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Then The Bottle Shattered – Onyeka Inspires!



Onyeka Aghanenu is young, driven and vivacious. Like most young ladies, she is building her career and embracing life to the fullest. While many of us experienced the typical childhood and teenage drama – strict teachers at school, menacing ‘seniors’ at boarding school and maybe even that first boyfriend/girlfriend who broke your heart. Onyeka has had to deal with much more than that. She shares her remarkable story with Bella Naija below:


The whole drama started on the 2nd of January 1994. A mere 3 weeks before my 7th birthday. We had gone to my dad’s place in Delta for Christmas, and were due to be on our way back to Lagos the next day. Because we had a long drive ahead, my sis and I got the go-ahead to pour soft drinks in our flasks to put in the freezer overnight. I couldn’t find any drink but Maltina in the fridge, so I took it, and headed to the kitchen only to see my sis with a bottle of Sprite, which I would have preferred.
She told me she got it from the kitchen store, so I went in to check. In my quest to scout the numerous crates on the shelves, I must have rocked an empty Sprite bottle some shelves up, and it began to rock. In an attempt to catch it, I slackened my grip on the cold, wet Maltina bottle. That was my last vision for a while. I will always recall looking down to see the bottle smash and seeing Maltina pour everywhere before realising something entered my eye.
Reflexively, I started yelling and scratching my eye, thinking it was just the drink that had poured in. It wasn’t. Some pieces of glass had flown in as well.
My parents ran in and made me stop the scratching while I continued to bawl. They took me in the bathroom and washed the glass out, but I was traumatized somewhat and refused to open it. I slept in their bed that night, and the ride back to Lagos passed in a subconscious blur. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday, and we couldn’t really find any good, open optometrist. Desperation drove us to LUTH where we recommended to an optometrist who was supposed to be very good. She wasn’t.

We went there the next day and she said we needed to stitch up my eye, because the glass had scratched the coloured part and I remember there were like 3 or so thin white lines at the top of the darker ring by the pupil. We did the stitching in what would be the first of many surgeries. I still couldn’t open the eye. It stayed closed and I stayed home until June that year. During that time, we got tired of the doctor’s stories, and my dad began to contemplate shipping me abroad. At the last minute we found this rather new optometrist 5 minutes away called Eye Foundation and went in for a chat. The doctor was very optimistic, and that month we did about 3 more surgeries. Apparently doctor from LUTH had used the wrong type of stitches in my eye, and they had complicated the situation. My lens was damaged.
I opened my eye sometime in June. It felt so amazing. But 2 problems, my vision was blurry because they had to remove my lens, and the eye had no tolerance to bright light i.e bright lamps, daylight. I was perpetually squinting for months after.

The next 6/7 years was a whirlwind of glasses, and eye tests, and 3 cornea transplants rejected by my body, to lasering to remove the liquid pressure in my eye that was escalated by the constant trauma. It was so bad the hospital ended up doing some of my surgeries for free. My sight was like a man with a terminal disease. With each test, and each rise in pressure, it slowly faded away, as my eye got coated with a thicker and thicker layer of protein deposits from the scar tissue. By secondary school, it had pretty much turned a weird blue-grey colour. I lived with it, and it barely affected me. I think its because I had it from so young. Finally, I think it became clear I wasn’t seeing again, and my doc suggested cosmetic contacts. I got those the week of my graduation from secondary school and wore it all through university in my left eye. It wasn’t hassle free, and I had lots of irritations, and contact lens problems.

But it wasn’t the end. Apparently, lack of use, and the glaucoma induced blindness resulted in a weird growth on the top of my eyeball. It looked like a little grey boil, and it pushed on my eyelid. That gradually grew and by my University graduation, my doc decided it might not be wise to leave it there. He had been throwing the idea of an orbital implant around, but my parents were obviously not too eager to take out their daughter’s eye. I didn’t care. An orbital implant meant, my eyeball would be removed from its socket and a round ball of bone-like material would be placed in its place under the eye muscles like a ball-and-socket joint, then a prosthetic, which is a ceramic type of eye, would be place on top. All this is so the prosthetic can move left and right like a normal eye.

