In the first episode of "Humans of NYCFC", a new NYCFC.com series which tells the stories of our fans and celebrates their love of the club in their own words, we meet Luis Gonzalez...
Nobody wrote a user’s manual for when things go wrong. I was diagnosed with Keratoconus. A degenerative disease that gets worse over time.
I was able to get the initial treatment for this disease which consists of these special RGP 'contact lenses'. This disease causes the membrane of the cornea to become abnormally shaped which means light cannot be directed into the cones and rods which results in symptoms of astigmatism.
The special RGP contact lenses are custom made to fit the abnormal shape of the cornea which helps redirect the light into the rods/cones then to the optic nerve.
After initial treatment I was able to get 20/30 vision and was able to see the beautiful game of soccer being played at Yankee Stadium. I wasn't able to see the players number jersey before. I wasn't able to see how positioning played a role and it was always a difficult task to sit and watch. But after the treatment I was able to do that and more. Eventually a corneal transplant is done when declared legally blind. But it doesn't promise anything. Some people undergo multiple corneal transplants.
I became an EMT-B later that year. I signed up for the Paramedic program at BMCC. Unfortunately, during this time, the disease got worse. The abnormality of the cornea became more complex. The RGP contact lenses I had could not help me anymore. I needed a new pair with a new prescription which I got.
Weeks later it became worse again. Every case is different. The body treats the contact lenses as foreign bodies and an allergic reaction happens. The lenses irritated my eyes and I could not wear them for more than 3 to 4hrs. Without them I can see only with the help of creating a pinhole effect. I was completely devastated. Fell into a deep depression.
With the help of my mother and father and mentors I sought after I was able to turn the worst thing to happen to me to the best thing to happen to me. I'm now a huge advocate for health and the environment.
Even though I can't see the game that well. I can still experience the game. I still jump from my seat when NYCFC scores. I still celebrate with everyone around. I experience the same euphoria everyone else does when we score to the point where I often forget about my vision problems.
My favorite part of the sport is when the live coverage pans out to the fans and captures that moment. When supporters are seen celebrating with each other in a complete unified moment. Pure joy. Almost always brings me to tears regardless of which team is playing especially when national teams play.
As of March 2017 I'm continuing my college education and getting my personal trainer certification. I also want to see the USMNT win a world cup. I'm helping by being a fan and supporting US soccer. Its simple, the future players of the USMNT are the little kids we see today. They can get inspired by watching a goal, by seeing how much soccer can mean to people to go and win a world cup.
Hopefully my kids will play and I will be able to share soccer with them.
From the bottom of my heart, to everyone involved in bringing soccer to New York City... thank you!
Lets go NYCFC!!