Don’t Be Stupid

Don’t Be Stupid

Posted on Oct.15, 2012, by , under Inspirational Stories

I am a 63 year old criminal defense lawyer who has low vision due to diabetic retinopathy.  I have no vision in my left eye and on a good day the vision in my right eye is 20/400.

Approximately seven years ago I awoke and I could not see out of my left eye.  Incredibly, I did not rush to an eye doctor but rather assumed this was some type of temporary thing that would go away in a day or two.  Did I mention that I am not a doctor of any type?  Did I mention that sometimes I can be remarkably stupid?

Three days later I finally went to my ophthalmologist who had been prescribing my glasses for years.  Very shortly into his exam he left the room and called a retinal specialist who agreed to see me right now.  I went to his office and was diagnosed with a central artery occlusion.  I was examined by his partner the next day who confirmed the diagnosis and that it meant I was not going to have vision in that eye again.  Oh, by the way, did I tell you that at the time I was a smoker?  Not a heavy smoker, less than a pack a day.  So, of course, I stopped smoking immediately, yes?  Well actually, no.  Go back to the part about incredible stupidity.

I was in a very high stress occupation.  I tried cases all the time and also did appeals.  Most of my cases were murder cases and some were very high profile.  I decided that smoking reduced my stress levels and besides, I had lost vision in one eye.  Surely I was not going to be the one who lost vision in both eyes.  Wrong again.

Let’s flash forward another year.  I was living in New York at the time and I was trying a murder case in Virginia.  As the trial ended I was having problems seeing from my right eye.  By the next day I could not drive and my vision was severely impaired.  You will be happy to know that at this point I stopped smoking.  Nothing like closing the barn door and the horse has left, right?

I found a retinal surgeon who treated me for the next five years including 6 eye surgeries and more laser treatments than I care to think about.  And let’s not forget all the injections into eye.  I am telling you, you have not lived until you have had stitches in your eye.

Why am I writing this?  Because I did not take care of myself and I thought that this stuff always happens to someone else.  It would never happen to me.  It is one thing to know what you are supposed to do but I want people to understand that this can happen to you.  Take care of yourself and make sure you treat your eyes like the treasures they are.  Don’t be stupid!

-Dick Barbuto