Thursday, 23 September 2010

What do you see?

After my last post, I had comments on twitter saying that I was insulting people whose eyesight really was failing as I can obviously manage to do clinical skills with no problem, and that if I couldn't I'd be a danger to my patients. I was a little hurt by these comments, because until you've experienced what it's like to have sight like mine, it's difficult to appreciate the challenges I face with it.

I manage to do clinical skills fine because I adapt as I learn the new skills and find a way to do them that works for me. As a child I learned to hold a pencil different to other children because I couldn't coordinate the pencil well enough to write the "normal" way. My handwriting was still dreadful but it worked for me. If you learn a new skill, you don't necessarily do it exactly the way it was taught - you make adaptations that work for you, and that applies to everyone, whether you have difficulties with sight, hearing, understanding, mobility, etc or not. Most of what I described in my last post are things I don't actually think about from day to day any more, because they're completely normal for me. It's just when I move house and change environments, particularly to somewhere I don't know, that I have to think and adapt what I do. I've recently moved to live on campus and I've already learned that I need to adapt to the new surroundings. Already today I've burned myself on the grill twice because it's high up on the wall and the grill tray comes out at an angle that's difficult for me to see. I've walked into walls because the corridors are narrower than I'm used to at home. It's frustrating, but in another week or so there won't be those problems any more because I'll have adapted and they'll become normal adaptations which require little or no thought.

A perfect example of problems in new situations was whilst out with a friend today. We were in one of those gadget type shops with lots of electronic toys that run around and fly etc. One of the shop assistants was flying a miniature helicopter. It was black with a blue light on it but because of the speed it was moving and the colour and size it was, I just didn't see it and nearly walked into it head on. A toy like that can do a surprising amount of damage to a person's face, it will at least sting for an hour or so if the blades catch you - trust me on that one! I didn't see it mainly because it was on my left hand side. If I'd have been somewhere I'd known to take extra care, I'd have been looking left more often by swapping control of my eyes and forcing my brain to use my left eye - just like I do when I'm driving. Small adaptations that just make me and other people safer.

Essentially what I'm saying is, I don't claim to be anything i'm not. I just make do with what I have. I'm grateful for the sight I do have and want to protect and preserve that for as long as possible. I'm not trying to make out things are worse than they are, I'm not trying to get pity or sympathy. I don't want that. I just want a little understanding, because outwardly, i just look like a clumsy twit. I look "normal". I conform to society. If you look at a photograph of me, you can't tell there's anything wrong. You might pick up that I have a squint (I hate that word by the way. I squint when I look at the sun. So does everyone! It doesn't mean my eye looks like it does - that's amblyopia if you want to call it something medical, or a lazy eye if you don't). I don't make a big thing of it. I don't like drawing attention to it - people comment on it enough as it is without me pointing it out! But if people ask why I do something differently then I explain. Just because outwardly everything seems fine, doesn't mean that I'm not struggling.

So, my question to you, what do you see when you look at me? Do you see a girl who is quite frankly struggling, or do you see the outwardly bubbly "normal" person, or do you see a moany whingey whiney person? Yeah I complain about it from time to time, but wouldn't you? I'm only human after all.


  1. What is your glasses prescription if you don't mind me asking? Certainly I never found your last post irritating or whinging. I would have thought anyone losing their sight would have understood perfectly the dilemma you face.

  2. My prescription is -14.5 in both eyes. Left eye is currently undercorrected at-13.5 due to the lazy eye.

  3. What do I see? Well for starters, you don't look odd at all. In fact, you are quite beautiful and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I also have great admiration for you. You have found ways to adapt and you are still fighting for the career and the education you have had your heart set on. Most people with your difficulties would have quit long ago and completely given up. Cheers to you my dear!

  4. I think the comment above expresses my thoughts quite well. I'm sad that you came under attack in the first instance but I like this reply.

    Keep on keeping, Truffle.


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