Life, Uncategorized

My eye surgery story: Yes, I was blind. Now I am not.

The most frequent question I get is, “Were you really blind?”

Yes. My eyes did not work. I was worse than a -20. This means that my vision was a microscope. I could tell you what angle the shears cut 1 hair if I brought it an inch from my eye. I could count threads in fabric. But I was unable to see to live my life without help. My eyes are deformed like footballs and my retinas are dangerously stretched.

The joke on Scooby Doo where Velma drops her glasses and literally can’t see? That was me for real. My glasses looked like this:

I could only see out of the very center if I did not move my eye at all. Contact lenses actually corrected me better than glasses for this reason.

I made some photoshop approximations of how I was seeing.

Here is a regular image:

Here is how I saw with no correction:

Here is how I saw with glasses:

Here is how I saw it with contacts, which was my best correction available:

They Discontinued my Lenses:

Up until 2005 I was able to buy some extremely expensive contact lenses that hurt and caused me monthly eye infections, but they allowed me to be corrected to MAYBE 20/90. That isn’t good enough to drive, but they forgot to test me so I had a driver’s license. So I did drive because how else would I earn money? I just was unable to see signs. I am a VERY SAFE driver. GPS was a big help because it could queue me to turn. If I missed a turn I’d just do the safest U Turn possible.

It was dangerous enough that my eye surgeon yelled at me. I’d often not be able to recognize my friends and it caused a lot of embarrassment because I didn’t tell anyone I was blind. I am a firm believer that nothing matters except for what you can offer to the world. We are not limited by our disadvantages as much if we stand up and tell it to STFU.

That’s me. My personality.

In 2005 the lenses were discontinued and I had to use disposables that didn’t fit my eyes and slid behind my eye a lot. They also gave me an obstructed field of vision. I just lived like that and didn’t say anything.

Cataracts: The Dead End and the Open Door:

In about September 2015, I developed cataracts on top of this, which made what little coping mechanisms I had fail. I was slowly losing my sight even worse. They estimated that I had less than a year before I’d notice a severe impact on what was already a poor quality of life. I was a shut in for about 3 years when my job thankfully allowed me to work from home but it was isolating and terrible.

Searching for a doctor was also terrible. Big Pharma enjoys it when doctors sell procedures. One doctor wanted to sell me Implantable Contact Lenses. He wasn’t really answering my questions, but I now know that it would have given me maybe a few months of better vision before they would have to be surgically removed, thus increasing the risk of damage to my eye and losing my retina.

I found another surgeon that seemed to not care about anything and treated me like a piece of sausage in a factory. He wouldn’t even make eye contact with me in the office.

At this point I was terrified, but thankfully I got a recommendation from a friend to see Dr. Tal Raviv at the Eye Center of New York. No, they are not paying me to write this post. I have no financial relationship with these guys other than I paid them for my surgery and they did a great job. To this day I advise people who have problems to go there and/or ask their office for a recommendation if you can’t make it to NYC. These guys are legit.

The Solution:

It turned out that removing my lenses and performing cataract surgery would allow me to have a normal quality of life. The only reason no one had suggested this before was because until your eyes start failing with cataracts, the insurance won’t cover it. The technology has also gotten better and less invasive than it used to be.

Because of my fragile retinas there was some risk. It was not advisable to do the version of the surgery that was fully covered by insurance. I needed to get the laser version.

I posted about this on my old blog and within 3 hours my readers yelled at me to take their money and I had raised close to $10,000 which was more than I needed so I asked people to please stop giving me money and I booked the laser version of the surgery.

The Surgery:

I had to do retina checks, surgery, more retina checks, then another surgery and so on. I had my left eye done first and then the right eye done when it healed. For most of 2016 I was doing this and healing.

This is my eye directly after being lasered:

That is not photoshop. My natural lens was cut painlessly under the skin without cutting into my eye at all. All I saw was colored lights.

They then took me into the OR, knocked my ass mostly out and then sucked that out and replaced it with a functional lens implant. During that process I thought I saw leprechauns and long face aliens inside an opal cave and flowers and butterflies. All I remember is heading the doctor say “look forward”. I did my best and asked if that was forward and then he was like…”no”. Which I thought was funny at the time but was too drugged to notice.

I had to wear this on my face to sleep:

I developed secondary cataracts and got 2 laser procedures to fix that. And then after about a year of surgical hell I emerged with -1 vision that is now correctable to 20/25. Yes, my hair was bright red then:

My eyes were so bad we knew beforehand that I would not be getting 20/20. Another thing we knew is that I would lose my ability to focus near and far and need progressive lenses.

Here is a comparison of my before and after eye surgery glasses:

The Aftermath:

Having this surgery changed my life for the better in so many ways that I can’t even begin to describe it. What I didn’t realize is that being able to see would cause me to have a complete nervous breakdown as nearly everything I understood about life turned out to not be true. I didn’t understand what I looked like until 2016, and now struggle with dysmorphia. I would have to relearn how to live my life, much like a space alien who just arrived here.

So I moved to Los Angeles in August 2017 do do that, because I have always believed that anything worth doing is worth doing in the biggest, most fabulous way possible. I’m studying music and rebuilding myself in an image that serves me and the world the best. I’m also sharing the insight I’ve accrued in my somewhat unconventional life.

This blog is about that journey.

Motivation

HEADSPACE: Your response to trauma / social rejection is what matters

I shared this post about handling social rejection on my personal Facebook because I felt it was a really important post.

your response to trauma rejection los angeles

My philosophy is governed overall by taking bad things that happen to me and using them as an excuse to be more positive. It’s not an easy adjustment to make, but it works most of the time once you do it.

