Sharper Focus

Many people dream of seeing the world. Ask vision-challenged globetrotter Amy Bovaird, and she will settle for seeing it in a little sharper focus. Follow Amy--but not too closely--on adventures foreign and domestic as she recounts tales of trips and travel.

Aiming for a 20/20 Attitude

Book Excerpt

from

Mobility Matters:
Stepping Out in Faith

Aiming for a 20/20 Attitude

Shortly after the mobility training and before my next Braille lesson, I had an appointment with Doc Pritchard. I took a field of vision test to measure my range of vision. Doc also promised me he’d put together some fancy gadgets to help me see a little better. “Hey, I’ll try whatever you have,” I said.

A week later, I received a call back from Doc Pritchard.

“Well, I have good news and bad news. Which do you want to hear first?”  The words hung in the air between my droll ophthalmologist and me. I paused—long enough for the phone to crackle.

“Doc, tell me the bad news first so the good news sounds better.”

“The bad news is that … I am not getting any younger.” He coughed as if he knew the joke wouldn’t fare well at Comedy Central.

This comedian needs to perfect his comic timing or refine his jokes.

“Now the good news is that while your vision is not going to win any awards, you have the best vision of any RP patient in your age group that I’ve ever seen. Your nerve is still in good shape. It’s not yellowed, or cracked. Best I’ve seen. And you’ve already lived—what? More than half your life. How many years you got left? Chances are, you may even retain some vision ‘til the end.”

I could feel the tips of my mouth turning upward as the eye doctor blundered on, trying to cushion the blow in his odd-humored way.  Who could deny his good intentions?

“So what is my field of vision exactly, Doctor?

“Come into the office, and we’ll talk numbers. Keep in mind, numbers are just that. They don’t mean much,” he muttered.

The day of my appointment arrived. I slipped off my gloves and blew on my fingers to warm them, then removed my hat and scarf and took a seat, folding up my cane. We were either having a late winter or a lousy spring.

In his office, Doc sat down with me and explained my situation.

“We’re gonna’ talk degrees here. You already know that your left eye is bad. It has about five degrees, and the right eye, which is better, has about eight degrees.”

I nodded. “So, is there anything I can do to prolong my vision?”

“There was a case study with Vitamin A Palmitate. 10,000 IU per day. That’s good stuff. Some of the people retained their vision for five years longer. Some side effects, but minor….”

“Can you send me the link to that study? Or can you print it out?”

“Check back with my receptionist,” he said vaguely and somewhat irritated. I remembered that he didn’t like paperwork, which made me smile. Like a drum majorette, I twirled the new information around in my head—this was the first time I’d heard it mentioned in degrees—and figured they only did that when it reached the low numbers. I guess that’s why God made sure I was doing this mobility training with Bob.

Seated across from Doc Pritchard, I made the decision to adjust to my situation. Aside from rest, good nutrition and perhaps adding Vitamin A Palmitate to my daily diet, I couldn’t do anything about my RP. I’d known for twenty-five years that I was losing my vision. So, it wasn’t unexpected. After all, numbers didn’t mean much. What really mattered was that I had the best non-yellowed nerve ending in the west.

“Do you have any questions?”

“No, I think my situation is clear.”

He walked out of my line of vision for a second. It didn’t take much for that to happen. I heard him say, “Come here. I want you to meet someone.”

Doc Pritchard reappeared with a young woman who looked twenty or so.  “This is my daughter. She speaks Spanish, too, and lived in Europe for awhile.” He looked over at his daughter with pride. “Amy is a patient with RP. That is a progressive disease, so what it means for her is that she is losing her sight.” He paused and his voice took on an explanatory tone.

She interjected, “Daddy, I know what that is.”

“Fair enough,” he replied, and chose the short version, “Amy has like 20/200 vision—think of a horse with blinders—but a 20/20 attitude.”

My ears perked up at the compliment he slipped in as he went on to explain the obstacles that I faced. I believe my head puffed up three times its size that day.

Around some people like Mrs. Curtis or Doc Pritchard—those you know who support and admire your effort to remain positive—it’s easy to show that positive side of yourself. It’s harder when you’re around people who spout words like “blindness” and “cane.” That’s when you’re put to the test.

Buoyed by Doc Pritchard’s compliment, I shrugged into my coat and stuffed my now swollen head into my hat (it was feeling pretty tight with my ego vying for space with my brain). I floated on air out of his office. And down his steps. I wonder if my feet ever touched the ground.

But they must have.  I walked straight into a snow mound, which I somersaulted through, and landed in a wet crumpled heap at the foot of the road. With a little jump, I brushed off my clothes and swiveled toward the office entrance to check if anyone had seen my blunder. I could always blame my red face on the cold snow, couldn’t I?

Me with my 20/200 vision … too little vision and too much vanity!

God chooses his own way to humble us with humor. His comic timing needs no preamble. It’s impeccable.

But I knew cantankerous Doc Pritchard with his bad comic timing and his big heart would get a kick out of watching me walk smack into a snow mound, tumble over, pick myself up and laugh it off.

“I’m not going to run from words that frighten me anymore. I’m going to face them courageously and be grateful for what I have,” I whispered to myself and began my walk home sweeping my cane back and forth.  It felt awkward but I was determined to start using it more.

I aimed to keep my 20/20 attitude even when my 20/200 vision was changed by the numbers. After all, numbers didn’t mean anything. I had my doctor’s word on it.

Copyright © Amy Bovaird, April 2014.  If you liked today’s post, be sure to LIKE and SHARE it with your friends. Don’t forget to leave a comment!

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