A Sight For Sore Eyes
The Lighter Side to Facing Vision Loss
THE QUIRKS OF RP VISION
“You can see a pencil across the room. Yet trip over an elephant on the way to pick it.” —Author Unknown
I have no idea who said this but it’s floating around my RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) Family and Support Group page and it’s an apt expression of what it’s like to see through the eyes of someone affected with RP.
My vision is unreliable. I don’t know why I can’t see some things and can see others clearly. It’s confusing and frustrating. But also … quirky! Here are some examples:
Tonight my mother asked me to pass the salad dressing.
“Where is it?” I asked.
“It’s right there,” she said.
“Mom, that doesn’t help me,” I grumbled. “You have to be specific.”
“You don’t remember that you put it right next to you?”
What seems so obvious to someone else is not to me. Now, I had the added fear of dementia to worry about!
I felt around my placemat with the palm of my hand and found the bottle to my left, on the other side of my plate. I picked up the bottle and handed it to my mother’s outstretched fingers.
“Thank you,” she said loftily.
“Any time,” I said, imitating her.
We both burst out laughing.
My date (I’ll call him Joe) drove all the way from Michigan to Pennsylvania to meet me. He already knew about my vision loss so that awkward announcement was out of the way and we were joking about who was going to lead who into the restaurant.
I don’t know what was running through Joe’s mind as he prepared for his weekend visit with me and my family. But when he arrived, he seemed more nervous about how he would rate with me than how he would cope with a vision-impaired date. In fact, he put my cane away and said, “Here, take my arm,” in a warm, caring way.
Joe had rented a truck for the long trip to my house. Unfortunately, that truck had guzzled most of his gas, so he needed to fill up again before we could go out to eat dinner. We stopped at a nearby gas station. He turned off the ignition and got out. Joe kept walking around the vehicle, studying it from several angles, shaking his head, mumbling to himself.
“What’s the problem?” I asked as he peeked in and felt around the driver’s seat.
“Darn vehicle. Can’t find the lever to open the lid of the gas tank.”
He resumed his pacing, opening and closing the door at intervals.
His face was getting red and I started to feel bad for him. This was not the way he imagined out date would start out, I’m sure. I thought for a minute and scooted over to the driver’s seat and felt around the cushion, then pressed around the floor with my toes. I don’t remember how I found it now, if I touched it or stepped on a lever but voila! The lid flew open and I saved our dinner date! We wouldn’t starve after all.
Joe poked his head through the door. “Where’d you find it?” he asked, shock registering on his face.
I likely pointed to the floor.
He threw up his hands and laughed. “What do you know, the blind girl finds it. This macho guy had no idea where to look.”
That was a great way to start out our date! I was absurdly proud of this gal’s accomplishment, and pleased that he could poke fun at himself.
It put us on an equal status and besides, laughter always sets a good tone for new relationships.
I apparently was having a bad vision day because when I stepped into the bank, my cane became tangled in the roped barrier. So I turned and held out my cane in the opposite direction. Again, it hit the rope. I turned to what I felt had to be the last direction, and what do you know, I went backwards!
“Sometimes everything goes smoothly,” I said, tossing off a laugh. “Other times, the rope and my cane meet halfway, and I don’t mean they’re compromising, either.”
One of the other customers stepped out and guided me forward. A few steps later, I was on track and on my own again. Like a wind-up car, I went straight pretty well.
After doing my banking transaction, I exited and headed for the car where my brother was waiting. Across the parking lot I saw a man open the door to his SUV and pull out a small wooden ramp. He leaned it against the ground. Suddenly I saw the most enormous dog ever. It looked like a horse! It came up to the man’s chest.
I threw politeness aside and called over to the man, “What a big dog!” Sometimes I state the obvious, much to my dismay.
He stopped what he was doing for a minute and looked over at me. His jaw fell down. And he squinted at me, shielding his eyes with his hand.
The dog chose that moment to walk up plank and enter the open back door of the vehicle.
I gave him the thumb’s up and turned to get into my car.
The man shouted over to me, suspicion in his voice, “How the heck can you see my dog now? Inside the bank, you nearly tripped over him! if you had moved even a foot further, you would have been sprawled out on the floor. You were that close to him!”
“Really?!” I had no idea that dog was inside the bank nor that I was anywhere near a dog, let alone one that size.
“Why do you think I moved you?”
It came to my mind to say, ‘Mister, you could have been an Eagle Scout and doing a good deed,’ but I kept that to myself. I was still processing that I had somehow nearly tripped over his gargantuan dog without knowing.
He closed the driver’s door without a backward glance. I imagine that he was put out by my sight inconsistencies.
As I rode home, I wondered why he would have a dog that size inside the bank anyway? He must have been driving along the highway still wondering how I could miss it. He might have even wondered if I was faking my “blindness.”
Some lyrics jumped into my head, “I wonder, wonder, wonder…” That’s all I could remember of that song, but it was enough to tickle me. We’d always be in the dark on this one. Our “wonderings” would never be satisfied.
A mystery. Like my everyday vision.
I smiled. Some days I didn’t mind having RP. It made for good table talk at dinner.
“You have just read, “The Quirks of RP Vision.” Copyright Amy L. Bovaird. September 2014. If this gave you a chuckle, Like it, Share it, & would love to hear your comments!