Realizing I’m Blind

During the #AtoZChalenge, I had all kinds of ideas in my head about what I wanted to blog about once the challenge was over. Now that it’s May and the challenge is over, I however experience a bit of writer’s block. All these ideas that I had during April seem to have vanished. However, O just remembered one of them, which was to write a kind of series discussing topics related to blindness. I am going to answer some of the questions from the Thought Provoker. The Thought Provoker was a monthly question relating to blindness between like 1998 and 2004. The provoking stories and questions are still online. Today, I will write a response to Thought Provoker 10, which asks what a person thinks when they first realize blindness or vision loss has touched their life.

The story seems to be about a person going blind later in life. I was born legally blind. My parents tell me I first realized I was visually impaired at around age seven, when Braille reading was introduced to me. I know my realizing that blindness affected me was a gradual process. At around age eight, I’d ask my parents: “How can yu see that?” According to my parents, it seemed as though I thought I could learn to be sighted.

My parents have always been open about the nature of my blindness. I knew I had a retinal condition. When a great uncle had a retinal detachment and described what it was like, I feared I’d get it myself, because I saw those flashes he described too. It wasn’t that far from the truth indeed.

Strangely, I also feard going blind from totally unrelated, ridiculous causes. Like, I learned about people who drank cleaning products with methanol in them and who subsequently went blind. From that moment on, when my parents used said cleaning product, I was always afraid that I’d accidentally touch it, then lick my fingers and go blind.

In 1993 and 1994 I had two eye surgeries to hopefully save my vision. They were largely unsuccessful, though I still had “hand motion” vision after the second surgery. This means that at 20 feet away, I could see someone’s hand moving but not count their fingers. My parents say that my eye doctor gave up on me after the surgery in 1994. My vision would deteriorate and there was no way of preventing this.

I never accepted this until I entered mainstream secondary education at age thirteen in 1999. I tried for a while to show I still had some vision, but quickly learned it was useless, certainly when compared to sighted people’s. This was the point at which I gave up on myself vision-wise.

Still, my attitude was more one of resignation than of active acceptance. The thought that my sight might be restored someday was on my mind all the time. When, in 2001, a cataract was discovered on my “good” left eye, I pretended to be more concerned with the appearance of my eye than with my vision. Inside, I did worry what had caused this. Was it the distilled alcohol I had drunk in chemistry class the day before?

I finally decided to go pursue cataract surgery in 2013. I wanted to know once and for all whether my sight could be restored and the only way to find out was to get the surgery. It was largely unsuccessful and I gained only very minimal improvement in vision from it. Since then, I realize blindness is not jus tin my life, but I’m in fact totally blind.

The emotion that went through my mind when I realized this was at first stoicism. I never really cared about my sight, I reasoned, and nothing had changed for the worse after surgery anyway. Then came depression and hopelessness. It dawned upon me that this had been my last chance for sight restoration until or unless technology advances. I hate that adage, because it gives me false hope, but I can’t shake it off. In this sense, I’m still in denial.

7 thoughts on “Realizing I’m Blind

  1. Fascinating. Sad. In a way, it’s beautiful and wonderful of you to share these thoughts too. While I do no have a physical disability, accepting and coping with my mental illnesses has been (and will continue to be) a long, hard journey and I share many of the emotions that you shared in this post. It’s not a simple or easy thing to come to terms with the lives we are dealt and while I’m sure many people struggle with this, it is not openly discussed as I wish it were. I have not reached a place of acceptance with my diseases yet, but I’m headed in that direction and I am learning to be kind and accommodating to myself. It sounds like you’re on that path too. I wish all the best on your journey *hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hugs. I don’t have many words but I remember when you first told me that you were blind. Since then, I’ve been in awe of you. For me you are a friend from far and you inspire me. Hugs and much love.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Even though you’ve been through so much it’s good that you still have hope. Maybe you’re not meant to see now but who’s to say that in 20 years that you won’t? I can’t even imagine what’s it’s like to realize something so big. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for your story. As someone with a stable visual impairment it is hard to imagine loosing what usable sight I have. Having the hope that something might work and it yielding very little results on something that is so natural for most people must be an absolute ball ache. My heart goes out to you. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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