When I was 11, I found out I had a brain tumor. I had surgery to remove it, but the size and location of the tumor caused my optic nerve to atrophy. For three years afterward, I had partial sight, but my ophthalmologist told me that eventually I would go blind.
At the end of my 14th year, doctors pronounced me legally blind and said there was nothing that could be done. I had a 5 percent chance of surviving the tumor, and I did, but somehow I could never deal with the fact that I was going blind. I tried to behave as if everything were just fine. When it happened, I was devastated.
My dad left us when I was 5, and I took that really hard. Because of that, and because I was blind on top of it, my greatest fear was that no one was ever going to love me, that I would never get married and have kids and a full life. I was afraid of being alone, and I guess that is what I thought blindness meant.
Ten years later, on Nov. 16 of last year, I was cooking dinner and leaned over to kiss my guide dog, Ami. I lost my balance and hit my head on the corner of my coffee table and then on the floor. It wasn't unusual. When you are blind, you hit yourself all the time. I got up, finished making dinner and went to bed.
When I woke up, I could see. Light was coming through my window, and the curtains were drawn. Of course, I was shocked, but not scared, not like when I lost my sight. There is a big mirror in my bedroom, but I didn't look at myself right away. I wanted to wash my hair and put on makeup first.
I do not look good in the morning, and I didn't want to be frightened. As I was showering, I caught my reflection . And just that left me speechless, really. The last time I saw myself, I had short hair, a pale complexion and features that didn't show because I had such light eyebrows and eyelashes. I looked awful, like a teenage girl, I suppose.
Now, all of a sudden, I realized that it was true what people told me, that I was an attractive woman. When I stood in front of the mirror, I reached to touch my face.
That is what I had been doing for 10 years -- it was how I understood -- so it was a natural impulse. It was not until I saw myself that I realized how much my memory had faded of things I once could see. It was about four hours before I told anyone. I stayed with Ami. We looked at each other and played outside in the yard. I just wanted to be alone, and take it in. It was so much.
The strange thing was that I knew it was going to happen. About a week before, I was walking Ami and suddenly saw blue dots in front of my left eye, the one I would regain my sight in. I told my mum because I found it funny; blue had been my favorite color and was the easiest color for me to see when I had partial sight. I took it as a sign.
People don't treat me differently now. I was always completely independent. I lived in Auckland, New Zealand, in my own flat with my dog. I would have parties and go clubbing. I would listen to the beat of the music and go with it and hope for the best.
When your friends grab you and point you in the other direction because they are actually over there, that is when you remember you're blind. I also loved movies. Going to the movies blind was like someone telling you a really good story with great sound effects, and you make up all the images in your head.
I haven't been back since I regained my sight. But I've been able to see my favorite soap, ''Shortland Street.'' And my friends took out magazines and pointed out Pamela Lee Anderson and Brad Pitt. The biggest surprise was Brad Pitt. I just thought, What is everyone going on about? The best was seeing my boyfriend.
He rode the ferry over, and I knew him the moment I saw him. He was as sexy as I had imagined. I am not surprised that things are pretty much the same in my life. I didn't expect anything more than what I have now. I worked very hard to surround myself with genuine people and to create a normal life for myself.
I am still the same person. It just means that physically, perhaps, I can share more and put the two together: the feelings I had, with sight.
The same doctor who told me I would never see again told me I had regained 80 percent of the vision in my left eye. To be able to look him in the eye and tell him I could see again -- honestly, that felt pretty damn good. He ran all the tests and made me read the eye chart, but he has no explanation. He said himself, and still says, that once the optic nerve is damaged, it cannot regenerate.
I don't think the knock on the head had anything to do with it. If others want to believe that is how it happened, that is fine. But I consider this a miracle. There is no other way to describe it. Some things just cannot be explained. Of course, some people are skeptical . For me, it is precious. I try not to think about the possibility of going blind again. But my recovery would be no less a miracle even if I lost my sight tomorrow.