OH SAY, CAN I SEE?
13 October 2008
I finished my book today. It's "Hannah's Dream," by Diane Hammond and I recommend it highly. You can check my review here. If you enjoyed "Water for Elephants," you'll love this book.
It wasn't easy finishing the book and it was quite a struggle the last few chapters. Because, you see, today is not a "good vision day."
I woke up about a month ago and turned on the TV, like I do every morning. Walt was out of town that day. When I looked at the screen, I realized that I couldn't read the printed words. When I came into the computer, I had to make the print on the screen bigger than normal in order to read it.
My biggest fear all my life has been going blind. I've only had usable vision in one eye forever, because of astigmatism. I can see out of my "bad" eye, but the difference in vision is so great that I'm aware that I don't use it for vision at all. If I close my "good" eye, I can see what is around me, but I can't focus on anything. Glasses don't correct this. I once read that if you can't accurately describe astigmatism, you have it. (Anybody with astigmatism probably knows what I'm talking about, and anybody who doesn't have it will think I'm crazy.) So the thought of something happening to my "good" eye is terrifying.
I was diagnosed several years ago with baby cataracts. (I'm sure he didn't call them "baby cataracts," but they weren't "ripe" enough to be removed.) I get my vision checked regularly and had my last dilated eye exam almost exactly a year ago. The doctor told me the cataracts were OK and I might be lucky and never actually have to have them removed.
But things have changed over the past year. For one thing, when I was driving home on a winding road in the dark several months ago, I realized that I couldn't see the road at all. The lights from the oncoming cars so completely filled my vision that the road completely disappeared. I could only stay on the road by looking off to the right at the very edge of the road. If I hadn't had someone else in the car (to whom I dared not confess that I was driving essentially blind a good portion of the time!), I might have considered stopping at the first motel and spending the night.
I was OK on the highway at night, though. Staying in the right lane (where I usually drive anyway) meant no lights shining in my face and I didn't even notice anything wrong with my vision. But I realized that I could no longer drive the road from my mother's home after dark because a long stretch of it is a 2-lane road, always busy in both directions.
Also for some time I'd been noticing that things I was reading seemed to have been printed in grey typeface rather than black, and that letters on the computer seemed greyer than I remembered them.
I always, now, wear my sunglasses when I go outside (and am thrilled that I thought to buy my first prescription sunglasses last year!), but when I drove to the PhotoShop conference the other day, I drove into the sun both going and coming from the seminar and by the time I got home, I had realized that I am no longer safe to drive on the freeway in the day. When we drove up to Jeri's for our Pinata Day this week, Char drove and I could not read the road signs, even the huge overhead ones, until I was right under them., but when Walt and I drove into Sacramento to a show last night, I could read them just fine, because it was dark, not light.
The quality of vision varies. Some days I hardly notice it. Other days I have to practically put my nose to the computer screen to read e-mail. It's one reason why the background this month is a nice grey--it offers no glare and I can work on this journal entry page just fine.
But I was almost at the end of my book and I couldn't put it down, so I sat under a light and laughed as I remembered my mother chiding me, as a child, for always having my nose in a book. Today I definitely had my nose in a book--it was the only way I could read it.
Funny, though...I discovered that if I held the book up higher and looked down at the print it was like I was seeing around the bottom of the cataract because all of a sudden a few words were in black, not grey print.
My ophthalmologist was out of town and not taking appointments and this obviously is not a life-threatening condition, so I was finally able to get an appointment with him for the end of this month and I am hoping that we can get things set up for cataract removal as soon as possible.
I'm also hoping that my self-diagnosis of cataracts is correct. There is always the prospect of something more serious, but I'm not even going to allow my head to go there until after I've seen the doctor.
But I don't think I'll start trying to read another book just yet.
MILES TO NOWHERE: 77 miles