Since my vision prohibits me from driving, getting transportation to appointments can be a challenge as I wrote about in the post Hair Traffic Control
. I have several friends who so generously and lovingly offer their driving skills and I have learned to accept with what I hope is graciousness and great appreciation. Yesterday morning, however, scheduling rides for an upcoming event was difficult and stressful. I am happy to tell you that I was able to work it out but there was a delayed reaction to the pressure that I did not expect.
My husband and I were eating dinner last night and all of a sudden, I felt tears coming on. As I sat there crying and trying to stop, I apologized to my poor spouse and he asked what was wrong. I thought about it and realized I didn’t know, and immediately began to triage any emotion I could grab on to.
I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t mad, I wasn’t longing for my mom more than the constant ache in my heart. I did, however, keep returning to the happenings of the morning, trying to find a way to my appointment. As soon as I recognized that this was the prevailing thought, I said to my husband, who was just trying to enjoy his meal after grilling chicken in the rain, “It is inconceivable that this is my life. But how can it be inconceivable when this has been my life for three plus years? I am living this life so how can I still be in disbelief over it?”
I cried a little more and then we finished our dinner. There was, of course, no answer for these questions but that didn’t stop me from still thinking about it 20 hours later. I am aware, every day, every hour, every minute, that I am severely visually challenged. And yet, it still can shock me that I now must live my life without my full sight. My repeating question during this journey hasn’t been Why me? but How did I get here?
We all play the hand we are dealt but sometimes I “look” at the cards and simply cannot believe the fact that they are mine. Most of the time I play them with no emotion but sometimes with a profound sense of incredulity. Forget poker, rummy, pinochle and blackjack, this game is called Inconceivable.
A lot of things go haywire with our bodies as we age and I get that. Parts wear out after years and years of use and let’s be honest: abuse. We don’t like it but we can understand it. What is perplexing to me is how a staunch night owl suddenly becomes an early bird in the middle of their life.
I watched my mom seem to require less and less sleep as she got into her 70s but her lifelong early rising never wavered. It was a real bone of contention when we traveled together as I liked to go to bed late and sleep in. Or when I would pick her up at an early hour for a road trip and she wanted to chat the whole way while I preferred to listen it the radio and drink my coffee in silence. It always amazed me that after years of watching me start my homework late at night not because I was a procrastinator but because I did my best then and was also the person who had to battle to get me off to school every morning seemed to be consistently surprised by my behavior.
Now, however, if she was still alive, she wouldn’t recognize me in the mornings. I am awake early and once I am there is no rolling over and going back to sleep. I like to imagine sometimes that she and I are on vacation together and I would wake up and get dressed and ready for the day and be the one waiting for her for a change.
Again, I don’t know how this happened but it did. It seemed to coincide with my vision loss but because I have some perception of light my doctors don’t believe that is the cause. Could it be a psychological issue as a result of all that has happened? I am sure that’s a possibility. Is it my age? It could but I don’t remember this happening to anyone I know at my stage of life. But I’d like to think it’s my mom’s doing. Even though she’s no longer here with me, we can still have some quiet time in the mornings, when the husband and the parrot are still sleeping (yes, I am the earliest bird in this nest). I can make a cup of coffee and think about her, our many breakfasts together and even those rocky early rides in the car.
No matter what the cause of my new sleep habits it has had an effect on my marriage. My husband likes to sleep in on his days off, so I am stuck waiting for him to get up on the weekends. And whether or not she has had anything to do with my new early to bed, early to rise pattern, she is no doubt enjoying me dealing with my night owl husband. I never had a teenage daughter, but payback comes in many forms.
Last night I slept on the love seat to be with Piper if the strong, constant wind, which still hasn’t let up the following afternoon, frightened him. My little guy did fine, he is tough after living in at least four different states, as part of another family for four years and a bird rescue for two during his ten years of life. But I wanted to be sure he knew I was there, just in case.
He has provided me comfort and made every day since I woke up blind less scary. How can I do anything but the same for him?
Well, another Easter has come and gone. The eggs have all been found and I have eaten so many carrots even my whiskers have turned orange; it is not a good look. The kids are happy and the parents are exhausted as they are after every holiday.
Was it me or were you everywhere this year? No offense, but there is only one sher-hop in Easterville and it’s me. You can add all the new flavors that you want, get stale (as many people prefer much to my dismay) and maintain that same perceived adorable expression, but I am the face of this holiday.
So get in your fancy Twinkie car and don’t let the door hit you in the sugar-coated, marshmallowy flat behind on the way out. Take a nice long vacation: perhaps a sauna in the microwave or a nice jacuzzi in a mug of hot chocolate. I hear both are lovely this time of year.
As I watch you drive away, I can’t help but wonder, have I really seen the last of you? And does Santa have this problem? Snowmen have been making a comeback.
