It seems that of late I have become intimately acquainted with the truism “The only constant is change.” The past seven months have been a difficult series of revisions to my vision. After 5 surgeries, I have been informed that the damage to the retina of my right eye is permanent. What I see now is distorted light and dark blurred images. I keep it closed most of the time like Popeye.
To say it has been frustrating for me is like saying the Pacific has some water in it. It will take some time to get used to and adapt to not having depth perception, or seeing things on my right side. It’s a learning curve, not vertical but steep. I can drive, but I am more careful than ever, which is not a bad thing, just tiring.
I tried to attach a cabinet door last week like I have done many times before, that is, grasp the door with the left hand and the impact driver with a screw attached to the bit with the right hand. Those body parts all work the same way they used to. I can still hold and lift and maneuver and operate just like always. Then there is the learning curve. I can see the screw and I can see the destined hole and, without depth perception, it is amazing how far off these two elements can be in my attempt to put one in the other. They look right in line, but they’re not. And just bumping the screw as I approach the hole to correct the spatial discrepancy causes it to fall off the bit. It took numerous tries before I was successful. I need one more hand or one more eye.
Obviously I can make light of my situation, but that is decidedly not the whole story. I’m on an emotional rollercoaster whithout a schedule. My psyche goes through waves of sadness and depression and then, as I latch on to some puzzle or problem that needs to be figured out (related to woodworking, of course), I forget that I am changed. Working in my head knows no bounds or disabilities.
I know that there is no one at fault. There was nothing I or anyone else did to cause this and nothing I or anyone else could have done to prevent this from happening. It is a genetic variance of one who is near-sighted. I know this. Sometimes it doesn’t matter that I know this. My sight has changed. I have changed. I want to do what I used to do, in the way I used to do it, but I cannot. I am the same person in all the things that matter as I was before all this began, but I’m just not the same. I do not want to be defined by losing half my vision, but until I can adjust, it is in my face, so to speak.
Chris has been an absolute angel through this whole ordeal. She has been a well brimming with hope and understanding. The eye clinic is 45 minutes from our home and Chris always drives (for a while we were going in twice a week). She began taking notes during the exams and sometimes filled in missing information when the clinic’s notes were incomplete. She waited through each surgery and watched and helped as I struggled though whatever position I had to adopt post-op for days on end. She filled all the prescriptions and insured that I used them. She always has a smile and encouragement and assurance that I am not in this alone. I am so fortunate that she is part of my life and that she shares her love with me.
This change in my life has also caused me to recognize that many others have their lives changed through no fault of their own. I feel very strong empathy for those who happen to be in the wrong place at the right time have their lives irreversibly changed by an accident and can no longer do what they used to do regardless of what they really want. And at the same time, I am aware that I don’t begin to understand what that can be like. I am disabled, inconvenienced really in comparison to some, and have to learn to do things differently than I used to do them, but in most ways I am still able. I still have one eye. And yet, I am fully cognizant of how very precarious is my vision. My remaining eye is of the same shape and characteristics as the one that the retina detached 3x and, just so, is susceptible to detachment as well. The corollary of losing vision in both eyes does slam down on my being every so often. I then go though mental calisthenics of what that would mean. That would be a much, much greater adjustment so I try not to dwell on it too much. As of this writing, I can see. I’m grateful for that and struggling to adjust with that.