Rick Roth woke up from an outpatient surgery completely blind and thought his life was over.
"I was devastated," he said. "I cried. I was angered."
But his ordeal allowed him to see the world in a new light. He discovered a sixth sense and developed his new, keener sense of touch to help others as a massage therapist.
His life changed unexpectedly when he went into work at a train car axle mill in 2001. He fell about 6 feet from a steel pile and injured his head, neck and back.
Doctors fused his neck together and screwed in plates. He went back to his everyday life and realized there was a problem when his hands started going numb. He went back to the doctor in January 2002 for a routine, four-hour, outpatient surgery.
The surgery took 11 hours. He was kept face down for the entire surgery, he said, and lost blood and oxygen in the optic nerve.
Doctors put him on a ventilator and gave him sedatives. Three days later, he awoke to a nightmare.
"I woke up totally blind," he said. "I thought they still had my eyes taped shut."
Doctors sent Roth to the Crichton Rehabilitation Center for 22 days and told him he needed to go to blind school. At first, he refused.
"I said, 'No, I'm not going to no school. I'll get through this on my own,'" he said.