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Friday, May 25, 2012

The In Between Place

Learning to adjust to my vision loss is an ongoing process. I have found that using the blasted white cane given to me by the National Federation of the Blind has been quite useful, as much as I hate to admit it. I really try to overlook the sideways glances I get when I'm walking down the street with it. I realize most people are simply curious. I always was before I began to experience this thing, this retinitis pigmentosa, this  slow but certain death of my sight.
I always thought I was just clumsy. Everyone did. My nickname as a kid was "Fumble butt". I wondered how everyone else seemed to get in and out of movie theaters without holding on to the hand rails and searching, searching for each step. I can't count the times I tripped and fell or nearly fell in a movie theater.
I remember as a kid my mother would tell us to be home at dark. I was always home long before my brother or neighbors considered it dark. 
I remember struggling to take notes in the classroom when the teacher had turned down the lights in order to use the overhead projector. (Yes, I'm that old. I remember overhead projectors.) I never knew how everyone else had notes that were neatly written, in the lines, and cohesive. Mine were scribbled, traipsing along, going over and under and back over the lines of my wide ruled paper, often trailing off to one corner or another. I could never see those lines to guide my pen. 
But I digress...

The cane. 
Before I truly understood what being "partially sighted" meant, I saw people with their canes and assumed, wrongly, but assumed that they were completely blind. I wondered if they could see anything at all.
Light? Shadows?
Was it pitch black in their world? Was it all white?
I wondered.

As my field of vision gets ever narrower and as my world, at least the world I see, closes in and gets smaller, yet smaller, I find myself in this strange place. Not quite blind, and not quite sighted.
I land somewhere in between. And that seems somehow apropos. I've always landed somewhere in between. Not all white, not all brown. Not all girly-girl, not all tomboy. A few popular friends, a few outsider friends. I never completely fit in in any one place. And honestly, I've always felt a bit more comfortable in that in between place. It's what I know. It's comfortable. I can indulge both sides of my personality there. I can lean left and then right, and always land somewhere in the middle, on what for me is solid ground. 

The cane has fallen right in step with me in that in between place. Some days my eyes are strained, clouded by a thick gray or sometimes white-ish film that veils the world from me. Some days they are showered with "floaters" that make it quite difficult to determine if I'm looking at something real, something there in the world in front of me, or just an imaginary nothingness that my eyes and brain have colluded have produced. Some days my eyes are clear, and I seem to see just fine, until I realize that I only see through a peep hole, while the rest of you are looking through a bay window. Always, though, my eyes see bright, swirly, spirally lights that pulsate from their centers, enlarge, and then recede.
It is because of all of these things that I choose to use the cane. Not because I can't see anything, but because I see differently. Some days I feel confident and choose not to use the cane. Other days, I make no doubt about it, I need it.

I'm finding my footing now in this new and ever changing In Between Place, both figuratively and literally. And I look forward to an ever changing world ahead of me. I know I will miss some things, but I also know I will learn new things, and isn't that what it's all about? Learning and growing, avoiding being stagnant...At least, that's what I think it's all about. 

6 cookies cracked:

Reb said...

I am glad to hear you are starting to accept your changing new world. It's sometimes not easy to accommodate the changes in our realities, but we learn to take them one day at a time.

Anonymous said...

I have RP, I understand how you feel about the white cane. I been there, I am using a guide dog now.

The Wise Old Man
About me

Angie Schleicher said...

Hi Wise Old Man! Thanks for visiting! I hope you'll be back. I think I'll end up with a guide dog, they said I qualify now... but I already have two dogs (just pets, not guides) so I kind of want to wait until my oldest dog passes on. I don't think I can handle three dogs at a time.

Adam Ungstad said...

Great post. people need to know about that space between the two ends of the spectrum and exactly just how big it is.

I have usher syndrome - w/ RP and hearing loss. I have a couple of posts on my site at:

Angie Schleicher said...

Hi Adam! Welcome to NMEFC. I placed a link to your blog, I enjoyed it so much! I agree, we need to discuss this in between place more. We need to bridge that gap with understanding.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you are thinking of getting a guide dog. To me, this is one of best thing happen to me. The guide is just a great campanion in addition to her role as a guide dog. Which guide dog school are you considering? We graduated from the Guideingeye in New York. Have a safe weekend, and don't step on dog poops in at your yard.

The Wise Old Man