A New York man who went blind after having his eye stabbed with a screwdriver has opened up finding love and his struggle to deal with the trauma after the brutal subway attack.
Known only as ‘K,’ he shared his story on the popular social media account Humans of New York on Tuesday. In the gut-wrenching seven-part series, he detailed how his life changed forever on January 15, 2020.
‘It was Wednesday when everything went wrong. That was the worst day of my life,’ he said, recalling how he had just treated himself to a new jacket and a pair of Air Jordan 13 sneakers the day before.
Loss: The man, who is known only as ‘K,’ has opened up about how he became blind after being stabbed in his left eye with a screwdriver during a brutal subway attack on January 15, 2020
Looking back: K shared his story on the popular social media account Humans of New York on Tuesday. In the even-part series, he detailed how he was assaulted while being robbed
While looking back on the number of unfortunate incidents that unfolded before his attack, he explained that everything that could have gone wrong that Wednesday did.
‘I slept late. My cab was late. I almost called out. I should have called out. If I’d have called out, it would have been an entirely different day,’ he said. ‘The bar was busy, so I was in the weeds my entire shift. Everything was off by a second, that entire day.’
He headed to his girlfriend’s place after his shift, but he eventually decided to leave because he felt she was giving him ‘the cold shoulder.’
‘I gathered all the clothes I’d bought on Tuesday: my Jordans, my jacket. I didn’t want to carry the bags, so I just put it all on,’ he said. ‘That was my first mistake.’
After he left the apartment, he realized he had left his cellphone inside and couldn’t call himself a cab.
‘I should have gone back. I should have knocked on the door, but I was too proud,’ he admitted. ‘That was my second mistake. If I had knocked on the door, it would have been an entirely different day.’
Terrifying: K woke up in the hospital unable to see with his hands and feet cuffed to the bed
Looking back: He said he never got an explanation as to why he was handcuffed, and he wonders if doctors would have tried hard to save his eye if his hands were free
He remembered running to catch the train and reminding himself that he had to be careful in that neighborhood at night.
‘The train pulled into the station, and right away it’s a bad vibe,’ he said. ‘The first car I chose had a bunch of guys, grown men. I should have waited for the next train. But I just chose another car. That was my third mistake.’
K was in an empty car, but as soon as the train pulled away, a man walked through the emergency door, and he realized he was about to get robbed.
When he woke up, his hands and feet were cuffed and he couldn’t see. He started to panic, but then he heard his mother’s voice telling him he was in the hospital.
He recalled being asked a number of questions from medical staffers, including his birth date. He was eventually told that he had been stabbed in his left eye with a screwdriver.
The doctors were confused when he said he couldn’t see at all, but they didn’t know what to tell him.
Heartbreaking: Initially, he thought he was going to be able to see again, but his hopes were dashed on February 19, 2020 when he learned his optic nerve was severed
Hard to handle: K said he struggled with being back home and sleeping in his sister’s twin bed
Role model: He explained that as the oldest of seven kids, he had ‘always been a father figure, to everyone’
‘That’s when I got scared. I knew right then something happened to me crazy,’ he said. ‘I was the victim of something, but why was I in handcuffs?’
K said he is still bothered by the fact that he never got an explanation as to why he—the victim of a gruesome assault—was put in handcuffs.
‘I’m the one who got robbed. I’m the one who got stabbed in the eye. Why was I shackled up like a prisoner of war?’ he asked. ‘I never got an answer for that. I’ve asked myself a million times, what if hadn’t been in cuffs? Would the doctors have treated me different? Did they really do their best—for this John Doe, with no family around?
‘When I was on the operating table, what if my hands hadn’t been cuffed behind my back? What if I hadn’t been shackled up? Like a criminal? Would they have tried harder? Would they have tried harder to save my eyes?’
Initially, he thought he was going to be able to see again, and he was in good spirits in the weeks following the attack. He said he didn’t lose hope until February 19, 2020, the day rapper Pop Smoke was killed.
‘I remember riding in the back of the car to my doctor’s appointment, and the radio said that Pop Smoke got shot,’ he recalled. ‘It was the morning the doctor looked at my eyes and said: “The optic nerve is severed. There’s nothing we can do.”
Living in the past: K (pictured before the attack) admitted that he spends hours thinking of all he things he could have done differently that would have prevented him from being targeted
Isolated: ‘For all of 2020 I just wanted to get a bottle of something and stay by myself. I hated people seeing me as weak,’ said K (pictured before the attack)
Finding love: K eventually reached out to his friend and former co-worker Melissa, whom everyone called ‘Benji,’ and they started talking for hours each night
‘He said: “Just make sure he’s comfortable.” Right there I went cold. Comfortable? Comfortable? What does that even mean? I’d only heard that in movies, when someone’s dying of cancer…That’s the moment I cried. When the doctor said: “Keep him comfortable,” I lost hope.’
