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As my California CCW renewal class and qualification approaches, I’m practicing my shooting. I like to shoot at least weekly and clean my main CCW weapon as often. I need the practice even more after my trip to the hospital for a bacterial infection that affected the left side of my face. My left eye is now incredibly sensitive to the sun and wind. It’s both a blessing and a curse. At first, it felt only like a curse . .

My first outing to the range was an ordeal. After shooting ten rounds, I knew things were going to be difficult. I couldn’t see well enough out of my left eye to make a decent grouping. I tried again. My “bad” eye kept slamming shut, seemingly on its own. It was watering so much it looked like I was bawling, with tears streaming down my face. Worse, my eye began to burn from its over-sensitivity.

The wind was torture. Even a slight breeze caused a shooting pain and immediate, instinctive squinting. Never mind flinching from anticipating recoil. Every time I saw the trees move, I cringed inwardly, knowing how my eye would react.

I stopped and sat down in the dirt, discouraged.

My suffering reminded me of some shared trigger time with an older gentleman with severe arthritis. Pulling the trigger on his revolver was a long, laborious process. He cringed every time the hammer fell. But he soldiered through it. He fought for every bullet he fired. The result was hardly what I’d call “accurate.” But when it was all said and done, he was happy. Happy he still had the ability to defend himself.

As I sat in the shade, I understood his struggle in a way I hadn’t before. I gave myself a good talking to, stood up and gave the target hell. It was a painful. Even at ten yards I wasn’t accurate to my standards. I completely missed the target a few times. But I got the shots off. And though I missed, I was close.

After a couple hours of rest in the dark and some ibuprofen I was back to “normal.”

Before my infection, I had perfect vision. I took it for granted. Not being able to shoot with my left eye working at 100 percent has made me a better shooter. I’m more confident that I can shoot under duress. After all, there’s no guarantee that I’ll be in perfect health going into a gunfight. Or during it. Or coming out.

I’m also less dismissive of the shooting test in the California concealed carry test. While The People of the Gun laugh at how easy it is, they should never forget that it’s not easy for people with disabilities. Americans who have just as much of a right to keep and bear arms as those fortunate enough to possess greater firearms skills.

Not one of us is perfect. All of us face the challenges of aging. The struggle to shoot has made me stronger and much more determined than I could have imagined. For that, and our gun rights, I am truly thankful.

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  1. Glad it’s nothing more serious and you made a learning opportunity of it. Get well soon.

  2. Brave story and selfie- glad you’re on the mend.
    It’s a good thing that you went out and trained when you were down. We could all be in your situation someday, through injury or illness, and fighting through made you better. Good luck!

    • “Brave story and selfie”

      Brave selfie, really, FLAME DELETED kevin, it is called honesty and it is not putting a mask on to fit the specific ideals of others expectations.

      Sara should not be afraid to show herself in a painful situation, and ugly people have rights too even if you think they should be ashamed for being natural. Folks like you kevin are what builds confidence in people to accept their differences and capitalize on them, or those people as teenagers kill themselves from being bullied, or now they just shoot up innocents in gunfree zones.

      • Lol. Great Plains paints this amazing picture – connecting the dots from “brave selfie” all the way to “shooting up innocents” in gun free zones. Seriously. I never would save reached such conclusions on the basis of so little. I got a great laugh out of this. Thanks.

        • Are you that obtuse. Kevin was implying our society makes people ashamed to be honest because of what others may think of them. Ms.Tipton chose to show her vulnerability and some douche has to try and make that seem as a courageous act, instead of a self revelation to try and help others. Some of us don’t care what others think and we do just fine, but some people deeply care what others think about them and they try to change their self-identity to conform.

          Would it have been better for you if I said the bullied kids then become cops or crave authority over others, instead of spree killers going after innocents.

        • Greatplains,

          You need to take a giant chill pill, switch to decaf, or both. Those with normal dispositions don’t take offense to appreciation for a good TTAG article.

        • “Ms.Tipton chose to show her vulnerability and some douche has to try and make that seem as a courageous act, instead of a self revelation to try and help others.”

          Why cant it be both?

      • A big chill pill is right dude. He meant no offense with his remarks; just trying to be encouraging. Lighten up, take a drink or do whatever it is that relaxs you.

      • You’re the one insulting her. It’s glaringly obvious and I’m not repeating the word you used, but you should be ashamed of yourself. Yet you have the gall to hound someone else?

