I went to the doctors today, for the headaches. And out came the story of my life…. oh sorry my eyes. Well, what happened was that he suspected that the headaches were caused by my eyesight, which is significantly shortsighted. And he was about to prescribe glasses all over again albeit my fierce protests, till he actually came around to checking my eyesight. And thus came out the story of my life…. oh sorry, my medical history, or more specifically my eyes.
The story starts at my birth as always… I have a hereditary deficiency where I have a degenerated (or degenerating) retina, and a mild squint (which is not mild at all). It comes from my mother’s side of the family and there are a fair number of people there which have tackled this all their lives.
So, back to the story, so I have this thing and its not life threatening (apart from a hereditary scare of Alzheimer, but lets skip that one), so as a toddler, one of the first books I got was this BIG book of aircrafts, especially combat aircrafts. Now this was NOT a toddlers book by any means. Its was a book that military personnel use to reference aircraft specs and dimensions (to scale) and memorize their shapes and what-nots. Since this book had some really cool posters, which my father thought (at the time) would be cool to put around their son’s room. So my parents especially my mother used to “read” me that “book” as a “baby”. Also, as you guys must know, I learnt to draw from my mother too. So the first thing I learnt to draw was airplanes too. And thus was born my dream of flying, becoming a pilot.
Every 3 year old wants to be a pilot and astronaut, but I was different. It was nt just a dream, it was an obsession. By the age of seven I could spit out aircraft specs just by looking at just a picture. I knew how airforce aircrafts are different from navy aircrafts, I knew what were the latest prototypes and what new technologies were being tested and what they meant for the world of flying, I knew what vortex lift was and what fly-by-wire meant. The first blow came when I was five, I had just started school and I had trouble looking at the board. My parents took me to the doctors, and from the simple eye tests, they could nt know what was wrong. So I had to go to a specialist, who told me that I had a degenerated retina, which meant no flying, and that glasses would nt really help,.I was told not to look at bright lights and because of the squint at fast moving objects like cartoons and bright sunlight, one of the reason why I usually wear sunglasses.
For a few months I did nt even understand what happened and I thought it was just a joke or something, after that I almost forgot. I even wore glasses for a month or so, but because of “peer pressure” I left that, and since it did nt really help but make it easy for me to explain why I need to sit in front of the class (which I never got to sit cuz of my height) no one really bothered to encourage it.
By the age of ten I realized what it meant, and by that time my obsession had run deep. And when it dawned on me that I would never become a pilot. I went through the whole four steps of loss and when finally came in the acceptance, I had a new obsession… airframe design engineer, or flight dynamics engineer. And it was right about the time when I had to make the first decisions about my career, I had to choose my subjects for the tenth grade.
I was always a bad student and no one expected me to really succeed. The problem was nt math and science I was good, even great at them, the problem was everything else, urdu, english, islamiat, social studies and the works. I had a bad eyesight which meant bad handwriting and even worse speed. And since I used to sit at the back, could nt see the board which meant I went from bad to worse. So when the time came I had to really make an effort. Khair one thing a guy like me is good at are obsessions and focus. Now that I had a reason, it became an obsession and finally I aced it, ok not aced it, I barely made it through.
Then came in college and I knew the odds were not just against me, but that they were a certainty, not odds. They was just one school in the country that offer aeronautical engineering, and only three ways to get in. a) join the airforce, for which I failed the preliminary medical, again eyesight. b) Join as a PIA cadet, again the same thing, and c) join as a NUST student, I did nt get in, did nt have the grades or the scores.
So I took the next best thing I took up electronics. I was good at computers from an early age, so I figured computer engineering and computer science would be boring. I did nt take up mechanical because…. well I dont know, cuz I wanted to and I had better prospects after it. I realized good computer skills would help me while doing electronics so I took it up. Again came that dreaded medical test and I again knew what was coming. So this time I went in prepared. I knew this was just a simple eyesight exam which did nt really matter as opposed to its air force ans PIA counterparts. So I had my specialist doctor write up a not and approve it. I attached that to the application and I FINALLY got in.
Khair so barely made it out of engineering school and got into grad school by sheer luck. Which is good. But now I think this deficiency is going to haunt me again. Cuz as I told my doctor a shorter version of all this I realized he was confused as to what to do with me. Now I have a note to consult another specialist and another bad headache. Story of my life.