It’s amazing how much we take our vision for granted. Even our daily language is full of vision-based idioms such as “I’ll look into it.”, “Wait and see.”, ”Watch what happens.”, “Keep an eye on it.”, “See you later.”, or “Try to see things my way.” I wish I could ask people to see things MY way, because, then, they would have a chance to experience how I physically see the world. (And I would feel more comfortable asking for help.)
All those figures of speech continually remind me of the major eye issues I’m dealing with as a result of having diabetes for 56 years. The laser work that was done on both of my eyes in the 1980’s (which is not done to the same extent anymore) has left me with very limited peripheral vision, and virtually no night vision. Now I’m fighting macular edema in what used to be my ‘good eye’. So, when someone says, “Just look…”, I want to cry out, “I really can’t! Won’t you please just tell/help me?”
Reading is the most difficult. I can’t comfortably read books anymore because it is so hard to try to focus on the fine print. My eyes get very strained. Oh.. and how I truly miss reading! Using the computer is easier – except when ‘they’ update the programs and move everything around on the screen. When I’m looking at the computer screen, my focal area is only a two-inch circle. I’m having to continually move my whole head around to find the different buttons and folders in each program and those placed (by me or anyone else) on my screen. Yesterday someone told me to “just go to the ‘events button’ on my face book page.” I wanted to cry, “I don’t know where it is! Can you tell me where to look on the screen?” But I didn’t. She was already exasperated by my ‘stupid’ questions, as was I with my lack of vision and computer knowledge. (This comment was the prompt for this blog, which would have been more emotion-filled if I’d written it yesterday.)
Because I don’t seem “visually impaired” most people just assume I can see, even if they’ve been told that I’m having a hard time. “You do so well that I forget” is a common response when I remind them why it’s taking me so long to read a report or do a task. They don’t realize I take many precautions to keep myself safe, and, by doing so, appear ‘normal’. For example, when walking into a room, I stop and survey my surroundings so I can create a basic floor plan in my mind. However, this doesn’t keep me from walking into people or tripping over chairs — and running into things can be really embarrassing! Believe me, there is nothing worse than having a full glass of a cold or hot drink and turning to collide into someone (this can be messy and loud)! I also try to memorize where I place things, and the place of things in general. And, I take lots of photos and listen carefully to people’s voices and the calls of birds, so I can recognize them from a distance (and, with the photos, enlarge them so I can see them up close).
Rainie (my DAD service dog) is a great help for me visually, mostly because of her presence. Although she does help guild me around people and items in our way, it seems that when she and I are together, people are more courteous, and give the two of us more time and elbow room. They don’t seem to get as agitated by my lack of speed. I think they assume I’m moving slowly because of the dog, when, in fact, I’m trying to be aware of my surroundings in order to keep myself, and everyone else, safe. Those of us with diabetic alert dogs, like Rainie, often mention how the dogs help us with our ‘peace of mind.’ The dogs’ alerting to low and high blood sugar keeps us physically safe, and Rainie’s companionship helps me remain calmer and more secure in the face of my decreasing vision. As I said before, she is not just a pet in a fancy jacket. She truly does help save and change my life.
With my decreasing vision, my life is becoming scarier and more of a struggle, and I’m having to learn to be patient with myself. Fortunately, Rainie helps me take life a little slower, while I try to deal with ‘what is’ happening (although my fatigue and frustration often creep through).
(P.S. Someone wrote: We always do the best we can; it’s just that on some days, ‘our best ‘ is better than others.)