- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Modern Day One-Eyed Willy
You may have seen Goonies story of One-Eyed Willie, a 17th century pirate. Aargh! But I have a modern day One-Eyed Willie story that happened not too many years ago. You see (no pun intended), my husband-to-be told me that his younger brother needed to come and live while us while he was fit with a new glass eye. Newlyweds have a hard enough adjustment living with each other, but when a teenage brother is thrown into the mix, it even became more challenging.
One-Eyed Willy at our Wedding
My brother-in-law, Willy, came to stay with us because we lived near a good hospital that could replace his badly damaged eye. When he was a young boy, he and his sister were chasing one another one night. It was pitch dark and he had lit a twig with fire and was swirling it around. She picked up a screwdriver and threw it through the window of the house towards the light from the stick, and it just so happened to land right in the eye of her brother.
Because they lived on a tiny little island in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean when this happened, there were no experienced eye doctors to help him out. There was only a small clinic on the island and he had to wait twenty days for a boat to take him to a hospital. He sat in the hospital for a week without anyone really doing anything except for applying ointment to his eye daily. He recalls at first being able to see a bit of light out of his eye, but in time the eye was covered over with white and he could see nothing.
Eventually he ended up in California with family members trying to find a way to help him. It was Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City that fit him for a glass eye. I remember as a new bride having to apply ointment to Willy’s empty eye socket every morning and evening in preparation for his new glass eye. The hospital tried to match his working eye and did a pretty good job. I remember when he was first getting used to the glass eye that after sleeping with it in, he would wake up and the glass eye would be misplaced in the eye socket and it would give me quite a scare! I would tell him to go and look in the mirror and fix it. At that time he was about 14 years old.
He never felt sorry for himself and his misfortune. He made sure that his sister knew it was an accident. She always felt guilty and tried to make up for what she had done. He would always joke about his eye and enjoyed scaring people by taking his glass eye out and putting it back.
Having only one eye never really stopped him though. Willy went to college, married, bought a home, had nine children and now works for the airlines. It is always kind of nerve racking with him driving the car you are in, but he has never had an accident driving. To all those who have suffered loss of vision in one way or another, One-eyed Willy is an inspiration.