With rabbit carrotempt,The Easter Bunny
This morning I had an early doctor visit, not vision related. The doctor asked me about my vision and how I am getting along.
When I got home, I was thinking about the appointment and her question. Suddenly I pictured myself in that doctor’s office, totally blind and finding my way out of the exam room and to the receptionist’s desk.
And then I had a peculiar, out of the blue thought:
Was some of my vision restored because
I would not have survived total blindness?
No matter your beliefs, we have all heard the adage that we are never given more (in life) than we can handle. I don’t know if I could have dealt with permanent, total blindness. Some days I’m not sure I’m handling having minimum sight. And maybe that is why I regained some vision after a few weeks spent in total darkness. I suppose I will never know.
Any accomplishment or progress I make in doing something as a visually challenged person, I measure against being fully sighted and, therefore, I never am comfortable accepting praise or congratulations. I certainly know that when I first got sick I couldn’t see a thing, and yet I am always comparing whatever this lauded action is to before, when everything was crisp and clear and light and colorful. Those who are encouraging me on my achievements were also there when my optic nerves were swollen, and they conversely, brace yourself for this twist, can see what I can’t: that I have come a long, long way.
I spent 47 years as a fully sighted person and a few weeks in the dark. My benchmark shouldn’t be those 47 years, but those weeks I struggled to do everything without any vision. I hope that after imagining myself this morning still without sight, adjusts my personal barometer, and I too recognize there is much to be grateful for. Knowing myself the way that I do, a conscious effort will still have to be made to adjust the yardstick, but now I have a whole new perspective, figuratively and more importantly, literally.
To Come Out On The Other Side
I have always been inspired by people who have suffered the loss of a part of their physical selves and have not let that stop them from doing what they love. They appear to be more whole than any of us. Bethany Hamilton, the professional surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack. Noah Galloway, the Army soldier who lost an arm and a leg in the Iraq War. Usually when we meet these people on 60 Minutes or in People magazine, they have come out on the other side of their devastating loss and are confidently and comfortably living their new normal, sharing their stories in hopes of reaching others in similar situations.
Having experienced the loss of working anatomy myself, I now have a different perspective and a complete understanding of what it has taken them every day, sometimes every minute, to make the choice to keep on keeping on. No matter how great their attitude, faith and inner strength, I know their path to acceptance and a focus on the future and not the past is a tremendous challenge not just for them but also the people who love them.
People who know me only casually or meet me and learn of my vision loss praise me for my good attitude and positive spirit. I thank them but always follow that up with the true reality: I still have some bad days. It’s my way of letting them know in six words that although I may appear to have survived the worst of it, dropping a bobby pin on the floor and not being able to find it, given the day, really piss me off or make me incredibly sad.
I will never be on Dancing With The Stars but I am here and I will tell you about the bobby pins and not being able to see colors or drive a car. But I will also share with you the joy I feel being able to read again with the help of some amazing equipment and the laughter of eating one of my bird’s pellets because it looked like an Apple Jack to me. And I will disclose the plain ole non-vision related facts such as that I am 50 years old and still eating the Kellogg’s product of my youth.
Don’t judge me. I may like my cereal sweet, but this blog will not be sugar coated.
I am a crock-pot girl. Yeah, that’s right. A crock-pot girl. I try to make at least one meal each week in the slow cooker. As I was peeling and cutting carrots and potatoes at 7 a.m. this morning, I thought: this is a lot of work!
I’ve always been a quick peeler, and since my vision loss I have worked my way back to top speed. I carefully turn the peelee and have incorporated feel to check if I’ve removed all the outside of the vegetable in question. When cutting now, the priority is always to keep my fingers back and out of the way to the detriment of some very wonkiky cut carrots. But their taste remains intact and so do my digits.
Regardless of my return to optimum quickness, I kept asking myself how this was saving me any time? Then I realized, it’s a basic life lesson: Put the hard work in up front and in the end you’ll be rewarded. When all I have to do tonight to get dinner on the table is remove the crock-pot lid and serve, this morning’s work will be worth it.
I have no intention of turning this blog into a recipe site, but I do pledge to share anything that makes life easier. So here are the instructions:
Crock-Pot Pot Roast
2-3 lb. chuck or round roast
1 packet Au Jus
1 packet Ranch Dressing
Rub meat with both dry packets, both sides. Place in crock-pot.
Peel and slice carrots and potatoes, place around meat.
Add water until everything is covered.
Cook on HIGH all day.
I mentioned above the idea of putting the time and effort in and seeing the results of that labor. I have an even bigger and more valuable wisdom to impart:
DON’T FORGET TO TURN THE CROCK-POT ON!
Unlike some of the things we learn along the way, this particular teaching will only require one incident. Coming home after a long day, anticipating dinner already made, expecting the mouth-watering smell as you put the key in the door only to find cold raw meat and vegetables has a way of preventing making that mistake twice.