“Can you see this? How about that?” That’s what I’m asked the most, except for possibly, “Do blind people dream in color?” (This gal sure does!)
In my mid-twenties, I worked at Elm Acres Youth Home for teenage boys. I was legally blind, or “visually impaired” if I wanted to be politically correct, but that’s not me. I am a person who happens to be blind, and not easily offended. The boys found it most intriguing…always wondering how I figured so much out with partial vision.
Needing extra staff to assist on a summer camping trip, I volunteered. After dark, though, I needed them to assist me instead. Poor night vision is a main symptom of Retinitis Pigmentosa, my eye disease.
One late evening, one boy was guiding me. On the rocky path, he asked, “What is it like seeing darkness all of the time?”
“Actually, I don’t see darkness, unless it is in my field of vision.” I remarked.
Puzzled and curious, he asked, “Then what is it like?”
“The best way I can explain it is where I have no vision, nothing exists. It’s like looking at air. When you look at an empty glass, do you see anything inside?”
Explaining my sight during every stage from limited to no vision isn’t possible. However, living with a progressive eye disease does remind me of several other things. Hope you find them interesting.
Going blind is like…being a baby, being an addict, and like getting older. Here’s how:
Going blind is like being a baby.
* Every day is full of discovery for babies and young children. Everything intrigues them. Initially, everything intrigued me, too. I tried to hold on to every image, as if it were a new discovery,
storing every detail in hopes it would never fade away.
* A day rarely goes by where some change in your baby isn’t visible. Rarely did a day go by when there wasn’t change in my vision either. When lucky, I might have made it six months before another change.
* Babies sleep a lot to grow. I sleep a lot to rest and survive. In college, reading made my eyes tire easily. Read thirty minutes, sleep ninety. Later, sleep became a necessity to reboot my brain. After all, I need to think where to walk to even get my clothes.
Going blind is like being an addict.
(Speaking from someone who has ministered to them for many years)
* An addiction starts without the individual knowing it exists, progressing until symptoms manifest enough for a diagnosis. Same with Retinitis Pigmentosa.
* One dependency progresses to another, until consumed. My vision loss progressed, taking control over part of my previous lifestyle. Life as I knew it slipped away. Playing games with family and friends came to a screeching halt. Discovering large print cards and adaptive games put me back in the game. Not for long, though. Like a relapse, more vision loss prohibited any playing.
* An addict must admit their life is out of control. Me, too. Focusing on accepting the things I couldn’t change, changing what I could, and knowing the difference, as the precious Serenity Prayer states is a great model to follow.
* Addicts and visually impaired, both need a support system, which I’m blessed to have.
Going blind is like getting older.
* Short-term memory is the first to go. Mine went with my vision loss, due to an insurmountable amount of added concentration. Try thinking about where you’re headed while listening to surrounding sounds as clues. Your child asks a question. The dog barks before you answer so you’re trying to figure out why, and the dryer buzzer goes off. Before you decide to continue, go to the dryer, answer your child, or take care of the dogs, your cell phone rings. “What was I going to do?” BRAIN OVERLOAD!
* Ailments prevalent to aging, like diabetes and arthritis, create good days and bad days. Yep. I call mine bad blind days.
* Eventually, your home becomes your comfort zone. Older folks don’t want to get out in bad weather, be in crowds, or learn anything new. Like them, I dislike trudging through snow, or being in crowds where I can’t tell who is talking to me. And, my philosophy is Let your brain rest from overworking it. Why try new things if you don’t have to?
For me, going blind with a progressive eye disease is like getting a new job every six months requiring moving to a different part of the country. The wonderful thing is we can choose to let it irritate, frustrate, and depress, or we can turn it into an adventure. Guess which I choose?
We all live with something, so why not look for what we have in common, rather than our differences? Yes, change our focus to unity instead of division. Love it!
I appreciate your taking time to read my silly thoughts and for your generosity in sharing my posts with your friends.
LET’S TALK. What did you find the most interesting, if anything, in this post? Do you have a question about my vision you’d like answered in future posts? Let me know in the comments below, my friend.
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