Zooming in on the Positive

When The News Isn’t What You Want to Hear

Zooming in on a positive take-away
Zooming in on a positive take-away

Twenty-eight years ago I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), an incurable hereditary eye disease. This morning, when I entered the professional building , bits and pieces of that  long-ago specialist’s appointment returned.

The moments of deja vu kept popping up, like unwelcome obstacles in my path. I figured they were there but I didn’t know when I’d find them. I didn’t have to wait. It started with the busyness in a bustling maze of offices. The stinging of the eye drops flashed me back to the uncertain deciphering of letters on the wall chart.  The “put your chin  right here and slide your forehead forward,” moment carried me back to that nervous girl who wondered why she needed so many tests to get new glasses. Until I tried to hold my eyes open against the onslaught of blinding lights, I’d forgotten the photographs taken of the back of my eye. The technician probably even said, “I know it’s hard but try to keep from blinking. Keep that right eye open.” FLASH! FLASH!

As I wiped the involuntary tears away with a tissue the technician handed me, I wondered if the doctor would recommend surgery. I’d see a lot better if my dislodged lens from earlier cataract surgery was put in place.

In the examining room, when the ophthalmologist told me to look straight ahead and asked me how many fingers she was holding up, I didn’t see anything. Or when she was waving them. She was just a foot away from me.

An icy spot settle in the pit of my stomach.

After she left, my friend, Judie, and I waited for the retinal specialist to arrive.

“I didn’t see her waving to me,” I said a few minutes later. Although we hadn’t been talking, Judie knew what that really meant. 

She stumbled over words meant to support me.

“It doesn’t look like a tunnel,” I protested. Tunnel as in tunnel vision.

The specialist came in at that moment.”Are you related to the man with the tree business?”

Oh-h! He knew my dad. “Yeah, I’m his daughter,” I enthused.

“He was a VIP and you’re more than a VIP.”

His spirit blew a warm breeze over that cold spot in me.

A few minutes later, the doctor bent over and examined my eyes. A steady stream of jargon came out of his mouth as he looked into each one. Perhaps the technician was recording his findings. I wasn’t sure. Some words sounded familiar: clump of interretinal pigment…narrow arteries…pale color.

I asked him about the narrowing part.

He corrected me. “I said narrow. This is the first time I’ve seen you. I don’t know if it’s narrowing,” he reassured.

During the exam, it came out out that it bothered me to learn about the loss of my peripheral vision.  I sighed. “It’s one thing to know it intellectually. It’s another to have it proven,” I murmured.

“The brain has a wonderful ability to fill in the missing pieces and provide you with information that you can’t see.”

It wasn’t only his words that made me sit up straighter. It was, again, the warmth in his voice. He followed it up by reminding me that I was young and fully functional.

How did he know I was? He didn’t see me maneuver around the hallway or office with my cane? Or had he? Perhaps in the hallway earlier.

It was as if he had reached down, picked up my downcast spirit like a broken-winged bird and showed it the blue skies of freedom again.

I wasn’t okay. But I was.

As for my dislodged lens, I found that answer soon enough.

“It’s not technically correct. The lens isn’t dislodged. It’s the debris of your cataract.”

I didn’t really understand what he meant so I kept going back to the operation that would reduce my blurred vision in that eye.

He patiently explained. The debris meant I still had some of the residual cataract missed by the surgeon in 1999.

“Oh. Why do I always think there will be an easy fix?” I asked.

“I’m not ruling it out but we have to move cautiously so you don’t get hurt. I don’t want to get your hopes up for something that may not even help that much or might be risky.”

This specialist cared about me–and not just because he’d liked my dad.

He recommended that I see a second specialist in Pittsburgh for more answers. Turning to Judie, the doc instructed, “Write these down,” and dictated five of the most pertinent questions I had.

When Judie and I made the follow-up appointments with one of the three busy receptionists, the sense of deja vu disappeared.  The only aspect of me that I still shared with that twenty-eight-year-old younger self  was the sense of adventure I carted around.

Then, I was headed to a far-flung country to teach new students in a foreign culture. I’m still ready to learn about foreign cultures. Since I’m traveling, I want to have the right gear to fit in–only this time it’s to a land with hard-of-hearing and vision-impaired individuals. It occurred to me I’m still teaching, only my classroom  is mobile as I travel from one place to the next to share what I’ve learned about vision and hearing loss.

As the tip of my cane hit the base of the glass door, I smiled. The doctor left me with words to ponder: “The harder you work, the luckier you are.”  