K said he spent most of his days in bed after that. He was afraid to even sit at the bottom of the stairs out of fear he would become victimized again.
While a detective had reached out about testifying against his attacker, he never heard anything again. He believes the man was let go because of the pandemic.
‘For all of 2020 I just wanted to get a bottle of something and stay by myself,’ he shared. ‘I hated people seeing me as weak. My entire life I’d been a father figure, to everyone. I’m the oldest of seven kids. I’m the emergency contact for everyone’s school. But now I’m back home, sleeping in my sister’s twin bed. I didn’t like it.’
K’s drinking led to arguments with his family, and his mother warned him that if he didn’t change his attitude, people would stop caring about him.
A few days later, he decided that he would quit drinking alone and isolating himself. He had his sister text his friend and former co-worker Melissa, whom everyone called ‘Benji,’ and ask her to call him.
‘When the phone started ringing, I picked it up, and right off I said: “Did you hear? I can’t see anymore.” Then Benji said: “I remember you were always squinting.” I laughed hard at that,’ he recalled. ‘That broke the ice.’
They started talking on the phone for three hours a night, and the first time she came over was on May 1, 2020. He had his friend bring him a bottle of wine, but he had no idea that there were cheetah print covers and LED lights on the bed in his sister’s room.
Fun times: K and Benji used to work at a steakhouse together, and he recalled her always being the ‘sweet’ one in the group
Connection: K said he kept in touch with Benji after she left the steakhouse, but they didn’t start talking on the phone until after he lost his sight
Fears: They became a couple on May 1, 2020, but he admitted that he still worries about her falling for someone else and leaving him
K said Benji started laughing and asked, ‘What’s going on here?’ Then she put on some music, and they started talking.
‘You know how you imagine things when you’re reading a book? Well I could see her. She started telling me about all this college stuff she was doing. And I could see her. In my mind we were in school together, standing by her locker,’ he said. ‘That’s what I was seeing.
‘I felt like asking her to go steady, but that felt too strong. So I said something else. I’m sitting on my cheetah bed, with the lights flashing. And I said: “Benji. You make me want to carry your books.” That’s the day we became official. That was May 1st. It’s the day like love. May 1st is like love.’
K said they’ve had their fair share of ups and downs in their relationship, admitting that things got tense between them the first time they went out together because he had too much to drink.
‘There are times when Benji wants to talk about the future. Credit scores and stuff like that,’ he said. ‘She’ll say: “I’m in school for nursing, what are you going to do?” And I’ll feel intimidated, real quick. I’ll feel like she’s gonna meet a doctor and leave me. But she knows that already. We talked all that out.’
Benji started praying for him, and they now pray together, but he is still haunted by what happened on the day of his attack.
Trauma: K has started praying with Benji, but he is still haunted by what happened on the day of his attack
Honest: ‘It’s been almost two years, and I’m still on step one. Cause step one means saying I’m not gonna see no more. Step one is I’m blind. That’s step one. And I haven’t felt ready,’ he said
Fighting for his future: In the final post, he vowed to start moving, explaining that it would be like he died on the day of his attack if he didn’t
‘Sometimes I’ll sit still for three hours, breaking down what happened that day. All the s**t I did wrong. Everything I could have done different, to make it not happen,’ he explained. ‘But it did happen. No matter how much I push it back, by drinking, or binge-watching a show, it happened. That day happened.’
K admitted that he is struggling with his new reality, and he still isn’t able to walk on his own since he lost his vision.
‘I’m in purgatory, limbo, the in-between. I’m not in a braille class. I’m not signing up for programs. There’s a program where they teach you how to walk and stuff. I’m not even going to that,’ he shared.
‘It’s been almost two years, and I’m still on step one. Cause step one means saying I’m not gonna see no more. Step one is I’m blind. That’s step one. And I haven’t felt ready. Cause step two is a whole new life. But it’s time to start walking.’
K explained that he has to move on with his life because if he doesn’t, it will be like he died on the day of his attack.
‘I want to see more than this. I don’t even know what I want to see, but something more than this. The world, life. I want to see life. I know I seen some, but I didn’t see a lot. I can see it better. So I gotta walk,’ he said.
‘When I leave off these steps, ain’t no telling what’s gonna happen. That means I’m off of “Go.” I can fall. I can drop. But I’m gonna walk. Not using my eyes. I’m gonna walk in faith.
‘There’s somebody leading me. I feel that now, I really do. I’m here for a reason. I’m scared. It’s scary as s**t. But I’m gonna do it. Even if I’m scared, I’m gonna do it. I’m getting off these steps. I’m gonna walk.’