Have you ever asked yourself if you’d rather be deaf or blind? I think most of us have wondered this at some time or another. But what do we do when it’s not just a game, a hypothetical bit of distraction? This is what my family has been faced with during the course of the past couple of weeks.
About two weeks ago, my father called to tell me that he was having difficulty with a part of his vision. He’d awakened that morning to find that a strip of his visual field was missing from his right eye. This was especially disturbing, considering that he’s never had any in his left.
He went that day for an MRI, and was pleased to find that he displayed no evidence of Macular Degeneration – despite the fact that it runs rampant through our family. What had happened though was, unfortunately, not much better. And it was simply a portent of things to come.
There is a condition called Anterior Ischemia of the Optic Nerve (AION). To break down the name: Anterior means toward the front of the body, Ischemia basically means without blood supply, and the optic nerve is the cranial nerve in charge of sensory input i.e.: sight. When you put all of these technical terms together, what you get is a lack of blood supply to the nerve in charge of seeing. In other words...a terribly scary set of circumstances.
Generally, when this, AION, occurs there is no real chance of
recurrence. So we all breathed a sigh of relief that the damage that had been
done was not enough to force him to quit working, driving, or any of his other
hobbies such as competitive Skeet shooting and pottery. So, off Maya went to
visit for the holidays, leaving the three of us here in Arizona.
When I called my family on Christmas, everyone sounded rather glum. I, being the perpetual optimist, assumed that they were all simply tired. What I didn’t know was that they were simply trying to get through the conversation without ruining my holiday.
Evidently, during the course of the week or so leading up to Christmas, my father had progressively lost most all of his ability to see. He is now left with a very narrow tunnel vision. And even that is dark enough that he says it looks like perpetual nighttime. This is how it will be for my father for the rest of his life.
My dad now has no choice but to retire to disability. He is having a really hard time of it, as are the rest of us. He was 2 years from retiring, but since his life’s work has consisted primarily of looking through a microscope, this would now be a pursuit of impossible folly. He will be selling his guns. He can no longer drive and is trying to locate software for low vision computer use. Until he obtains something like this, he will no longer be able to keep up with his blog, Roe Row. You may know him from my comments section as Rodney. I’ve always enjoyed both reading his blog, and having his input on mine.
While feeling the loss of so many freedoms, he is trying to find any silver lining. One thing that he plans to focus upon is playing more music. From what I hear, he went out with a friend the other night and jammed on both bass and guitar for several hours. He told me that he had a lot of fun, and looks forward to going again. I can only hope that he continues to find more opportunities for new directions.
Medically speaking, there is apparently a 40% chance of slight improvement. Yup, that’s less than half. It has been my experience with Kajsa; that you never bet against the house. That way, on the off chance that you do win, you’ll feel that much better about it. When I spoke with my dad this morning he said that it seemed to be a little bit worse today, but that at this point that’s ceased to mean a whole lot.
Although my mother has been absolutely fantastic through these changes, I hope to help them to locate tools (other than just her) for assisting with his new-low vision life. You see, my dad has always been quite self reliant. And while being a gentle and humble man, I believe he has prided himself on being a strong rock for others. So please, don’t offer any pity or consolation. That is about the last thing he needs right now.
What I think would be helpful would be any information and/or resources. Friends, relatives and even just stories you’ve heard which may be informative or helpful would be greatly appreciated. I can pass anything along. Or if you know how to permanently change the size of font on a computer, change the mouse to a larger and darker style...these simple sorts of things, and other small day to day adaptations, would likely mean a lot.
I love my Daddy so much.
I want to find any way possible to empower him during this, his personal hour of darkness.
And for Daddy:
When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary
comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.
And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer. let it be.