    • GreatPlainsFlamer: I have no idea what you are talking about, or how you could possibly get “there” from “here.” I intended to pay Ms. Tipton a compliment for a well written and obviously heartfelt piece. I hope that she took it that way also.

      • Yeah, I don’t know many women that would publish a pic like that even though it is the disease’s fault for the ugliness. Hell! Many are too shy to even share their best pictures.

  3. Remember when the national media got wind that my home state, Iowa didn’t ban blind people from getting a Permit to Carry Weapons? Of course they never mentioned that you can’t legally carry a taser or 5″+ knife without a permit.

    • My 93 year old grandmother is legally blind but can still read large-enough print. Blind != total blackness. The people who got in an uproar about that are ableists.

  4. That’s a good learning point to share that people need to learn, to train when they’re not 100%. I know a dude who trains for SHTF scenarios and the day before he goes out to train he gets drunk as a mother f***er, then goes out to train hung over as shit. He says he does it because if the shit ever really does hit the fan, that’s how you’re gonna feel all the time.

  5. Americans who have just as much of a right to keep and bear arms as those fortunate enough to possess greater firearms skills.

    This hit home for me when I saw my first OCer after it was legalized in my state. It was a man in a wheelchair at a local grocery store. I’ve never seen any OCer before or since. I realized that he would never be able to properly carry IWB.

    • Hah! That’s me, with a little North American Arms .32 tucked into my chair. It fits nicely and is completely concealed in its holster when the chair is folded for transport. Perhaps I will do jail time for this someday; such is California — but I expect to live through the challenge from the rough neighborhoods around here.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      • Good for you Brother, and follow up shots to end the threat completely need to be in your skill set, since moving for cover is not an option for you. One of my Brothers is in a chair but he learned the hard way that a gun attached to the chair does no good when some savage pushes him out of his chair or tips him backwards. You are a permanent victim of opportunity, but thankfully a savage messing with you will learn about force equalization.

        He shoulder carriers a hammerless .38 in a horizontal shoulder holster so if needed he can shoot a threat grabbing him from behind him without unholstering. He has a 1911 cocked and locked and it is accessible to his dominant hand every time he pushes by where his brakes were hung at. A custom ankle holster on his knee makes up for his atrophied legs, and the holster holds the 1911 in place, if your circulation allows.

        Most people don’t expect disabled folks to be armed and self-reliant. He is disabled, since his legs and body functions are not in his control, but not much handicaps him, except that word being the accepted vernacular. He functions rather skillfully and he is the equivalent of a white guy in an inner city gang, or simply the one not to be messed with by any man. He also has the advantage in a gun fight because he doesn’t have the option to retreat, as turning his back and running like a coward is not an option, plus he can get shot from the belly button down and still engage in a fight until he notices the blood stain or the affects of exsanguination.

        If you are ever caught for exercising your God given rights in the seceded territory of California, You do have fellow countrymen in the Constitutional Republic, who believe in not leaving any man behind in occupied lands.

        • A custom ankle holster on his atrophied legs holds the 1911 in place, if your circulation allows.

          An excellent idea, especially for the smaller gun that I can better control.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

    • @Grindstone–” I realized that he would never be able to properly carry IWB.”

      They can properly carry IWB but it has to be a cross draw with poor choices for holster selection. OWB is impossible do to the seat cushion and the fact that most disabled folks don’t wear belts that could cut them unwittingly by just bending over. Hard holsters don’t work because the pressure caused on skin could cause breakdown on skin that doesn’t have proper circulation. Shoulder holsters only work for revolvers since most disabled people can’t use a horizontal shoulder holster, because of the fact of having a cocked and locked gun with a muzzle direction lined up on any one behind them.

  6. Here’s hoping for a rapid recovery! I’ve had a couple minor eye issues over the years, thankfully recovered from now, but it’s a rough experience to go through. You found an impressive way to see another angle that I never did, my hat’s off to you for sure.

  7. “Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”

    -Dean Karnazes

    Stay on the mend young lady.

    • Amen. Sometimes you push yourself, sometimes life pushes you. What really matters? Know it and pursue it. It doesn’t take a gun to defend yourself, it takes the drive to live.

    • It’s was Cellulitis. I know Sara personally. She’s still trying to recover from it.

      • Having had Shingles on the head I can confirm it isn’t it. It typically affects a never branch and on the head that means either the upper face (eye up) or lower face on one side. If it comes back it almost always come back in the same place. It was absolutely the worst pain I have experinced in my life (over 50) and the only time I willingly took opiates for pain.