How I figured this out:

There’s a rather grim origin of how I came to do this. It wasn’t because of any sort of elite education or training. I had the worst schools and more disadvantages than many would think. It was because of trauma.

When I was a kid I was sick one time. I was coughing at night. A family member came into my room and beat me every time I coughed so that I was terrified to cough.

I made a game of turning my coughs into yawns.

You have a choice:

I could have chosen to let this trauma negatively affect me for my entire life. Instead, somewhere when I hit 25, I realized that the theory of taking something bad – spinning straw into gold, so to speak – was a good philosophy to adopt. 25 is about the average age in which I don’t feel we can blame our parents for our lives anymore. That’s the time in which we need to choose who we are and to take control of it.

What if we allowed the bad things to inspire the good things?

If you allow the traumas in your life to inspire you to do the opposite – you are limitless.

Life is about choice. It’s your job to stand up for yourself and to say you aren’t going to be like this person or that person. It’s your job to define what you stand for.
When we connect with our Why, our power grows even more.

My Why? It’s bringing communities together and elevating the arts and education. I choose to be the person I needed 20 years ago.

Your Why could be your kids. Or the smiles your art brings to people. It could be political change that your writing inspires. It could be your family.

Think about it – there could be many reasons you are rejected / excluded by someone. Maybe they are preoccupied with some tragedy in their life. Maybe they are responding to trauma in an unhealthy way. In most cases aggression is a response by an ugly heart. Just imagine how much pain they must be in to lose control of their composure and kindness.
Every time I have considered saying something negative to someone it has been when I was feeling sick or powerless.

Henry Rollins once said that it takes strength to remain calm and kind. Aggression is for weak people. He was right.

Henry Rollins - Pain / Los Angeles blogger

I was a very negative person in High School and college. That negativity was rooted in my own sense of being powerless.

I realized – especially last year – that I am not. I gave up a lot. My books? Gone. My vinyl collection? Gone. I left it all in New Jersey and made a cross country move with only the possessions I could carry or be easily mailed.

I lost everything, but I gained it all.

That has greatly increased my quality of life and my ability to be present and kind for others.

Embrace the pain – because we all have our pain. Do not fall prey to the social narrative of the happy nuclear family. That’s actually, in my experience, rare. Let the bad things guide you.

Let them fill up your motivation tank of why you exist – to be a voice against this kind of crap. Then you’ll be free to make the decisions that are the best for you and the world.

Connect to your Why and let it drive you. Don’t let fake fairytales of what others have bring you down. React to negativity with kindness.

That is your strength. It’s endless, because jerks are entirely unspecial and common. Your kindness is what will make you stand out from the crowd.

Lots of love for a great rest of the week!

These posts appear a month early on my patreon along with other benefits. If you like this work, click here to learn more.

Uncategorized

LAUNCH PARTY: Tuesday 3/14 @ 7PM EST / 4PM PST on Facebook Live

We’ve scheduled our Oni Harstein: Be the Boss of Your Own Life (Like my Facebook page here) launch party for Tuesday 3/14 @ 7PM EST / 4PM PST on Facebook Live. Click over here to get involved.

When I reach $100 I’ll give away a 30 minute Skype with me to a person who has signed up for my Patreon at random.

Life, Uncategorized

REAL TALK: No BS life / business coaching that actually works and you make it possible

I was talking about this project the other day. I was actually a bit scared to launch it.

I write this post from a coffeehouse in Los Angeles, 2450 miles away from everyone I ever knew. Thanks to eye surgeries in 2016, I went from being blind to having sight. As amazing as that is, the last 3 years have been the worst years of my life. They don’t tell you that when you get sight late in life – nothing feels familiar anymore. I emerged on the other side victorious, the owner of a thriving business and freelance career, which I built myself. The real way.

“Who am I to give advice?”, I asked my friends.

Long distance.

Time zone dilated.

“I’ve been through so much hell and just keep getting hit over and over again and somehow I make things happen, but it’s hard.”

Of course, they promptly scolded me and told me that because my advice isn’t fake and I’m good at turning negative situations into positive ones that it’s precisely what the internet needs.

And then they quoted my own advice back at me and yeah.

Owned.

They had me there. I can’t argue with it. Dammit, you guys.

Which explains why I can say with authority that we are our own worst enemy. We are told stories about how life is from the time we are born. Others tell us what’s good, what’s bad, and how we should act. No amount of success will ever make us feel that we measure up.

Some of us are lucky enough to have people who support them and their dreams, but I feel like most of us experience discouragement and abuse. Worse yet, we internalize the stories other people have told us about the world and we simply don’t try.

This blog is going to document my adventures in Los Angeles and educational resources to drive the advice and coaching that I do so well home by rooting it in real-world meaning. Post about my observations in LA will happen randomly, and high quality marketing / motivation posts will happen based on Patreon support. My patrons are basically joining a semi-private support and mentoring group that also gets to help choose what I write about. Part support, part advisory committee.

Whats up?

REAL TALK: NO BS LIFE / BUSINESS COACHING THAT ACTUALLY WORKS AND YOU MAKE IT POSSIBLE

Together, we’re funding and creating inspirational, effective, REAL, and accessible content that helps people be their best. You know the guy online who expects you to already be successful and gives you advice with no clear path to completion?

I am not that guy.

When you become a subscriber, you make it possible for me to develop and produce high quality blog posts, worksheets, in-person fan events, and real support for our global community that actually works to elevate your life, your art, and your vibrational reality.

Click here to learn more.