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Michael Hamm, 41

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

Facebook: Michael Hamm

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Born in Ohio, Raised in WV, Live in Memphis, TN for the last 17 years.

I am a family guy! I’ve been married for sixteen years to my wife, Mary. I have a 14-year-old daughter, Olivia, and an 8-year-old son, Eli. I’m also a really active guy. I’ve been an avid cyclist ever since I learned how to ride as a kid. I enjoy the outdoors. Camping, hiking, backpacking, and bike-packing. I am a Christian who believes that Jesus died for my sins so that I might have a chance to live eternity in heaven if I live the way the Bible tells me to. I worked as a bicycle mechanic and managed a bicycle shop for many years. I recently changed careers due to my injuries and am now an Orthotic technician.

My eye story started on Feb. 2, 2021. Driving home from work that evening, on the same route as always, I was behind a truck on the highway at 70mph when a large piece of metal debris fell off the back of the truck. It bounced off the road, instantly sliced through my windshield, and hit me in the head and face. It happened so fast that I didn’t realize it had hit me. It wasn’t until a few seconds later that I could hear myself screaming in shock and pain. I also could not see at all and was still driving! I knew I had a shoulder on the side of the road to slowly pull over and come to a stop. Fortunately, my intact eye started working as I was pulling over. With my forehead being ripped open, my nose and orbital socket shattered, my right eye smashed, and blood everywhere, I was able to stay conscious and called 911.

Long story made short: Doctors said my eye was like a squished grape. They tried to repair it, but it was too far gone. It never worked again so I decided to have my eye removed 3 weeks later. The following year I had 4 different surgeries including my eye removal and repair of the structural bones in my sinuses, orbital socket, and nose.

The hardest part mentally has been the continual struggle of coping with the effects of such a traumatic event, the grief associated with losing a body part, the depression from never looking the same and being scarred, seeing everyone living “happy lives” and wanting to yell from the rooftops to not take life for granted because it can change in an instant, as well as adapting to a physical impairment that no one else you know can relate to and feeling very alone because of that.

The hardest part physically of the first year was getting through the 4 different surgeries. Now that I’m through with those, the hard parts physically are the visual aspects like the lack of peripheral vision on my right side. But hardest of all is the depth perception issues that come from only having 1 eye that affects daily living. Reaching for something and missing it completely, pouring a drink, walking on uneven stairs, and needing to wear glasses more often because visually my remaining eye is the weaker of the original two.

Recovery from a life-changing injury is an inaccurate concept. Recovery implies that I am healed and back to normal or 100%. I don’t feel like that can apply to me or anyone in similar situations. My eye is gone. The structure of half of my face had to be rebuilt. My nose is not the same, my eye socket is not exactly in the same place. I have nerve damage and permanent numbness in parts of my face. I have a tear duct that leaks. I know this sounds like complaining, but I don’t think recovery is the accurate word. I am healed as much as I can be from my physical injuries, but I will never be the same. I am forever changed. But it’s not necessarily all bad! I have learned many lessons from all of this. I am mentally stronger than I’ve ever been before. I definitely still have moments that get me down. However, I knew within hours of my injury that I was not going to let this defeat me. My children and my family will never see me give up. If anything, they will see me endure and persevere no matter the difficulties this brings me. I am still active, I am still an athlete and a cyclist and I am still a husband and a father. I may be a little visually impaired and modified, but I am NOT disabled or handicapped.

The advice I would give to others is don’t be afraid to live your life. Don’t let losing an eye stop you from anything. Don’t be afraid of doing any of the activities you did before. You may need to modify some a little bit, but that’s ok. You can still be you to the fullest. Don’t let anyone limit you either. Don’t let others treat you differently. You can do anything you want to. Don’t let anyone tell you that you should cover up your missing eye. You can look however you want to. You can wear eye patches, prosthetic eyes of any design, or just let it be free. It’s your choice! It is not your responsibility to change because someone else is uncomfortable with it. Don’t EVER apologize for how you look without an eye, with different prosthetics, or with whatever you choose.

My eye surgeon was Dr. Fowler located in Memphis TN.

My Ocularist is Mr. Rob Thomas in Memphis, TN

I found Eyehesive randomly on social media after I started following other prosthetic eye-related accounts and hashtags.

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