I knew one thing, I wasn’t going to give up–not with gene therapy right around the corner. Early days for that. Blurry. I couldn’t see where it was but I was heading for it.  I knew that when the time was right, I’d zoom in on it.

I walked out the door full of hope. Gratitude that God gave me a specialist that treated me “more than a VIP.”

I was lucky. In fact, I’d had a string of good luck when it came to my eye doctors.

Funny how God knows what we need. He lets the bad debris float through in a dark tunnel. The good is there all around us. God has a wonderful  ability to fill in the missing pieces and provide us with information we can’t see.

Who do you know that points you to hope in difficult times? How long does it take you to trust new people?

You have just read, “Zooming in on the Positive” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright October 22, 2015. Don’t forget to answer the question (s) or leave your thoughts in the Comments below!  

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16 thoughts on “Zooming in on the Positive

  • October 23, 2015 at 6:29 am

    My eye doctor is the best. He is mild tempered and a calming presence. He was there for me when I was afraid and in pain, he’s stayed my doc ever since, and I am lucky to have him. He’s an expert in retinal eye diseases.

  • October 23, 2015 at 9:05 am

    How wonderful to peek into this part of your life, Amy. Isn’t it great when hope lifts you out of dejection? What a wonderful doctor, to treat you with the respect you deserve. I too see the good in most things. Thank you for sharing your INSIGHT.

  • October 23, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Amy, you are a constant ray of Son Light! I love that about you. No matter what disappointments you face, you turn your face to God and see the joys still all around you.

    I hope your specialist gets to read this special post. He was such a blessing to you with his warmth and caring spirit. A true healer.

  • October 23, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    Your new doctor sounds kind and compassionate. You’re fortunate for that. Isn’t it good to know that nothing can touch us that has not first been sifted through the hands of God! .There is so much He has for you to do.
    Praying for you.

  • October 23, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    I really loved this post. Although I don’t have vision problems, I’ve had similar experiences when seeing the specialists and doctors for my mental health issues, as well as seeing the specialists for my husband’s eye disease.

    It’s amazing how much perspective, as well as the drive to persevere, can surface when you find the positive to zoom in on. This post is wonderful, thank you.

  • October 24, 2015 at 1:22 am

    You know, so much of this world I love is defined by my ability to see it. I cannot imagine a moment when that would not be possible and the horror some would feel knowing that they may lose that one very important thing. I feel for anyone who has any problem with vision. When it comes to the senses, I feel the most important for the quality of life are seeing, touching, feeling, and hearing. I would not want to live life without any of these.

  • October 24, 2015 at 2:42 am

    Excellent post, as usual – and again, it amazes me to read YOUR post on the same topic I just blogged about, of focusing on positivity and expecting good things.

  • October 24, 2015 at 5:22 am

    It’s so great that your retinal specialist is approachable and calm. I’ve heard about so many that really don’t explain much and are a bit aloof. On the site, people talk about that. I’ve seen specialists in Cairo, the UAE and back in the States. They’ve all been great. I’m not so sure that the doctor who did my cataract surgery is so wonderful now that I know he didn’t get all my cataract.
    Goodness! Have a great day!

  • October 24, 2015 at 5:24 am

    Hi Francene,
    Yes, I am so lucky. Since he knew my dad, I was thinking of writing him a letter and asking him to either allow me to interview him for the book about my dad or have him send something to me. That should be fun. I want to have that book ready for the 10th anniversary of Dad’s death. That will be next spring.
    Thanks for your comments!!

  • October 24, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Hi Melissa!
    Happy Anniversary to you and Larry!
    Yes, I was thinking of sending him a copy and also to ask him to contribute to my dad’s book that I hope to have out next summer. 🙂
    Were you able to contact the illustrator for the children’s book???
    Looking forward to learning more about that.
    Thanks for your encouragement!

  • October 24, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Thank you, Brianna.
    I love that you got my message so succinctly!

  • October 24, 2015 at 5:30 am

    Thanks so much, Barbara.
    Sometimes when I feel sad that my life of travel is kind of past me, it helps to know that God has so many other things for me to do! Tnank you for your prayers.

  • October 24, 2015 at 5:31 am

    What a wonderful encouragement your comment was for me!
    Thank YOU!

  • October 24, 2015 at 5:40 am

    Thank you for your empathy, Jim.
    You’re right. Sometimes it’s really challenging and you have to keep yourself focused on the right perspective. But there are so many worse things that others have gone through. At least it’s not life threatening! 🙂

  • October 24, 2015 at 5:41 am

    Thanks, K. Lee!
    Our posts do tend to echo each other quite frequently. How cool is that?
    Thanks for leaving a comment.

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