Focus

Did I mention I went to see a low vision specialist a couple weeks ago? My neuro-ophthalmologist had recommended it, since my vision has remained stable over the past six years. I’m not sure why he waited so long to suggest it, because I could have used the help a lot sooner, but that doesn’t matter. Better late than never.

So I went to see this low vision specialist, Dr. Putnam, and I learned a lot. I learned that what I’ve been doing up to this point to manage my low vision has been helpful, in that I’ve adapted. However, I also learned that in many areas rather than adapt, I avoid. Take using cash, for example. It takes so long to figure out what denomination a bill is, or what type of coin I’m holding, that I just use my debit card for everything. Or if cash is my only option, I’ll ask one of my children to get the cash for me. Who knows how many other things I’ve come to avoid because they are too difficult?

The biggest thing I’ve avoided is driving. I’ve never actually had a doctor tell me I couldn’t. I just don’t because I assumed I can’t because I have low vision. When it was time to renew my license, rather than taking the required test, I opted for the state identification card instead. When doctors ask me if I drive, I chuckle. Because to me it seems so obvious that I CANNOT drive. So when this low vision doctor asked me if I drive, I reacted the same as always. I chuckled and said “No, that would be impossible.” Her response surprised me. Now this doctor has seen my visual field tests. She knows very clearly what I can and cannot see. And yet she said to me, “Don’t say it’s impossible. I don’t want you to get your hopes up too high, but I also don’t want you to count it out. There’s a lot we can do. Even if it’s restricted driving, it may be something that’s an option for you.”

This idea floored me, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I’ve lost about 60% of my field of vision, but the other 40% is clear, as long as I’m wearing my glasses. Is 40% enough to safely drive a car? Dr. Putnam seems to think it could be, or it’s at least enough to warrant exploring the idea.

Speaking of my glasses, a year and a half ago, I bought a new pair with the recommended progressive lenses. The low vision doctor believed that the progressive lenses were not helping me, but were actually hurting me. The way they work, I guess they kind of block out or distort a good portion of that 40% where my eyes can actually see. Which would explain why I had secretly felt extra blind for awhile. I just figured that was the way it was going to be, and I just moved on. But now I have these new lenses, with an updated prescription, and without the progressive lenses. And let me tell you, there is a remarkable difference. It was a little strange the first day wearing them, but now that my brain has adjusted to them I can tell you I see so much better. Not close up of course, but that’s okay because I’m nearsighted. Seeing far away is greatly improved, and that has me thinking again about what Dr. Putnam said to me about driving.

My husband asked me about this today, the idea of me driving again, and I had to be honest, it scares the crap out of me. BUT – I’m trying to open my mind up to the possibility, just like Dr. Putnam encouraged me to do. I’m trying to ditch my all-or-nothing thinking here. Digging up the idea of me driving that I had successfully grieved and buried in its grave. It’s a big idea. Scary too. But I changed my mind once about this, I can change it back. It’s just going to take some time. We are deciding to reopen the chapter on this aspect of my disability and give it more thought and prayer.

So that is the exciting news around here. We have lots of other things going on but I won’t bore you today with the details. In addition to family and kid stuff I’m remaining semi-focused on running and writing, but that’s probably another blog post of its own. Stay tuned, I’ll try to be back at least once before Christmas. Happy Wednesday and peace to you, my friends.

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