My new glasses were great!
Red and turquoise in colour and they looked kinda funky. I had just had my cataracts in both eyes ‘done’, and I looked upon these glasses as my reward. A week after getting them, I returned to Anriette, my optician.
“I don’t think these lenses are right. My sight seems a bit squonk.”
Anriette had a good look at my eyes.
“Gaynor, you must go back to your eye specialist. I think that you have developed globules on your lenses.”
She was right and laser treatment was called for. My zoot-magoot glasses were duly adjusted and finally I was able to ‘funkalise’ my way around George once more.
“You are often rubbing your eyes. Why?”, my friend asked a couple of weeks later.
“I don’t feel as if I’m seeing properly. Maybe Anriette needs to alter the prescription of my glasses again,” I sighed.
Once more I sat in Anriette’s patient chair. I called out the letters on the screen that I could see. Or rather that I couldn’t see! Everything just seemed a blur. I felt a sick sense of panic settling around me.
“What’s happening, Anriette?” I asked, my voice lowered in fright.
“I don’t know why your eyesight seems to be deteriorating. You know what I’m about to say, don’t you?”
“Yes,” I sighed, “I must go back to the eye specialist.”

My eye specialist carried out another round of tests and finally he said to me:
“I don’t know why your eyesight is worsening. I would like a second opinion, and would like you to see my colleague who has more experience with issues effecting the back of eyes.”

After another set of different tests, I finally sat down before the man himself.
“Your optic nerves are thinning, effecting both your eyes. There is a lack of oxygen getting through. Your eye pressure is interestingly normal. Usually I would diagnose this as glaucoma but because of your fall, I can’t be 100% sure. I would like to do a MRI scan. This will hopefully give me a better idea of what is going on.”

I have been wearing cochlear implants, because of my deafness, for the past thirteen years. Would the cochlear implants ‘machinery’ inserted in my skull be alright in a MRI scanner, I wondered. After an enormous amount of to-ing and fro-ing between my audiologist, the eye specialist, and the X-ray department, it was finally decided that a MRI would not be possible. The magnets on either side of my skull would play havoc with the X-ray image. I had the next best thing, a CT scan.

This was done on a Thursday. I could only see my specialist the following Tuesday. Four days seemed a long time when my eyesight was endangered. Thoughts were tossing around my head like pebbles in a rough, windswept stream.
Many years ago, I lost my hearing in an 18 metre fall. I also lost 60% of my eyesight. With my cochlear implants, the world opened it’s door to me once more. That is not to say that I am no longer deaf. When I go to sleep, my CIs are removed and I am as deaf as a door nail.
Alas, they do not have anything equivalent to CIs that work on eyes. I gave a sigh.

People question whether it would be better to be born blind or deaf.
Helen Keller who was both deaf and blind says:
“I am just as deaf as I am blind. The problems of deafness are deeper and more complex, if not more important, than those of blindness. Deafness is a much worse misfortune. For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus – the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir, and keeps us in the intellectual company of man”.
How well, I relate to this. I remember sitting at our family’s Christmas table, before my cochlear implants and feeling profoundly lost. I saw everyones lips moving but – silence! It felt as if there was this huge barrier between me and everyone else. I related so utterly to the following comment:

Sound has an indescribable beauty, touching a person in their inner being in a way that sight can never. It reaches down into the soul of a person and connects them to loved ones, friends, and the environment. People believe that the things they see present immeasurable beauty, but I tell you that the sounds they hear are a million times more beautiful than anything they will ever see: laughter, music, the birds singing, a curtain flapping in the breeze, a lover speaking their name in the night – anything and everything.”

A friend of mine cannot accept that it is better to be blind than deaf.
She says: “If I was blind, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. I wouldn’t be able to ride my bike or sail, play a game of tennis or golf. It would be…unendurable!”
She’s wrong. It is not unendurable. I know. After my fall, I could no longer do those things that I loved to do, that were such a part of my life. You have to simply change your way of life, your way of ‘seeing things’!  Loss of sight cuts you off from THINGS, while loss of hearing cuts you off from PEOPLE.

I love people which was why being stone deaf for eighteen years was an unbelievable nightmare. It was like standing in dark tunnel and being unable to see the light at the end. You can never imagine the feeling of being given back the ability to hear again.
And now the 40% eyesight I treasured so much, had a chance of being taken away.

With my heart thumping in my mouth, I walked into the specialist’s office.
“Gaynor, your scans have shown that there is no cancer or tumour lying in wait. As I originally thought, I believe you have normal pressure glaucoma. This a disease that damages your optic nerves. I think that it is probably caused from your fall. But I can’t be one hundred percent sure. It’s impossible to know.”
So, I have a pretty serious problem with my eyes. The eyesight that I had recently lost would never be given back to me. I would now have to take drops morning and night for the rest of my life.
However, instead of walking out of the consultation feeling down and depressed over the loss of yet more eyesight, I wanted to do this wild ululating shout. I wasn’t due to lose my eyesight next month as I had feared!

Yes, I now had less than 40% eyesight but I could still see. I can still admire the majestic Outeniqua mountains rising regally before me. This morning, while taking Perdita for a walk, I spotted a beautiful grey Heron . His neck crumpled in and then snaked out in a strangely beautiful way. The Autumn reds, cinnamon and  gold trees make my heart sing. The open greeting smile of Mums always puts it’s arms around my heart and squeezes.

We all have a choice as to how we accept ourselves.
I think to myself how lucky I am that I can dance this jive in front of the doctor that said I would never walk again. When I put my cochlear implants on, I can hear once more. I have my spasticity under control most of the time.
And miracle of miracles, I am still able to see the incredible beauty of rainbows!

What people see is influenced by who they are. People in the same room will look at the same things and see everything totally differently…. Each of us has his or her own bent, and that colours our view of everything. What is around us doesn’t determine what we see. What is within us does.

John C. Maxwell

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