Adjusting to Total Blindness

In his book Freedom for the Blind: The Secret Is Empowerment, James H. Omvig talks in the chapter on emotional adjustment about the importance of discussing blindness intensely and mentioning the word “blind” over and over again. This, according to Omvig, makes blindness part of a blind person’s everyday language and desentiszes the negative connotation of blindness.

I have been practising this desentisization for years, and it has helped me to adjust to my blindness. In 1999, when I transferred from special education into mainstreaming, I made a conscious decision to identify as blind from then on. After all, my tiny bit of residual vision was not going to be relevant amongst all fully sighted peers.

Still, I know that blind does not necessairly mean no visiion at all. In 2005 or 2006, I wrote my Dutch information page on blindness, and one of the FAQs I answered was whether all blind people are completley blind, and I answered it with a clear “No”.

As I’m facing the reality of the mostly failed cataract surgery, I wonder if I need to do a further desentisization, this time with the term “totally blind”. I have been doing this for a bit already since early this year, when I noticced my light perception had decresed to the ability to discern daylight from nighttime, but at the same time I was hoping it wouldn’t be necessary with surgery. Now my vision is back to probalby where it was around 2004 or 2005, with my being able to see room lighting, detect the position of windows, etc. I was writing this post, then midway through it left my darkened room and realized that my vision, while still technically being only light perception, had increased a bit from before surgery. Should I use this as an excuse not to desentisize myself to the idea of being totally blind?

I know that now that I’ve had cataract surgeyr, I’ve had my last chance of regaining sight. My intention with seeking an ophthalmologist’s opinion on surgery was more of a psychological nature than of a medical nature. Of course, I hoped for that hand motion vision the eye doctor said was the best possible outcome, but at the same time, I realized right from the start of this journey that a more likely outcome would be no improvement in vision. After all, before the cataract specialist had pretty much given me the choice, I’d expected him to flat out refuse to perform the surgery on me. Once I’d been put onto the waiting list, my hopes were somewhat up, but I still counted on a bad outcome.

Okay, I know this adjustment process has taken me over two decades, so can I technically expect to accept that I’m totally blind and will never regain my vision two days post-surgery? I’m not sure, but I’m actually tired of this adjustment process.


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