Living With Blindness

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Blindness, at least in my case, is not absolute. And it is not so obvious to me, because what I do not see I do not know. I have retinopathy, and the 18 laser surgeries they did to salvage my sight have left me with tunnel vision and poor light differentiation (night blind).

To see what I see, take a paper towel tube (about 6-7” of it) and look at the world through that. What is dim for most is full dark for me. I see much of the world through my white cane. I only see one person at a time, but usually only their face, from their shoulders up. In church, I sit in the back so that my tunnel includes a wider portion of the front of the church.

The world around me presupposes sight, and that is the greatest frustration. If you cannot see, the world does not see you. Transit, a requirement for the disabled, is designed for people without disabilities. Sidewalks and walkways are also designed for able people. Low hanging signs and short stop signs are obvious to everyone; so they should not be a problem. Any questions or concerns, just read the instructions. 

People in general may be “blind” to how others experience the world, but they are almost always gracious and helpful when I run (pun intended) into these issues. It may grate, at times, to admit I need help, but people are generally helpful.

I am blessed that I have a loving family, a supportive community, a rewarding career, and a loving and enabling God. I have learned to overcome blindness, sickness, tiredness, and my own stupidity. It is not through my own strength that I have done so but through God’s strength and the support he has placed in my life.

There are hidden blessings in this “disability” as well. Using my white cane, I must walk everywhere. To the bus, train, stores, even church at times. Walking a minimum of 8 km every day is great cardiovascular exercise, and it keeps me fit and without any extra weight! I have much more empathy for many people than I did when I was young and able. And it has made me seriously look at what is normal or what we are “owed” as people—health, access to health care, food, equipment, cars, homes, not to mention any of our toys.

These are all blessings, and most of the world lacks some or all of these. I praise God that he has blessed me so, and I try to share and work so that others may share and recognize their blessings too.

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