        Mine started just below the left eye and went up and around the head to the same level in the back. The problem was the fact that it was both on and in my eye. Two years later I’m almost recovered butI’m still more sensitive to sensations in the entire area that was affected and that is likely permanent. My eyes are almost back to normal except for some scarring in the tear ducts and glands gives a dry eye problem and micro-scarring on the eye make for problems at night. Considering my Ophthalmologist was worried I would lose the sight in that eye I can live with that.

        • Drat. Hit post before I was done.

          It sounds like your infection is in the same pain area but usually doesn’t cause permanent symptoms so hopefully you will be back to normal and tearing up the targets soon.

      • That was my first guess. I’ve been plagued with cellulitis in my feet and legs for years and it sucks. But in the face it can cause permanent eye and ear damage – definitely not something to shake a stick at.

  8. Sweet Jesus. Antibiotics, multivitamins, large doses of vitamin c, lots of fluids, keep warm, hot packs/hot showers, lots of rest.

    Not range time.

    • That stuff may help your body, but it won’t feed your soul. Your body has to know its place.

  9. Somehow I doubt the shooting requirement is more about respecting the disabled than preventing people from completing the entire CCW process online and painlessly.

  10. I got my cornea scratched in my left eye as a teenager during a summer camp. The pain and inflammation was so great that my right eye closed as well. During the day, the sunlight was too painful to bear and I literally had to be guided for two days. My vision in my left eye went dropped from 20/15 to 20/20. I’ve never taken my vision for granted since that time.

    • Yeah, I had one at that age myself. Convinced me I never wanted contacts in my eyes.

      Not. Fun. At. All…

  11. Sara, thanks for the articles, incliding this one. So how did you contract cellulitis, if you don’t mind?

    I thought it was usually from a weakened immune system caused by stressors such as lack of sleep and living in harsh conditions.

    Drive on!

    • I do not know how I got it. I was told it could be as simple as ingesting one bacteria. I live in a very nice house and was not playing in mud or dirty water. I prefer to be clean. The worst was the heat. My face blistered from the heat of the infection.

  12. Sara, thank you for your article. It’s encouraging to see folks overcome difficulties and meet their goals. I’ll be praying for your complete recovery.

  13. Yes, taking good health for granted can make for rude slap of reality.

    Thankfully my ‘slap’ wasn’t my eyes.

    Just a thought, for protecting the eye from wind, have you considered swim goggles (one or both sides)? I’ve used them while sandblasting, seemed to work for that.

    Mend quickly…

  14. Get better Sara-and GPS-havin’ a breakdown slick? Or are you the newest incarnation of sexual Ty??? I’m going to kiss my chocolate bunny just for you…

    • His style of writing reminds me of jason something or other. Used to get windy about being a “christian white warrior” whatever that is.

  15. Sara, if your eye is still really sensitive to air motion, Google for “Spoggles” – they are basically inexpensive safety glasses that have a foam rim that rests against your face to block any foreign objects (like dust, etc.) from getting to your eyes. They are pretty cheap, unless you need prescription glasses. Our drilling crews like them for mixing cement, etc.

  16. Thanks for the article Sara, I appreciate the food for thought. The whole experience sounds really rough and it must be highly frustrating.

    I hope you have a quick recovery!

  17. Not making light of the situation at all, but why not just close the weak eye? Pistol shooting is taught to be both eyed open but rifles are one eyed. Having tested shooting pistols both ways, closing one eye doesn’t make it less accurate, it just ruins your field of vision, but compared to an inoperable eye wouldn’t that be the solution? I mean if you think about it a person with one eye can only aim the same as someone closing an eye.

    • I make the effort to practice shooting with both eyes open for both pistol and rifle, just to stay relaxed through the shooting process. That being said you can only line up the sights with one eye or the other. All things being equal, that should be your dominant eye. If you are accustomed to lining up your sights with your dominant eye and suddenly that changes, it’s going to change your hand position and affect your accuracy whether or not you keep one eye closed.

      I’ve been severely nearsighted most of my life, and now dealing with far farsightedness and slight astigmatism as I age. I’m very grateful to the person that invented contacts and that I live in the age that I have them. It makes shooting a challenge but I still can shoot pretty well and I’m thankful for it.

  18. Good post, made me think of things in a way I hadn’t before. Best wishes to Sara for a prompt and complete recovery.

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