May 8, 2017
Who knew that losing an eye and getting a prosthesis could be so fascinating? Me, Myself and Eye: The Realities of Living with a Prosthetic Eye, by Cynthia Lee De Boer, tells her story simply and straight-forwardly, including using medical jargon and then explaining what it means. Me, Myself and Eye is meant to be both an autobiographical memoir and a self-help book. Cynthia Lee De Boer achieved both goals. As a child, the author developed Fuchs Dystrophy, an eye disease that develops in children, usually in both eyes. Her sight was greatly affected in her right eye, but it was her left eye that kept manifesting painful symptoms, one after another, causing De Boer to be a withdrawn child in nearly constant pain. At age 16, a corrective contact lens in her right eye gave her the chance to live without coke-bottle glasses slipping down her nose that had given her an awkward self-consciousness. She felt more like a normal teenager. Alas, this feeling of freedom didn’t last. At seventeen, after a number of painful and ineffective eye treatments, she was told that it was time for the removal of her left eye. Teenagers are already body-conscious. This on top of the simple fact of losing an important body part made for a very emotional time. Eventually, De Boer, with the aid of television heroes like Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Falk, and (mistakenly) Sandy Duncan, was ready to accept the medical necessity for the procedures.
Cynthia Lee De Boer does not leave out a single detail about her emotions, the procedure of eye removal, recovery from surgery, and the things that had to be stuck in her eye before the final insertion of the prosthetic eye, with its hand-painted details. She remembers to express gratitude to the doctors and oculists that took care of her along the way, and reminds people to be proactive patients and make sure the doctors are the right fit. Physically, De Boer discusses making the new eye match the right eye, learning to make both eyes look in the same direction without getting the prosthetic “stuck,” and the cleaning and maintenance of the prosthesis. Me, Myself and Eye: The Realities of Living with a Prosthetic Eye is a very short book, taking me just over an hour to read and digest. Sometimes, the language was awash in hyperbole, but then, teenagers can be very dramatic, even in hindsight from decades later. Overall, Cynthia Lee De Boer has written a Class A memoir and self-help book.