"Before, everything was gray ... I never want to forget it or take it for granted."
Photo: Anne Fishbein
One day Paulette Trump was sitting in her back yard in Rancho Cucamonga. Looking up at the sky, she noticed a small cloudy spot.
“I blinked to try to make it go away, and it didn’t,” Paulette remembers. In fact, as the days passed, the spot got bigger. “A couple of weeks after that, I got the same kind of cloudy spot in the other eye,” she recalls.
As a private music teacher and artist, Paulette had no health insurance and very limited resources. She went to an optometrist at a large chain store, who told her she probably had cataracts. But without insurance, she did what a lot of people do in similar situations.
“I kept putting it off and putting it off.”
And like many other people who gradually lose their vision, Paulette feared losing her mobility.
“One eye was worse than the other and I could still see with one to drive. I drove as long as I could, until I thought it wasn’t safe. I was afraid I might run somebody over. After a year, I had to have somebody drive me around.”
She could still see well enough to teach, but it was getting hard for her to see the notes on a score – and to tell her students what to do. “You know when you take a shower and you look in the mirror afterwards? That’s what it looked like.”
And although she could still teach, she had to give up her art.
Finally, a friend referred Paulette to the Pacific Eye Institute. “They were very nice people,” Paulette says. “They told me that if I couldn’t afford [surgery] to apply to the Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation.
“I did that, and it was amazing – the forms were really simple to fill out and they came back really quickly.” Within a week and a half, she says, she was approved for surgery.
Three months later, she had regained the vision in both eyes. She can drive again and has resumed her teaching. “It’s wonderful, it’s a miracle,” she says.
“I remember after the surgery, the vibrance of the colors after it was done. Before, everything was gray. I’m used to it now, but I like to squint my eyes every now and then to see what it used to be like. I never want to forget or take it for granted.”