what’s on their mind – and flat out ask you what’s wrong with you.
At 14, a boy actually told me he thought I was really pretty, but my eyes were just too “weird.” Ouch. Doctors continued to tell me to do the exercises. “It will get better,” they said.
Age 17: I was convinced that I just needed to keep my face in a book. If I didn’t talk to anyone, no one would notice my eyes. Eyes still wandering.
In 1995 I went off to college. My eyes were still a problem, but I decided to stop pretending to be a wallflower. I’m not, nor have I ever been a quiet, reserved person – and pretending to be one was really, really hard for me. This was when I met my husband. He didn’t care about my eyes. He seriously thought I was pretty anyway. SHOCKING.
In 1996 I decided I’d had enough. The exercises were not helping. My eyes were still a mess. And I was drifting back toward just not talking to anyone.
The summer after my freshman year at college, I asked my parents to take me to one more place. This doctor admitted he didn’t have an answer either, but he knew someone who would.
Off to Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH. Dr. Mary Lou McGregor (my hero) saw me and told me in the first five minutes of our visit that she would make it all go away. She knew, immediately, what the problem was – and how to fix it.
I spent 14+ years doing exercises and wearing glasses; and the facts were that those things were making the situation worse.
That’s right. Worse.
The only way to fix my eyes was to adjust the muscles. My eye muscles were simply too strong, and I was flexing them all over the place trying to make it better. With two quick surgeries, Dr. McGregor erased all my troubles. She fixed me.
With 15 years of straight eyes under my belt, I still don’t have “binocular” vision. My eyes don’t really work together – but they don’t wander anymore either.
The biggest lesson for me in all of this is to question “authority.” Sometimes, getting imaginative is just what the doctor ordered.
I knew deep inside myself that eye exercises were not the answer. But I kept doing them. I blindly followed the “rules” and it literally got me nowhere.
When I pushed the envelope, asked for one more chance, I got the answer I’d been looking for.
This reminds me of the way we entrepreneurs handle our businesses. We spend years and years doing what the “experts” say to do. We copycat; we mimic; we do what we are told without questioning anything.
And then we wonder why it doesn’t work for us.
Sometimes you have to dig deeper. You have to keep looking until you find what does work for you. And you have to stop listening to every guru who comes along. What worked for them may not work for you. In fact, it probably won’t.
There is value in learning from the people who have gone before, but like my Dr. McGregor – make sure your mentor knows what they are talking about. Blanket statements and a “this-is-how-I-did-it-so-it’s-the-only-way” attitude is a sure indicator that you need to keep looking for your guru.
Anyone out there have a story to share about getting your imagination in focus and how it moved your forward?