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Mike Wozniak, Software Licensing Architect

How I met Frank and his family of floaters

The Frank family of hotdogs taking a stroll with their babies and dachshund in the park.

Appropriately enough, it was Friday the 13th when I first noticed it. While walking my dogs as usual, I noticed that I was seeing tiny specks of dust drifting in the air.

When I was a kid, I could make myself see specks like these by squinting my eyes. At the time, I was sure I had some kind of super vision capability because of this trick - which made me very happy, of course! As an adult, however, I had a decidedly less pleasant reaction. I was immediately fearful as I watched the specks. Was my sight damaged in some way?

Haunted by horrendous eye stories

My sister had a kidney transplant, and as she recovered while taking immuno-suppressants to help her body assimilate the new organ, she contracted the chickenpox virus - in her eye. And the treatment for that involved (brace yourself) weekly shots injected directly into her eyeball.

In the second story, a former employee of my business suffered from retinal detachment. To recover from that surgery, he had to spend a week in a Vitrectomy Recovery Chair, keeping his face constantly turned toward the floor.

WTF is wrong with my eye?

Could it be true that unimaginable discomfort like this is going to be my fate soon? I was starting to get pretty worried. Covering each eye separately, I realized that only my left one saw the specks of dust: my right eye was working normally. Something had to be terribly wrong.

Shortly afterwards, I was driving to a meeting when I noticed a mosquito in the car. So I opened the windows, expecting the bug to fly out. But it did not! It just stayed floating there inside the car. It took me a minute, but then suddenly I realized it was no mosquito; it was a dark speck moving in my eye.

Panic turned into laughter

​Somehow, these impressions came together in that instant of time, and I laughed out loud! I saw with brilliant clarity that I had a choice. I could panic and worry myself sick over what to do OR I could calmly face the situation and take the next logical steps.

So I took a deep breath and decided.

A friend of mine used to be an assistant in an ophthalmologist's office (which ironically I was driving by on my way to the meeting), so I stopped to text him for advice. He reassured me right away, saying it’s nothing to worry about.

Laughter turned into a name

I decided to name my imaginary mosquito Frank. Why not? It gave me a chuckle and helped lift me out of panic. My ophthalmologist was able to see me 4 days later (ironically 2 days in advance of my annual appointment scheduled a whole year ago).

The specks of dust morphed into Frank and later multiplied, so clearly it was Frank as well as his “family of floaters” that had moved in with me!

I am so happy to report that the doc said floaters can be bad, but mine are not; they are just a sign of aging. It’s not so thrilling to be getting old, but it is pure bliss to realize that I can choose my own reaction to things.

I can choose to live in fear or I can allow whatever is happening to reveal itself and then I can respond appropriately, taking steps to do whatever makes sense.

It’s liberating to know I always have a choice!

It is impossible to navigate life without having terrible things happen to us, and I'm sure that you have at least one person in your life going through a tough time.  I invite you to share this story with anyone who could use a reminder today!

Feedback?  I love it!  Leave a comment below or - better yet - leave feedback here!

  • Hello! I am the former employee Mikey Joey referenced in the paragraph labeled “Haunted by horrendous eye stories.” Oh, yeah, “horrendous” is an oh-so-apt description of my story — I’ve been whisked to the operating room for retinal detachment surgery on no fewer than 4 (yes, 4!) occasions in the last 10 years, each visit attributable to being dealt a extraordinarily bad genetic poker hand (severe myopia) at birth some six decades ago. And, yes, it is very likely that I will require additional eye-related procedures at some point during the remainder of my time on this planet.

    I have learned that while I obviously CANNOT control my genetic traits, I CAN control how I respond to the challenges posed by my extreme nearsightedness. Not to be overly theological about it, I REALLY DO thank my Creator at the start of each day when I can open my eyes and see the majesty of what the deity has created. Until actually standing perilously close to the edge of permanently losing my vision, I always took the sense of sight, as well as all the others, for granted. Taking my health for granted on a daily basis is something I can honestly say — without the slightest hint of hyperbole — that I have not done in the past 10 years.

    I would like to point out, however, that while it is indeed true that an overwhelming majority of instances of floaters are ultimately more annoying than they are harmful, they should NEVER be ignored when they are accompanied by other symptoms such as seeing flashes of light or a sudden loss of peripheral vision. Experience of either or both of these additional symptoms requires prompt medical evaluation by an ophthalmologist. Your ability to see the next day’s sunrise depends on it.

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