An irritation to some accidental water in my eye last March, during NYSC finally sealed the deal. Within hours of visiting the hospital, I was back at work drafting a request for medical leave. The night pre-op and the next morning, the story passed to most of my friends and they called me up to encourage me. It was sweet, but I was just worried I would be walking about with a hole in my head, for longer than I’d like. But I was happy, no more irritating contacts!

The procedure was pretty quick. I couldn’t have been in there for up to 3 hours. I made a point of rolling my eye one last time before the anesthesiologist pressed the syringe that would knock me out. When I got out however, I think I imagined the sensation. I remember murmuring, ˜It hurts”
It sort of did, actually. A dull ache going through the left side of my face. But it was hidden beneath layer after layer of bandages and I couldn’t do much. I was given what I consider the BEST PAINKILLERS EVER. Instant action, they put me right back to sleep every time I took them for the next 3 weeks. The morning after, a nurse came in to take the bandages off for a post-op consult and I remember my mum and I freaked out, because we didn’t think it would be unwrapped so soon. I jad many images in my head about how it would look, but they were all wrong. It was huge and swollen and very fleshy. I couldn’t open it, naturally, and I was in no hurry. The next few weeks were cool, sleeping, eating, watching tv! The only annoying part was putting the anti-biotic in – because it was an ointment, and it required me to open the eye. I admit I rarely used it.
After a month, the swelling was down, and my eye a pink, fleshy shell of its former self. I got a prosthetic eye a few days later. It was uncomfortable at first, and I tool it out every night. but I’m all good now. And thanks to the orbital implant, I can still move the eye and cry.

The prosthetic is not 100% the right size, and my lid is a bit slack from the swelling of my old eye so, when I’m tired, it tends to close/drop a bit, but I’ll get by till I can get a custom made one done.
All in all, it was a tiring, traumatic experience, that I’m glad came to an end, and made tolerable by very understanding friends. Even though it means I’m blind in one eye, I’m just really grateful, as I still have another one left that’s very functional. All’s well that ends well, right?

Click to visit her blog:

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  1. Tolu

    October 8, 2008 at 4:31 am


  2. aloted

    October 15, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    wow..this is amazing…i am amazed by Onyeka’s strength and the way she can tell her story.. I am thankful to God that you are alive and that despite all you are blessed!

  3. chinwe

    October 15, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    You are a strong young woman.God is awesome

  4. chinaka

    October 15, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    this is a really touchy life story. God is definitely going to see you true in all

  5. Adedun

    October 15, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Your courage and optimism is inspiring. I actually teared up reading your story, and I’m glad you didn’t let any of the surgeries hold you back from achieving all you have to date.

  6. Efe

    October 15, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    I cant imagine what u must have gone through. Eye issues are very complicated but thank God ur ok and u are able to say ur story. just take care of ur eyes and God will do the rest!!!

  7. Miss O

    October 16, 2008 at 5:45 am

    Wow, what a story it really got to me, i know you are all better now, just think what could have happened if there was good medical help. I am glad you are ok… May God continue to be your strenght..

  8. Shaggoo B

    October 16, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Hey Onyeka,

    Beautiful story. We went to school together(BU) and I never guessed you were going thru all this. All I remember are the beautiful drawings you used to draw and your other two musketeers.

    Just wanna wish you all the best and let you know- “Tis Well”.

    Take kia, aiight!!!!!!

  9. waffarian

    October 16, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Very inspiring indeed! Wishing her only the best in life! and many thanks for sharing such an inspiring story.

  10. me

    October 16, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    Wow.I have a thyroid eye disease and I have learnt not to et it bother me.You seem to have been in worse situations and have handled them wel.Kudos

  11. adeola

    October 17, 2008 at 10:25 am

    A very touching story, the medical system in Nigeria could be quite disappointing though…but thank God you can still use your eye.
    Enjoy life!

  12. floetry

    October 17, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I’m almost in tears…U are so brave and incredibly strong. I doubt if I’d be able to go through half of what u’ve gone through and still come up grateful? U r indeed a strong female! Keep up the faith!

  13. Nike

    October 17, 2008 at 11:23 am

    This is really toruching,but thnk God u came out stronger…….

  14. nenye

    October 17, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    u really have a rare courage n believe me, ur new eye won’t make u less beautiful,u r such a brave gurl.

