Two years ago, while driving back from a trade show, I stopped to use the facilities at a public rest area in Virginia. It was early evening and I was the only traveler in the bathroom. As I was washing my hands, a young, fairly large female attendant walked in and began spraying a disinfectant around the entire area. I asked the attendant to stop spraying and let her know that I had terrible allergies. She refused to acknowledge me and continued spraying. As I attempted to get out the door, she turned and intentionally sprayed the disinfectant directly into my face. Gasping for breath, I ran to my car and called the emergency number posted at the rest stop to report the incident.

Shortly after the incident, I developed severe eye problems including PDS (Pigment Dispersion Syndrome), a condition where the pigment granules that normally adhere to the back of the iris (the colored part of the eye), flake off into the clear fluid produced in the eye, called the aqueous humor. Sometimes these granules flow toward the drainage canals of the eye, slowly clogging them and raising eye pressure. This rise in eye pressure can damage the optic nerve, the nerve in the back of the eye that carries visual images to the brain. If this happens, pigment dispersion syndrome becomes pigmentary glaucoma.

Though the eye specialists were able to treat this rare condition, they could not reverse the fact that my eyes no longer dilate properly. I have no tolerance for any type of light (natural or artificial) and must wear tinted glasses to alleviate the problem. There is no cure for this chronic condition.

The emotional toll has had a tremendous effect on me. I have spent two years frustrated because my vision has become impaired. I feel helpless that I cannot do anything about my eye damage. Every day, I see the world through blurry eyes. I deal with constant bouts of vertigo and sporadic pain that feels like my eyes are being stabbed with needles.

Even with my extensive medical file and dismal prognosis, doctors have refused to testify on my behalf that the damage to my eyes was caused by the attack. Baffled by this, I immediately challenged them on their decision. My questions included… Why else would a 56 year old woman (at the time of the attack) with healthy eyes suddenly develop severe eye issues? If you, a trained eye specialist, refuse to say with absolute certainty that my eye damage was caused by the attack, will you at least testify that you’re not 100% sure my damage was NOT caused by the attack?” The medical professionals who treated me have chosen not to respond to my questions.

I am not an attorney, but I know enough about the legal system to realize that I deserve my day in court. I believe that the medical specialists do not want to get involved in a legal case (even if it is not against them) because they view the legal profession with utter distaste. Medical malpractice insurance is skyrocketing and they are angry about it. When I asked for my primary eye specialist’s help, he frowned and said to my husband and me,”Don’t get me started on lawyers and lawsuits.”

Without a doctor’s testimony, neither the State of Virginia Department of Transportation, or the janitorial service responsible for hiring the woman who attacked me will reimburse me for my extensive medical bills. Nor will I receive any compensation for my pain and suffering. What’s more horrific, is that I will have no closure to this nightmare.

I have written hundreds of columns for and about the guy on the street. It is easy to write about this individual because I am one of them. I have worked hard my whole life, contributing to society by being a decent, ethical human being. All I have ever asked in return is to be treated with fairness and respect. I can’t deny what I am feeling at this moment about my role in society. I believe if I was wealthy and/or famous, my story would be considered newsworthy. Big shot lawyers would be knocking at my door to fight for me just for the notoriety it would bring them.

I have been told over and over again by the legal profession, “Without a doctor’s testimony, it would be almost impossible to win this case. We’re declining to represent you because your case is not worth the expenses we would incur.”

How sad that we live in a society where money and apathy outweigh the desire to help another human being.

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