Do you remember as a child, or maybe even as an adult, being involved in little games where you had to choose between terrible things? The game may have been called "Would you rather...", or "Which would you choose if you had to...", or something of the like. They actually made a card game out of it now.
For instance, would you rather:
A. Go deaf
B. Become a paraplegic
C. Lose your sense of smell/taste
D. Go blind
The point of these games being that you have to choose what you think would be the lesser of the devastations.
As a type 1 diabetic I can tell you for damn sure that it is initially devastating to be the victim of disease or injury; especially incurable disease or permanent injury. But the wonderful thing is that human beings have the amazing ability to adapt and overcome.
Disease and injury can either destroy or strengthen you. It’s your choice.
When out in the world where daily life tends to happen, I have encountered many, many persons who are deaf, blind, paralyzed, or seriously ill. I am almost always left in awe of these people.
Why? Because they are strong! Because they persevere and have overcome so much more struggle and obstacle than most others.
They refuse to be tied down by their adversity. Instead they adapt and thrive!
How magnificent is that?!
When I was in college I met a woman in her fifties who was taking the same English class as me. Not two years earlier she had been the victim of a car accident that left her with terrible injuries which included a head injury that left her with permanent memory and cognitive difficulties. And yet here she was determined to get through college and earn her degree. Every day I would come to class and gain more and more respect and awe for this woman. She was so determined to prove to herself and her injuries that they did not hold her down.
As for me, I’m over here scared out of my mind that I am going to go blind. It has been my biggest fear all my life. I sometimes will close my eyes and walk around my house and try to do daily tasks without the aid of my vision. Just trying to understand what it is like. It scares me to my core.
It’s not just the physical, but also the psychological and emotional impact.
I rely so much on the input of my vision to get me through life. I love to look at beautiful things. I love to look at morbid and grotesque things as well. I love to look at things! I need to see. I need to see where I am walking, what’s in my path, etc… I would be so scared, so insecure if I could not see the world.
How do the blind do it?
My inability to comprehend is probably the top reason going blind frightens me so very much.
But it is on its way to happening to me. I was first diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy when I was seventeen. It was only in my right eye and had not yet become bad enough to impact my vision. So I ignored it because I am an idiot like that.
When I was in my late twenties I began to suffer unignorable vision issues. It’s kind of alarming to suddenly see globs of blood floating around in your vision like some spectral lava lamp. Also, seeing bright flashes of light out of nowhere. And ever increasing blurriness.
I had no insurance at the time so I went to Lens Crafters because they offer a fairly inexpensive but very in-depth eye exam. I was for the second time diagnosed with proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This time, however it was in both eyes and had advanced to needing immediate surgery. I needed to get my diabetes under control.
With no insurance surgery was out of the question.
When I finally got insurance several years later I did not go to the ophthalmologist right away. I had much more pressing health issues to take care of first. It was seven months before I walked in to the ophthalmologist’s office and that was only because the DMV suspended my license because I failed the renewal vision exam.
For the third time I was diagnosed with proliferative diabetic retinopathy. I endured four surgeries on my right eye, five laser treatments on my right eye, and two laser treatments on my left.
I have lost virtually all the vision in my right eye. I can perceive light and movement, but that’s it. Now my left eye, despite much better diabetes control and medical care, is still actively deteriorating.
Did I wait too long to start caring and trying?
Am I going to go completely blind?
How will I survive without my precious vision?
Who knows what the future holds? I may keep what’s left of my vision, I may lose it all.
No matter what happens, I know I will adapt and thrive. That’s what we do, we adapt and thrive.