  15. tolmega01

    October 17, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Uhmmmnnn. u neva know wat people are goin tru…. All i can remember bout u is d lovely smile nd ur crew back in BU—-u , bola nd busola…….so inspirin ……….kip the positive spirit up ……….it is well

  16. pala

    October 21, 2008 at 2:25 am

    Keep the spirit up……u r indeed strong.

  17. pala

    October 21, 2008 at 2:27 am

    keep up the spirit…u r indeed strong

  18. Soji

    October 24, 2008 at 11:34 am

    am awed by the wonders of science (and God)! More wowed by your strong faith to live inspite it all…thats a treasure for all

  19. karo akpokiere

    October 27, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    This true life account inspires me and despite all that happened to the writer, she still comes out as being cheerful and optimistic. Her spirit through her words is infectious.

    Thank you Bella for putting this up. For the Doctor who messed with the eye – shed the pride, go back to school or consider another career.

  20. Jaycee

    October 27, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    This is a great testimony. Onyeka has definitely inspired many by sharing her story.

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  22. NK

    October 29, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    you are a very strong person onyeka, the lord is your strength

  23. Eni

    November 3, 2008 at 7:42 am

    God bless you! and never mind, Onyeka you’ve been through the worst already. The best is just starting. Let this guide you, whoever loves you with or without the eye really does love you.

  24. Chiaks

    November 24, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    O my God. U are indeed blessed.i am more than inspired. U are a beautiful person in and out

  25. silver

    November 29, 2008 at 1:54 am

    u’re really inspiring, i love ur optimism, God bless…

  26. princesa

    December 3, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Hey babes. This was very inspiring. I love your never say die spirit. Hopefully u’ll get the right size of prosthetic for ur eye soon. I’ve got a friend who uses a prosthethic too and you’ll never know.
    Bless u.

  27. Adenike Omotoso

    December 16, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Really inspiring! u must have a very strong spirit.God bless u

  28. Adenike Omotoso

    December 17, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    This is very inspiring you must have a strong spirit! God bless you

  29. Onome

    March 15, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Onyi,u do have a strong spirit. God is with u all d way. Thnx 4 sharing ur story.I’m really inspired cos i v learnt that somethings i pass thru are exaggerated problems,dey r not as big as dey seem. God bless.

  30. oyenike Alliyu

    June 2, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    You av a very strong spirit,at a tender age u went through all this yet u were still determined to be an achiever,well its not the end of the world and for everything there is a puporse and thank God u realise this.

  31. Timi Davies

    June 29, 2009 at 4:20 am

    i love your spirit n pray that God who started with you will perfect His will.


    July 7, 2009 at 11:37 am

    what a traumatic experience! thank God u were able to over come am encouraged by your strong spirit and may God bless ur wonderful parent who stood by you till dis moment

  33. Phunmmie

    July 29, 2009 at 12:39 am

    The Lord that has been your strenght wil continue to be and I belive wil give a permanent solution to all your struggles.

  34. Kamdibe ToChukwu

    September 30, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Your Beautiful, thank you for sharing this amazing story.

  35. uju

    November 22, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    U r really high spirited and i will always believe that nothing that happens that God do not know of.i also know that God will cont.2 b ur guide.


    December 3, 2009 at 9:42 am

    You really have a very strong spirit. I have always thought i have problems until i listen to others narrate what they’ve passed through or are still passing through. God in his mercy will continue to abide with you and your parents who has been very wonderful in taking care of you.I am really inspired.

  37. Joseph C Ejidoh

    August 9, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    This is the Nigerian I know, a never say die spirit. For the sake of others please give us the name(s) of the medical personnel who botched the initial operations.
    I am not being vindictive but we (Nigerians) can not continue to over look such issues anymore

  38. HiroHairven

    October 13, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Very inspiring Onyeka. God bless you and continue to keep you!!

  39. Ready

    November 23, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Wow…you’ve been going through this since you were so little. It definitely makes my problems seem insignificant. Glad you’re doing great, and thanks for sharing.

  40. Luola

    November 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    With God all things are possible…He is able to restore and perfect all that concerns you. All things are possible to those who believe. Remembering you in my prayers. God bless u!

  41. Tyna

    April 12, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    am touched by dis wonderful story and i belive God dat gave u d strngth to over come all dis , will giv u more strngth to carry on in life!!!!!!!

  42. xoxo

    March 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Onyeka, I used to tease u. I’m sorry.

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